Monday, 15 November 2010
The Life, Death and Life of Georgia 'George' Lass
As well as my current Buffy rewatch I'm also in the midst of rewatching another all time fave show of mine: DEAD LIKE ME.
A blackly humourous look at life and everything after, DEAD LIKE ME follows the adventures of recently deceased Georgia 'George' Lass (Ellen Muth) a smart, cynical, sarcastic college drop out from Seattle killed aged just eighteen by a falling toilet seat from the space station Mir. Newly dead, George soon discovers she is destined to stay on earth as part of a small and motley team of grim reapers led by gruff but kindly Rube (Mandy Patinkin). Also in the reap team with George are eternally angry meter maid Roxy (Jasmine Guy), feckless drug and booze addled Mason (Callum Blue) and beautiful blond 1930’s starlet Daisy (Laura Harris). Our gang of reapers are charged with taking the souls of all those in and around Seattle who are about to die in accidental circumstances with only a name, location and an ETD (estimated time of death) provided on a post-it note from Rube. This leads to the reapers witnessing many bizarre, blackly funny and contrived deaths that would give the Final Destination films a run for their money.
Trying to come to terms with her new un-life and the depressing new job that comes with it, a job from which she can't quit, on Rube's orders George also has to stay away from her surviving family - mother Joy (Cynthia Stevenson), father Clancy (Greg Kean) and little sister Reggie (Britt McKillip). Unfortunately the Lass family are in the midst of falling apart after George's loss. George, though dismissive of her family before her death and now given a new face so as to be unrecognizable to those she once knew, finds staying away from them impossible which leads to many an angry run-in with Rube. As the series goes on, being newly undead and doing her new reaping job, George slowly comes to terms with her new existence and learns truths about her family, people in general and life as a whole, truths that slowly wake her up from her former cynical, self obsessed and nihilistic attitude, allowing her to finally start living her life…even after her death.
I love this show. It’s one of my all time faves despite only running for two short seasons and one so-so spin off movie released last year to DVD. The writing is blackly funny, deeply sarcastic yet also sweetly insightful. The characters are all vivid and utterly brilliant. Even the supporting characters are all really well drawn and allowed to shine, my favourite being Delores Herbig ("...as in her big brown eyes") George's eccentric cat loving boss at the Happy Time agency where George works part-time (seeing as how reapers don’t get paid for reaping so must still earn a crust to survive).
Because DEAD LIKE ME was a cable show the language and general attitude (including drugs, booze and sex) is expressed fairly freely. The F bomb is dropped on a regular basis but only to show how most people really speak i.e. it is not gratuitous just appropriate when used in anger or sarcasm or frustration.
Some great lines:
George: This is where I felt it the first time. The universe was cocking the fuck-with-me gun.
George: Life sucks, and then you die. And then it still sucks.
George: Yuck! This juice tastes like ass, here you try it!
Mason: No, thanks. I'm trying to stay off of the ass juice for now.
Rube: [to George] You're a constipator, Peanut. You disturb my shit, and that's annoying.
Mason [after being handed a self evaluation]: I need more drugs.
And possibly the funniest scene in the whole series from episode 1.4 ‘Reapercussions’...
Roxy: [to Mason who’s curled up on a bench at the diner and looking out the window] What's wrong with you?
[Mason blinks in her direction, eyes bloodshot]
Roxy: Are you stoned?
Mason: [looking very pale and sickly] I've got illegals in my bottom...
[referring to the bag of cocaine that broke in his rectum at the airport]
Roxy: [looking at Mason shaking her head] Why do you do this to yourself?
Mason: [whimpering] I don't know.
DEAD LIKE ME was created by Bryan Fuller who used to work on STAR TREK: VOYAGER and also created the short lived WONDERFALLS and the excellent PUSHING DAISIES. Fuller seems to have a knack for creating weird, quirky, off beat TV about the nature of life and death and life. But with DEAD LIKE ME he actually walked away after only the first four or five episodes due to rather robust creative differences with the studio leaving the show in the capable hands of producer John Masius. I’d love to know what direction Fuller wanted to go in that the studio didn’t because the remaining episodes of DLM as written and filmed seemed to me to be just right.
Bottom line: If you haven’t seen DEAD LIKE ME and you enjoy quality quirky material with great characters and great writing, I urge you to give it a go.