Saving GraceSaving Grace: Season Two (2009, Fox)
Purchase from Amazon.

TNT’s Saving Grace stars Academy Award winner Holly Hunter as Grace (betcha didn’t see that one coming!), an Oklahoma City homicide detective who’s regularly visited by a real-life angel named Earl (Leon Rippy, formerly of Deadwood). He tells her that God has a plan for her, and despite her skepticism, she does have faith.

Grace is no saint, mind you. She lives hard. She drinks to excess, has questionable work ethics (like throwing suspects down a flight of stairs to get the statement she wants), and she once had an affair with her partner, a married man. Grace has a nephew who likes to hang out with her and emulate her, and her best friend, Rhetta (Just Shoot Me’s Laura San Giacomo), is the medical examiner. Saving Grace is well acted and the stories are thought-provoking, at least in the episodes I saw (more on that in a second). Needless to say, there’s some heavy-duty spirituality on this show that may not be every viewer’s cup of tea.

I’d love to say I got caught up in the show’s second season and couldn’t put the DVDs away. I’d love to say that Saving Grace is so well done and so addictive that you should watch it on TNT and rush out and buy the first two seasons. For those of you who read my reviews, you know I’m passionate about the movies and TV shows I love, critical yet generally snark free about the things I think are crap. But I can’t tell you whether or not Saving Grace is great or crap because I only saw two episodes — Fox sent me a single promo disc. I can understand if Fox is trying to save money by only sending out the fourth of four discs from this box set, but not making every episode available to a critic is like asking a music reviewer to give his opinion on a new album based on one song. It just doesn’t work.

I can tell you that the two episodes I watched were well done and kept my attention. I was more interested in what was happening with Grace and Earl and her coming to terms with her life than the routine police cases. Frankly, the squad-room scenes felt like something I’d seen hundreds of times. In addition to the police work, there’s a continuing storyline involving a very effective Bokeem Woodbine as a death-row inmate awaiting his execution, but who he is and why he’s on death row remains a mystery to me.

Watching Holly Hunter, one of the finest actresses alive, so convincingly illustrate Grace’s struggles with her demons and her destiny is a joy, and it sparked my interest enough for me to catch the show on TNT, where it’s currently in its third season (Tuesdays, 10 PM EST). As for the season-two box set, the best I can recommend is to check out one disc, like I did, and if you like what you see, keep on watching.