Review: “Dead Like Me: Life After Death”

by Irma Arkus

“Dead Like Me” was a TV show unlike others. Which explains for its cancellation. Georgia Lass, possibly the cutest girl in the universe, gets killed by MIR station debris – a toilet seat to be exact (did not know they had toilet seats on MIR!!!) – only to face the imminent truth about death: you don’t necessarily die after all.

Georgia or “George” has to deal with getting over life as she knows it, and with her new job as a grim reaper. The job has scarce benefits, lousy pay, seriously dubious company, and to boot, no pay. In fact, in order to survive, George still has to pursue the kind of office jobs that made her want to end her life in the first place.

Starring Ellen Muth as George, and genial Mandy Patinkin as the “head grim reaper,” the TV show became a huge cult hit, with fans clamoring for more even after its sudden cancellation. The two seasons it did last, definitely left a mark, which is why “Dead Like Me: Life After Death” was produced.

“Dead Like Me: Life After Death” is a made-for-TV movie, bringing back George and co. This time around, Mandy Patinkin’s “Rube”, and the pancake house are nowhere to be seen. Apparently, Rube has “seen the lights” and the Dutch pancake house, the breakfast grounds for reapers everywhere, burned in a spiral of ashes and grease fumes.

That leaves George, Mason (Callum Blue), Daisy (Sarah Wynter), and Jasmine (Roxy Harvey) to deal with new management and their reaper duties. Led by Cameron (Henry Ian Cusick), who is a post-9/11 reaper, an obnoxious executive type who pursues his lavish lifestyle ways of rich and famous post-mortem, the gang experiences an equivalent of our economy’s highs and lows.

At first, they are lavished with attention, flaunting the “rules” of reaping. Cameron’s mantra is to not give a toss about the rules, so the gang indulges.

But they are soon to learn that not everything goes, and things don’t necessarily turn out for the better when they pursue their own wants and dreams.

The production is relatively low budget, and draws upon the fantastic collection of Dead Like Me comics. The show is laced with comic graphics, allowing to switfly move the story along.

The voiceover, which is presumably done by Ellen Muth, is of a very low quality. Since our little George has been trapped in an aging body, Muth’s unlikely development toward the husky, Catherine Turner-like vocal raspiness, took me by surprise. I found the whole voiceover kind of creepy, to be honest.

The lack of Patinkin has severly hampered the production, as “acting” is shouldered by Henry Ian Cusick, Christine Willes, Roxy Harvey and Cynthia Stevenson, all of whom have only a few precious lines to give.

The direction by Stephen Herek is competent if clumsy, but do not forget that the magic of editing is equally to blame.

Overall, for those, thirsting for a taste of Dead Like Me, the Life After Death is to provide that reviving morsel, and is well worth the view. But for those unfamiliar with the show, I would recommend turning to the original material, sticking instead with the viewing of the TV show.