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Reaping the rewards

NEW! Reaper, E4, 9.00pm

ReaperThis year we attempted to be well-prepared for the annual onslaught of glossy US imports by tracking down the pilot episodes of all the big new shows on the networks and giving them the all-important lowculture once-over. We got all of our opinions in order, ready for the shows to go on air over here...and then the Writers Guild of America went on strike, which meant that one by one the shows fell off the airwaves, and the UK broadcasters found themselves with only partially-completed series. Which meant that a lot of them have held back the debut dates for the new shows indefinitely, until they know exactly what they're dealing with, but thankfully E4 is being brave and showing off its new jewel, about a slacker who discovers that his parents sold his soul to Satan and he's now the devil's lackey, in the usual January slot.

It's a shame, then, that Reaper wasn't our top pick of the new shows. That's not to say that we didn't like it, because we did, but it didn't grab us in the same way that Pushing Daisies or Gossip Girl (both of which were snapped up by ITV, coincidentally, and are yet to be given a confirmed start date) did. But since this one's here now, let's focus on the things we did like about it: it's fantastically silly, and deliberately so. After the increase in earnest, po-faced sci-fi dramas, it's nice to see a show that gleefully doesn't take itself all that seriously. Bret Harrison is appealing in the lead role, and it stars Valarie Rae Millar, of Original Cindy in Dark Angel fame, and we're very happy to see her working again.

On the downside, we found the sidekick kind of annoying, in that Jack Black sort of a way. One Jack Black in the world is quite enough, we have no real need for another. It's not a dealbreaker though, and your reaction to him will probably depend on the sort of esteem in which you hold the famous original version.

Once the premise of this show gets set up, it becomes a lot of fun, in an undemanding sort of way. It's worth a look, and we're planning to catch the rest of the episodes to see how it develops, but we're waiting more anxiously for the geek-turns-secret-agent drama Chuck to turn up on Virgin 1, which was more our cup of tea.

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According to Marxist theory, cultural forms such as opera, classical music and the literary works of Shakespeare all fall under the heading of high culture. Low culture refers to a wide variety of cultural themes that are characterised by their consumption by the masses. We might not be Marxists, but we do know we loved Footballers Wives. If you do too, you'll know what this is all about.

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