I am loving Reaper. After three episodes, nothing has even hinted at a downturn in quality from its great pilot. I’ve said it before, but Reaper has definite Buffy the Vampire Slayer potential. It’s a weird genre, action/sci-fi/comedy. It’s exceedingly difficult to pull off. The most important aspect of making that genre work is establishing the right tone. The main characters have to be funny, enjoyable to watch, but they also have to be three-dimensional, there has to be an emotional investment, and we have to legitimately fear for them when facing evil. It can’t feel like a cartoon, but the show has to also deliver the funny consistently, a feat which Reaper has pulled off with ease in its first few episodes. So, the reviews have been great for Reaper, the show has been just as good as the pilot in its second two episodes, and CW has marketed it to the best of their ability. Why, then, are the ratings so mediocre?
The plain, unfortunate truth is that there is a certain stigma that comes with being on the CW. If Reaper were on any of the big four networks, the built-in audience would be significantly larger. It could have been this year’s Heroes on a non-CW network. I truly believe that. It’s the same audience. The thing about Reaper is that, out of everyone I’ve talked to who has seen the show and everyone who has reviewed the show, the reactions have been nothing but positive. There’s almost nothing negative in the buzz for Reaper, and you’d think this would at least make a wider audience give Reaper a chance.
When discussing ratings, you always have to look at a show’s time slot competition. Reaper’s competition is incredibly stiff, and gives us a pretty big hint as to why Reaper is suffering from middling ratings. This fall, Reaper is up against House, Dancing with the Stars and The Unit. Two of those shows are perennial top ten series, while The Unit is a top twenty staple. Even though you might perceive the target audience for Reaper to be different than those three series, those are still millions of viewers who aren’t going to be forsaking their favorite shows in favor of a quirky new sci-fi series.
Even with all the positive vibes going into Reaper’s premiere season, its relatively low ratings were probably inevitable. It’s a sad truth, but a truth nonetheless. Fans of Reaper, like me, can only hope that the CW remains patient and allows Reaper’s audience grow as the show continues to impress all who tune in.
-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of The CW)