“Saving Grace,” which begins its final nine -episode run Monday, couldn’t be saved. But the TNT drama is still getting an official sendoff.
The Atlanta-based network actually wanted to keep “Saving Grace” for a full fourth season. Unfortunately, Fox TV Studios, which produces “Grace,” deemed the show too expensive in relation to how much money they could get out of it.
As a compromise, TNT wrangled three more episodes to the original six it had planned to air over the winter. This allowed the writers to wrap up plot threads. TNT also moved the debut to March 29.
“I felt really proud we were able to do four seasons,” said Holly Hunter, the 52-year-old Conyers native who has garnered two Emmy nominations playing Grace. “It felt good to have an ending because that’s what I’m used to. That’s what I gravitate to. In storytelling, you always want an end. So many shows just get canned. The end to me is as important as the beginning.”
Hunter, an Oscar-winning film actress before “Saving Grace,” embraced the complexities and blatant flaws of Grace, a cop who drank too much, slept around and questioned God and her own existence. In the first episode, an angel Earl shows up and tries to nudge her in a more positive direction.
“She goes to extremities,” Hunter said. “She is ultimately a loner. She lives by her own code. She learns about her code and the shortcomings in it as her life progresses. You see Grace stumble and fall and be heroic and prevail.”
At the end of season three, she takes a literal leap of faith off a 12-story building with a lost soul named Neely. Grace should be dead but lands unscathed. The opening of Monday’s episode has Grace grappling with the aftermath and public exposure of her “specialness.”
“Being special is a burden,” Hunter said. “It’s great to see Grace really tackle the responsibility of being chosen. But what does that mean?”
Fans of “Saving Grace” appreciate the show’s ambiguities, its lack of a “Law & Order”-style template.
“Holly Hunter portrays a magnificently flawed human being with a tremendous amount of aplomb,” said Rob Stearns, a former Star 94 employee from Atlanta who has seen every episode.
Carolynn Segers, a 51-year-old St. Simons resident, began watching “Grace” for Hunter but stuck around for the storylines and plot twists. “They expose their characters’ vulnerabilities at the most unlikely turns,” she said. “I’ve learned not to pre-suppose anything with the show.”
On a less serious front, Segers appreciates Hunter’s genuine Southern accent – compared to Kyra Sedgwick’s honey-laden drawl on sister show “The Closer.”
Here’s a video promo interview with Hunter, who wasn’t afraid to show a little skin for her role:
And if you want to refresh yourself on the series, here’s a three-minute recap:
“Saving Grace,” TNT, final nine episodes start Monday, March 29, 10 p.m.