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"Saving Grace"

By admin Published: July 23, 2007

I wrote about the show, premiering tonight, in a previous post called "A Wedding and Three TV Shows." Looking back at those comments, I don't have a lot to add, so I'll just save you backtracking by posting them again after the jump. ...

Here goes...

After the disappointment of "Damages," I might have been a little more primed to enjoy "Saving Grace," which stars Holly Hunter as an Oklahoma City police detective who finds herself in intense conversations with an angel.

I know, you're thinking "Touched by an Angel" and "Joan of Arcadia." "Saving Grace" leans closer to the latter, but with a grime and sexual swagger that make it much more adult. Where I loved "Joan" for its first season, I'm not quite as wild about "Grace." Still, I want to see more.

See, Grace is a mess. She screws around, and isn't too picky about the marital status of her partners. She drinks too much. She takes a pill or three. She has a wicked temper, and as tiny as Hunter is, you quickly realize that it would be a mistake to pick a fight with her.

Then, one night, drunk and driving home, she hits a pedestrian. And asks God for help. Which arrives in the form of a tobacco-chewing, pudgy, T-shirt wearing angel named Earl (Leon Rippy). Grace, we find, has been on the fast track to hell -- and Earl has been hanging around, waiting for a chance to untrack her.

It won't be easy, for Grace or for Earl. But the show is perfectly comfortable in making it difficult for them, because it is also comfortable with the idea that an angel has come to help Grace -- no coyness, strong faith, even when Grace is skeptical.

There are good things, including what becomes of that pedestrian Grace hits. Still, I'm not sure how long the show can sustain its balance of the faith story, Grace's personal issues and police exploits. (In the personal/police combination, you can see how this would fit well with "The Closer.") The second episode was not as good as the first, mainly because the police case was a lot less interesting than Grace's life, but also because of a shocker ending that feels too out of left field.

Even so, you've got a lot of good people at work -- Hunter, Rippy, "The Shield's" Kenneth Johnson, Laura San Giacomo among them. And they've been given plenty to work with. I'll be back for the third episode in any case, to see the aftershock from the second show, and I'll be around for the fourth because I like just enough of the first two.

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