Summer Replacement Series "Saving Grace" Is New #1 Show
Award-Winning Actress Holly Hunter stars as Grace Hanadarko on TNT’s summer replacement television series Saving Grace. Grace is a police detective who works violent crimes and struggles with inner demons. Ten years ago, she lost her sister in the Oklahoma City bombing. She feels guilt over her sister’s death because she was supposed to care for her nephew the day before but ended up sick. Grace believes she is the reason that her sister is dead.
The series is near and dear to my heart for a couple of reasons. Number one is that it shows the struggle that sometimes has to be fought to achieve faith. Many movies and books simply show that once a person accepts God his or her life is immediately and forever changed. Like hitting the religious lottery or something. But for a lot of people faith is an ongoing struggle between wanting to believe and wanting to understand.
The core of Saving Grace is that monumental struggle within a person. Yet it is intelligently portrayed against the backstop of police investigations, friendships, temptation and betrayal, and miracles. Grace isn’t a good person. She drinks too much, swears too much, doesn’t honor her mother and father, and is having an affair with a married man. And that’s just to name a few of her faults. She’s violent, quick to anger, and shortsighted regarding personal agendas. However, she is a good police detective.
The second reason I like the show so much is because it’s supposed to take place in Oklahoma City. I live in a suburb of Oklahoma City, and I’m very familiar with the April 19, 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. As I understand it, the show is actually shot in Vancouver, British Columbia. However, there is footage shot in the Oklahoma City area. The memorial downtown is featured in the first episode. Holly Hunter evidently never made it into Oklahoma City because the scene is shot from a distance and delivered with voiceovers. The scene is the memorial, but I feel confident that the actors aren’t Holly Hunter and the boy who’s playing her nephew. Still, some of the feel is right. But for those of us who are use of the vegetation and trees in the area, the outdoors shots aren’t anything we’ve seen here.
Leon Rippy plays Grace’s personal angel, Earl. He appears as an old-fashion good old boy who dips tobacco, talks rough, and wears concert tee shirts under a jean jacket. He’s absolutely amazing in the role.
The primary struggle between Grace and Earl is something I look for in the episodes. In the second episode, “Bring It On, Earl”, Grace actually gets into a wrestling match with Earl. He transports them to a Greek stadium and they have at each other without restraint. The fight comes to a draw, but only because Earl literally takes away one of Grace’s arms. The scene is hilarious but still conveys a lot of deeper emotion.
Both mysteries featured so far have been interesting, but not all-consuming. They work to get the story moving along. There’s also been a duality about the case each week. The struggle that Grace faces that week also resonates in the case that she’s working on, and often the insight she’s supposed to receive is the key to unlocking the investigation. That crossover between the investigation and the personal growth is really well done.
Holly Hunter is tremendous as Grace Hanadarko. She plays the character right on the edge with a lot of energy. She’s believable as a woman in trouble, but police detective, and a doting aunt all at one time.
Saving Grace debuted as the number one most viewed new series so far this summer. In overall numbers, it debuted only slightly behind The Closer and The 4400. Seated comfortably behind Kyra Sedgwick’s series now in its third year on Mondays, Saving Grace enjoys a great lead-in. The show also seems to be hanging onto the audience.
Given the religious makeup of this series, viewers are going to be talking about it. They should be. It’s a good series with a great premise, and a fantastic actress in the lead role. More than that, it’s about the struggle for faith in a world that’s gone dark and dangerous of late.