Created by Scott Pendergast
A disappointingly underwhelming TV show that smothers its own potential cleverness and wit with a thick, warm blanket of comfy family drama that never quite pays off, at least until the seventh episode—coincidentally a Thanksgiving-themed episode. Your enjoyment of So Help Me Todd (2022, CBS/Paramount) will depend on your tolerance for having your heart strings so obviously yanked.
Mind you, the set-up intrigued me. TODD WRIGHT is the scruffy black sheep of a family of over-achievers; a young, ne’er-do-well private eye who lost his license a couple of years earlier, due to various illegal shenanigans, and is hired as a “researcher” by his mother, a successful and respected Portland, Oregon lawyer. Her biggest hope is that now that her wayward son is once more gainfully employed, he will straighten up and fly right. And maybe, just maybe, move out of his surgeon sister’s garage.
It’s a tall order—her son is a natural-born schemer who can’t help himself. He’s a scam artist who never met a corner he didn’t want to cut. Unfortunately, this Rockford-wannabe lacks any of Jimbo’s charm. Or even Richie Brockleman’s.
Naturally his shady and often downright illegal methods, though often effective, clash with those of his strait-laced mother, her uptight law firm, or especially the firm’s long-suffering, by-the-book senior investigator Lyle. Todd’s methods do, however, occasionally impress his old girlfriend, Susan, who just happens to be an ambitious young attorney at the firm. And ambivalently engaged, in a way not unfamiliar to anyone who has ever watched a Hallmark movie.
With a little more grit and some more time, sparks (comedic, dramatic or possibly romantic) could fly, but any potential abrasion seems to have been—at least midway through its initial run–tenderized and blenderized into an affably bland paste. So… no sparks. No sparks at all.
Too bad—after Marcia Gay Harden’s comedic star turn in Confess, Fletch, I had hoped for better. The producers should consider hiring a good writer or two, and sticking with them. This writer-of-the-week thing is not working.
- Where the hell’s the comma in the title? If they can’t find a good writer, at least find one who’s grammar-aware.
- SO HELP ME TODD
Created by Scott Pendergast
Writers: Scott Prendergast, Nicole French, Stefanie Woodburn, Andy Berman, April Fitzsimmons, Elizabeth Klaviter, Ira Madison III, Lisa Parsons
Directors: Nancy Hower, Daniella Eisman, Robert Duncan McNeill, Keith Powell, Michael Spiller, Amy York Rubin, Randy Zisk, Kabir Akhtar, Daniel Willis
Filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia
Starring Marcia Gay Harden as Margaret Wright
and Skylar Astin as TODD WRIGHT
With Madeline Wise as Allison
Tristen J. Winger as Lyle
Inga Schlingmann as Susan
Also starring Arredondo, Thomas Cadrot, Clayton James, Jeffrey Nordling, Rob LaBelle, Artemis Litsiadis, Clem Wright-Venable, Marlee Walchuk, Laura Mac, Jasmin Dring, Tommy Europe
- “Pilot” (September 29, 2022)
- “Co-Pilot” (October 6, 2022)
- “Second Second Chance” (October 13, 2022)
- “Corduroy Briefs” (October 20, 2022)
- “Let the Wright One In” (October 27, 2022)
- “So Help Me Pod” (November 3, 2022)
- “Long Lost Lawrence” (November 10, 2022)
- “Big Bang Theories” (December 8, 2022)
- “Swipe Wright” (December 15, 2022)
- “The Devil You Know” (January 5, 2023)
- “Side Effects May Include Murder” (January 12, 2023)
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.