"Kevin (Probably) Saves the World"
Cast: Jason Ritter ("Parenthood," "Joan of Arcadia"), JoAnna Garcia Swisher ("Pitch," "The Astronaut Wives Club"), Kimberly Hebert Gregory ("Vice Principals," "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"), Chloe East ("True Blood," "Ice"), India de Beaufort ("Run, Fatboy, Run"), J. August Richards ("Angel")
Airs: The season premiere airs at 8 p.m. Tuesday on ABC
The premise: Life can't get much worse for Kevin Finn (Jason Ritter). Depressed and jobless, he's miserable. On a dangerous path of self-destruction, Kevin returns to his childhood home in Texas to stay with sister Amy (JoAnna Garcia Fisher) and her teenage daughter, Reese (Chloe East), but he makes them uncomfortable. After an unusual encounter with a meteorite, Kevin starts to see the high-quality person he's capable of becoming and begins to turn his life around.
Highs: Have you ever been in a rut and didn't know how to get out of it? That's what Kevin Finn is experiencing. It seems he had everything a man could want - a high-paying job, attractive girlfriend, expensive car - but none of those things made him happy. Life was so bleak, he tried suicide. Kevin seeks solace in the one person he can always count on, his widowed twin sister, Amy, whom he hasn't seen in more than a year.
While suicide and depression are delicate topics, "Kevin (Probably) Saves the World" treats them with grace, respect and humor. The levity comes from Kevin and his celestial guide Yvette (Kimberly Hebert Gregory), whom only he can see. While she doesn't identify herself as a guardian angel, she acts as a protector and teacher, helping Kevin learn that he's focused on the superficial for most of his life.
Because Kevin requires a lot of tough love, we get to see him squirm during Yvette's life lessons. In one scene, she has a tractor run over Kevin's BMW run because an expensive car doesn't help your soul. At other times, her guidance is meant to keep Kevin from self-sabotage, even when it gets him into a different kind of trouble. When he tries to tell his sister about Yvette, Kevin ends up spilling all sorts of childhood confessions instead, such as how he stole Amy's band camp money in high school. Scenes of someone going through embarrassing moments in a humorous way are quite entertaining.
Balancing laughs with personal growth requires a strong cast. Jason Ritter makes Kevin a little uncomfortable, a bit off-kilter yet entirely likable. And Kimberly Hebert Gregory seems as if she was born to be a life coach. They make a dynamic pair.
Lows: After a strong premier, I have high hopes for the series but wonder where Kevin's journey takes him from here. He has a mission to find 35 righteous people, but what does that mean? After re-establishing relationships with his sister, niece and a potential love interest in Texas, how is Kevin going to achieve his goal without again abandoning people with whom he's close? The contradiction will be challenging to rationalize.
Grade: (B): In the pilot, Kevin finally finds what everybody needs - hope. He realizes that it's hard to change the world, but he can change himself and that make a positive impact. This sounds sappy, but this series doesn't pontificate. Inspirational and playful, it teaches its endearing lessons in an entertaining way. Filled with light humor and heart, "Kevin (Probably) Saves the World" is a show with potential.
Gazette media columnist Terry Terrones is a member of the Television Critics Association and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association. You can follow him on Twitter at @terryterrones.