×

TV Review: ‘Angel From Hell’

With:
Jane Lynch, Maggie Lawson, Kevin Pollack, Kyle Bornheimer

Angel from Hell” does a remarkable thing: It makes the viewer want to avoid spending time with Jane Lynch and Maggie Lawson, both of whom are very appealing and talented performers. Lynch’s character, Amy, who describes herself as a guardian angel, tries repeatedly to insert herself into the humdrum life of Allison (Lawson), and there’s a similar dynamic at work in this grating show, which aims at whimsy and misses the target. The CBS comedy labors mightily to make its premise worthy of the considerable array of talent expended on it, but never quite makes its central ideas work. In her more frustrated moments, Allison considers taking out a restraining order against Amy, who is either a divine emissary or an unhinged woman with a drinking problem. Viewers don’t necessarily have to take legal action against the comedy, which is amiable and generally harmless, but it might be wise to avoid “Angel” unless it develops into something less desperate and insistent.

Why Amy turns up in Allison’s life at this particular point in time is never really clearly established, but the general idea, according to Amy, is that Allison doesn’t have enough fun, and needs to take better care of herself. (Of course, it goes without saying that the life of a well-to-do L.A. dermatologist is uniquely challenging and full of trials.) Many sustainable comedies have been built on similar ideas involving an unpredictable live wire getting a tightly wound adult to loosen up, but “Angel’s” attempts at spontaneity feel as forced and loud as the clown costume Amy wears in the second episode.

“Angel’s” cast is very good, and to the extent that any moment in the comedy works, it’s the result of their unrelenting efforts. Kevin Pollack and Kyle Bornheimer, who play Allison’s father and brother, offer up very deft work in their limited roles, but the fact that the entire cast has to try this hard to create angelic magic is a problem. It’s not quite believable that Allison would let this woman in her life because she is lonely and needs “a weird friend,” but that concept would be easier to accept if the comedic payoffs were plentiful. They are not.

All things considered, Allison puts it best: “The line between stalker and angel seems very thin.” It does, and the fact that this talented group of professionals couldn’t consistently find the right side of that boundary is perhaps an indication that the whole enterprise was not divinely inspired.

TV Review: 'Angel From Hell'

Series: CBS, Thurs. Jan. 7, 9:30 p.m.

Production: Shot in Los Angeles by CBS Television Studios.

Crew: Executive producers, Tad Quill, Don Scardino; director, Scardino; writer, Quill; director of photography, Matthew Clark; production designer, Vaughan Edwards; editor, Scott James Wallace; music, Gabriel Mann, Rebecca Kneubuhl; casting, Dorian Frankel, Sibby Kirchgessner. 30 MIN

Cast: Jane Lynch, Maggie Lawson, Kevin Pollack, Kyle Bornheimer

More TV

  • Amy Schumer'I Feel Pretty' film premiere,

    Amy Schumer Documentary 'Expecting Amy' Ordered at HBO Max

    Amy Schumer’s journey through her pregnancy is coming to HBO Max. The streamer, set to launch in the spring of 2020, has ordered the documentary “Expecting Amy” (working title), which will provide a “unfiltered,” “behind-the-scenes” look at Schumer as she goes through a difficult pregnancy while touring and preparing for a stand-up special. ”Women are [...]

  • Bluff City Law

    'Bluff City Law' Will Not Receive Full Season Order at NBC

    “Bluff City Law” will wrap up its first season after the NBC drama airs its initial 10 episodes. While not an official cancellation, the move clearly does not bode well for the freshman series getting a second season. The show has aired four episodes to date, with the fifth set to air this coming Monday. [...]

  • Disney-Family-Movies

    Disney Family Movies SVOD Service Is Shutting Down Ahead of Disney Plus Debut

    After 11 years, Disney is pulling the plug on Disney Family Movies On Demand — with the service’s shutdown coming just days before the launch of the Mouse House’s Disney Plus. Disney Family Movies, which cost between $5-$10 per month, has been available via pay-TV providers in the U.S., including Comcast Xfinity, Charter Communications, Verizon [...]

  • Sunnyside

    TV Ratings: 'Sunnyside' Stable in Final Broadcast Episode

    NBC’s “Sunnyside,” which was pulled from the network’s schedule this week, closed off its broadcast run to roughly the same numbers as last week. The Kal Penn comedy posted a 0.3 rating and 1.2 million total viewers, continuing its run as the lowest rated and least watched new fall show in Live+Same Day. NBC has [...]

  • Bill Macy dead

    Bill Macy, 'Maude' Star, Dies at 97

    Bill Macy, who played Bea Arthur’s husband Walter Findlay on the “All in the Family” spinoff, “Maude,” died on Thursday. He was 97. “My buddy Bill Macy passed away at 7:13pm tonight. He was a spitfire right up to the end,” producer and manager Matt Beckoff wrote on Facebook. “My condolences to his beautiful wife Samantha [...]

  • Credit: Netflix / Black Mirror

    All3Media Drops Out of the Bidding for Endemol Shine (EXCLUSIVE)

    All3Media has dropped out of the running to buy rival production and distribution giant Endemol Shine, Variety has learned. All3Media, jointly owned by Discovery and Liberty Global, had lately been running the numbers to see if the acquisition made sense. Liberty is building up a huge war chest, having gained approval to offload a raft [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content