As humans we often ask, “What if God was one of us?”, and with Miracle Workers I think we might have an answer to that question. Created by Simon Rich (creator and writer of critical darling Man Seeking Woman) this show is the story of God and his employees, who work at Heaven Inc., trying to fix Earth’s problems. Well, his employees are making an attempt, God is actually ready to call it quits in the pilot episode. The Heaven Inc. staff acknowledge that Earth is problematic but they aren’t ready to quit on it just yet. I have similar feelings as they do about Miracle Workers itself.
There’s a lot to like about Miracle Workers so far. It’s a really high energy show for the first episode. There’s a lot of cute little jokes and details thrown into the mix that are fun to catch. I also enjoy the more thought provoking themes below the comedy surface of the show. The idea that God created the Earth and then it got beyond his control is an enthralling concept. He and his employees are at a loss at what to do with humanity at this point in the story. It’s a dilemma that is seemingly unsolvable and I can’t wait to see how the show tries to figure it out.
The real bright spot however is the main cast of the show. Daniel Radcliffe is the definitive reason to check out this show. His Craig is an intrinsically weird character to bring to life. He’s socially awkward, unpredictable, and incredibly energetic. Radcliffe approaches the character with a wonderfully playful enthusiasm and he’s the true highlight of this first half hour. Geraldine Viswanathan also brings a lot of verve to the ambitious Eliza. She’s charming and seems to be a character we’ll want to root for as the narrative progresses. Sadly, Steve Buscemi isn’t given too much to do in the pilot episode. Hopefully he’ll be better utilized in the future.
Despite the show being enthusiastic and the cast being great, the first episode does have some issues. There are some very obvious pacing problems present here. The show throws a lot of information at you for a half hour sitcom. World building is something that takes the best shows multiple seasons to accomplish organically. Miracle Workers seemed to be in a rush to set up the world all at once in the pilot. I feel like the show could breathe more if it weren’t a miniseries, it shows that the writers know they don’t have much time to tell this story. The overload of world building also makes some of the humor fall flat and certain aspects of the characters end up feeling forced.
The God character seems a bit problematic so far. I know that some of this is intentional, God is clearly trying to cope with the fact that his creation has gotten beyond his control. I hope the show is trying to make him a mirror to his own creation in his inconsistency. The writing for the character feels a bit inorganic at times. He seems incredibly stupid but innocent and then comes off as aggressive towards Eliza out of nowhere. The character just doesn’t gel so far, though to be fair, God is quite a hard character to pin down.
Overall, this was a fairly decent pilot episode. There’s a lot to like but way too much of it isn’t working quite yet. I hope that the writers put in the effort to get this story right and make it hilarious in the process. The cast is giving it their all and I want the other creative elements to match their success. Miracle Workers has definite potential to be something special if Heaven Inc. will answer our prayers.