There’s an inherent risk in naming your show something that critics and viewers can turn into a joke, but Anne Heche‘s new NBC comedy went ahead and did it anyway. Several times throughout the premiere of “Save Me” on Thursday (May 23), I found myself muttering the title — something I’d imagine Heche did more than once while filming.
There’s such a weird tonal dissonance during the series’ first episode, which sees Heche’s Beth spared from choking to death and resolving to change her drunken, messy ways. Shortly after, she begins to hear God speak to her, though the audience never does, which allows for the show to avoid having to clarify whether Beth is insane, suffering a brain injury, or truly a prophet. It’s worth noting that “God” only speaks to Beth twice in the premiere; once to tell her that her daughter is fooling around with a boy, and another to tell her that an old friend needs to give her husband more oral sex. (Ugh.)
The first half-hour tries to cram in as much as possible: Beth’s husband Tom (Michael Landes) is cheating on her with Carly (Alexandra Breckenridge) and wants to divorce Beth. Beth’s daughter Emily (Madison Davenport) hates her mom, but needs boy advice. Beth’s neighborhood friends hate her, as well, but Beth is determined to win them over. In fact, her new self is determined to win everyone over.
It would be enough to set up the family situations in the quick 30 minutes, but stuffing the friends in, on top of Carly’s bits, feels like just too much. And, as such, the show has to take several leaps to get to the certain story points it wants to reach — meaning no conclusions feel earned or logical. They all just happen because some writer wrote them that way.
Heche, who’s had a history with hearing voices in her personal life, seems game for poking fun at her past, but she deserves a better vehicle. Everything about “Save Me” feels half-baked, like it’s a script that would’ve been written to air on Showtime alongside “Weeds” and “United States of Tara,” but sat on the shelf unfinished, until NBC decided it wanted to adapt it for network television. The fact that the show didn’t even premiere until late May proves that NBC couldn’t rescue this one.
What did you think about “Save Me”? Should it be put out of its misery?