Dead Like Me: The Complete Series Dead Like Me: The Complete Series

Dead Like Me: The Complete Series Dead Like Me: The Complete Series
Macabre premise mastermind Bryan Fuller's first woefully aborted stab at television genius is thankfully collected in its entirety, although I'd hesitate to say completed, along with the recently released direct-to-DVD posthumous movie. Whether the show was cursed or blessed with a parody of its own afterlife concept will depend on how the viewer swallows Life After Death, the sadly final offering to the series. The original Fuller-scripted pilot has a bombastic, controlled chaos visual style and is a darkly mysterious, yet light-hearted, look at the afterlife that's grounded by raw, realistic, witty dialogue and a businesslike approach to death. Poor George Lass, she did nothing with her life until a toilet seat fell from space, incinerated her and she became a grim reaper who still has to live in this world and pay the bills while helping souls pass on and navigate the confusion of their deaths. She meets with her Reaper family of co-workers at a waffle house to take soul-popping assignments and balances that with forbidden visits to her living family and unprecedented success at the temp agency she could barely get hired at while living. George's relationship with her sister is finally addressed to satisfaction in the film but that's about the only plot angle that gets its due. The cast's chemistry was key to the show's success, as demonstrated by the first season's great cast commentary track. Mandy Patinkin, as the patriarchal boss Rube, is sadly missed. Callum Blue and Jasmine Guy, who earn some of the series' best laughs as Mason and Roxy, are slightly short-changed, but poor Daisy Adair, who was killed on the set of Gone With the Wind. The other characters who couldn't be brought back after the five years between the show's death and cinematic rebirth were simply written out, for better or worse, but the recasting of Laura Harris's Daisy was atrocious. Harris had a heavy task in building her character from a one-note star-whore into an integral emotional component of the series' later episodes, and the writing for and acting of her replacement demolished everything she'd become. It's more like a disappointing start to a third season than a fully realized feature film, and it doesn't have anything on the pilot, in terms of visual flare, shocking laughs and mystic potential. Each season has a healthy handful of decent deleted scenes, a couple mediocre "Making Of" features (though the VFX feature on season two is cool) and too many photo galleries. It's a show worth having, so you might as well have the whole thing, just don't expect much beyond the awesomeness that originally aired. (MGM)