Sunday, October 8, 2017

Pilot Review: Kevin Saves the World

Kevin Saves the World (ABC)
Premiered October 3 at 10pm

Every season, there are some standard types of shows that premiere, like legal and medical procedurals with a twist. And every season, there are a few shows that have a considerably more ambitious hook, designed to look at the world in a different way by setting up its protagonist with a tall order. This show falls into the latter category, as its selfish main character learns that he’s one of the thirty-six righteous people on Earth in his generation, a concept my wife immediately recognized as the Jewish notion of Tzadikim Nistarim. Normalizing that is a tough job, and this show does its best to do that through a mixture of almost slapstick comedy and dramatic realizations. I’m struck more than anything by the fact that Jason Ritter was chosen to star in this show since he first rose to prominence for his supporting role on “Joan of Arcadia,” another show about someone called to do good things who frequently met with someone who claimed to be God or an agent of God. Ritter, who inexplicably is the only member of the “Parenthood” cast to earn an Emmy nomination throughout the show’s entire run, isn’t the strongest actor, and he’s fine in this role but nothing more. JoAnna Garcia Swisher, who looks like Amy Adams and plays a role similar to the one she did recently in “Arrival,” was so great on “Better With You” and deserves a better part than this one. I understand why this concept might have seemed cool, but I just don’t think it works in this context.

How will it work as a series? Through the power of giving hugs, Ritter’s Kevin seems to be able to improve lives, and he can’t tell anyone about it lest he accidentally confess some embarrassing secret instead. There’s sure to be lots of humor as he tries to be inspiring, and I’m just not sure that the two will jive all that well.
How long will it last? The reviews aren’t that great but they’re not all that bad either. Its Tuesday 10pm timeslot has been difficult for the network for a while, and so this show’s underperformance isn’t too surprising. I don’t see this one going the distance, but there’s no reason just yet to expect that it won’t last through its initial episode order.

Pilot grade: C

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