Review: ‘Saved by the Light’

Brinkley (Eric Roberts) is the local hell-raiser and troublemaker in his small Georgia town, to the distress of his parents (Ted Manson, K Callan) while somewhat exciting his wife (Lynette Walden).

Brinkley (Eric Roberts) is the local hell-raiser and troublemaker in his small Georgia town, to the distress of his parents (Ted Manson, K Callan) while somewhat exciting his wife (Lynette Walden).

After several instances of the present-day equivalent of foreclosing on widows and orphans, Brinkley is struck by lightning, a force that pops him out of his shoes and bounces him off the ceiling. Before he revives in a hospital, he’s surrounded by clouds, with a voice — God, the Spirit of Christmas Past, whatever — showing him videotaped flashbacks of earlier violent behavior and leaving him with the message, “You are a power (sic) spiritual being, and love makes the difference. And now you must go back.”

Home in Georgia, Brinkley cleans up his act, aided by a proclaimed expert in near-death experience (Don McManus), who takes him on the road. Meanwhile, he’s still receiving messages and prophecies from “beings of light,” telling other people that they, too, are powerful, spiritual beings and that love makes the difference.

He meets other near-death survivors; saves an attempted suicide (Amber Elias) who has apparently gone to Hell before returning; and eases his dying mother (a nice performance from Callan) to the Other Side, all the while maintaining a “more spiritual than thou” attitude that makes his wife, among others, yearn for the feisty old Brinkley.

All of this is presented with a perfectly straight face, and virtually no intentional humor to brighten up the proceedings. Special effects are low-budget , though the Jacksonville, Fla., locations are somewhat fresh. Roberts, not surprisingly, is far more interesting before he died — afterwards, his performance is worthy of a latenight time-share salesman.

In a more perfect world, “X- Files” agents Mulder and Scully would come down from D.C. and rip the lid off this shoddy enterprise.

Saved by the Light

(Tues. (12), 8-10 p.m., Fox)

Production

Filmed in Jacksonville, Fla., by Four Point Entertainment. Executive producers, Ron Ziskin, Shukri Ghalayini; producer, Ken Raskoff; director, Lewis Teague; script, John M. Mandel, based on the book "Saved by the Light" by Dannion Brinkley with Paul Perry.

Crew

Camera, Alan Caso; editor, Tina Hirsch; production design, Vince Cresciman; art director, Vera Mills; sound, Al Maguire; music, Patrick Williams.

Cast

Cast: Eric Roberts, Lynette Walden, K Callan, Don Harvey, Ted Manson, Don McManus, Amber Elias, Chris Nelson Norris, Michael Flippo, Fred Mooneyham, Dan Bright, Allison McKay, Michele Carter-Freeman, Elizabeth Alley, Autumn Huff, Eulan Middlebrooks, Eliza Roberts, George Colangelo, Brett Rice, Tom Chapman, Joan Glover, Tom Nowicki, Chuck Benjamin, Steve Raulerson, Suzan Hughes, Ralph Wilcox, David Hughes, Hank Stone, Avis-Marie Barnes, Jim R. Coleman, John Alexander, Mark Brown, Jim Greene, Suzanne Arthur, Jennifer Langdon, Robert Catrini, Christi Baeuerle, Steve Ritzi. Clinically dead for more than 20 minutes following an accidental electrocution, Dannion Brinkley came back to life. Dramatization of real-life Brinkley's story is being presented by Fox, the network responsible for airing alien autopsies and "The X-Files" as sort of a new age "A Christmas Carol." All but the least cynical should reply with a resounding, "Bah! Humbug!"
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