The punny title of CBS’ So Help Me Todd is the very best a part of So Help Me Todd.
It’s not an amazing pun, thoughts you. But it does, typically phrases, what it must do. It evokes altruism, and the present is a couple of younger man serving to his mom. It evokes the regulation, and the principle character’s mom is a lawyer. It additionally evokes God, however that half is a bait-and-switch. Audiences pondering So Help Me Todd is likely to be a stealth continuation of CBS’ God Friended Me will likely be disenchanted.
So Help Me Todd
The Bottom Line
God is love, however ‘Todd’ is tough to.
Speaking of name-based puns, the eponymous Todd’s mom’s title is Margaret, so if there isn’t an episode titled “Are You There, Todd? It’s Me, Margaret” earlier than Christmas, we burn the entire place down. And talking of Todds and Margarets, does anyone keep in mind the comedy The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret? It ran on IFC for 3 seasons. Trust me.
Sorry. This has gone far afield earlier than it even started, partly as a result of So Help Me Todd isn’t a really fascinating present to research. It’s barely fascinating sufficient to tweet about, which is partially by design. CBS dramas, as a rule, are crafted to be half-watched whereas channel-surfing earlier than mattress. The community tried to goal just a little bit greater a couple of years in the past with Evil, however that present was too involving to seek out traction on CBS and it has moved to Paramount+, the place it continues to be the very best present broadcast drama that isn’t on broadcast. Anyway, even by the usual of CBS dramas meant for partial consideration, So Help Me Todd is flimsy.
Skylar Astin performs Todd, a former personal investigator who misplaced his license over his ex-partner’s misdeeds. Now stalking folks accused of insurance coverage fraud, Todd is on the outs with the aforementioned Margaret (Marcia Gay Harden). See, within the courtroom she does every little thing by the e-book. In his investigations, he’s at all times keen to chop a couple of corners. In the pilot, Todd proves his expertise and his values to Margaret when he’s capable of assist her monitor down her lacking husband (Mark Moses). In future episodes, they try and reconcile their private and moral variations as Todd lends Margaret a hand with authorized investigations and whatnot. She has to be taught to place her religion in Todd.
Created by Scott Prendergast, So Help Me Todd struggles to discover a constant tone throughout the three episodes despatched to critics. “Dramedies” are at all times a problem of stability, however you might have Astin flailing and shouting like he’s in a full-on comedy, Harden going perhaps 75 % comedy after which an total present with no appreciably comedic components. The storyline involving Margaret’s lacking husband was, apparently, Prendergast’s preliminary impetus for creating the collection, and that non-public connection is definitely palpable, however then nothing from that storyline pays emotional or comedic dividends going ahead. The authorized instances of the week are from the easy disposable procedural template, although I’ll grant that they’re a hair extra detailed — to not be confused with “nuanced” or “interesting” — than what the style generally affords.
The price of these detailed procedural instances is that So Help Me Todd could be very, very skinny as a household drama. The central battle must be between Todd and Margaret, however nothing in his not-quite-straight-and-narrow methodology is admittedly all that shady or intelligent and nothing in her by-the-books strategy is even vaguely notable, so asking the collection to hinge on the reconciliation of their values is a lackluster proposition. That the 2 lead performances are as heightened as they’re, regardless of how bland the storytelling is round them, simply makes Astin and Harden stand out all of the extra — by no means actually for the more severe, however by no means for the higher. They’re distractingly comedic in a present that isn’t certain it desires to be that, however they’ve obtained vitality. Man plans, Todd laughs.
There’s virtually no room for something resembling an ensemble to construct round them. On the household aspect of issues, Madeline Wise — nice on Single Drunk Female — performs Todd’s sister and he or she’s a physician and… that’s all I’ve obtained. There’s a brother, however he hasn’t been seen but and his husband (Thomas Cadrot’s Chet) has been in a single episode to no objective. There are colleagues in Margaret’s workplace who I used to be vaguely astounded seem like forged regulars, and if I’d solely seen one episode, I may no less than be hopeful; after three, much less so. Maybe the present will ultimately discover higher use for Inga Schlingmann as an legal professional who’s additionally Todd’s ex and Tristen J. Winger because the agency’s neat-freak head of analysis, however thus far they only add considerably annoying friction round Todd.
So Help Me Todd is about in Portland, a metropolis that TV exhibits ceaselessly fetishize in varied quirky, progressive methods. Food vehicles! Microbrews! Putting a fowl on issues! I don’t know if So Help Me Todd deserves credit score for rendering Portland — performed with minimal disguising by Vancouver — utterly vague, however the collection seems and feels prefer it might be set wherever, with storylines that might happen wherever. The present and its characters don’t have any visible or private type and even when issues are aiming for humor, there’s no actual voice to the humor (although I suppose I’ll admit that I chuckled at a joke reference to Alicia Florrick, the principle character in one other of the uncommon CBS dramas to aspire to something greater than baseline disposability).
The procedural desires to reference The Good Wife, nevertheless it has no real interest in being The Good Wife. Whether a few respectable leads, a punny title and plotlines that may be adopted even if you happen to’re doing two or three different issues whereas watching will likely be sufficient for CBS’ viewers? Well, with Todd, all issues are doable.