CBS’s notion of a guardian angel sure isn’t what it once was back in the Roma Downey and Della Reese days. In the network’s dryly humored and cuckoo half-hour comedy “Angel From Hell,” “Glee’s” Jane Lynch gets to spread her sardonic wings as Amy, a flask-swigging guardian angel with a foul mouth.
The show, originally slated for November, premieres Thursday night. There have been no detectable tweaks or changes since critics watched it last summer, which is why I’m not compelled to come up with a fresh opinion about it; this is the same review that ran in the fall TV preview last September, where I gave the show a B.
Breaking whatever wall stands between humans and angels, Amy reaches out to the soul she’s supposed to be protecting, a dermatologist named Allison (Maggie Lawson) who is still grieving the death of her mother a year or so back (“412 days,” Amy notes).
Coming across as a possibly deranged street magician, Amy is no heavenly presence, but her seeming prescience convinces Allison that her boyfriend (David Denman) is cheating on her and that her workaholism is a form of overcompensation and a need to always please others. Amy is also good for laughs: “Would it cheer you up to know there’s a taquito behind your ear?” she asks Allison, producing (and munching on) said snack.
This is another one of those pilot episodes where it’s not easy to tell how quickly the fun will fizz out. Unlike George Burns in the old “Oh, God!” movies, Amy is visible to everyone around her — not only Allison, but also Allison’s father (Kevin Pollak) and brother (Kyle Bornheimer), so at least one of the usual ethereal-being comedy conventions doesn’t really apply. What remains is a watchable and weird story (thanks mainly to Lynch, whose gifts for line-delivery verge on the divine) about an intuitive new friend showing up just when she’s most needed.
Angel From Hell (30 minutes) premieres Thursday at 9:30 p.m. on CBS.