A couple months ago, the CW announced that Reaper would return for season two on March 17th at 9pm. They’ve now announced that the show will return even earlier, on March 3rd at 8pm. Great news, right? Nope. More than likely it’s a nail in the show’s coffin. Does Reaper have a chance in hell of getting a third year?
Reaper centers around Sam Oliver (Bret Harrison), a slacker who works at a home-repair superstore alongside friends Sock (Tyler Labine) and Ben (Rick Gonzalez). Sam’s life gets turned upside down on his 21st birthday when he learns that, years ago, his parents sold his soul to the devil (Ray Wise). As a result, he has to work as a bounty hunter to recapture evil souls and send them back to Hell. This puts a serious crimp in his efforts to date his crush, Andi (Missy Peregrym), and live a normal life. Others in the series include Andrew Airlie, Donavon Stinson, Valarie Rae Miller, Christine Willes, Allison Hossack, Ken Marino, Jessica Stroup, Colby Johannson, Michael Ian Black, Kandyse McClure, and Eriko Tamura.
The supernatural comedy was one of the most anticipated new shows of the 2007-08 season and debuted on September 25, 2007. It attracted 3.28 million viewers and a 1.5/3 rating/share in the 18-49 demographic. For the fledgling CW network, those numbers were quite good. The second episode fell to 2.86 million and a 1.3/3 in the demo. Reaper’s ratings averaged 2.6 million viewers for the season with a low of 2.08 million and a 0.9/2 rating/share.
Sign a petitionBased on the numbers, it was no surprise that Reaper was on the edge of being cancelled. But, last Spring the show was renewed — albeit for just 13 episodes beginning midseason. Unfortunately, it seems highly unlikely that the show will return for a third year. Why? For a couple reasons.
First of all, by the time March 3rd rolls around, Reaper will have been off the air for over nine months. The show’s ratings were pretty shaky last season and, since it’s been off the air for so long, it’s likely that many will forget to tune in or just choose to skip it. Remember, ABC tried a similar strategy with shows like Dirty Sexy Money and Pushing Daisies. That turned out to be a disaster. Many of those shows’ casual viewers forgot about them and they were cancelled before the end of 2008.
Secondly, because of American Idol and 90210. As you may have noticed, ratings-starved CW has been pouring a lot of resources into making 90210 a success. The drama certainly hasn’t measured up but they’re still banking that its audience will grow. They’re even developing a remake of the original series’ spin-off, Melrose Place, which will likely lend itself for a lot of cross promotion opportunities.
For the past few Tuesdays, 90210 has been airing opposite FOX’s Idol and has been getting completely hammered in the ratings. When given the choice, the vast majority of the CW’s targeted demographic prefer to watch the reality competition and leave 90210 in the dust. The more often that that happens, the more likely it is that those viewers will give up on the teen drama.
To stop that from happening, the CW execs have decided to shift 90210 to Tuesdays at 9pm. It won’t be airing opposite Idol any longer and they’re likely hoping that young viewers will watch Idol and then switch to 90210. Unfortunately, they’ve also moved Reaper into 90210’s old timeslot, essentially ensuring that no one will be watching the supernatural comedy.
So, Reaper’s audience was dwindling at the end of last season, it’s been off the air for nine months, and now, it’s being pitted against the ratings juggernaut known as Idol. Could the show’s odds be any worse? For whatever reason, CW has set the show up for failure. Do they regret renewing it?
If Reaper’s going to survive long enough to get a third season, the show is going to need some serious divine intervention.
Image courtesy CW.