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God Friended Me (CBS)

Discussion in 'TV Shows' started by Adam Lenhardt, Aug 31, 2018.

  1. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Director

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    The latest drama from the Greg Berlanti juggernaut premieres Sunday, Sept. 30 at 8:30 PM Eastern on CBS, but the pilot was made available free to own on Vudu and iTunes, and free to stream on many digital platforms: the CBS app, CBS All Access, CBS.com, Facebook Premieres, Twitter, and Instagram. I grabbed the Vudu version and just finished watching it. The Facebook stream is embedded below:


    One of my favorite subgenres of television is shows about protagonists guided by mysterious forces to intervene in the lives of strangers in order to set into motion positive change. I've watched just about everyone I've been aware of: "Highway to Heaven", "Quantum Leap", "Touched by an Angel", "Early Edition", "Dead Like Me", "Joan of Arcadia", "Wonderfalls", "Eli Stone" (also by Berlanti), right up through "Kevin (Probably) Saves the World" which was only cancelled a couple months ago.

    Given that, I would have checked this no matter what based no the premise alone. But the casting really piqued my interest. The central character, Miles Finer, is played by Brandon Micheal Hall. Hall previously starred in the short-lived ABC sitcom "The Mayor". That show quickly wore thin with me, but Hall did not and I've been excited to see where he'd land next. The female lead, Cara Bloom, is played by the young actress Violett Beane. Beane has recurred on Berlanti's interconnected DC Comics series since 2015, playing a superhero from another dimension with superhuman speed. She's been great in that role, and I've wanted to see more of her ever since. And Miles Dyson himself, Joe Morton, is playing the father of Hall's character.

    The premise is simple: Miles Finer is the son of one of New York City's most prominent black ministers, but he is an avowed atheist. During the day, he works as a customer service representative at an information security company. At night, he rails against organized religion on his podcast, which has a small but passionate following.

    One day, he receives a friend request on Facebook from "God". He tries desperately to ignore it, but mysterious forces have other plans. The "God" account leads him to a man who is the middle of the worst day of his entire life, and puts him in the man's path at the most crucial possible moment.

    The chain of events leading to that moment seem miraculous on their face, but Miles is certain that he's being pranked. When he received a second friend request, this time for a young writer for a clickbait site, he is determined to get answers. And the young writer, plagued by writer's block, is determined to get a story. Over the remainder of the series premiere, the two of them discover that their lives are connected in ways neither of them could have possibly imagined.

    "Joan of Arcadia" and "Wonderfalls" are two of the untimely cancellations I mourn most, and this has the potential to bat in their leagues. The pilot starts pretty rough, with lots of explicit exposition setting up the premise, just the way CBS likes it. But as the episode goes on, it gets better and better. The premise is feel good, but Miles and Cara have real trauma in their lives. The episodic plots seem likely to have nice tidy resolutions, but the family lives of our protagonists have a lot of road left to travel.

    This is a much better vehicle for Hall's talents than "The Mayor" was. He's a Julliard-trained actor, and the son of a preacher like his character, and he provides a strong anchor for the show. Miles is frequently selfrighteous, but he's also intelligent and empathetic. Even though Miles is an unapologetic atheist, he has a strong moral compass. The scenes with his sister and with his estranged father work gangbusters. And his platonic chemistry with Beane is terrific.

    Beane isn't quite as well-served by her character, particularly because this show continues the abject ignorance of Berlanti shows when it comes to portraying journalism. (There's no way a staff writer at a clickbait site could go six weeks without generating content and not get fired.) But she shines in the role, particularly when the stakes get more personal for her in the back half of the pilot. The storytelling opportunities opened up by the revelations in this first hour have me really invested in what happens to her next.

    Joe Morton is terrific as the Rev. Arthur Finer. Arthur is as an unapologetic in his faith as his son is in his rejection of faith. Morton conveys the necessary gravitas that someone in his position would require. You buy Arthur as the kind of minister who could fill the pews of that very large church, the kind of man who be a respected community figure, and as the kind of father who doesn't have the necessary tools to bridge the chasm that has opened up between him and his son. The scenes between Arthur and Miles are among the best in the pilot. Their differences seem intractable, but even when they are arguing frankly, you can feel the undercurrent of love beneath the conflict.

    The subplot centered around Miles's sexually frustrated best friend is the weakest part of the pilot, but even that resolves itself in an interesting and unexpected way.

    They mystery surrounding the "God" account is intriguing. While it seems obvious that the account is really God, Miles refuses to believe it's anything but an elaborate hoax, and the pilot gives him some ammunition for his argument. However, the sheer coincidences that result from the "God" account's suggestions would seem impossible to fake, unless this is secretly a sequel to "Person of Interest" and the Machine from that show is secretly behind the "God" account.

    I eagerly await the second episode.
     
  2. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    Well that was a very well written and detailed review.

    I loved Joan so I’ll check this out.
     
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  3. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    +1

    Thanks, Adam!
     
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  4. ChristopherG

    ChristopherG Cinematographer

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    +2 - I will definitely check this out. Thanks Adam
     
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  5. JQuintana

    JQuintana Banned
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    Have seen several ad's for this one but this does not look to be in my wheel house.
     
  6. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Director

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    For those interested who didn't watch the pilot via one of the digital retailers, it airs tonight on CBS at 8:30/7:30c after "60 Minutes" (assuming both aren't delayed by football).
     
  7. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    I hope everyone adjusted their DVRs. The show stepped off at 8:43 on CBS.

    Some pretty clunky writing in this. Throughout.

    But I laughed out loud at one particular moment in the show--at something that was preposterous. Does it say something that it's been about an hour since I watched it and already cannot remember what it was? And I've already wiped it from my DVR so I can't go back and skim through it to remember. It might just mean my memory's going...but I don't think that's it.

