15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
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This review is from: Dead Like Me - Season 1 [DVD] (DVD)
The premise for ‘Dead Like Me’ is that grim reapers walk among us, removing the souls from the living before they befall some tragic, ironic and often hilarious fate. But reapers aren’t the black cloak wearing, scythe brandishing spectres we humans suspect them to be, oh no, they’re something much worse- white-collar workers in 9 to 5 jobs, getting by day-to-day as best they can, crippled by the same insecurities and enduring all the same drudgery and monotony as us mere mortals.
This quirky series follows a group of reapers, who for most the most part hang out in a local waffle house, greedily devouring various dishes (as reapers do) before assignments are handed out by head-reaper Rube, but it’s George’s story that’s central to the programme and Ellen Muth is perfect in this role. The ‘love her or hate her’ tagline she’s been branded with is definitely warranted- the character George is every pessimistic voice in your head, every lazy impulse, every cynical and hopeless feeling. But if you can get past her almost constant state of lifelessness then the occasional glimmer of hope in the character will be enough to sustain you and keep you hooked by her story. The souls she becomes accustomed to extracting over the course of the first season transcend this plain by hitching a ride on a cosmic lightshow specifically tailored to the soul in question. But it’s how the reapers and souls interact before the souls move on to their next destination that’s where most of the entertainment for the viewer lies, as each learns the meaning of life/death from the other. There are usually at least two storylines running parallel in each episode and most of them are really imaginative, absorbing and unpredictable. ‘Nighthawks’ is probably my favourite story, which for a flash-back episode is really impressive, the tone is sublime.
While the pilot offers something different and definitely introduces the viewer to an intriguing set-up, on the whole it’s a little thin. The first half of the season too is not very consistent and where pessimism and despair are spread awfully thick, so much so that I was often left depressed rather than uplifted by at least the first handful of episodes, but once you get further into the season the episodes become really well constructed and a lot more fun. But still- this series just doesn’t grab me in the same way it seems to have done so many of the other reviewers here, at least not enough for me to rate it as a 5 star experience anyway. It’s good, it really is; oodles of caustic humour, entertaining and a refreshing change from everything else on TV in story-telling as much as format, but it just isn’t sharp or original enough to be the outstanding series I was hoping for. So it'll be interesting to see how DLM develops in Season 2...