Review: ‘Save Me’

Save Me

Anne Heche's summer sitcom tryout for NBC feels whimsical but awfully slight

Anne Heche’s TV roles have hewn toward the whimsical, and “Save Me” – a half-hour premiering with back-to-back episodes on NBC – is no exception. Echoing the movie “Hello Again” (which makes sense, since at times Heche seems to be channeling Shelley Long of post-“Cheers” vintage), Heche plays a suburban woman who has a spiritual epiphany after a near-death (or was it actual death?) experience. So is she really talking to God, or just mildly daft? Despite its lightheartedness, this summer tryout seems far too generic to warrant an affirmative response to the inherent plea in its title.

As the single-camera half-hour opens, Heche’s Beth Harper is debating whether to murder her philandering husband (Michael Landes), describing herself (in a heavy-handed voiceover narration, seemingly more suited to the CW) as “an angry drunken bitch, in a good marriage gone bad.”

Instead, she decides to wolf down a sandwich, nearly (or maybe actually) choking to death on it.

Spared, Beth seeks to rehabilitate her various relationships, from her marriage to her surly teenage daughter (played by Madison Davenport, and honestly, there must be a TV-only sale on snotty kids at Sears) to her various neighbors. At first no one really knows how to process this apparent change of heart, least of all her husband’s mistress (“American Horror Story’s” Alexandra Breckinridge), who angrily accuses him of “cheating on me with you’re whacked-out wife.”

Created by novelist John Scott Shepherd (“Henry’s List of Wrongs”), the program is at least initially too mired in sitcom conventions and flourishes – including musical riffs seemingly lifted straight out of “Desperate Housewives” – to derive much mileage out from the “Is God really talking to Beth?” conceit. And while tapping into religion’s ratings power shouldn’t be taken lightly, given the tone, situations and scheduling, “Save Me” seems unlikely to be granted enough time to fully explore those possibilities beyond the once-over-lightly approach exhibited in the pilot.

For all the talk about original summer programming, moreover, it’s hard to escape the nagging sense this is strictly Amortization Theater – burning off completed episodes of a concept the network ordered and then thought better of scheduling in any serious way.

Granted, that happens with some frequency, and hey, to err is human. It’s just to forgive … is not standard reviewing policy.

Save Me

(Series; NBC, Thur. May 23, 8 p.m.)

Production

Filmed in Los Angeles by JSS Entertainment and Original Film in association with Sony Pictures Television.

Crew

Executive producers, John Scott Shepherd, Scott Winant, Neal H. Moritz, Vivian Cannon, Alexa Junge, Darlene Hunt; producers, Joanne Toll, Anne Heche; director, Winant; writer, Shepherd; camera, Michael Weaver; production designer, Victoria Paul; editor, Dan Schalk; music, Danny Lux; casting, Donna Rosenstein. 30 MIN.

Cast

Anne Heche, Michael Landes, Madison Davenport, Alexandra Breckinridge, Heather Burns, Joy Osmanski

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  1. Smiller4610 says:

    I love this show! I will be so disappointed if it gets canceled. It is a funny, wholesome show that makes us laugh out loud and feel good about watching it. I’m recording the series and will watch every episode several times, especially when I need some feel-good, uplifting entertainment.

  2. Su Leoni says:

    I like it. A tv show doesn’t need to blow your head off or assault your senses to be good. This show is just good. And since I like it, it is probably doomed. I’m a 60 year old female, not the demographic tv shows look for. But, you know what, I think we watch much more tv than a 20- or 30-year-old does. And, we spend more $ on their commercial products because we have more money to spend! Please leave us at least one show we enjoy. NBC, please keep your hand off this one.

  3. I think Ann H. is very funny in this show. One problem is when the writers misquote (through the actors) the bible. For example, God never “cuts a baby in half,” in the bible. The person who suggests that the baby be “cut in half” was Solomon. After one woman, (while sleeping) rolls onto her baby killing it, she decides to take another woman’s baby for her own. They go before Solomon claiming both to be the mother of the surviving child. Solomon knows that the real mother would rather give her baby away rather than having it killed. He gives the baby to the mother who wants the baby to live and not the one who is willing to have the child killed.

  4. Patricia Paulsen says:

    It is totally amazing, and pretty disgusting, that anyone would take this trash seriously enough to review it. This show is the poster child for the concept “vast wasteland”. If network television is dead, it’s shows like this that killed it!

  5. F L says:

    I wholeheartedly disagree with the tone of this review. What pray tell qualifies as “good TV” these days ? Remember Friday Night Lights ? Jericho ? Battlestar Galactica (2003) ? Surely tops on my list, but there’s also room for the lighter-hearted Friends, How I Met Your Mother, Mindy Project, The Office, Modern Family.

    Save Me feels a bit like Eli Stone, but quicker-hitting and spot on with my modern Christian experiences. I love this show so far and am going to keep watching !

  6. Lynn says:

    Really enjoyed the story line, was funny. The B word was really overused especially for a primetime viewing. Cant let the family watch this. Went to far with her peeing on the old ladies lawn. I am not sure if I will watch this again. Had a lot of potential but is missing the mark. Trying to be a funny wholesome show but also crude. That combination doesn’t work well for me.

  7. Phyllis says:

    I liked it a lot. It gave me some real laughs and I thought the writing was good.

  8. Rik says:

    I liked the first 2 episodes.

  9. Cat says:

    I loved it, a series with real morals, reminds me of “My name is Earl” lighthearted entertainment. I hope it lasts. I really do. A real change from the kill em up gore shockers that seem to be overrunning all the mainstream channels.

  10. Kristine says:

    This premise was already done last year in a webseries on KoldCast.tv. Seriously. You can watch the whole series here:
    http://www.koldcast.tv/video/the_book_of_dallas_chapter_1

    And it’s a LOT better…

  11. sally reynolds says:

    I don’t usually enjoy comedies, but i did like this one; it’s not the first, nor last, show on tv that expects us to suspend believability; ignoring logic & reality is the basis of most television shows; i found anne heche perfect for this role & the supporting characters played just to the right touch

  12. Patty Brown says:

    I enjoyed the show very much. It was funny and entertaining while not being God bashing. I’m a Christian and was not offended by the offering, quite an usual occurrence when networks try to develop characters to fit that description. It was a hoot!

  13. Good review. Save Me, though, is just the latest in a long string of disasters for NBC, which seems bent on its own destruction. It didn’t learn from its mistake the first time it replaced Leno with a lightweight, it keeps cancelling other shows, a lot of which are really good (e.g., Law and Order and Prime Suspect), and it replaces them with second-rate garbage (e.g., Grimm, Revolution, Save Me, Hannibal, and Parks and Recreation). It seems obvious that NBC needs a major house cleaning in its programming department.

    • Ms Della D says:

      I (mostly) agree with you Edward.
      I thought this show was just plain stupid, as are most of the second rate shows you listed.
      However, as long as people settle for such crap it will keep showing up in programming.

    • Cat says:

      I take it you really treasure death and destruction as entertainment.

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