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'Reaper' & 'Supernatural' Celebrate Halloween

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It's early October, and you might think executive producer Tara Butters is totally focused on the first Halloween episode of her freshman horror-comedy series, "Reaper," airing Tuesday, Oct. 30, on The CW.

Truth be told, she has one other thing on her mind. At 37 weeks pregnant, she has her feet up, and as to the possibility of having a Halloween baby, she says, "I'm hoping for sooner.

"Actually, I'm having a good-sized contraction right now."

Don't fear, the "Reaper" co-creator makes it through the interview, done in tandem with her writing and producing partner Michelle Fazekas.

They're talking about "Leon," in which the Devil (Ray Wise) is down in the dumps because Halloween is coming, and everybody is making fun of him, wearing silly devil costumes, etc.

He pours out his troubles to his bounty hunter, big-box home-improvement store employee Sam Oliver (Bret Harrison), who once again has to track down another evil soul escaped from hell.

But when Leon (Patton Oswalt) is captured, he's not exactly what Sam expected. And to make things worse, Sam has to hold on to him for a while (trapped in his latest "vessel," a snow globe) until after Halloween, when hell's employees come back from vacation.

In the meantime, Halloween has hit the Work Bench store, and there are plenty of silly outfits to go around for Sam and his co-workers and sidekicks, Sock (Tyler Labine) and Ben (Rick Gonzalez).

"What was challenging," Fazekas says, "was trying not to do stuff that's already been done. There have been such amazing Halloween episodes. I think of the 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' episode where ..."

"They became their costumes?" Butters says.

"There's a lot of really good stuff that we didn't want to duplicate," Fazekas says.

However, the episode does feature the return of a hellhound named Spike, and that was the name of a popular "Buffy" vampire.

"That was the dog's real name, actually," Fazekas says.

"But it's one of my favorite characters from 'Buffy,'" Butters says.

"Leon" does give Wise a chance to play the melancholy side of his normally chipper character.

"Everybody in hell takes a holiday on Halloween," Wise says, "and work backs up. It takes months to catch up, especially when you have a whole bunch of blue-collar workers who don't want to really be there and don't like me much and don't like their jobs. They screw up a lot, and it's difficult to keep them in line just to get anything done at all.

"It's sad, but it only lasts for a day or two, then it's all over till next year."

Fans of The CW won't have to wait for next year for another Halloween episode, this time from the network's other horror-themed show. The drama "Supernatural" offers up "Bedtime Stories," a bloody take on "Grimms' Fairy Tales," airing Thursday, Nov. 1.

"One day," executive producer Erik Kripke says, "we want to hit the target where we actually air on Halloween. But we're coming right on the tail of Halloween, and we have a very cool Halloween episode that we're excited about.

"You should be with your trick-or-treat bag, stuffing facefuls of Reese's peanut butter cups in your mouth, watching 'Supernatural.'"

As to whether viewers should hop back into their costumes, Kripke says, "I do, not necessarily because it's Halloween, but because it would be cool if people were wearing costumes and watching our show."

Currently in its third season, "Supernatural" follows demon-hunting brothers Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Sam (Jared Padalecki) Winchester as they crisscross the country in search of the terrifying reality behind tall tales and urban legends.

"You know," Kripke says, "the 'Grimms' Fairy Tales' were the folklore and urban legends of their day. The Grimm brothers (were) really two brothers traveling around Europe, investigating the supernatural, not unlike our own boys."

Anyone who has investigated the original versions of these tales knows that, over the years since Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm first published them in 1812, they've been sanitized for our protection.

"Absolutely," Kripke says, "and that's actually almost word for word some of the dialogue in the episode. There's the discussion of [the fact that] these stories do not end happily ever after. They're actually awful stories filled with sex and violence and cannibalism. They just got sanitized over the years."So we had a lot of fun going back to the bloody origins of these stories and re-creating them for 'Supernatural.'"

The episode also features a crossroad demon, played by Padalecki's girlfriend, actress Sandra McCoy.

"She won that part fair and square and was the best read," Kripke says. "We were just happy that we were finally able to put her in the show."

While no one knows what the Devil is up to Halloween night, Wise is happy to share his little holiday tradition.

"I dress up to a very small degree," he says. "I have many sets of Spock ears. When I did 'Star Trek: The Next Generation,' [makeup supervisor] Michael Westmore gave me a whole bunch of them, because I wore them every day. I was a Mintakan, which is a lower-class Vulcan. I had those Spock ears and the eyebrows.

"All I do is put on my ears, answer the door and give out candy to kids."

Of course, he could add horns.

"Well," Wise says, "I just may do that."

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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