Monday, October 16, 2017

TV: ABC should save Kevin

The most curious detail about KEVIN PROBABLY SAVES THE WORLD is how Jason Ritter is approximately 8 years older than his father John Ritter was when THREE'S COMPANY first started filming but Jason looks so much younger.

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We said "younger," not "better."

But episode two did go for better by getting rid of the same hairstyle Jason's sported nearly all his career to give him a brush cut instead.

It suits him.

And if you're wondering why we're focusing on image from the start, it's because visuals are so important to this show about Kevin (Jason) who is a corporate burnout who attempted suicide and has now moved in with his sister Amy (JoAnna Garcia) and his niece Reese (Chloe East).

A meteor shower follows and, with it, the arrival of Yvette (Kimberly Hebert Gregory).


A being like an angel, a messenger of God, who explains, "In every generation since the dawn of man there are thirty-six righteous souls and the world and they protect humanity by merely existing.  Now?  There's only one -- you.  Kevin, you are the last of the righteous."

And this is how Kevin ends up tasked with saving the world.

It's a gentle show with darker moments and, a second season elevator scene, where Kevin is doused in water, suggests darker moments are going to get stronger -- which makes sense since saving the world isn't a smiley face stamp.

But, as he learns his purpose, his tasks are simpler -- a new carburetor for his sister Amy's truck (to help her ease out of using it to avoid letting go of her dead husband), helping a guy named Jake (Sam Huntington) explain to his father that he doesn't want to be part of the family business, etc.

Learning to listen to the universe, to hear his calling, Yvette explains, will help him grow.

This is a charming show and would probably do better on Sundays than on Tuesdays where it is capping a two hour sitcom block on ABC that's crashing with each half hour.  Last week, KEVIN PROBABLY SAVES THE WORLD was up .2 million over its lead in, THE MAYOR. This appears to indicate that the show is finding an audience and word of mouth is helping.

The cast is certainly helping.  Jason Ritter, a natural talent, has never had a role this good or delivered so well.  JoAnna Garcia's been great in simple roles.  She's never coasted but she's also never had a role this complex -- she's a mother, she's a widow, she's a professor and a scientist, she loves her brother but worries about his suicide attempt and his sanity.  She juggles it perfectly and you really start to believe that BETTER WITH YOU, for example, might have lasted longer if it had better utilized her.

Kimberly Hebert also has a difficult task.  She's got to be grounded enough that audiences can identify with her while being different enough that we can believe she's a messenger of God (or a manifestation of Kevin's mental illness).

In smaller roles, India de Beaufort (Kristin), J. August Richards (Deputy Nathan) and Dustin Ybarra (Tyler) also deserve praise as do Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas for creating a fascinating show that draws you in naturally -- none of the shock tactics that have been so common in Kevin Williamson's recent works -- Williamson's work and those who aspire to be Williamson.  This is a straight forward, grab you by your hopes series that reminds you quality TV doesn't have to revolve around a drug maker in a suburban tract home.

If ABC has any brains left, they'll give this show time to find an audience.  Season one will likely be a struggle but word of mouth could make this one of ABC's strongest performers in a second season.

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