The new TNT original series Saving Grace has both feet firmly planted in this realm. The premise is rather simple: Oklahoma Police Detective Grace Hanadarko (Holly Hunter) is, simply put, on a highway to hell. She boozes, smokes, has sex with married men, including her partner, Ham Dewey (Kenny Johnson), and is generally a wreck. One day, after running over a man while drunk-driving (did I mention she finds out the guy she ran over has been on death row for a few years now?), an angel appears before her and tells her he’s her last chance angel so she can, again, get on the direct path to Heaven. Only this angel, named Earl (Leon Rippy), looks more like a member of the Allman Brothers Band than an angelic presence, with a penchant for disco music and chewing tobacco. (Magical element) The show then becomes all about Grace’s struggle to deal with this divine presence in her life while still living what used to be her normal existence. To do this, she enlists the help of her friend, forensic doctor Rhetta Rodriguez (Laura San Giacomo), to make heads or tails of it.

In addition to all of the above, we have every week a different case Grace and her partners (that also include Det. Butch Ada, played by Bailey Chase, whom we know as Initiative agent Graham on Buffy) have to solve, which add another layer of human dimension to the show. (Realistic element)

It’s in this area of the show that last week’s episode, “Bring It On, Earl,” counted with the participation of James Marsters as Dudley Payne, business partner of a murder victim. It’s always interesting to me to see how he plays other characters outside of the iconic Spike, and what makes them different, in my opinion, is always a minor detail. In this case, Dudley wore a big watch that was so him. I can’t be sure if this was a wardrobe thing already set up for the character, or something he came up with, but coupled with the accent and the big truck… it was all Dudley.

James’ participation was, as always, good albeit too short, plus there was no reunion between Agent Graham and Hostile 17, but in the words of the philosopher Jagger, “You can’t always get what you want.” He was only in two scenes, one being his interrogation by Det. Dewey, and the other one with Grace. And he really made the most outta them. James had said, back in April, that he only had two days on set, and that Holly Hunter was fabulous. He also mentioned that she told him not to be afraid and that she thought he was a great actor. When someone’s given that small a part and still manages to give as much emotion as James did, you gotta agree with the Oscar winner (who, according to James, had “been following his career for years.”).

Overall, Saving Grace is a very interesting show that deserves being given a chance and was rated the #2 cable show last week, behind The Closer.

Saving Grace airs Mondays at 10PM on TNT.

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