As hardcore fans know, the CW discontinued the cult series Reaper as of this June. All they are left with is the DVD collections for the show’s two seasons, the second of which is hitting the market right now.
Then again, there were many who were pleasantly surprised when the CW even picked up Reaper to begin with. Among them were the show’s stars, Bret Harrison (Sam Oliver, right) and Tyler Labine (Bert “Sock” Wyzocki, left).
“Kind of, actually,” Harrison admits. “From what I heard, when they finished the pilot and were testing it, everybody raised their hand to say they liked it…except THE one person. That was a huge thing for me to hear because I didn’t really see Reaper anywhere on the CW.”
After all, sometimes the TV Gods aren't kind to the kind of witty, even intelligent programming Reaper surely was.
“Whatever,” adds Labine, who not afraid to name names. “I was just as shocked as Bret. It’s hearsay, but apparently Dawn Ostroff [the head of the CW] was not happy. Apparently the only reason she went along is because all her people liked it.”
“We basically got the show picked up because everyone surrounding the head of the network was for it,” says Harrison.
“They paired us with Supernatural,” says Labine. “Then I guess they thought that was kind of redundant. I understand they were going to pair us with Smallville. Then we ended being paired up with Privileged.”
“Besides, that pilot was such a really good pilot,” says Harrison. “I mean when we then went on to New York to do the upfronts, we were treated like the cool kids on the block.”
They deserved to be considered that, too. The premise revolved around Oliver discovering his parents sold his soul to the Devil. For all he knew, he might even be one of Lucifer’s own hell spawn. As played by Ray Wise, one’s never sure what the real truth was with the Fallen One.
“Working with Ray was amazing even if I never did work with him,” Labine quips.
“Tyler never did a scene with him,” Harrison elaborates. “Otherwise, Ray is so cool. He’s really not a slime ball at all. He’s actually a joker.”
“Obviously we often worked on the same day and even became buddies,” Labine responds. “I’ve even been to his house. We’re friends. But if you go through the series, you’ll see he and I are never together.”
“I was the only character who really was put up against Ray’s, except for the season finale,” Harrison explains. “Actually, we were thinking if it had gone on to a third season, then Sock would have come up against him. That’s actually the way we were going to go. That was because we got on the phone with the writers and were going to make it go there. We thought it really would have been pretty cool if all of us ended up as Reapers.”
“That would have been awesome!” Labine chimes in. “I don’t think the Devil would have had much patience for Sock. Still, it would have been hilarious, y’know?”
Another person the duo, especially Labine, found to be awesome was Kevin Smith, who directed the pilot.
“We owed a lot of it to Kevin Smith,” said Labine. “He is a lot like the characters, a slacker dude dropped into a bunch of bizarre situations. Basically, when we were shooting the pilot I just met with Kevin Smith, I made sure that he knew I was going to play Sock a little different than he was presented to me. I mean, he was real good on the page but I sniffed out an opportunity to play a kind of character I’ve always wanted to play. Sock is really just a huge id. Kevin gave me the opportunity to say whatever I was thinking. I was allowed to improve as much as I wanted to. Sock was everything I wanted to do with that kind of character.”
And let’s be real, even though Harrison was ostensibly the lead in the series, Labine’s Sock was, to put it in simply, a humongous presence whenever he showed up. Labine is also unafraid to admit there’s quite a bit of Sock in him, too.
“Oh yeah, man, totally!” he gushes. “I think there’s a little bit of Sock in everybody. They just don’t let him out. We get conditioned to just not let him happen. At the same time, we are all a little envious of a person who doesn’t have those kinds of inhibitions. Sock always says what he means and means what he says. What you see is what you get. I got the opportunity to let that out every day.
“At the same time Sock was the most reliable friend Sam ever had. He would have literally gone to Hell with him. The concept that he was a slacker is wrong. Sock chose to work at the Workbench. If you notice, it gave him a lot of room to let him do all the other stuff he wanted to do. That’s not slacking. That’s being strategic.”
As for strategies, the actors admit they are dreaming of reuniting the cast for one more go. It’s not like it hasn’t been done before. They are very aware that other witty, intelligent shows like Firefly and Dead Like Me having movies made after the series were cancelled.
“Right now I’m doing TV show with Alan Tudyk from Firefly and Serenity. We’ve talked about that,” says Labine. “I can be honest with you, right? I mean, the show is cancelled. I won’t say we were extremely disappointed, because we weren’t, but we sure didn’t like the ambiguous ending of the show. Then again, it was a very ambiguous ending all through production. The writers didn’t know what was going on. We didn’t know what was going on. We were confident that we shot a good season, but we were not hearing anything. They were being very, very cryptic, at best. So we had to go forward and shoot this ending that kind of mirrored what we were going through.
“The only thing I can really say to that is it’s a tough job when you have all these network hands in the pie, cooks in the kitchen, not telling you anything. All they will tell you is what you can and can’t write for each episode for whatever reasons. The writers had to play a guessing game about what they could introduce and what they had to wrap up for the end of the season.”
As for the possibilities of it happening?
“As of right now, syndication is dead,’ says Labine. “Bret told me a comic book is definitely in the works. That’s a green light. I think Reaper would make a great comic book. I would read that one.
“As far as a movie goes, if that would happen we would all be there with bells on. But, that’s one of those things, well, you know…It’s kind of up to the fans at this point. If enough people rattle some cans, make enough noise, maybe there could be a movie sequel. You wouldn’t get any arguments out of the cast, that’s for sure.”
In the meantime, Harrison admits he’s scrapping for jobs. He even had to cut out in the middle of this interview for an audition.
“I’m doing reshoots of a movie I did forever ago,” he said. “We’re trying to make it funny. I’m going to meet with some TV showrunners the end of June and pitch some ideas with them. We’ll see how things go from there. It would be really cool and I was on it from the beginning.”
Labine though is going full bore.
“I’m shooting a kind of genre thrill-omedy flick,” said Labine. “If I had to compare it to anything, I would compare it to Cabin Fever, only with all the gore and guts that horror fans love. It’s almost like an Army of Darkness. I also love Bubba Ho-Tep. I mean Bruce Campbell really is the King of B movies. I’m glad he’s doing good with Burn Notice.
“I also got a new Fox series going down,” says Labine. “It’s called Sons of Tucson. It’s a new half-hour single-camera show by the people who did Malcolm In the Middle. I’m the lead, which is really fun. A step in the right direction, obviously. We’ll be going on between Family Guy and The Simpsons, which is a great time slot. They’re really behind the show. I’m also doing a couple of cameos in other movies, so things are busier than they have been for me in a long time. I owe a lot of it to Reaper.”