Dead Like Me: Life After Death
February 14, 2009

Dead Like Me was a Showtime series that ran two seasons in 2003-2004, created by Bryan Fuller (Wonderfalls, Pushing Daisies). Like his other work, it combined a high-concept fantasy premise with interesting, unusual personalities. I had high hopes for seeing these characters again, but I should have realized you can’t get back what you miss after it dies. You have to move forward, and this made-for-DVD movie doesn’t.

Dead Like Me: Life After Death cover
Dead Like Me: Life After Death
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The main idea revolves around watching everyone get seduced by money and success, fodder for an after-school special about how power corrupts. Watching the characters learn that they need to focus on their job instead of being distracted by temptation teaches a lesson show viewers (and the characters) already learned five years ago. This movie doesn’t have the black humor of the episodes, nor does it answer the questions left from those previous encounters. (To be fair, many of them revolved around Rube’s character, so that’s kind of a problem.)

Rube (Mandy Patinkin, not participating in the film) only appears in the comic book pages that reintroduce the premise. There, he’s drawn as a non-descript schlub who hands out post-its with assignments. But the artist, Trevor Goring, doesn’t seem particularly good at likenesses, based on how he draws George.

Grim Reaper George Lass (Ellen Muth) reads the captions to us. (I liked the comic book-style intro, explaining how God let Death into the world, although I could read it fine on my own.) Before, she was the teen who anchored the show. Now, she’s been doing this for five years and seems even more jaded than before, if that’s possible. She’s also a little rougher-looking.

Dead Like Me cast

We have the twisted idiot Brit Mason back (I was surprised to see Callum Blue recently in the second season of Secret Diary of a Call Girl), and Jasmine Guy as cool cop Roxy, but the blonde actress has been replaced by someone even more indistinguishable than before (Sarah Wynter). Der Waffle Haus has burned down, allowing for a change of setting to a fancy wine bar, where they work with a creepy new high-living leader (Henry Ian Cusick, who also plays Desmond on Lost).

My favorite, surprisingly, to return was Mom (Cynthia Stevenson), who’s running a grief group for parents. Reggie, the younger sister (Britt McKillip), was a revelation. She’s now 16, and quite a teen. And Dolores! Dolores (Christine Willes), the day job boss, is back, trying to show her dying cat a good time before he passes. While George plays catch-the-viewer-up, Roxy, Mason, and Blondie go on a joint reap, which is funny.

Overall, while this had its moments, it felt like a waste of time. New viewers will have little to connect with; old fans may be dissatisfied with the feeling of repetition. My favorite parts of the episode came near the end: first, being reminded of the little girl reaper who has a special mission, and second, seeing the odd rain that happens to George.

Dead Like Me: Post-Its

The reason I enjoyed the show was because I took a dark pleasure in seeing how close to death everyone was on a daily basis. These characters were interesting in a series; in a movie, they’re slight, and mostly, I was reminded of the departed show I missed. You can’t go home again, or die twice.

If you’d like to try the series, which is recommended with the caveat that it ends too soon, I recommend the Complete Collection. Its nine discs include both TV seasons and this movie.

The featurette, “Back From the Dead: Resurrecting Dead Like Me“, is about how happy the cast and crew were to return and how great it was to work with each other again. A commentary features Muth and director Stephen Herek. (A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the studio.)

16 Responses  
thecheckoutgirl writes:  

dang, I really wanted this to be great. DLM is one of my faves.

Melinda Beasi writes:  

Awwwww. Oh, well. I loved Dead Like Me, but I didn’t expect this could work out well. Still, I’m disappointed.

Mike chary writes:  

It’s okay. I liked it better than Johanna. I do think she missed the p;oint of the last scene, which provides a bit of closure for George’s character arc.

djl writes:  

It was not that bad… what in end they did to their new Boss was hilarious… considering hes a dead guy stuck as a dead guy till reaps enough… but after what they did gotta wonder if hes going be forever a dead guy..

As to that Rain….

George at end because she out of the 4 still was most level headed I suppose..

Was Promoted to being their new leader…

Perhaps with Rube, now upper management? Letting her know… and her I’m F— Comment is she knows shes been made the Boss…

If The Movie has good Sales could be another might get done…

don writes:  

i was very happy that they resurrected the show in a movie(hopeing for more). the movie was great , and it was good that ellen muth was reprising her role as well as amost all the original cast. it did end on a happy note that georgia was promoted to head reaper, and the idea of post-a-notes was a hint that rube was her boss, aswell that he was proud of her.

Nick writes:  

I think “Life After Death” is fine — better than expected. Johanna’s review states, “You have to move forward, and this made-for-DVD movie doesn’t.” That’s not true. In fact, the reviewer seems to be wishing that Dead Like Me had not moved forward. Several of the characters have indeed pushed ahead, and I won’t state how here for obvious spoiler reasons. The movie suffers only in that it’s 87 minutes long and has to reintroduce many characters, throw in one important new one who replaces Rube and ultimately tell a story. That’s not easy in such a short amount of time; this story could have easily been fleshed out into a mini-series without being boring. Life After Death has several great moments, some of which are as good as the best of the television series.

