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‘Saved’ on my TiVo

Tuesday night, I caught the pilot episode of TNT’s new drama Saved, which chronicles the life of Wyatt Cole, a med school dropout (which nets him the disappointed distain of a successful but cold father) who’s taken a job as a paramedic. Immediately after the show ended, I flipped over to my TiVo’s Season Pass option and added it to my list. Why? Because I’m really intrigued by the potential of Saved’s main themes: the desperate search for connection and redemption.

Wyatt Cole’s life is a mess. He’s the walking wounded. He’s lost. And he's trying to find a better way to live—a life that makes a difference, has meaning and offers real and honest relationships and love. He, like most people today, is looking for salvation and authentic community—and that, folks, is holy-smokes-so-full of God-talk potential.

It’s not unlike other shows out there. The Washington Post compares Saved to FX’s more hard-core Rescue Me (Denis Leary’s harsh drama about life in a New York firehouse), describing both as invoking “the irony of a person who offers salvation to others but is unable to provide it for himself.” The NY Times says the show isn’t as rough as Rescue Me or (another FX show) The Shield—which is fine by me (I watched Rescue Me for a while in the beginning, but it got too gritty for this blogger, who also found The Shield too violent). That doesn’t mean Saved is without an edge. Wyatt and his fellow paramedics see some of the worst parts of life, like a mother watching her son die after being hit by a drunk driver or a young boy’s bruises from a heroin-addicted jerk. Life is messy and unpredictable and painful and often unfair—and Saved doesn’t shrink from that.

But there are a couple of things that make Saved different. First, in addition to its salvation-seeking theme, the pilot episode was peppered with allusions to faith and God (including a particularly humorous though somewhat disturbing portrayal of John the Baptist by a mentally disturbed street fellow). Also, one of the show’s other characters (a younger, rather innocent paramedic) is openly religious—a Morman, who prays at each call.

In addition, the show includes an impressive device: it gives us the personal history of Cole’s patients through a series of rapidly flashing black-and-white images. Not only is this an interesting way to give the viewer background information, but it also often supports the ideas that our actions don’t happen in a vacuum (the drunk driver drank because of work and relationships) and our actions do have consequences (eat badly and you’ll have a heart attack).

Saved isn’t without its weaknesses. It feels very contrived at points, and some of the characters are downright flat. But if the show wisely deepens and develops its characters and aspects like its allusions to faith and God, it could make for a very interesting God-talk generator.

(Friendly warning: the pilot had scenes with sexual content and violence, so use viewer discretion.)

(Image: TNT) miscctgy