TELEVISION: Saving Grace Roars Back Onto TNT’s Schedule!

Saving Grace [TNT, Tuesdays, 10/9C] is what you might call a high concept show. Having self-destructive police detective Grace Hanadarko [Holly Hunter] be assigned a “last chance angel” – a rather redneck looking chap named Earl [Leon Rippy], thereby playing with all manner of expectations – is certainly not the most subtle of ideas. For two seasons, we’ve seen Grace inch her way toward some kind of redemption as she works on cases that have ranged from the peculiar to the mundane.

Saving Grace, S3

This season, Grace gets rolling quickly, with a dream sequence that plays back to some of the events of the latter part of the show’s winter season. You might remember a girl standing on a street corner, looking at Grace. That begins to play out this season – as Grace learns about Leon Cooley’s [Bokeem Woodbine] connection to her family. Grace’s partner, Ham’s [Kenny Johnson] divorce is finalized, creating a bit of weirdness between them.

In the first three eps of this new season, Grace deals with what could be a terrorist attack; determines that the girl on the corner has a last chance angel – her last chance angel – Earl, and is unexpectedly given the opportunity to change angels! Throughout, Grace is supported and/or chastised by the one person who give it to her without fear of reprisal, her best friend, Rhetta [Laura San Giacomo], who has continued to collect evidence of Earl’s existence – and is given an opportunity to succumb to temptation. Earl even learns about frustration – from personal experience, and not just from banging heads with Grace!

Saving Grace has never been subtle, but in its run so far it has taken a seemingly out there premise and turned it into a consistently entertaining series, with characters that we can recognize and with whom we can empathize. The three eps I was given for review purposes are all prime examples. They are loud and fast-paced, but have undercurrents that aren’t always readily discernable. They may or may not contain life lessons which Grace may or may not [mostly not], learn from – but whether the show is saying anything or not, it remains captivating and frequently compelling.

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