Dead Like Me : The Complete First Season (DVD)


“One of the best original series produced by Showtime. It is funny, engaging, and always sincere in its approach to such an offbeat subject matter” – Julius Henry

Dead Like Me : The Complete First Season (DVD)

Ellen Muth, Rebecca Gayheart, Laura Harris, Callum Blue, Jasmine Guy, Cynthia Stevenson, Mandy Patinkin

Life, or the afterlife for that matter, isn’t what George Lass thought it would be. A sarcastic, antisocial teenager, she dropped out of college and balks at getting a real job. Boredom is her friend, and it is one that she apparently adores. Then, when she is killed in a freak accident, or, more appropriately, a cosmic joke, she finds that the afterlife is as dreadful as her former life.

Upon her death, she is recruited by the higher ups to remain on earth, on human form, and collect the souls of those about to die in horrible accidents. Joining a ragtag group of Grim Reapers stuck on earth to bide their time and fill quotas, she quickly realizes that the afterlife isn’t all clouds and harps, but a drab extension of her former life. While reaping, she moonlights at a temp agency, squats in apartments of the recently deceased, and endures the trials and tribulations that every slightly awkward teenager experiences.

Along with a group of misfit Reapers, headed by Rube, a middle management type of guy (brilliantly played by Mandy Patinkin), George and her Reaper cohorts slip in and out of trouble and controversy as they collect souls and try to make their time on this planet, in such a dreaded position, palatable.

A darkly comic series, “Dead Like Me” is what would have emerged had “Touched By An Angel” been written by John Cleese and Kevin Smith. A funny, often irreverent show, “Dead Like Me” is conscious of its premise—Reaping, the afterlife—yet it doesn’t rely on it. It is as much a human dramedy, think a Post-Mortem “Freaks & Geeks”, as it is a visceral comedy about those dying and already dead.

The performances are top-notch. Ellen Muth as George embodies the quintessential troubled youth. She is awkward, extremely intelligent and sarcastic, and pretty without realizing it. Mandy Patinkin’s Rube is one of the better characters on cable TV, balancing his bizarre management gig with pathos, sage-like advice, and an extremely short temper. The rest of the cast, Laura Harris, Callum Blue, and Jasmine Guy, are all at the top of their game. (Callum Blue as Mason, a hedonistic Reaper, is one of the most entertaining parts of the show. Mason, a drug addicted alcoholic, is a lovable conman whose cons never seem to go as planned.)

“Dead Like Me” is one of the best original series produced by Showtime. It is funny, engaging, and always sincere in its approach to such an offbeat subject matter.

As for the DVD, the video transfer is amongst the best TV releases. The video is crisp and the colors are sharp. The audio also exceeded my expectations. Presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, the sound design often exploits surrounding channels.

The goodies are hit and miss. The Pilot contains commentary and there are a few brief EPK’s, but the deleted scenes section proves the sets strongest supplement. Although the video quality isn’t up to snuff, the deleted scenes are plentiful, in excess of thirty.

All in all, this is a good set for a great show.

Rating :
Reviewer : Julius Henry