DVD Review: DEAD LIKE ME – The Complete Collection.

Fox Home Entertainment
Release Date: Feb 17th, 2009
MSRP: $69.98

Stars: Ellen Muth, Mandy Patinkin, Callum Blue, Jasmine Guy, Rebecca Gayheart, Laura Harris

Dead Like Me is one of those shows that one might want to have sat in on the pitch: We have an idea for a dramedy about Grim Reapers.

But it works. The creative mind behind it, Bryan Fuller, has made a name for himself with quirky, well-made shows that never quite reach enough of an audience to make it long term. Dead Like Me, his first show, shares the same offbeat sensibilities as his more recent shows (Wonderfall and Pushing Daisies).

Georgie (Ellen Muth) is an 18 year old that is wandering through life without a whole lot of drive. She works in an office doing menial tasks. One day, she is killed when a toilet comes crashing down from the Mir Space Station.

Startled, she finds herself starting a whole new life as a Death Merchant, one who collects the souls of the dearly departed. Her crew consists of Mason (Callum Blue) a British bad boy, Roxy (Jasmine Guy) a rather cranky meter maid and Betty (Rebecca Gayheart) a sweet, kind soul. Rube (Mandy Patinkin) is their supervisor and keeps them in line. Betty leaves midway through season one and is replaced by Daisy (Laura Harris) a snotty actress.

They are, as one of them says, “bail bondsmen for the disembodied.” They end the pain and suffering from the death. These deaths are usually caused by gravelings, little shadowy creatures that generally come up with rather complex manners of death. Think Rube Goldberg contraptions, only ones designed for fatalities.

When not transporting souls, Georgie finds herself drawn back to her family. She can’t connect with them, but is drawn to her old life, missing her sister especially. The early glimpses of her family are quite interesting, but as the show progressed, these storylines simply detracted from the primary ones. As time went on, her family should have faded from the show.

This set contains seasons one and two, as well as the new direct-to-DVD film Life after Death. The extras that are here were simply brought over from the other releases, with nothing exclusive to this set.

Of the two seasons and film, the first season is certainly the strongest. Midway through said season, Fuller left the show. I can’t help but wonder what things would have been like had he remained in charge.

Season two is not bad, it is uneven, sometimes seeming to have trouble finding it’s way. As I said, the segments with her family should have been done by season two. They detract from the primary characters and dilute the show.

The film sees some cast changes: Mandy Patinkin’s Rube has moved on and Laura Harris is not here. Instead of bringing in a replacement character, they brought in Sarah Wynter to play Daisy. The result is not pretty. She gets Daisy’s snottiness, but none of the appealing characteristics.

Cameron (Henry Ian Cusick) has replaced Rube. His management style is more laid back and, as a result, the reapers start playing fast and loose with the rules.

The film certainly has some good points, but the loss of Patinkin is certainly felt. The crew clearly are glad to be back in the roles and appear to be having fun. It is that joy that really carries the film and makes it watchable.

I think there is more to like than dislike with Dead Like Me. The concept is highly original and the primary cast members do a fine job. While the stuff with Georgie’s family does, there is more than enough good aspects to make this worth watching. Fans of Pushing Daisies and other offbeat shows will almost certainly take delight in the adventures of Georgie and company.

Order Dead Like Me: the complete collection from Amazon.

Jeremy Lynch
For more reviews from myself, and the rest of the Crimespree crew, check out the index of reviews.