'Save Me' TV Review: Can This Series Make It Through An Entire Season?
Save Me, a new comedy on NBC, stars Anne Heche as a drunk and lonely wife and mother turned prophet of God after choking on a sandwich. Heche plays Beth Harper, a woman with a (stereotypically) troubled family life: a dysfunctional marriage and motherhood, thanks in large part to her drinking problem and bad attitude. Her husband, Tom (Michael Landes), is having an affair with a younger, attractive employee of his, Carly (Alexandra Breckenridge). And Beth’s daughter, Emily (Madison Davenport), is distant and sarcastic. Beth’s immature antics have also distanced her from her friends in the neighborhood.
The pilot episode is paced far too quickly, zooming through and covering everything possible in 22 minutes. It’s hard to follow what exactly is happening at any given moment in the episode, because this pacing gives the viewer no chance to figure out what just happened. In following episodes, however, the pacing relaxes and the stories become easier to follow.
Beth begins the pilot episode with a flashback to her precarious past. A heavy drinker and partier, she alienated herself from her neighbors and pushed her husband away so much that he has been having an affair with Carly for six months (and until her near-death revelation, has intended to end things with Beth). In one of her drunken bouts, she choked on a sandwich. Though it’s unclear whether it was near-death or she was resurrected, the incident leads to a complete personality change, and she finds herself newly appreciative of her life and ready to drop her bad habits.
Struggling to figure out how she just “knows” things all of a sudden, she talks it out with her estranged husband. She describes it as, “[I]t comes in as a feeling, and then it’s a knowing, and sometimes I smell things…then He tells me to go tell other people.” Tom unintentionally leads his fully un-religious wife to deem herself a prophet of God. Throughout the pilot, however, it is hard for the viewer to know when God is telling Beth something, and given the gossipy nature of the information she receives in this episode, it seems more like a show about a psychic gossip than a prophet (future episodes provide visions more clearly, such as ones that are about being a good person rather than discovering her daughter’s private life).
Beth works to make amends with her neighbors, including Jenna (Heather Burns), who ultimately forgives her after God helps her figure out why she and her husband are distant. Beth also helps her daughter figure out how to solve boy troubles (though Emily seems to forgive and open up to her mother awfully quickly given Emily’s initial skepticism and their previously distant relationship), while a doubtful Tom talks about it with Carly, who believes Tom is falling for his wife again instead of her. In the middle of a thunderstorm – of course – Carly comes to the Harpers’ home to confront Beth. Unintentionally, a surprisingly calm Beth strikes her with lightning, putting her in a coma – until about four episodes later, at which point Carly has conveniently lost her memory of the last six months, giving Beth and Tom a chance to work on their marriage.
A fun show with many clichés, Save Me will ultimately be fighting a tough battle for a regular spot in the NBC lineup. As it stands, this program does not seem strong enough to carry a full series as is.
Though I admit that I enjoyed the show in a guilty-pleasure sort of way and would love to see it strengthened, no moments were laugh-out-loud funny, and many were not too believable, though perhaps that’s part of the program’s attempted charm. More could be done to bring out the potential for this show beyond small (admittedly nice) clichéd cutesy storylines, but I doubt this series is in it for the long haul.
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