Addicted to novelty since 2001

Dead Like Me and Good Forensics

One of the few shows I really enjoy is Dead Like Me. It’s got witty writing, is shot locally and includes the incomparable Mandy Patinkin among the talented cast. If you’re BitTorrent-inclined, this site usually has an episode or two (particularly the day after it airs on TV–don’t ask me what day that is, I take a chaos theory approach to watching TV).

If you’re unfamiliar with the show, the premise is that the cast are all grim reapers. They look and operate more or less like normal people (no scythe and so forth), but their job is to ‘reap’ or take the soul of a person just before they die, sparing them the agony of an often-violent death.

As such, the reapers are at the scene of many an accidental death, suicide and homicide. If we’re actually supposed to believe that criminal investigators are as adroit as they appear on CSI (Miami, New York, Swift Current and all the others), then shouldn’t every reaper be pegged as a serial killer? Shouldn’t several of them already be in police custody, up on multiple murder raps? Maybe this has been a plot point and I missed it?

My first attempt at explanation was that the Almighty who selected the reapers maybe eliminated their fingerprints, DNA and (I’m stretching here) made them appear invisible on recorded video (a la vampires). This seems unlikely, as I imagine in this world that there have been reapers as long as there’s been death, and the Man Upstairs would be unlikely to build in these features. Any thoughts?

UPDATE: I thought I’d go to the hardcore “Dead Like Me” fans and post this query on the show’s official forum. Unfortunately, the site’s designer appears to have taken the profoundly-idiotic decision to bake their own PHP-based forum (or has opted for the worst free one available on the planet). This despite the many superior free and cheap forum systems available. I can’t even make this system work–how do you actually read the replies to messages without posting your own?

I found another fairly active forum and posted my question. They may be able to provide some insight.

9 Responses to “Dead Like Me and Good Forensics”

  1. Janine

    I had to laugh at the Swift Current plug. As someone who used to live at that little bump on the map, I must ask how on earth you had heard of it?

  2. Darren

    Ah, you know, it’s not that small a town, is it? I was going to say that it’s the birthplace of Trevor Linden, but he was born in Medicine Hat, I think. I’m not really sure, actually.

  3. Rog

    I still haven’t seen Dead Like Me because I so rarely watch television anymore, but I must say that incomparable is the perfect word for Mandy Patinkin. His talent is readily evident in anything I’ve seen him do.

  4. Mike

    Wouldn’t the Almighty (if we’re talking the classical Christian God here) have already known about cameras and such, and just built all that into the reapers from the get-go? It’s not like knowing about forensics would surprise an omniscient, omnipotent being. :-) I don’t think a bit of extra work would really faze the same being that created everything in less than a week.

    And yes, that show is the only must-see TV I’ve had in my life. Ever. Edmonton Oilers games on Centre Ice don’t count since they were scheduled but irregular.

    I don’t know about the States, but here it shows first Monday nights on TMN, and then re-airs throughout the week, three or four times I think.

  5. Jeff

    Darren, you might like to take a look at

    They a pretty decent forum. It seems easy enough to access – but I have not signed up – so I can;t vouch for it’s full functionality.

    DLM is a great show – I am envious of the fact that you sat next to Ellen Muth at dinner.

  6. Darren

    Mike: Yeah, I considered that, and I suppose it’s a convenient solution, but not a very interesting one. I suppose, in theory, that Your Man Upstairs could have designed the reapers to evolve defenses against whatever investigative techniques were available at a given time. Still, you’d think they’d comment on it in the show (mind you, I haven’t seen all that many episodes, so I’m far from sure).

    Jeff: I posted there as well. I’ll see if I get an answer. As for Ms. Muth, despite her cool voice, she struck me as pretty vapid.

  7. Jeff

    Just another comment – I’ve been a fan of DLM from the start and I’ve learned that if I over analyze the show, or focus too much on continuity, I will be disappointed.
    In many ways, the writers and producers stick to the script and do an excellent job of maintaining that continuity show-to-show, but in some cases, they blow it.
    The most obvious example of this is how reapers are supposed to look different (as they appeared when they were alive) to the living – a point that was made very clear in the first season. Recent episodes show that is less and less the case.
    Mason recently demonstrated a fear of flying – saying it was his frist time in a plane – but last year, him and Rube flew home from a Reap.

    So I remind myself that, hey, it’s just a TV show. ;)

  8. Janine

    Swift Current has maybe… umm… 12,000 pop. A very sleepy, sleepy place to be. I only lasted there about 11 months.

    Medicine Hat is where Linden did his WHL stint (Med Hat Tigers). Not sure if he was from there or not though.. hmm…

  9. Christy

    My roommate is mildly obsessed with “Dead Like Me” and told me that when they get assignments, they look the same to themselves, but they look like different people to the soon-to-be-dead people.

    I remember one episode where the hot blond chick was in a plastic surgeon’s waiting room trying to find her next mark and she was filling out this form and was reading the questions out loud. “Do I like how I look?” was one of the questions, and she enthusiastically said “Yes!” As the other women around her looked horrified, I’m guessing that the body that they were seeing was a bit different than what she’s used to.

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