May 24, 2013



Previously… on SAVE ME:  Beth Harper (Anne Heche), didn’t die when, after the latest of many drunken nights, she choked on a hero sandwich.  She was, in fact, saved by God Him/Herself, and is now a prophet of the Lord’s message, albeit on a small scale.  She knows local facts, like who her teenage daughter Emily (Madison Davenport) is sleeping with, and that the husband of her friend Jane (Heather Burns) would enjoy some oral sex.  She may also have the power to bring down God’s wrath, as the pilot ended with the electrocution of Carla (Alexandra Breckinridge), who not-so-incidentally happens to be the mistress of her husband Tom (Michael Landes).

Episode 2:  On the way from pilot to series, Save Me acquired a showrunner (presumably the show’s creator John Scott Shepherd was deemed too inexperienced to handle the series himself), Darlene Hunt, best known as creator of The Big C, which coincidentally just ended its 4-season run a few days ago.  The fit makes sense:  like Big CSave Me is about a more-or-less ordinary midwestern wife and mother who, after a life-altering experience, becomes a truth-teller, at various times running away from and embracing her unexpected fate.  Save Me, though, lacks any gravitas or consequences–it’s just a silly gimmick that’s already tiresome.

In the second episode, written by Hunt and directed by Scott Winant, Beth prayed on the toilet (this will apparently be a running gag, since she does it twice in the episode–also, apparently in the Harper family anyone can walk in on anyone else in the bathroom, considering that Emily interrupts Beth both times).  She went to church for the first time ever, and found herself feeling entirely at home (including some gospel singing) until she saw that her heavenly voices weren’t being taken seriously.  She correctly foretold a neighbor’s gym injury, and brought down little bits of Godly wrath by causing the nearby fire to flare up when she found Emily outdoors drinking with a group of shady friends.  The main point of the episode, though, was that God guided her to being able to bring her estranged friends back together with her again when a blackout that affected all the houses except hers caused everyone to flock to her place, carrying desserts.  Tom’s mistress, meanwhile, remained in a coma, but her hair was all electrified up, so we’d know it was meant to be funny.

There are a lot of things wrong with Save Me, like a nearly total lack of laughs, but perhaps the most jaw-droppingly bad thing about it is the way it wants to have its Godly cake and eat it too.  It’s not an out-and-out farce like Bruce Almighty, and it desperately doesn’t want to be seriously religious, so Beth’s messages from the Almighty have no purpose other than to serve as her fairy Godmother/father.  (It’s God for the Me Generation.)  The whole concept is so trivializing that it can actually offend both the devout and the atheistic.  Heche, also a producer of the show, works like crazy to make something of all this, and Landes and Davenport are fine in their TV befuddled husband and smart-mouthed but still good at heart teen way, but Save Me would have to be exceptionally good if it were to work, and it’s not any good at all.  It seemed odd when FOX chose to let its high-profile Goodwin Games quietly expire as a summer series surrounded by reruns, but the only mystery about Save Me is how it got greenlit at all.

ORIGINAL VERDICT:  Change the Channel

EPISODE 2:  Even In Summer, There Are Better Things to Watch and Do


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."