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: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=314436339117187 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.