Six Ways Save Me Can Save Itself
They're all gone. Some for good (The Office), others just for the summer (Parks & Recreation), but the Thursday-night sitcoms we welcomed into our home every week for an entire school year are no longer there for us. In their place are the burnoffs: The Goodwin Games. Family Tools. Save Me.
Now in its second week, Save Me is sort of a cross between My Name Is Earl and Enlightened, with a dash of Touched By An Angel (...probably? No one who watched it is still alive to confirm or deny). Not an awful premise: alcoholic Anne Heche (the best kind of Anne Heche) has a near-death experience that somehow grants her the ability to communicate with God, or at least channel his wishes. And you think, "Oh, boy -- this is gonna get wacky!" But on the spectrum of wackiness, all the featured Words of God so far have been downright mundane. In the pilot, Heche's Beth encouraged her friend to perform oral sex on her husband. Okay! Later she managed to send her husband's mistress into a coma via lightning strike, which admittedly sounds cool on paper, but the way it went down was so…telegraphed. In Episode 2, God told Beth to get rid of an espresso machine.
What I'm saying is this: you've got a show in which your lead character has direct access to the guidance/wisdom of GOD, and you're not taking that to its most absurd extreme? Forget this "be a better person" nonsense -- the only way Save Me lasts beyond this trial month is if it gets WILD, quick. And I've got some ideas.
1. God Just Wants To Party
The Bible version of God is so done to death. "Thou shalt not blah blah blah" -- we've seen this guy time and again, always with the rules. Why can't God be our ne'er-do-well cousin or old fraternity brother, ready to CUT LOOSE at the word "go"? Just imagine all the hijinks God and Beth would get into! Instead of encouraging her to make amends with old friends she'd wronged, God would be planting the idea to TP their front lawns or steal their identities. Every sixth episode or so, God could have a moment of reflection and realize he "has to grow up," but it would happen so incrementally that you'd never felt the show was forcing it. 300-episode run.
2. God Is Actually Satan
Because I'm already deep into the mythology of this show, I can point to a moment in the second episode, "Take it Back," when one of Beth's husband's friends suggests that this "God" she's hearing might actually be Lucifer in disguise. Is this the key to the whole show? The Christian God pundits are always lecturing us about wouldn't encourage Beth to spread the Word of oral sex? (Sounds like the man DOWNstairs.) Because Satan is all about deception, it would be easy to go multiple episodes laboring under the idea that the messages were from God. But every so often he'd sneak in something awful, like "Straight-up murder your husband," and we'd really start to question just who was pulling the strings. Every show could use a great mystery, especially one so Biblical.
3. God Is Anne Heche's Brain Synapses Firing in All Directions As She Dies
Remember that movie Phenomenon, where John Travolta had some transcendent moment with a beam of light that made him super-smart but eventually turned out just to be a brain tumor or something? That, but here. Turns out Beth really did die choking on a sandwich, and the duration of the show takes place in the minutes before she crosses over, during which her brain churns out an elaborate spiritual-reconciliation plot. This first season ends with the revelation that she was dying all along…before she spits up the sandwich and gets a second chance at life. Then Season 2 can be exactly like the first, but for real. What, you like elliptical editing and reused footage on Arrested Development but not here? Don't be such a snob.
4. God is Morgan Freeman
This is not so much a show-wide overhaul as a casting suggestion for later in the season. "God is always played by Morgan Freeman": a funny observation that reached oversaturation before it's brought back to thunderous applause and much laughter on Save Me. It's obvious, but that's what makes it funny! "But Morgan Freeman wouldn't do TV." - You. "Oh, no shit?" - Me.
5. God Has Had It Up To HERE With All Your Instagramming
Beth, as God's Vessel, becomes an emissary for technology-free living, to help the world recall a time when they really listened, like at the Sermon on the Mount. "No one was Vine-ing that!," God will joke when we finally hear his voice in the tag to Episode 6.
6. God Is The Old Testament God
I only skimmed when we had to read for class, but from what I remember he was kind of a jerk. And VERY temperamental, especially when it came to smiting people/things. To see the events of the Great Flood taking place in Beth's suburban Ohio neighborhood would be pretty engaging television. More faithful than that History Channel's Bible miniseries, too.
What did you think?