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Review: 'Kevin (Probably) Saves the World' and the Warm Kindness of Jason Ritter

By Dustin Rowles | TV | October 4, 2017 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | October 4, 2017 |

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:

See what I mean?

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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