'Save Me' TV Review: Plagued By Sitcom Clichés
Episodes 2-6 of Anne Heche’s Save Me have aired, but even though the show has strengthened in some ways since the pilot – we can finally tell when Beth is receiving a message from God, unlike in the first episode – I’m still not convinced it can make it for the long haul.
The second episode finds Beth trying to make amends with her neighbors and restart their old potlucks. Beth also tries to return a coffeemaker to a friend – she stole it – but the friend is unwilling to accept it or Beth’s change in attitude, given the trouble she’s caused in the past. Needless to say, it’s an understandable struggle at first, but by the end of the episode – after causing the neighborhood electricity to go out because of the lightning she caused in the pilot – the old friends gather at the Harper’s house and accidentally restart the potluck. Friendships saved by a supernatural occurrence? Oh please.
In the third episode, God tells Beth to help a grumpy neighbor – whom the other residents despise, as did she in the past – fix up her rundown house and soften her personality. This kills her friends’ dreams of a trendy gay couple moving into the neighborhood (a little offensive with the stereotyping, but not too badly). Of course, after the friends are convinced to help the neighbor, a gay couple walks into the restaurant asking if there are any homes for sale in their neighborhood – cue angry stares at Beth. A bit too expected and cutesy if you ask me.
The fourth episode finds Beth ordered by God to save a squirrel her husband accidentally ran over. It seems a lost cause at first, but by the end of the episode there are two miraculous successes – first, at an anniversary party for their neighbors, Tom finally admits to his skepticism and anger with Beth, allowing them to open up and work on their marriage. Second, even though the veterinarian declared the squirrel dead, it comes back to life and runs back into the wild. An added feature was Carly (Alexandra Breckenridge) waking up from her coma with her memory of the last six months – the length of her affair with Tom (Michael Landes) conveniently lost.
As a side note I have to add here that Tom’s quick willingness to move on, as well as his lack of hurt from being forgotten by Carly is way too easy. He seemed completely ready to divorce Beth and have a relationship with Carly in the pilot episode, but a mere four episodes later he seems to have genuinely changed his mind awfully quickly, despite how he and Beth functioned together before her incident. How could his wife’s supposed new gift and that one argument in episode four be enough for them to move on? How could they not need marriage counseling at the very least?
In episode five, Beth attempts to find a way to earn Emily’s (Madison Davenport) respect and fulfill the 5th Commandment (Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother). She tries two things – embarrassingly yelling, “I love you!” and “I honor you!” to Emily in public, and trying to get a job at her old news station where she was a weather girl – before getting fired for drunkenness. However, while watching the new weather girl broadcast, God tells her that the report is wrong – and apparently God can’t handle people not knowing the proper weather report and needed Beth to correct her – and Beth gets too excitable on air. Later, fed up with Emily’s lack of respect the two argue, leading Beth to be injured by a fallen frame. At the clinic, the two decide that they can find a way to respect one another without injury or humiliation (please, please, please ease up on the cutesy clichés, Save Me). On their way out, Beth finds that her connection to God means she can help the doctor with patients who need it. She gets a job as a receptionist, helping with patients – the perfect job for a prophet, of course.
Episode six finds Beth trying to cleanse herself by having a yard sale of items from her past, and convincing her husband to bring his bosses home for dinner. While trying to convince him, we see the oh-so-popular flashbacks with Heche in a bad wig acting like a drunken, angry teenager, as seemed to be the norm with past-Beth. Through a series of antics the food ends up ruined and they order in. Additionally, God, claiming that Beth has too much stuff, insists she sell the dinner china, table, and her new dress to yard sale latecomers – cue wacky dinner scene! After acting like a brat at dinner, Emily apologizes to Beth and Tom and finds her baby book. It was empty at the start of the episode, but as a reward for listening to Him/Her, God fills the baby book and fixes Beth and Tom’s radio that’s been broken for years. The lesson is clear – it’s not about “stuff,” it’s memories, and the people those memories are shared with.
I wrote it earlier, but I’ll say it again – if Save Me wants to make it, it needs to lose the constant moral moments and cliché/cutesy sitcom scenes. It’s constant and makes the show predictable and, frankly, unappealing. Additionally, the writers need to work on developing Tom more – he’s moving along in an unrealistic way. What husband is that quick to decide to work on his marriage and give up his relatively sane and attractive girlfriend? And what husband stays in a marriage that was so awful – based on the flashbacks we’ve seen – for so long?
Save Me is fun to watch if nothing else is on – it’s entertaining enough – but it doesn’t seem strong or developed enough to stand on its own in the long run.
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