TV Review - Angel From Hell

This series was created by Tad Quill, a writer-producer of Scrubs and Spin City. It was directed by Don Scardino, the helmer of many episodes of 30 Rock and 2 Broke Girls. It stars Jane Lynch, the Emmy-winning, comedic actress from Glee and some Christopher Guest films, so the pedigree working on this show should have ensured humorous gold. Sadly, the whole thing sank like a stone. There was just nothing funny about it, and what they tried to make funny felt really strained and forced.

Jane Lynch plays Amy, a woman whom we meet as a street magician and insult comic who is wise-cracking, booze-drinking, taquito-eating, computer-hacking and bicycle-riding. She could just be an eccentric, homeless person, totally upbeat and positive but with boundary issues.

Maggie Lawson (Psych) plays Allison, a dermatologist whose mother recently died. She has a brother, Brad, played by Kyle Bornheimer (You Again and Bachelorette), and a father who's also a doctor, Marv, played by Kevin Pollak (A Few Good Men and The Usual Suspects). When Allison meets Amy, Amy becomes obsessed with Allison and claims to want to help her.

Allison becomes worried Amy is some kind of crazy stalker. However, Amy claims to be Allison's guardian angel, not just figuratively but the actual and literal, real thing. Allison doesn't believe Amy is an actual angel from Heaven, but Amy does prove helpful in certain regards, so Allison decides to befriend Amy and just continue hanging around her.

Obviously, the show's key question is whether Amy is an actual angel from Heaven or whether she's just a crazy lady. The first few episodes never ask her to exhibit supernatural powers or sprout wings. She's tasked only to prove her powers through verbal predictions, but other than a slight psychic sense, Amy feels and acts human through-and-through. This, as a conceit, is interesting, but it doesn't really push it to its limits or give any real weight to it. Whether she's a real angel should have been more of an issue.

Yes, it's a comedy and dealing with serious issues probably wasn't on the forefront of Quill or Scardino's minds. However, good drama can and often-time does enhance good comedy. Quill tries to hang this series on the shoulders of Allison and her family who are plain and white characters who are decidedly boring. They have no real drama. This undermines the entire premise, as the constant truth that Allison doesn't need a guardian angel is consistently reinforced. Allison is a highly privileged, white girl who is a medical doctor. Why does she need help? She has every advantage in the world.

In the second episode, Amy states that all people have guardian angels, so it's not like Allison is special. This might aide in the ambiguity of Amy's character, but it hurts an audience's suspension of disbelief or even reason to watch in the age of too-much-TV. For example, if Allison isn't so special, then why does Amy latch onto her as she does? Is it just a random psychosis?

If Amy really is an angel, then where is the big picture outlook? Neither Allison nor Amy see how privileged, white people getting this kind of seemingly divine help is ridiculous. Instead of Allison, the central character should have been a staunch atheist or Muslim, a bigot, a homophobe, or a woman of color who is really down on her luck, in prison or in danger, something that would have presented a real challenge or some drama.

With Allison being so lily-white or as boring as she is, it thus makes this series boring. It makes the viewer reject the idea that the show is worthy of following because Allison isn't worthy of following, as she sorely isn't worthy of divine intervention.

One Star out of Five.
Rated TV-PG-DL.
Running Time: 30 mins.
Cancelled on CBS.


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