When news came down last summer that TNT's drama "Saving Grace" would end its run this summer after less than 50 episodes despite strong ratings and multiple Emmy nominations for star Holly Hunter, Fox Television Studios claimed financial reasons as the reason for wrapping up the crime drama. As the final nine episodes are set to air, things are certainly getting more complicated for Grace (Hunter), who was last seen surviving a fall that nobody could realistically live through without revealing some divine intervention for the entire world to question and judge. To find out how Nancy Miller feels about her show ending this summer, our Jim Halterman rang up the show creator to discuss issues of God and faith that have been prevalent since the series began as well as whether she had enough time with these final episodes to wrap up the story she set out to tell.
Jim Halterman: My first question, obviously, is how do you feel about the show coming to an end?
Nancy Miller: I think four years is just a perfect amount of time for Grace Hanadarko. At the end of the day there was some business stuff but I think four years is perfect for Grace.
JH: In the first episode of this last crop of episodes, we see that Grace's possible divineness has been made public and is no longer something only a select few know about. How does that change things for her and the show?
NM: Well, she's now been outted. Everyone she works with now knows and the whole world knows that she has an angel named Earl [Leon Rippy]. Some episodes it will impact her cases and her personal life while in a couple it doesn't play any role. We wanted to see what Grace would do if the entire world knew she had an angel so that's what the journey this year is all about.
JH: There are several mentions in the dialogue about darkness following a miracle. Is that a sort of foreshadowing for these last episodes?
NM: Hut, the writer, [played by Gordon MacDonald] will play a part as we wrap this up and you think about Earl and all of his goodness and we wanted an adversary. What this guy thinks about is going to play a part. I can't say too much but it takes where we started and we completely wrap things all the way around in our last episode. I'm just thrilled about that.
JH: In seeing an actual 'Book of Grace' in the season premiere, is that a way to tell the audience that everything is predestined not just for Grace but for everyone?
NM: Well, there are some pages that haven't been written on yet. We love the idea that everyone has a 'Book of Grace.' There's a 'Book of Jim.' There's a 'Book of Nancy.' There have always been questions of free will and destiny and pre-destiny. We don't want to answer any of them but we are saying that, yes, God knows all of us so well that there is a book on each one of us.
JH: Did the song 'Amazing Grace' ever play a part in the development of the series? I couldn't help but think of the lyrics 'I once was lost/But now I'm found" when I was watching the season premiere.
NM: No, it really didn't. I love the song but no.
JH: What is Earl's arc with these episodes? Even though he's an angel, he's definitely not the all-knowing variety we sometimes see in film and television.
NM: 'Saving Grace' has always been a love story between Earl and Grace and we're going to wrap up that love story. We'll find out more about Earl's limitations this year in dealing with Grace and in dealing with Neely [played by Yaani King]. He's strictly a messenger and he can't step into our lives and change them for us. We've got to do it.
JH: How did Jessica Walter come to the show as Grace's Mother? That's some great casting!
NM: I worked with Jessica before and when we were casting Mom I thought about her and I said 'Let's see if Jessica is available' and she was! In the third to the last episode there's a scene between she and Grace that is just incredible.
JH: Does she come in with her own story or is she there more for Grace's story?
NM: You'll find out more about her character and who she is as a woman but we're really telling Grace's story.
JH: The show always has these great sidebars of humor in the practical jokes but was there room for them in these last episodes?
NM: Yes, definitely. We still find room for fun. I'm going to miss those. They are always fun to come up with and I love that there aren't many TV shows where you can take time for the fun. We always take time for the fun and laughter on our show.
JH: Without giving too much away, are things completely wrapped up in the last episode or could we see a 'Saving Grace' movie down the line?
NM: That would be very interesting if we could do that. We set up a premise in the pilot where Earl asks Grace 'Are you ready to turn your life over to God?' and there's been a lot of kicking and screaming but we're going to answer that question this year and in the very last episode. Just because you believe something, sticking with it is a very different thing. Grace is going through a lot of ups and downs this season and in the very end... we're going to present the answer to this question and then its up to the audience to decide, as we've always done.
JH: When we talked last year, you told me about some of your goals with Grace as well as the series. Do you feel you accomplished what you wanted before the end?
NM: We did and TNT, in fact, gave us an additional three episodes so that we would be able to wrap it up right and I'm thrilled with what we finally found. It took a while to get there and it will be controversial, I think, but I'm really happy.
The final season of "Saving Grace" begins tonight on TNT at 10:00/9:00c.