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God, The Devil & Bob

Reviewed by Beth Hannan Rimmels

The new animated comedy God, The Devil & Bob is sort of Job lite: slightly different spin and a lot less depressing.

Evidently, the sunglasses-wearing God (voice of James Gardner) and his nattily dressed nemesis (voice of Alan Cummings), the Devil, tend to meet on earth regularly to discuss business, life, the universe and everything. Human nature, though, being what it is, is starting to depress the Big Man. Heís thinking of destroying the world and starting all over again, which makes the Devil ecstatic Ö until God decides to give humanity one last chance. The Devil asks to pick mankindís savior and chooses Bob (voice of French Stewart).

Bob would probably get along with Homer Simpson, though heís not as pathetic. But he is an average, clueless, somewhat lazy guy who would rather go drinking with his friends at a strip club than work at the auto plant, help his wife Donna (voice of Laurie Metcalf) around the house or cope with his children, Andy (voice of Kath Soucie) and Megan (voice of Nancy Cartwright). Megan, in particular, is a problem as she uneasily deals with the hassles and headaches of being a 13 year old.

So Bob isnít exactly the ideal messenger for God, and considering the fact that his predecessors lived about two thousand years ago, itís understandable as to why heís fumbling through the assignment to represent humanity and spread Godís word. But donít think that means the show is preachy or religious. The message is love thy neighbor, and the show, being a comedy, has its share of outrageous moments, particularly when the Devil is trying to tempt Bob.

Bobís hapless attempts to do the right thing are amusing and Stewart, well known as Harry on Third Rock From the Sun, brings both heart and hilarity to the role. Gardner is a perfect choice for God. Laconic and laid back, his voice conveys the perfect blend of warmth and authority. And when God looks at you over his sunglasses, you know youíre going to listen. Cummings sounds like heís having a blast as the Devil, doing evil great (trying to start the Apocalypse) and small (bursting a childís balloon with his horns). Like Futurama, God, The Devil & Bob, scatters various jokes in the background for the eagle eyed and repeat viewers.

While the first episode is good, the premise is so quirky that only time will tell if the series can sustain its odd rhythm. But its prospects are promising, if for no other reason than that future episodes will introduce Godís girlfriend, Sarah, voiced by Elizabeth Taylor (well, who else would God date?). If they canít get some serious laughs out of that, they will need heavenly intervention.

God, The Devil & Bob debuts 8:30 p.m. Thursday, March 9 on NBC. Its regular timeslot will be 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays.

Review © 2000 Beth Hannan Rimmels. Accompanying art  © 2000 NBC.