Johanna writes:  

We differ greatly in our opinion. I saw the characters repeating plot points, storylines, and development they’d already gone through. If you see that as “pushing ahead”, well, ok, I’m glad you enjoyed it. I had higher expectations than were satisfied.

Kamele writes:  

Ya i agree with you in quite everything, I felt like you while seing the film. They wanted to do the film anyway, i think, and had to make a stupid story because probably Mandy Patkin wasn´t available, his enigmatic character had still much to say. And the other actriss that played Daisy was much better and cute.

Bo writes:  

big disappointment.
I love the TV show, it was great, I have just hope the movie would give a nice ending to it.
Daisy Adair, one adore, polite, very classy lady character has been replaced. I wish the character hasn’t been replaced, yet, if it has to be done this way, let it be. However, since Ms. Laura Harris has already built a well-known character on Daisy, shouldn’t Ms. Sarah Wynter try to react how Daisy should be in the TV series? Instead, Ms. Sarah Wynter has rebuilt a brand new character to Daisy, and all the sudden Daisy is a new character to us, fans, who are deeply disappointed.
The plot is very not clear on why it has to bring out Cameron and what is the point of him. I believe that each grim reaper would know why they shouldn’t go against the rules after their first few reaps, according to the first few episodes on the TV show. It not making any sense that they would go try something against the rules this days. Even so, they do, there got to be an explanation for us, let us know what on earth is Cameron trying to do. None of that has shown up. Or it did, I have not paying attention 45 min after it started. Yes, it’s that bad, I don’t want to bare with it, I want to fast forward already.
Ms. Ellen Muth, I don’t know what happened to you, but you really did age a lot, you need to take care of yourself, if by any chance you get to see this.
Lastly, I regret that I watched this movie.

Franklin writes:  

I really enjoyed the movie. I didn’t think I would, and I was so scared I wouldn’t I almost didn’t watch it.

I was put off by the “re-learning lessons already covered in the series” angle until I realized that Mason never ever learned, and neither did Roxy and especially not Daisy. Suddenly Cameron says things are different and of course they eat it up– it’s what they always wanted and the way they thought it should be!

George learned the lessons… but even she never accepted that she couldn’t go back to her family again. Thus her temptation. Mason says, “So what, it’s happened before,” and George replies, “Not like this!”

And beside all that, Cameron is evil and good at succeeding at being evil and thus he dangles the carrots. He knows the score and plays the game as evil reaper. In retrospect I’m surprised we didn’t see more evil reapers in the series.

I enjoyed the movie. It moved me as much or more than any episode, despite the terrible Daisy substitute.

Jon writes:  

I just watched the movie tonight, and loved it. As Franklin said, although the characters had made similar mistakes before I don’t think any of them really learned their lessons until this movie. The resolution of the Reggie plotline made it especially worthwhile.
It was hilarious and moving, and I think a much better way to end the show (if this does turn out to be the end) than the comparatively trivial final ep of season 2.

(spoilers below)

Does anyone else think that the last scene may have been George getting her lights rather than her being promoted? That’s what I thought was happening – it looked to me like she was rising up into the post-it notes, and then they seemed to glow and then there were lights in the sky. Is there an official verdict on this, or is it open to interpretation until more movies are made?

Eric writes:  

who ever wrote this article obviously has no connection to the show or to the characters and should not have had anything to do with reviewing the movie. i love the show and now love the movie.

Eric writes:  

people like that reviewer are the reason good shows get canceled

Johanna writes:  

So you think that reviewers should only write about things they like?

joseph writes:  

I love the show!!!! I wish(pray,hope, wish) that maybe they will make a season 3 if nothing else for closure. I ended the show with the feeling of incompletion. This movie was a good recap;yes the other characters already knew of the consequenses if souls were not properly reaped. However they have been reaping longer and left to watch life but not live it knowing what they missed out;when Cameron shows up wealthy and suggesting that they can live life like they never died of course they would take the tempting bait. I like however that George’s character did not really change all that mutch. All in all i loved the show and though i liked the movie (it still had the essance of the show)it still left me with a larger sensation that they just cut the show off right before it was about to get even better than it was. Any readers who havent seen the show yet watch it first then watch the movie its worth it ..the show any way the movie was good but could have still used a bit of work i agree that it would have been better to turn it into a mini series to finnish off a great show. I DID NOT LIKE THE REPLACEMENT OF DAISY!!!!!!!!! (sorry Sarah Wynter just wasnt up to it). I was hopeing that in the show that George would replace Rube eventualy (not that i hate rube or anything i just thought it would make sense and a cool plot point) I degress watch the show then the movie.

Lu writes:  

I think the new Daisy didn’t have the original Daisy’s charm and didn’t pull of the character at all. I missed Rube’s humor. Other than that the movie was fun and it could be interpreted as an ending for the series. I wish they do more of the series. Its creepy and funny.


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