Grace Hanadarko -
Rhetta Rodriguez -
Laura San Giacomo
Ham Dewey -
Bobby Stillwater -
Butch Ada -
Leon Cooley -
OTHER SAVING GRACE
OTHER HEAVEN AND HELL SHOWS
Grace Hanadarko is one messed up cop. She's sleeping with her married partner, drinking and smoking herself into an early grave, ignoring all the rules and on the fast track to burnout city. Then she knocks down and kills a man whilst drunk. In total shock, she is approached by Earl, a man who claims to be an angel and whistles her away to a high peak in the desert to prove it. She is hellbound, but has been given one last chance by God and Earl is the messenger. Since Grace has issues with God at the best of times, she's none to inclined to believe any of this, but as the evidence starts to mount up on both sides of the miracle/delusion divide Grace has a missing child to find as well as her own problems to sort out.
Someone here has seen the CONSTANTINE movie (or read the comic books) because there are so many similarities in the character that it's hard to ignore, except that Constantine already knows that Heaven and Hell exists whilst Grace is still struggling with that concept. So, another burned out, self-destructive cop? Well yes, but at least this one is played by Holly Hunter who manages to inject her basic likeability into a basically unlikeable character. She has support from the equally likeable Leon Rippy as the tobacco-chewing unconventional angel (could there be any other kind nowadays?) and Laura San Giacomo as her science geek friend. These performers make the most of characters who are merely sketches in this plot-heavy opener.
As well as Grace's inner demons (which didn't all need explaining in the pilot - what else is there to learn about her?) there is the missing child plot which is pure police procedural and really just background, the whole angel/last chance set up to explain and the introduction of the real life incarnation of the man killed in her vision accident, which will no doubt be returned to later. That's a lot of information and the pace never lets up. Add in direction that seems as chaotic as its lead character with musical montages, slow-mo and jump cuts all over the place and the show is kinetic if not terribly clear.
SAVING GRACE has taken its time in coming to the UK, but that isn't necessarily a reflection on the quality of the show since it's on season 3 already in the United States.Top
Bring It On, Earl
Grace and the team investigate a death in an oil field. The obvious suspects are ecology campaigners fighting against ‘big oil’, but there are a number of things that don’t add up. Meanwhile, Earl the angel, keeps showing up and annoying Grace to the point that she challenges him to a wrestling match.
James (Spike from BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER) Marsters makes a blink and you’ll miss it cameo appearance in this episode of the cops and angels show and that proves, worryingly, to be the highlight. Holly Hunter’s Grace continues to be spunky and feisty and rebellious and continues to disbelieve all the evidence about Earl the angel in pretty repetitive fashion. She even makes a visit to the prisoner she thought she had killed and goes over exactly the same ground she went over in the last episode.
The police case is frankly uninteresting and leads to a sudden tragedy that ought to have provided a shattering climax, but falls flat because we haven’t had time to get to know any of the characters well yet and the hectic pace that this is all played out at means that we’re unlikely to get a chance to get to know them any time soon. At one point it seemed like the members of Grace’s team were virtually indistinguishable.Top
Bless Me Father, For I Have Sinned
When the manager of a sleazy motel used by many of the local prostitutes is found killed, a maid who knows more about the killing than she is telling takes Sanctuary in a local church, something that brings Grace into conflict with the local priest and with her brother, a member of the church hierarchy.
SAVING GRACE is a police procedural show at heart and the angel out to save her soul is nothing more than a gimmick, something to make it stand out from the crowd. Unfortunately, the story that it tells here doesn't stand out from anything. Apart from a quick chat about the legal and ethical standing of the concept of sanctuary (which is ignored because neither side wants the press to get involved) it's a straight up police story that's been told many times.
Earl the angel appears only briefly and shows that he has a powerful side when he's angry, but has very little impact on the rest of proceedings.
The fast-talking, quick-edited style remains a feature of the show and in one episode the new boss shows more of a character than the rest of the team put together (Grace aside).Top
Keep Your Damn Wings Off My Nephew
Grace is shaken when she sees her nephew talking to the prison inmate who is Earl's other work in progress. She also has to deal with babysitting a zealously religious young witness to keep him safe from friends of the man he is going to testify against.
Earl barely makes an appearance in this episode and he's working in ways as mysterious as those of his boss since he seems determined not to explain to Grace what it is that she needs to do. It apparently involves dreams and a purple door, but that will become plainer in time, hopefully.
The police case is really dull. The teenage religious zealot is a caricature meant to be set against Grace's cynicism and never seems more real than an obvious plot device. The situation could have resulted in some fun, but the opportunity is missed. The real source of the threat is also obvious from early on.Top
Would You Want Me To Tell You?
Grace's aunt comes to town for a family event, but has bad news and a secret to reveal. None of this helps with the case of the missing bronze bull that is taking up Grace's working days.
There's a real barrier to liking this show in the fact that there's almost no really likeable characters in it. Grace quite often doesn't seem worth saving. Then Leon Rippy surveys newspaper clippings of a terrible tragedy and you can't help but be caught up by him.
