Tuesday, October 3, 2017

'Kevin' is Not the New 'Touched by an Angel'

Review of "Kevin Probably Saves the World."
Jason Ritter and Kimberly Herbert Gregory in Kevin (Probably) Saves the World (ABC)

 TV SERIES REVIEW 

This fall, ABC is trying something new with Kevin (Probably) Saves the World and at first glance it might look like a Touched By an Angel rip-off, but while the two shows have some similarities, in the end, they are quite different.

Jason Ritter (son of John Ritter) stars as Kevin Finn, a selfish, clueless and deeply depressed man who most of us would never pick to be the man to save the world. But if you read the Bible, God chose people most of us would have over-looked to lead, and that is something I really like about this new series. Originally called The Gospel According to Kevin, Kevin returns to his childhood home in Texas to live with this longsuffering twin sister Amy (JoAnna Garcia Swisher) and her teenage daughter Reese (Chloe East) to get back on his feet. Wouldn’t you know it, on his very first night there, a meteorite crash lands near their home and everything in Kevin’s life is about to change. It is this event that Kevin first meets Yvette (Kimberly Hebert Gregory) who plays the Della Reese-type angel sent by God to protect him while he goes about his new mission in life – to save the world.

Unlike Touched by an Angel, the other fictional, fantasy drama which used themes and actual biblical text straight from the scriptures, Kevin isn’t based on religion or biblical truth. In an interview with Variety, the show’s creators, Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas (who are known for their work with Marvel's Agent Carter, and the CW’s Reaper) said as much stating “It is the conceit of the show that there is a god, and god has emissaries who work on god’s behalf. But even if you don’t believe in god, it doesn’t matter because at the end of the day, it’s not about religion; it’s not about god; it’s about being a good person.” (The publication choose not to capitalize the word “God,” not me.)

Kevin tells Yvette that he doesn’t believe in God, but she says that God believes in him. She then tells him that in every generation, there are 36 righteous souls on Earth whose main purpose is to protect the world. As it turns out, Kevin is the last of the 36. Apparently, Kevin’s job is to find other righteous-ish people and give them a hug. I’m unclear how any of that is going to change things, but this is just in the first episode.

Kevin (Probably) Saves the World is actually a pretty good show. It features a great cast. Like his father, Ritter has a way with facial expressions, voice inflections and a great sense of comedic timing. Kevin’s relationship with his niece is combative but you know that he will be the father figure that she so desperately needs despite his flaws. Swisher played the role of Ariel (aka the little mermaid) in several episodes of Once Upon a Time, and brings that same charm to her role here. Yvette is a no-nonsense “warrior for God” who also has a lot of compassion for Kevin. She should since taking on this assignment, she cannot return back to heaven (for some reason).

The fact that the show uses God and angels as plot points without any real biblical grounding was off-putting for me. I’m not offended by it, but because the whole show is built on a fantasy God, it also lacks meaning. Preaching the gospel that we all need to become better people is not bad, but it rings hollow. There is so much more to having a relationship with God than just being a good person. With that said, it is nice to see a new show focus on hope, especially with all of the depressing real world events happening lately.

Kevin (Probably) Saves the World airs on Tuesdays at 10:00 p.m. on ABC.

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