Review: ‘Saving Grace’

Returning for its second season backing up "The Closer," "Saving Grace" opens with a taut action sequence before segueing into a dark examination of its title character's inner turmoil, played with riveting gusto by star-producer Holly Hunter.

Returning for its second season backing up “The Closer,” “Saving Grace” opens with a taut action sequence before segueing into a dark examination of its title character’s inner turmoil, played with riveting gusto by star-producer Holly Hunter. Nothing about the premise frankly explains why this show is as compelling as it is — a credit to series creator Nancy Miller’s writing and the topnotch cast assembled around the diminutive Hunter, whose ferocious performance hardly requires much support.

Season one saw Hunter’s boozing, bed-hopping homicide cop Grace Hanadarko receive unexpected and mostly unwanted visits from an angel named Earl (Leon Rippy), whose ministrations were at best coolly received. (The two actually wrestled at one point, giving new meaning to being touched by an angel.)

The new flight begins with Grace still grappling with her molestation by a pedophile priest (Rene Auberjonois), debating whether to seek vengeance — with Earl, preoccupied elsewhere, offering scant input regarding the peril to her immortal soul.

Hunter’s live-wire portrayal of Grace is practically reward enough, but the show also establishes strong characters around her, including her wry friend Rhetta (Laura San Giacomo); tough boss (Lorraine Toussaint); co-worker/boy toy (Kenneth Johnson); and of course Rippy as the cheeky, tough-love cherub.

Those collective elements manage to trump the premiere’s been-there devices and plot, which feel a little late and predictable in piling on the Catholic church scandal and its grim consequences. Oddly, a secondary storyline about a police dog — and the media’s fascination with the canine cop’s fate — carries considerably more zing.

Still, “Saving Grace” is less about its procedural storytelling than it is about simply creating a venue to showcase Hunter’s undeniable smallscreen star quality. By that yardstick, whether or not Grace is ultimately saved, it’s a role that deserves to be savored.

Saving Grace

Series; TNT, Mon. July 14, 10 p.m.


Filmed in Los Angeles by Grand Prods. and Paid My Dues Prods. in association with Fox Television Studios. Executive producers, Nancy Miller, Gary A. Randall, Artie Mandelberg, Holly Hunter; co-executive producers, Lori-Etta Taub, Denitria Harris-Lawrence, Mark Israel, Hans Tobeason; director, Mandelberg; writer, Miller.


Camera, Rohn Schmidt; production designer, Colin Irwin; editor, Jerry Frizell; music, Everlast; casting, Robert Ulrich, Eric Dawson, Carol Kritzer. Running time: 60 MIN.


Grace Hanadarko - Holly Hunter Earl - Leon Rippy Ham Dewey - Kenneth Johnson Butch Ada - Bailey Chase Leon Cooley - Bokeem Woodbine Bobby Stillwater - Gregory Cruz Clay - Dylan Minnette Captain Kate Perry - Lorraine Toussaint Rhetta Rodriguez - Laura San Giacomo

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More TV News from Variety