Review: Angel from Hell 1×1 (US: CBS)

No good

In the US: Thursdays, 9.30/8.30c, CBS
In the UK: Not yet acquired

Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how good your cast is if your script sucks. Sometimes, even if your script doesn’t totally suck, it doesn’t matter since you’ll be airing on CBS – the network that likes to make comedies that leave the viewer feeling they’ve just been licked by a random stranger on a subway train.

Angel From Hell has a good cast. A good cast. It’s got Maggie Lawson from Psych and Back In the Game, as a workaholic dematologist who lives to help everyone else but whose own life is a mess. It’s got Jane Lynch from Glee and Party Down as a crazy stalker woman who claims to be – and might actually be – Lawson’s (foul-mouthed, sinning) guardian angel, breaking the rules by directly intervening to help Lawson fix her life. It’s got Kyle Bornheimer (Worst Week, Family Tools, Perfect Couples) as Lawson’s recently divorced brother, who now lives in her garage. And it’s got Kevin Pollack (The Lost Room, Family Tree) as Lawson’s widowed dad.

So, good cast. But not a great or original concept – someone ambiguously claiming to be a guardian angel/deity and trying to do their good (or evil) works on Earth is the grist of Cupid, Mr Frost, The Muse et al, while the angel who’s no angel, sometimes comedically so, has been worked to death everywhere from The Prophecy through to Supernatural.

The show doesn’t give either Lawson or Lynch much to work with either. Everything’s incredibly predictable. Lynch, doing her normal schtick, isn’t that sinning, usually just stealing things, drinking and having to go to the toilet after a bad taco. The ambiguity about whether her character is an angel or not, which arises from her spooky knowledge about Lawson’s life, is constantly explained away by her ability to hack computers and social media, which is funny the first time, less the fifth or sixth time. Lawson, in turn, is sweet yet still surprisingly manages to hold her own against Lynch, but her character is thanklessly dull. Bornheimer’s funny when flirting with Lynch, underserved the rest of the time, while Pollak’s pretty much only there so that the cast list has ‘with Kevin Pollak’ in it.

So good cast, the occasionally funny joke and some obvious intelligence in the writing. But by contrast, there’s plenty to offend anyone moderately Christian and nothing that makes Angel From Hell anything but exceedingly average. I’m pretty sure it’s going to die a death in the ratings. Whether that’s because it’s just no good or because of God’s wrath I suspect will turn out be less than ambiguous.