×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Save Me

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

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

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.”

Popular on Variety

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.

More Reviews

  • 6 Underground

    Michael Bay's '6 Underground': Film Review

    If “6 Underground” were opening in theaters, you’d want to be sure to get there on time. Within the first six minutes, Michael Bay destroys a plane, a motorcycle, three cars, countless pedestrians, and the dignity of three Italian nuns. I’m fairly certain that Ryan Reynolds — who heads up the film’s off-the-grid vigilante squad, [...]

  • Bellbird review

    Macao Film Review: 'Bellbird'

    Mild, mellow and as life-affirming as a soft fall of springtime New Zealand rain, Hamish Bennett’s charming if overfamiliar debut feature “Bellbird” — so named after a species of avian indigenous to the region, which Captain Cook reportedly described as having a song “like small bells, exquisitely tuned” — is a fondly bittersweet tribute to [...]

  • Wisdom Tooth

    Macao Film Review: 'Wisdom Tooth'

    Slippery and surprising, full of odd details and insights, and leaching significant visual and thematic texture from its unusual setting, Liang Ming’s “Wisdom Tooth” must be one of the year’s most remarkable debuts. Set in a depressed Chinese fishing town close to the Korean border during the first snow flurries of winter, the film is [...]

  • Buoyancy review

    Macao Film Review: 'Buoyancy'

    The sobering statistic that closes Rodd Rathjen’s impressive debut “Buoyancy,” recently named Australia’s submission in the Oscars’ International Feature category, informs us that currently around 200,000 boys and men are believed to be essentially enslaved to the Thai fishing industry. Many of them have, like Rathjen’s teenage lead character, been trafficked away from home, lured [...]

  • Jumanji: The Next Level

    'Jumanji: The Next Level': Film Review

    When Sony dusted off its 22-year-old “Jumanji” movie for a distant sequel in 2017, it looked to some as though Hollywood had hit rock bottom in terms of pillaging its own properties. In fact, “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” proved to be that rare reboot that built upon its initial high concept — a jungle-themed [...]

  • Greater Clements review

    'Greater Clements': Theater Review

    The American Dream and all of its values have taken quite a beating lately. Director and screenwriter Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story,” Bruce Springsteen’s recent “Western Stars” album, even Ralph Lauren in the documentary “Very Ralph” show us how this country and all of its totems and merits have gone asunder. No dreams are more crushed, [...]

  • Nicole Kidman Charlize Theron Margot Robbie

    'Bombshell': Film Review

    I suspect I won’t be alone in saying that I went into “Bombshell” with a touch of skepticism. The movie is a lively and scabrous docudrama — not a snarkfest (though some of it is bitingly funny) but a meticulous, close-to-the-bone chronicle of how Megyn Kelly (played by Charlize Theron), one of the star anchors [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content