Dead Like Me: The Complete First Season (DVD)
Created by: Bryan Fuller
Starring: Ellen Muth, Callum Blue, Jasmine Guy, Cynthia Stevenson, Mandy Patinkin
I first heard about the Showtime tv show Dead Like Me last year from a person who more mentioned the show in passing than actually recommended it. But, since this year I had TMN and they were re-running the first season I thought I would check it out. It turned out, I liked the show.
Dead Like me is supposed to take place in the Pacific Northwest America, but is shot in B.C. George Lass (Ellen Muth) is a young lady who isn’t quite sure what she wants out of life. She is a college drop out whose mother does not want her daughter lazing about the house so she forces her to get a job. George ends up finding employment with a temp. agency, The Happy Time Workers. On her first day of employment, when she steps outside for some lunch, she gets pummeled by the toilet seat from the falling Mir Space Station. George is left stunned and standing beside what is left of herself. Enter Rube (Mandy Patinkin of Chicago Hope fame), the middle management supervisor who explains to George that she has died but she has been given a chance to live again as a Grim Reaper.
The reapers are not the stereotypical dark cloak, scythe carrying bunch but rather appear as humans and even have to take on day jobs to support themselves while they reap the souls of the near deceased. Also helping along the way are three other Grim Reapers, Mason, Roxy and Betty. Mason (Callum Blue) is a Brit with a bit of a drug problem. Roxy is played by Jasmine Guy, known to most people as “Whitley” from A Different World. She is the ball buster of the group and has to work as a meter maid during the day to make ends meet. Betty is played by Rebecca Gayheart but is replaced in episode four by Laura Harris whose most notable past preformance has been the voice of “Bright Eyes” in the My Little Pony cartoon. Harris’ character, “Daisy Adair” is an actress who died in the fourties and isn’t shy about admitting to the other reapers who she gave head to in order to get a role. George’s miserable mother, Joy Lass (pun intended I’m sure), is played by Cynthia Stephenson (Happiness; Air Bud). The cast is great and play off each other well.
The concept of the show is that these reapers are amongst many all over the world. They meet every day in a waffle house in order to receive yellow post-its from Rube with an E.T.D. (estimated time of death), name of a person and location written on it. They then have to be at the scene of the death in order to reap the soul. It sounds like a downer of a show since it’s about death and the main character is a young girl who died before she really got to live her life, but I assure you it is quite funny. If you enjoy sardonic, dry humour, you’ll love the dead pan delivery of the reapers.
There are fourteen episodes on this four disc boxed set and the pilot episode has an audio commentary track. Ellen Muth, Mandy Patinkin, Jasmine Guy, Callum Blue and Cynthia Stephenson are the cast members who contribute to the commentary track. Sometimes large group commentaries are good and sometimes they can be annoying because you can’t keep up with who is saying what. In this case, the commentary track turns into a love fest of compliments on performances. Cynthia Stephenson is the most complimentary member who keeps calling everything about the show “beautiful” and commending the performances of everyone constantly. You can tell that the cast really get along and love the show they are working on but it makes for a bit of a dull commentary. Even though it is only on the first episode, the cast members do still discuss the show as a whole. They don’t really get into too much detail about production or funny stories, however if it weren’t for this commentary track, the special features would only include deleted scenes and two short featurettes.
I think that the first season of Dead Like Me is good, so it can only get better. It is quite often in the third season that the characters are really developed and the actors are comfortable in their roles. If Dead Like Me is this entertaining in the awkward first season, I am really curious how the show will progress. Having said that, the dvd boxed set did not have a lot a lot of extras. This may be because it is only a first season release but I think that if the next season doesn’t have many special features, I would be satisfied just watching the episodes when they air on TMN and not buying the next boxed set. The show is entertaining but it is not cult status and I think a single viewing is all I would ever give it. — Alicia