Review: 'Kevin (Probably) Saves the World' and the Warm Kindness of Jason Ritter
Have you ever been drawn to an actor because you think he is kind? Like, really truly amazingly kind? There are a lot of actors I think of as talented, or funny, or smart, or versatile, but there’s not a lot of people I see and the first thing I think is: Kind.
Jason Ritter is kind. I’m sure of it. I am positive of it. First of all, his Dad was a kind human. Ask anyone who knew him. Google him. No one has ever spoken an ill word about John Ritter, who meant a tremendous amount to me growing up. Jason Ritter is also engaged to Melanie Lynskey, who is not only someone I would also describe as kind, but someone whom I have heard on podcasts illustrate that kindness. She’s good people, and good people attract good people.
Then there’s the The Lion’s Mouth, a short, 26-minute documentary about 32-year-old actress and filmmaker Marianna Palka, who is set to receive results from a medical test the next day telling her whether she has Huntington’s Disease, a brutal condition that basically takes away a person’s ability to control her body and her mind in her late 30s or early 40s. The night before Palka learned of the results, she had a dinner with her three or four closest friends. Among them? Jason Ritter, who was there to console and comfort a close friend. (You’d not be surprised to learn that Bryce Dallas Howard was also there; she, too, is kind, and comes from a kind family).
I love kindness in people, and for that reason, I will watch pretty much anything that Jason Ritter appears in. Whether it’s good or bad, I just get a good vibe from Ritter. He’s like the human embodiment of Friday Night Lights. He’s a good person, and he exudes it, and I like being around that, even if it’s only on my television screen.
Enter his new ABC drama, Kevin (Probably) Saves the World. In it, he plays a Saint. Or something like that. The premise is actually kind of a mess. In fact, the whole pilot episode is kind of a mess. But I don’t care: Kind human being Jason Ritter is playing a kind television character. Actually, strike that: He plays a selfish asshole who is “touched” by God via a meteor, which slowly transforms him into a kinder human being — “the last of the righteous” — who is also supposed to find 35 other of these emissaries and hug them.
If that sounds ridiculous, well, it kind of is. And Ritter, bless him, is not very convincing at playing an asshole. He is, however, convincing in playing a guy who — with the aid of a guardian angel type person (Kimberly Hébert Gregory) — is meant to basically restore the humanity in the world. That endeavor, however, has to start at home, with Kevin’s recently widowed sister, Amy (JoAnna Garcia Swisher), and her troubled teenage daughter, Reese (Chloe East).
It sounds absurd, and it is. And the pilot is not great. But, there’s a very Joan of Arcadia/Wonderfalls vibe to it, and I think there’s a lot of potential for this series to get better once it settles in. It comes from Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters, the showrunners of both Agent Carter and the creators of Reaper. They’re clever people, and there are glimmers of that in the pilot.
But mostly, I’ll admit: I’m here for watching Jason Ritter give out hugs and restore the righteousness of Earth. It’s an overly sentimental, maudlin, feel-good show, and they got the most feel-good actor on television to play the lead, and for that reason alone, I’ll keep watching.
Also, read this:
Thank you for watching!! I have one little story before I go to bed that I wanted to share because you all are so nice and I'm sentimental..— Jason Ritter (@JasonRitter) October 4, 2017
On the day the amazing @Kimactinup and I shot that last seen in the bedroom, I opened my character's closet door for the first time..— Jason Ritter (@JasonRitter) October 4, 2017
..and had to take a moment… A lot of times there will be a lot of old weird books or games used as set dressing to make places seem more..— Jason Ritter (@JasonRitter) October 4, 2017
…lived in, etc. But when I opened the door to my closet I saw one particular game that caught my eye: Can you see it? pic.twitter.com/OJpqYH1TNO— Jason Ritter (@JasonRitter) October 4, 2017
It's some random Clifford the Big Red Dog game. I don't think anyone put it there on purpose. Or with any knowledge of what it would mean to— Jason Ritter (@JasonRitter) October 4, 2017
me. But I told Kimberly about it and we had to have a moment. My dad did the voice of Clifford in the cartoon. So whenever I see that big— Jason Ritter (@JasonRitter) October 4, 2017
red dog I think about him. And even though my brain tries to tell me the world is filled with random actions and this is just a coincidence— Jason Ritter (@JasonRitter) October 4, 2017
I couldn't help but take it as a little "hello"— Jason Ritter (@JasonRitter) October 4, 2017
Your overwhelming kindness to me tonight made me want to share this deeply private story with a lot of strangers, but it feels good to do it— Jason Ritter (@JasonRitter) October 4, 2017
So thank you for reaching out and being kind to me when it is so much easier and quicker in general to not do that. Keep being kind, please— Jason Ritter (@JasonRitter) October 4, 2017
See what I mean?
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