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'Save Me' review: Getting a wakeup call from God

Anne Heche as Beth in "Save Me," Pilot.

Anne Heche as Beth in "Save Me," Pilot. Credit: NBC


WHEN|WHERE Premieres Thursday night at 8, second episode at 8:30, on NBC/4

REASON TO WATCH Could you become a better person overnight?

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Hey, it works for Anne Heche ("Men in Trees"). Or at least for her character in this plucky half-hour about "an angry, drunken -- in a good marriage gone bad." That's for the pilot's initial minute, anyway. Then, she "dies." And wakes up to the first day of the rest of her life.

She's suddenly a sweetie getting do-good messages from God (with a capital G). So she's finally paying attention to her resentful teen (Madison Davenport, "Shameless"), giving nurturing advice to her resentful friends and making nice to that pushed-away hubby (Michael Landes, "Lois & Clark's" original Jimmy Olsen).

"I'm suddenly wide-awake in my life for the first time in years," she enthuses, jumping up and down like a toddler. It seems contagious. "I forgot how weird you are," she tells her suddenly nutty hubby. "So did I," says shocked he.

MY SAY Nobody's the bad guy in this deft portrait -- not even the easy-to-demonize mistress (Alexandra Breckinridge, "American Horror Story") -- which makes "Save Me" something of its own miracle. That genial verve takes a while to triumph, though, amid such pilot crutches as sprightly narration, "magical" music and cleverspeak dialogue.

BOTTOM LINE The "Save Me" pilot saves itself artistically. But debuting in a summertime double dose makes series salvation improbable.


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