Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Trouble With Reaper

I like Reaper a lot. It's one of the few TV shows D and I both like enough to pay for (we download all our TV a la carte from iTunes or Amazon). And I appreciate that it's not to be taken too seriously, but there's gravity and then there's consistency.

When you make a show with the Devil as one of your regular cast, you'd better have a good handle on your theology. For the most part, Reaper avoids any heavy theological entanglements--the characters discuss God rarely, and never by name--but when you make up your own rules, you need to stick to them.

Toward the end of the first season, the writers established that the Devil couldn't eavesdrop on any conversations that occurred inside of circles. This was a major plot point during the demon rebellion arc; characters would meet inside circular rooms or draw chalk circles on the ground before discussing their plans to overthrow Lucifer. This season, however, the characters seem to have forgotten that trick, and it's gotten them in trouble more than once.

I don't have a problem with the characters being ignorant of certain supernatural things, but they've seen the circle-cone-of-silence demonstrated, and they know the consequences for pissing off the Devil. It doesn't make any sense that they wouldn't continue using the circle trick, and the writers haven't even attempted to explain why they don't. I guess they were hoping viewers wouldn't notice, or that we'd also have forgotten by now.

Well, I haven't, and I'll say it again: Insufficiently rigorous! I know Reaper's a comedy, but fans are fans, and we don't like unexplained retcons.

The thing is, Sam and company didn't have to forget about the circle thing. They screw up almost everything else; why couldn't they think they were protected, but then later find out that they hadn't drawn their circle properly, or that someone or something had broken the circle when they weren't paying attention?

You could even make it a running gag. Have Sam carry a hula hoop in the trunk of his Prius so he and Sock and Ben can have private conversations wherever they are. Show the three of them squeezing into a hula hoop that's too small for their bodies to fit comfortably.

Need the circle to stop working? Maybe the plastic hoop gets warped after a particularly warm day; maybe Sock sits on the hoop and accidentally breaks it, but is too embarrassed to tell Sam. Everyone stays in character, you still have any number of failure options, and you get additional opportunities for comedy. Am I wrong?

But I guess they had more important things to worry about.


1 comment:

Stephen said...

Comedy actually needs to be more rigorously consistent than other forms of drama. Comedy has rules, people, and cheating makes it less funny.

I think that's part of the reason The Simpsons became less funny in its second decade.