TNT hit it on the head with Kyra Sedgwick in The Closer, but alas, the same cannot be said for Holly Hunter in Saving Grace. I’m not going to pull the plug completely yet. After all, it took a while before Medium became absolutely addicting. HBO’s Big Love is getting better as it goes along and is currently presenting its best season yet.
There is a possibility Saving Grace can be, well, saved. As is, there is something uncomfortable (in a bad way) about the show’s set-up. The season opener had a drunken Hunter having sex with a married man, swilling Jack Daniels and getting behind the wheel of her Porsche. Just as she is hitting what appears to be rock bottom, an angel reaches down and rescues her. But it isn’t just any angel. This one has big, bushy wings. This angel appears as Grace’s last chance. Clean up or else.
Hunter has said that she and the show’s creator, Nancy Miller, wanted to push as many boundaries as possible. It’s a trashy world, this world of Grace’s. And we’re to embrace it because…? They are brave in taking this on, boldly going where no over-40 women dare to go anymore. All of that moxie, though, has resulted in a less than appealing show. And no, it isn’t because I’m a prude, but because watching Holly Hunter strip down and lose her inhibitions with wild abandon is like watching your teacher or your aunt do it. She minces around in skintight jeans (not saying over-40 women can’t – plenty can, and in fact Helen Mirren in Prime Suspect did it), posing at every turn and then stripping down and having rabbit sex. I guess I’m saying that there’s something inauthentic about it.
Here are a few humbly offered pointers for the writers and producers who may want their show to be a hit rather than an embarrassment.
1) Dump the angel/God/religion thing. I know that’s the whole premise, but sorry, it doesn’t work. The reason it doesn’t work is that it only works for certain types of characters, those who have really hit rock bottom, not those who seem indulgent and immature. Hunter’s Grace is a careless alcoholic who is apparently being paid a visit by a higher being to get it together or else she’ll be dead or she’ll kill someone else. Why would any self-respecting God or angel bother? Even if an angel WOULD bother, it doesn’t ring true on the show. It doesn’t make us feel anything for her. They would do better, the whole show would do better, if she had to struggle with only her own inner voices.
2) Lose the graphic sex scenes. Holly Hunter is many things. Sex symbol she is not. Even if she were, it doesn’t make us feel anything for her character and seems to be relentless, hard to watch and beside the point. There is no reason to show it other than for shock value. It diminishes the character. Here’s to hoping those scenes were just a fluke and that will never, not ever, return. Every actor wants to be able to play everything to prove they are real actors. Holly Hunter has done graphic sex scenes and done them well. It just doesn’t work in Saving Grace.
3) Just give us Grace hunting down the bad guys. Holly Hunter known how. Give her a gun and something to do with her rage and magic happens. Trim the fat. Keep it lean.
That’s it. Three little ways to make Saving Grace worth saving. Otherwise, I’m afraid, it won’t find an audience. There’s something great about the idea of Hunter helming a cop show on TV that is appealing in so many ways. But everything about this one is wrong.