'Angry Angel' almost dares viewers to hate it

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By Kevin McDonough

The beauty of make-believe is that it's just that. When you needlessly complicate the supernatural, you rob it of its magic. We really don't want to think too hard about the motivations behind Clarence the angel in "It's A Wonderful Life," or what drives Cary Grant's celestial messenger in "The Bishop's Wife." Nobody wants to put Tinker Bell on a therapist's couch.
That short preamble is by way of explaining what a hot mess the 2017 fantasy "Angry Angel" (9 p.m., Freeform, TV-14) makes of its job of being a Christmas movie. I'm no fan of saccharine, but "Angry Angel" almost dares its viewers to hate it. And there's a lot to dislike.
Allison Pyke (Brenda Song) is first seen on an airliner ready to crash. While other passengers say their prayers or telephone their loved ones, she drinks too many cocktails. You see, she's already dead. She's an angel and she saves the plane by dragging the useless captain out of the cockpit and landing safely in the Hudson. Later, we're told this happens shortly after her death in late 2008.
So, in its opening scene, we're not only shown a drunken, narcissistic angel, we're asked to laugh at Captain Sullenberger and the Miracle on the Hudson. Hate it yet?
It gets worse. Apparently, Pyke was originally a young woman from the Midwest who died of cancer and was given a new body when she arrived in the afterlife, a dreary institution with all of the charms of a bus station that assigns "Angels" the task of earning their wings. We never learn the reason behind the body-switcheroo, but the first thing Allison does when she gets Song's body is to praise its perfection. How celestial.
Jason Biggs stars as a version of himself, a vain heavenly counselor to angels-in-training. He's a long-dead European given the body of the star of "American Pie." Why? Who cares?
Pyke goes through her assignments, joylessly racking up points on a social media app on her smartphone. Along the way, she falls for one guy while still pining for her ex-husband and following his life on Facebook. Again with the complications.
In addition to being instantly unlikable, "Angry Angel" borrows from the afterlife humor of the NBC comedy "The Good Place," but without the smart dialogue. The notion of life (or an afterlife) being driven by an all-powerful social rating app was also invoked on a thought-provoking episode of "Black Mirror," seen on Netflix.
The only thoughts "Angry" provokes include the depressing notion that one can be dead, and even an angel, but never stop being selfish and celebrity-obsessed. "Angry Angel" is the first original Christmas movie on the Freeform Network. They've chosen to set it in my idea of hell.

TONIGHT'S OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

• The top 11 perform on "The Voice" (8 p.m., NBC, TV-PG).
• Reba McEntire hosts "CMA Country Christmas" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
• Heroes converge on a crossover episode of "Supergirl" (8 p.m., CW, TV-14) and "Arrow" (9 p.m., CW, TV-14).
"Fashion Police" (8 p.m., E!) airs its final episode.
• A plane crashes with father and daughter aboard on "Scorpion" (10 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
"A Very Pentatonix Christmas" (10 p.m., NBC) puts the accent on a cappella.
• A patient from the Congo may be beyond help on "The Good Doctor" (10 p.m., ABC, TV-14).
• Panhandle hanky-panky ensues on the new series "Floribama Shore" (10 p.m., MTV, TV-14), from the folks who brought you "Jersey Shore."
• Authorities respond as a lethal new drug arrives from Mexico in the 2017 documentary "Meth Storm" (10 p.m., HBO).

CULT CHOICE

Jaded teens (Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson) befriend a sad sack record collector (Steve Buscemi) in the 2001 adaptation of Dan Clowes' graphic novel "Ghost World" (8 p.m., This TV).

SERIES NOTES

Undercover at a used car lot on "Kevin Can Wait" (8 p.m., CBS, TV-14) * Winging it on "Lucifer" (8 p.m., Fox, r, TV-14) * Adam takes a stand on "Man With a Plan" (8:30 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) * Flour power on "Superior Donuts" (9 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) * The family goes underground on "The Gifted" (9 p.m., Fox, r, TV-PG) * A spa misunderstanding on "9JKL" (9:30 p.m., CBS, TV-PG).

LATE NIGHT

Esther Perel is booked on "The Daily Show With Trevor Noah" (11 p.m., Comedy Central) * Ozzy and Jack Osbourne, Angela Kinsey and Ivan Decker appear on "Conan" (11 p.m., TBS) * Jake Tapper, Shemar Moore and Khalid are booked on "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert" (11:35 p.m., CBS, r) * Jimmy Fallon welcomes Martin Short, Gina Rodriguez, Spoon and Victor Wooten on "The Tonight Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC) * Ice T, Michael Showalter, Midland and Will Dorsey Jr. visit "Late Night With Seth Meyers" (12:35 a.m., NBC) * Gabrielle Union, Method Man and Sabrina Claudio appear on "The Late Late Show With James Corden" (12:35 a.m., CBS, r).

© 2017 United Feature Syndicate