Hit or Sh**: CBS’ ANGEL FROM HELL
In this Crossfader series, our intricate and complex rating system will tell you definitively whether new television pilots are worth your valuable time. We call it: HIT OR SH**.
Jane Lynch has long been toiling in the bowels of both the film and television industries. She has proven herself a tremendous character actor with chops in both comedic and dramatic roles, but has never been given a true chance to shine. After working in the industry for nearly 30 years, she’s finally been given the lead in a sitcom. A CBS single-camera sitcom, but a sitcom none the less.
ANGEL FROM HELL is part of CBS’s continued attempt to widen its core demographic of old people and cats left with the TV on to “keep them company.” It’s the exact kind of safe gamble that CBS is willing to make to change the age range of its audience. Jane Lynch has quite a following from her time on GLEE as Sue Sylvester and Maggie Lawson brings her own cult following from her time as Detective Jules on PSYCH (it’s not much, but I’m sure it’s something). Together, they seem like just the magic potion to get a younger, more enthusiastic audience.
This about sums up the relationship between Lynch and Lawson
ANGEL’s premise is simple and lovably weird. A young dermatologist named Allison (Maggie Lawson) is approached by a drunk and presumably homeless street magician named Amy (Jane Lynch). Amy claims that she is Allison’s guardian angel here to guide her through what will be an apparently difficult time in her life. The pilot establishes all of this fairly quickly with an unfortunate amount of thinly-veiled exposition and spends the rest of its runtime having Amy prove her angel abilities to Allison. Other than the bizarre setup (why Allison has to be a dermatologist is beyond me) the show is fairly straightforward. The women become friends and Allison continues to wonder whether Amy is who she says she is. Unfortunately, the pilot of ANGEL FROM HELL is not very funny. It’s chuckle-worthy and Amy’s weird antics are fairly charming, but it’s hard to get behind a comedy that doesn’t have many jokes.
Luckily, Jane Lynch can carry the show on her own. Seriously. If you watch this show for any reason, let it be for Jane Lynch. She tries her damndest to spin shitty lines into gold and most of the time she succeeds. What was perhaps even more surprising were the few dramatic turns she is given in the episode. Amy truly cares about Allison. She says so clearly that she believes Allison deserves to be happy. In these moments, Lynch is able to bring a gravitas to her performance drastically different from the goofy demeanor she puts on during the rest of the show. That’s also something that ANGEL FROM HELL has going for it. Despite its bizarre nature, its basic belief that everybody deserves happiness is something worth celebrating. Not many sitcoms are confident enough to wear such a positive message on their sleeve.
Just two gal pals shootin’ the shit, drinking margaritas, revealing horrifying godlike powers in an apparently orderless sitcom universe
That’s really where I’m stuck with ANGEL FROM HELL. If you’re a Jane Lynch fan I think there is something you might like here. If you’re looking for a new comedy, I’m not so sure. I feel like this is a show that with the right nurturing could grow into something nice and weird. For that reason alone this might be something to watch. Jane Lynch deserves this chance. Maybe we should all just give it to her.
Verdict: Sh** Probation
ANGEL FROM HELL airs on Thursdays on CBS