Friday, January 06, 2006

TV Review: Dead Like Me pilot

I was cruising around my local video store, looking for something entertaining to keep me up the night before my most recent night shift, when I came across the DVD cover for Dead Like Me. Of course, any movie with a reference to death in the title generally attracts my attention.

Dead Like Me is a tv series on Showtime. Not having cable myself, I'd never heard of it before.

The plot is that this young woman named George dies in a freak accident and is then recruited to become a grim reaper. George had dropped out of college, was living with her parents, had no job skills to market and seemed generally miserable before she died.

I was not expecting much of this DVD. The premise sounded a little over-the-top. And it is! But that is what was so great about it!

George goes through on-the-job training to become a grim reaper. Grim reapers are given a last name and first initial of the person whose soul they're going to collect and the date, time and location of the death. Their job is to figure out who is going to die. If they're going to die in a painful accident, their goal is to take their soul before "impact."

The deaths in the pilot were mostly pretty ludicrous - one woman had a piano dropped on her and one man died after slipping on a banana peel. Despite the quirkiness or perhaps because of it, I found it refreshing to enjoy the silliness of this show's portrayal of death. Life needn't be so serious all the time. :-)

There were some little inconsistencies in the storyline that were a little off-putting. For instance, they're suppose to take the souls before they're dead. But when the woman was killed by the piano falling on her, the grim reaper waited until after the piano fell before taking her soul.

In addition, George tries to prevent the death of the person whose soul she is suppose to collect. (Sorry if I'm ruining the plot of the pilot for those of you who haven't seen it). Instead of somehow demonstrating why that doesn't work, the boss simply tells George that the souls will die inside the people. And that explanation somehow seemed kind of like a bandaid over a crack in the plot. Of course, I have only seen the pilot, so perhaps that way of handling the crack was a way to leave it open for use in a future episode.

That said, my favorite line from the pilot is one of the other things George's boss tells her after she tried to intervene in the death:

"You can't save any of them. All you can ever hope to do is make it easier. And that may not seem like a lot, but it is."

I couldn't agree more.

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