'Angel from Hell' Review: Jane Lynch Brings Both Comedy and Heart

'Angel from Hell' Review: Jane Lynch Brings Both Comedy and Heart

Glee may have ended almost a year ago, but that doesn't mean we've said goodbye to its cast. Jane Lynch, for instance, is still on our TV screens every week as host of the fantastic game show Hollywood Game Night.

Now we get to see Lynch twice a week, with the debut of her brand-new CBS comedy, Angel from Hell. She was a huge presence as Sue Sylvester on Glee, but she was still in a supporting role. However, on Angel from Hell, she's one of the two leads, and that's perfectly fine with me!

On Angel from Hell, Lynch stars as an outspoken and outrageous woman named Amy who claims to be the guardian angel of Allison, played by Maggie Lawson -- and comedy ensues, of course. I mean, just imagine if something like this happened in your life. How would you even respond to someone like Amy? You'd probably think she needs to go see a doctor for help. Sure, Amy may be a little crazy, but that makes it all the more fun to watch.

After Amy tells Allison that she is her guardian angel, Amy goes on to say that she just wants to help Allison with making the right decisions in life. That's a pretty basic premise, but it gives the show a lot of areas to explore over the course of the season(s). And it also allows for numerous comedic moments when Amy seems to know everything about Allison, even though they just met. "It's like we've known each other all our lives," Amy says.

Speaking of the humor, Jane Lynch is at the center of providing the comedy on Angel from Hell. And considering her resume, why not? In the first two episodes, there are a lot of hilarious one-liners that Amy delivers. An early example is when Amy wants Allison to look at a mole (since she's a skin doctor) and says, "I am currently in between insurance policies, so what is your barter policy?" Pause. "I'm just messing with you; I'll pay cash." And in the second episode, Amy compares guardian angels to herpes (it's more funny than gross). Lines like these work so well with a comedic actress like Lynch.

But even though Angel from Hell is a comedy, I can already tell there are going to be plenty of heartwarming moments as well. At one point in the pilot, Amy tells Allison, "You take care of everybody but yourself. ... Living for others never ends well. It drains you." It's an easy and obvious line to say if you're going for that angle, but it doesn't feel cheesy while watching it.

The dynamic between Jane Lynch and Maggie Lawson is great. You've got Lawson's Allison, who is more of the straight-laced person who may have a great job and family, but she doesn't have her life completely together. And Lynch's Amy is more on the crazy side, as I mentioned. They balance each other out so well. The guardian angel premise almost seems like a gimmick at first, but what wins out in the end is that chemistry between the two leads.

As far as the rest of the cast goes, Kevin Pollak plays Allison's father, Marv. I was looking forward to seeing Pollak in this series because he was great in the first season of Mom. And, of course, he's been in numerous other projects over the years, both on the big and small screen.

While Pollack does share a few scenes with Lawson in the first two episodes, he also is side by side with the other series regular, Kyle Bornheimer, who plays Marv's son and Allison's brother, Brad. They're featured in a B-plot in the second episode that has me thinking the writers would do well to put them together as often as possible. So far, these two aren't as defined in terms of their characteristics (especially compared to Amy and Allison), but hopefully that changes as the season goes on. There is a scene in the pilot where Bornheimer plays against Lynch really well, so there's some evidence that this can happen.

As I said, the guardian angel concept could have easily been a gimmick. And on paper, it might be. But it doesn't feel like one while watching the show. Instead, that premise allows for the writers to create some hilarious one-liners for Jane Lynch, who knocks it out of the park every time. And then when you add in the chemistry between Lynch and Lawson, it's easy for me to want to keep watching week after week.

Check out a sneak peek video below to get a preview of this chemistry:

When I reviewed the pilot for Mom back in the fall of 2013, I made some similar comments, about that balance between the comedy and the heart (which Mom is still succeeding at its third season). Angel from Hell is comparable in that way. (I don't think it's a coincidence that CBS is pairing the two shows back to back on Thursdays.) The series not perfect by any means -- some of the supporting characters need to stand out more and the writers should make sure the comedic moments are spread around more so Lynch isn't the only one having fun. But it has a lot of potential. Hopefully, CBS and its audience give Angel from Hell a chance. I definitely will.
Are you going to watch Angel from Hell? Are you only tuning in for Jane Lynch? And what do you think its chances of success are?

Angel from Hell premieres Thursday, January 7 at 9:30pm on CBS.

(Image and video courtesy of CBS)


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