The investigation into the missing bull statue is almost perfunctory and not very interesting and there's no sense of closure about the emotional issues that are raised for Grace. There's also no explanation as to why Grace spends a good chunk of the episode in her underwear.Top
And You Wonder Why I Lie
Earl challenges Grace to stop lying, but when one truth causes a rift between her and her closest friend and the wife of the man she is sleeping for wants the truth what is Grace to do?
There's an investigation into a dead call girl who turns out to be a freelance journalist, but that's any old cop show stuff. The interesting stuff here is the relationship stuff between Grace and Rhetta, which gives both Holly Hunter and Laura San Giacomo something meaty to get their acting teeth into.
Much of the rest of the supporting storyline is annoying, irrelevant and just goes to underline just what a dislikeable character Grace is, making it difficult to understand why anyone would put up with her at all. Only Holly Hunter's natural charm offsets that.Top
Grace's native american grandfather is showing signs of Alzheimer's. Grace attempts to interest the man in an ongoing investigation into a burned body buried in a ceremonial manner whilst making her already tangled love life even more tangled.
Family can bring pain as well as happiness. Not exactly an earth-shattering revelation, but it's about all that this episode of SAVING GRACE has to say. The show doesn't know whether it wants to be a cop show, a personal drama or a supernatural/religious show. As a result all three facets of the split personality work together to derail each other so that none of the elements really work.
It's still hard to get to know and like any of the characters, even with the stuff that Grace has to deal with in this story it's difficult to empathise with her and that makes it hard to care.Top
Everything's Got a Shelf Life
Grace is shot in a police raid, but though she is wearing a bulletproof vest, the shock stops her heart. Suffering from the impact, she goes straight back to work trying to face down the gang leader everyone knows is responsible.
We've seen this cop show before and the new set of characters aren't enough to make it seem evenly remotely new. Earl the angel's presence is almost perfunctory and the support story of the death row prisoner trying to decide on a course of action for his son proves both distracting and more interesting than the main one. The fact that Grace actually died and came back is barely mentioned let alone examined.
If you like cop show then this might still be up your street, but it's palling for the rest of us.Top
A Language of Angels
A young girl is stabbed to death in a warehouse with the word 'evil' written in blood on the wall. Grace is shaken by the similarities with a crime that happened eleven years before, a crime of which she was the victim.
If you've ever dreamed of seeing Holly Hunter's naked behind on screen for almost the first quarter of a TV show then this is your chance. The story starts with a sex game involving handcuffs going wrong and ends with her admitting to a crime that she herself felt partly responsible for because of the way she handles her sexual encounters. It's deeper stuff, once the storyline reveals itself.
And then there's Earl, revealing on a mountaintop conclusion that God has big plans for Grace and she had better get ready for them. That might be a more interesting direction for the show to take than the crime of the week current format.Top
It's Better When I Can See You
The investigation into a school bus crash that left three children dead is put on hold when tornados strike town, by everyone except Grace that is.
Grace Hanadarko is not an easy person to like. Continuing to press a suspect for information when they are pinned under half a building and in constant pain has to be morally murky at best, no matter how the script justifies it in terms of personal redemption.
Also murky is the storyline involving Leon's conversion to Islam. Dismissive? Irrelevant? All in his head? It's hard to say and impossible to make a point out of.
The effects of the tornadoes and the ensuing devastation is impressively realised.Top
This Is Way Too Normal For You
The death of a mentally subnormal man involved in a minor crime spree distracts Grace from a new relationship.
For once Grace isn't hell bent on driving away everyone around her, drinking herself into a stupor or getting involved in dodgy sex games and, as a result, she proves to be a much more accessible character. By contrast, Earl the angel barely gets a look in on the proceedings which amount to a pretty bog-standard police procedural with very little to recommend it over others in the policing genre.
The relationship that Grace enters into is a surprisingly normal one with only the fact that he is an atheist to give it any odd wrinkle.Top
Is There a Scarlet Letter On My Breast?
A defence attorney with the ability to derail prosecutions through suprise revelations about the police investigation takes up a client that Grace's team jailed and so an assistant District Attorney with some history with Ham arrives to do the job first to ensure that the case doesn't suffer.
This is a change of pace for the show with no case to crack, no investigation to carry out, just each character having to take a long,hard look at the worst of their characters. Of course, that means a very long, hard look in Grace's case. The problem is that the characters still haven't managed to attract the audience enough to make them care and so the effect is somewhat muted.
The line up of Grace's ex-lovers, though, is a great moment.Top
Tacos, Tulips, Ducks and Spices
A revenge killing and family reunion form the backdrop to Grace figuring out the pattern behind Earl's gifts and facing a horror that she thought was past.
Forget the investigation, that's just a clumsy metaphor for what is going on Grace's life. The revelations that are about to come pouring out, the truths that might underpin Grace's behaviour, these are the things that make this season finale stand so much higher than any of the episodes that have preceded it. The moment in the desert where Grace learns the truth and confronts what happened to her with Rhetta is an excellent piece of work from both Holly Hunter and Laura San Giacomo. There are lots of other small moments as well that really raise the quality, such as Leon Rippy's Earl standing behind Grace with tears in his eyes, so full of unknown portent.
There is also the small matter of a cliffhanger ending that kicks off the end of the season in style.Top
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