Archive for August, 2007
Saving Grace is a new, original series on TNT. It is part of the network’s lineup of original series that air on Monday nights. It is paired with The Closer, a series starring Kyra Sedgwick as an off-best investigator who heads up a major crime unit for LA’s police department.
Given its leadin and the promotion attached to it, one would have expected that Saving Grace was another series about a tough Southern woman who fights crime. The twist with Saving Grace is that an angel that spits tobacco is the one that does the saving. I was quite surprised when I watched the initial episode. There was nothing in the promotion that I had seen that suggested there was any religious content connected with the show (expect of course the name, but I never thought to take it that literally).
This, however, is no Touched by an Angel. The opening scene of the series has Holly Hunter — the star and executive producer of the show — butt naked having sex up against a bed post with a married man. Her brother is a man of the cloth and they are constantly at odds. She drinks; she smokes; she has sex with any man who happens in her sights. Oh, and she does solve cases, too. Through all of this, her angel pops up at various times to give words of advice and to scare the bejesus out of Grace.
I’m not convinced about the long-term hopes for this program. The angel who spits into a plastic bottle, has giant wings that appear out of nowhere and is Southern and older and kind of cranky is a more appealing character than Grace…not good when the supporting characters are more interesting than the lead.
I’ll keep watching though, because I want to see how they handle the spiritual content. Check it out for yourself. Full episodes are available online.
Now that the summer has hit and the networks are airing re-runs, it’s interesting to me how Ted Haggard’s woes and the arrest of Warren Jeffs have ended up being the thinly veiled basis for primetime drama stories. In the last few weeks I’ve seen 2 Law & Order episodes about pastors who may or may not have had questionable gay and/or drug dealings and an episode of Numbers about a polygamist group. (That one was derived from Jeffs.) We can only assume that the Catholic payout of $600 million will be used in primetime next season.
This, of course, is typical of the depiction of religion on television. Television by definition needs to be dramatic. What’s more dramatic than a very religious person’s fall from grace? Don’t we all get at least a little sense of glee in seeing the “holier-than-thou” sorts be exposed as hypocrits? It is just these extremes that make for good dramatic tension.
That the holiest of the holy are the most likely to enact atrocities is part of Christopher Hitchens’ argument in his book God is not great. (I’m not sure why this book is on the bestseller lists. The writing was very difficult to get through and the argument seems to be beating a dead horse. Not that I disagreed with what Hitchens says. Much of it I think is an interesting argument, just not well presented.) Maybe, then, it is not just television but something in us that makes us want to believe that everyone is, after all, fallible.
Last week, we had a newcomer in the “God on television” genre: TNT’s Saving Grace. More on that next week.