“Saving Grace”

Reading the message boards at tnttv.com about the new show Saving Grace reveals that there were a lot of people who thought TNT was going to provide us with an updated copycat version of Touched by an Angel.  Trust me, Earl (the angel in Saving Grace) is no one you want touching you, but he is more likely to spit tobacco juice on you as he does in episode 2.  Those innocent people missed the “Mature Audience” designation that begins each show, and were shocked by the opening scene of Episode 1.  There Grace is shown having sex with a married man, immediately followed by a neighbor getting an eyeful as Grace stands naked in front of her bathroom window.  Anyone watching should have guessed this was not going to be your ordinary night of network television.

Here is how TNT describes the show:

Academy Award®-winning actress Holly Hunter (The Piano) takes on the role of a cynical police detective facing a personal crisis of divine proportions in the provocative new drama series SAVING GRACE, premiering this July on TNT.

In her television series debut, Hunter stars as Grace Hanadarko, a tormented, fast-living Oklahoma City police detective who, despite being at the top of her field, takes self-destruction to new heights.  After seeing tremendous tragedy in her life, both professionally and personally, Grace lives life hard and fast. She drinks too much, sleeps with the wrong men and defies authority. Grace has a tender side with her 22 nieces and nephews, but that is a side that most of the world doesn’t get to see. It all catches up with her one night when, as she’s driving too fast after too many drinks, she hits a man who is walking along the road. In an uncharacteristic moment, Grace asks for help, and she gets it – in the form an unconventional angel named Earl (Leon Rippy, Deadwood). Earl tells Grace that she is in trouble and running out of chances, but he wants to help lead her back to the right path. The journey, for both of them, will not be an easy one.

Creator Nancy Miller says of Hunter, “Holly can break your heart and make you laugh in the same moment. She’s astonishing. Grace is a complex character, deeply troubled but searching for the good, with a heart full of love and pain, and a surprising tenderness when you least expect it.”

In addition to Rippy, the cast also includes Kenneth Johnson (The Shield) as Grace’s partner; Gregory Norman Cruz (Criminal Minds) as detective Bobby Stillwater; Bailey Chase (Las Vegas) as detective Butch Ada; Bokeem Woodbine (The Big Hit) as a death row inmate who figures into Grace’s struggle and Laura San Giacomo (Just Shoot Me) as the criminalist who, despite having strong religious beliefs, is the only one in Grace’s life who does not judge her. 

There are religious spiritual themes throughout, and if Christians are looking for a television show to realistically depict a path toward Christianity, they’ll just have to wait.  The god responding to Grace is generic, not Christian, Jewish, Moslem.   There is thus far in the show resistance/ridicule of a worshiping community of faith.  The Christian understanding of grace is present.  Grace does not deserve (we are led to believe) the help of Earl, and Earl appears and disappears at will … his help is nothing she can control.  At least they got that one right!  Grace’s journey is erratic, and yet through 2 episodes, the deity (I can’t use “god”) doesn’t give up on her.

I’ll probably keep watching just to see how the larger themes are handled.

Pondering Pastor

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