Who knew bets could be so deadly? A bet with God leads to the potential destruction of Earth, and the only thing to stop it is love. Miracle Workers, the new TBS comedy starring Daniel Radcliffe, Geraldine Viswanathan, and Steve Buscemi, is about love conquering all, but mostly it’s about the friends we make along the way.
The world in which the show operates is part workplace comedy, part romantic comedy, as the leads do their best to play matchmaker in order to prove humanity is worth saving. It takes a lot of natural disasters, excessive maiming, and stray gusts of wind to do so, but it’s all for a good cause.
The show can have some incredible timing and a knack for smart delivery in its able cast, but at times a great joke which has already landed is given a long and flat tail. One such joke about Bill Maher is so well done, but then becomes the entire basis of an episode’s B-plot. It still has its moments throughout that run, but takes a lot of the air out of the room in the process.
It’s the one drag of the show, where its comedy can certainly hit, but a lot of it misses. Miracle Workers struggles under the weight of providing broad humor while also trying to be very specific. A great observation can turn into toilet humor in a few beats, a jarring shift. But there’s still good writing in there, even if some of it isn’t laugh-out-loud funny.
There are also moments of poignancy, a point about humans or a triumph of spirit, uplifting and at times juvenile humor. Some of the show’s material lands with a charming wit, and its greater comment on how fragile life is makes for fun (if a little budget-constrained) satire. But it’s in these performers where the real elevation of the show comes, with such entertaining cast members at the forefront.
Steve Buscemi as God is a strange and beautiful nightmare. He’s incompetent and distracted at his best, a complete mess at his worst. Buscemi looks to be having a ton of fun in the role, saying absolutely strange things and obsessed with a lazy river restaurant when not busy trying out new drinks and calling on his staff to help him with incredibly menial tasks.
Daniel Radcliffe is terrific as the incessantly nervous and careful Craig. It’s a manic performance where he spends a lot of it worried or disliking the plan at hand, but Radcliffe plays it with such charm and wide-eyed panic where it always works, and is always a joy to watch.
But the standout of the series is Geraldine Viswanathan, her boundless enthusiasm as Eliza and comedic chops are a fantastic choice to pair against Radcliffe. It is a confident portrayal, and one, like with her role in Blockers (2018), proves her to be a great talent to keep an eye on.
Supporting turns from Karan Soni as Sanjay and Lolly Adefope as Rosie are also really fun as they spend the most time with Buscemi, their characters shining in the great expressiveness from both Adefope and Soni. It’s later in the season where they are more involved in the workings of Craig and Eliza, and once everyone is together, the show works even better.
Despite some speed bumps in the comedy, the show never fails in its optimism and hopefulness. Its message and characters all strive to be better, even if it takes a lot of lives in doing so (the show has a high body count, and many burst appendixes). It’s about lifting each other up, in a strange, roundabout way.
The thing about Miracle Workers is, it’s still a fun watch, despite the issues. It’s never unpleasant in any way, shape, or form. It has a personality, and its characters are vulnerable in their insecurities and hang-ups. In a workplace comedy about God and his angels, it’s a surprising sentiment, but it works.
Miracle Workers airs weekly on TBS at 7:30pm PST/10:30 EST, starting Tuesday, February 12th. All seven episodes were provided for review.