Dead Like Me
I almost wish I had signed up for Showtime so I could see Dead Like Me. From what I’ve read and seem so far, it looks rather interesting.
With wry humor, ‘Dead Like Me’ reaps revelations about life
By Matthew Gilbert, Boston Globe Staff, 6/27/2003
Pop culture has certainly done its share for the post-life community — you know, angels, the undead, Casper the friendly ghost, and the distant voices in John Edward’s head. From Clarence Oddbody in ”It’s a Wonderful Life” to the lingering spirits in ”Six Feet Under” and Anne Rice’s emotional vampires, the denizens of eternity certainly can’t complain about their representation on screens big and small. And how about the lively wired lady in ”Angels in America,” soon to be an HBO miniseries? Indeed, the dead should be grateful.
But I digress from the matter at hand: ”Dead Like Me,” a new Showtime series about the folks who grimly — and wryly — collect our souls at the moment of death. The show, which premieres tonight at 10, is a pleasingly sardonic addition to the canon of afterlife fantasies, as it imagines a culture of ”reapers” who hang out in diners, pick the pockets of murder victims, and sleep in vacant crime-scene apartments when they’re not on the clock.
In its notion of supernatural beings living among us, helping us, ”Dead Like Me” is a flip version of ”Wings of Desire,” Wim Wenders’s meditative masterpiece about angels in Berlin. But its strongest and most timely influence may be Alice Sebold’s best-selling novel, ”The Lovely Bones,” which is narrated by a 14-year-old dead girl. At the core of ”Dead Like Me” is 18-year-old Georgia ”George” Lass (Ellen Muth), a depressed college dropout living with her parents and drowning in ”Dilbert”-esque temp work. She’s killed by a falling toilet seat from the Mir space station, leaving her uptight mother, her philandering father, and her little sister in grief. But her death marks the beginning of her own coming of age, as she copes with the unresolved issues in her life after losing it. It’s ”My So-Called Former Life.”
After death, George finds herself adopted by a surrogate family of similarly undead people, led by the paternal Rube (Mandy Patinkin). These folks are quirky characters — sometimes too self-consciously so, a common flaw these days — and they include a bimbo (Rebecca Gayheart), an all-business meter maid (Jasmine Guy), and a thuggish British hunk (Callum Blue) not unlike Spike from ”Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Grudgingly, they school George in the strange ways of reaping souls, and in the scavenging they must do to survive as undead.
The show’s executive producers are Bryan Fuller of a few ”Star Trek” series and John Masius of ”St. Elsewhere,” ”Touched by an Angel,” and ”Providence.” Occasionally, it does lapse into the ”Touched by an Angel” danger zone of self-seriousness. On her first solo reaping trip, for instance, George tries to save the life of a little girl — something a reaper is never supposed to do — and the symbolism grows thick. George’s introduction to reaping is much more fun and ”Six Feet Under”-like, as she and her British tutor arrive at a bank robbery and wait to see who’ll get killed.
Dead Like Me
Starring: Ellen Muth, Cynthia Stevenson, Mandy Patinkin, Callum Blue, Rebecca Gayheart, Jasmine Guy, Laura Harris
Time: Tonight at 10