    I'm kinda ticked off now...because I really want to remember.
     
  8. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    We watched about 35 minutes. Nothing compelling about it. A bit dull.
    I have the pilot on Vudu so I’ll go back to finish but I don’t have good expectations for the rest.
     
  9. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Yeah. I figure to give it another episode or two.

    If it doesn't get better...movin' on.
     
  10. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Director

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    I'm used to this from Berlanti's other shows, but I agree. The second episode was even worse than the pilot. Tonight's episode was better, but still not great.

    Despite the issues, I continue to really enjoy this one. My main complaint is the show trying to push a romantic angle between Miles and Cara already. Let them just be partners on this thing and friends.
     
  11. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    As we watched episode three last night, Peg turned to me and asked, "WHY are we still watching this?"

    I had said after ep. 2 that I didn't see us lasting much longer.

    NOTHING INTERESTING is happening here. The only interesting thing is the source of the text messages and there will never be an onscreen resolution of that. This is a show that is not holding our attention as we both find ourselves distracted by anything else within our reach--phones, newspapers, dogs, etc.!

    It's the kind of lazy writing which plagued much of season 2 of Designated Survivor. The writers create a mini-situation...create some characters...intersect them with the principals...and in 44 minutes, it's resolved (and why should we care).

    The only interesting point for me, so far, has been the evolution of Miles to change the focus of his podcast from an atheistic viewpoint to one of a "conversation." I am admittedly curious as to whether the writers would be bold enough to transform Miles into an actual Millennial Prophet or if the course of the show will always have him wondering about the who/how of the text messaging.
     
  12. Message #12 of 21 Oct 16, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2018
    Josh Dial

    Josh Dial Producer

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    This is one of the dumbest, laziest, insulting shows ever to air on television. This is Under the Dome bad. It might be worse!
     
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  13. Chris Will

    Chris Will Screenwriter

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    But Under the Dome was so bad that I just had to keep watching, for one full season at least. Is this THAT bad?
     
  14. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Director

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    That's the procedural genre in a nutshell, though. No different than "Law & Order" or "Chicago Fire" or any number of other shows. The nature of the procedural is different, but the structure and conventions are the same.

    I don't know that Miles will ever become convinced that the God account is actually God, but the show itself seems to fall strongly into that camp. The latest friend request was a direct response to the private investigator's private prayers. Even the world's best hacker wouldn't be privy to that.

    I couldn't disagree more. It's not prestige television, by any stretch of the imagination, but I think it's perfect able at what it's trying to do.
     
  15. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Director

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  16. David Weicker

    David Weicker Producer

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    I’ve been enjoying it
     
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  17. Scott-S

    Scott-S Cinematographer
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    I keep going back and forth about my feelings about this show. I like the premise, and I think the mystery of the God account is what is keeping me from deleting this from my DVR. I think they are making a mistake by making the two main characters a couple this quickly. I feel that should be something that happens over time.

    I finally am getting the number of shows I watch down to a reasonable level and at least I don't feel the pressure I put on myself to drop this as much as I would have last year.

    I guess it is just meh. I am still on the fence, but intrigued enough to give it a few more episodes.

    What does everyone feel will be the path this show takes?
    1. Supernatural. They never explain it and it might be God.
    2. Technology. This might be some A.I. that for some reason is trying to help. (like Person of Interest)
    3. Cyberpunk. Some mysterious group of hackers with some agenda?
    4. Other?

    Right now it could go down any of these paths. I really hope they don't go down the path of never explaining it. That makes this whole search for the truth futile. I need closure in my stories. That is why I finally dropped Walking Dead.
     
  18. Message #18 of 21 Nov 14, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2018
    Scott-S

    Scott-S Cinematographer
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    I must be one of the only people here watching this.

    So far it still hasn't really grabbed me. In fact the entire episode this week was so badly focused and looked horrible. Not the story, the actual camera focus and glaring sun on camera lens. I am not sure if they were going for a style or they just screwed up.

    Maybe it was just the crappy Dish Network compression, but I don't think so because the commercials looks normal.

    If next weeks episode looks this bad, it will have made my decision to delete this for me. I was still on the fence, but if I get constantly distracted by poor image quality, I think I see what side of the fence is for me.

    Edit:
    I just found this reply to a comment on reddit from someone also asking about the blurriness. It was supposedly from someone who works on the show:


    "I actually work in the camera department on this show. You are correct, parts of the image are blurry depending on the lens we used. The 35mm and 55mm are Todd-AO lenses and only 2 sets exist. They are purposely flawed to give it that look and is a creative decision made by the show runner.

    Another fun fact: We film with anamorphic lenses which gives us a 2.40 aspect ratio but since it's a network show we can't air it with black bars. So we frame for 1.78 which fills a 16x9 image for HD TVs and chop off the sides of the image. This gives the show an anamorphic look even though it's broadcast in 16x9. This enhances flares and gives you the classic blue line flares found in anamorphic productions. We also film only on prime lenses so we don't get the compressed look a lot of shows have by using zoom lenses."


    Still makes no sense to me why they would deliberately make the image blurry?
     
  19. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    My wife and I keep watching...and keep wondering why.

    I'll still be curious to see whatever kind of resolution they go to for an explanation of the God account.

    But this week's episode was delayed because of late-running football so my DVR missed the last ten minutes. I had no problem deleting it without much concern.

    So I think we're done.
     
  20. Walter Kittel

    Walter Kittel Lead Actor

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    I was a pretty big fan of Joan of Arcadia back in the day, so I've been tempted to give this series a try. Maybe. (??)

    - Walter.
     

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