Judge Kent Dixon's only saving grace is that he could burp the alphabet in junior high.
Our review of Saving Grace: Season One, published July 30th, 2008, is also available.
So pretty and, oh, so bold, got a heart full of gold on a lonely road. She said, "I don't even think that God can save me."
For anyone unfamiliar with Saving Grace, it's the story of Grace Handarko (Holly Hunter, The Incredibles), a cop who's good at her job, busting the bad guys with an impressive combination of skill and bravado. But behind the badge, Grace is a mess; she drinks and smokes too much, has sex with any man she meets, lies like a rug, and has difficulty making any real emotional connection with anyone other than her childhood friend Rhett (Laura San Giacomo, Just Shoot Me). The thing I find most strange about Saving Grace is that, while the show includes many elements of series I wouldn't miss a single episode of, I'm less than interested in catching up on this one. Saving Grace features a strong ensemble cast, a dose of spirituality and intrigue, above average writing, and a weekly crime to solve. So what is there not to like?
While the cast is strong and includes great character actors like Leon Rippy (Stargate), Kenny Johnson (Blade), Bailey Chase (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and Gregory Norman Cruz (Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman), among others, the majority of the focus remains on Hunter, keeping the rest of the talented cast somewhat constrained by the writing. The ensemble just aren't given room to flex their creative muscles. Then there's the darkness. Some may call it drama and yes, there are many other dramatic TV series past and present that shared this bleak tone, but somehow it feels more oppressive here. Granted, I have not seen all 46 episodes, but at the end of every episode I've found myself wondering when Grace would come to her senses, let people in, and stop beating herself up. Surely the writers and producers, including Hunter herself, would give their anti-heroine a break in the series' final season. Right?
Spoilers to follow. Readers Beware!
Nope. Saving Grace took an even darker turn during the final season, addressing issues like suicide, demons, and Grace's accidental shooting of a child, in addition to series' favorites like substance abuse, promiscuity, and infidelity. The real tragedy has been that we only see glimpses of Grace's caring, generosity, and gentle spirit. Whether due to her job as a cop or the abuse she experienced as a child, she seems to not only turn away from help but actively withdraw and punish herself as if she feels she deserves nothing better.
I deliberately stayed away from any spoilers myself, hoping that, as the series drew to a close, we would see Grace finding peace or at least freedom from her demons (both figurative and literal). My jaw hit the floor, in the closing minutes, as a final act unfolded that had to be some kind of joke. Given the series cancel order arrived midway through Season Three, it may be there simply wasn't enough time to resolve the show's many plot threads. Whatever the reason, Grace's death, while sacrificial, still felt like a cheap trick in the same vein as Bobby Ewing's infamous Dallas dream sequence. The central figure of a hit series was just dead, literally minutes before the credits rolled, with no real explanation. There was no sense of closure or resolution, and even Grace's guardian angel Earl (Rippy) was sitting on the sidelines watching events unfold.
Viewers will likely be satisfied by the series' visual presentation. The show offers quite a few visual effects for a series of this kind, as well as on-location shooting and interiors shot in both daylight and darkness. There's some softness here and there, but color saturation is decent for an SD presentation and what you'll see here is likely better than what you saw when the episodes first aired, unless you saw them in HD. The 5.1 audio presentation is a bit of a head-scratcher, given the dialogue-heavy nature of the material, but the overall mix is clean and you'll find some decent use of your rear speakers when atmospheric sounds and Everlast's score creep into the mix.
In a decision almost too maddening for words, Saving Grace: The Final Season makes its way onto DVD with zero extra features. Yes, you read that correctly. I had to go back and check again to be sure. Ultimately I was left wondering why, when the two previous season's releases include a modest assortment of extras, did the final season not include a single commentary, gag reel, retrospective, extended or deleted scene of any kind? Fans should be insulted and Warner Bros. should be ashamed for treating fans of the show this poorly.
I wanted to like Saving Grace, but the series never managed to capture or hold my interest without losing me in the overwhelming sense that, despite there being a light at the end of the tunnel, Grace was destined to never find it. Fortunately for fans, this release means they can now add all 19 of the show's curtain calls to their collection.
Guilty of not making me love it.
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