No plain Jane: Jane Lynch headlines new CBS sitcom

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Shona Dustan / TV Media
Jane Lynch stars in "Angel from Hell"

Jane Lynch stars in "Angel from Hell"

"Glee's" red-tracksuited devil is heading back to TV, but this time she's perched on the other shoulder -- more or less. CBS is rolling out a Thursday night lineup chock-full of comedies, and "Angel from Hell," starring Jane Lynch, is on the roster.

The brand-new sitcom will benefit from an impressive lead-in. "The Big Bang Theory" and "Mom," as well as the network's other new comedy series, "Life in Pieces," will gear up viewers for Lynch's new show, the final laugh-fest of the evening. "Angel from Hell" premieres Thursday, Nov. 5, on CBS.

Lynch stars as Amy, a walking train wreck of a person who claims to be the lifelong guardian angel of a woman named Allison (Maggie Lawson, "Psych").

Her character's duality is part of what drew Lynch to the project in the first place. Amy is an angel -- kind, generous, loving -- but much more crass and unwashed than one would imagine an angel to be; she's struck out a few times before, and she's hoping to make good on this assignment so she can maintain her angel status.

"I love what a mess she is and that she has no shame around her alcoholism or the fact that she lives in her car," said Lynch during this year's Television Critics Association press tour.

"I don't think there's a thing that Amy wouldn't do for Allison. The stakes for her is that she wants to remain an angel and this is her last chance because she's really screwed it up before."

Lynch is coming off six seasons starring in one of Fox's most successful shows. As "Glee's" rage-prone, vindictive and malicious Sue Sylvester, she searched for ways to thwart the glee club's efforts and brought it down whenever she could, though we did get to see a little of her better nature. In "Angel from Hell," the shoe is on the other foot -- Amy is constantly trying to make Allison's life better, but her methods and personal habits leave something to be desired.

Series creator and executive producer Tad Quill shared his view of Amy the angel at the same TCAs saying: "She's run afoul of the law in the past and she's absolutely going to be the bull in Allison's china shop."

Viewers can expect lots of personality clashes and misunderstandings, but also touching, poignant moments scattered throughout the show. Lynch excels at playing the sardonic fish-out-of-water types, and this time she also has a heart of gold.

Given Quill's impressive resume, CBS is lucky to have him at the helm of this series -- his previous endeavors include major comedic hits "Spin City" and "Scrubs." And the EP seems to have a great fondness for his current project. He told this year's TCA attendees that "Angel from Hell" is a loving homage to classics such as "Bewitched" and "I Dream of Jeannie," saying: "What would it be like if a person actually came into your life and said they were your guardian angel? And to boot, that person was drunk and possibly high and smelled a little homeless?"

Maggie Lawson as seen in "Angel from Hell"

Maggie Lawson as seen in "Angel from Hell"

He further added that, while the show is "first and foremost a comedy," he believes "there's an element of spirituality to it. Amy is coming at things from a very spiritual place. She's doing good in the world, so that automatically brings up questions of faith."

It will be interesting to see how Amy's grittier, indecent qualities coexist with her more angelic side, but one thing is for certain, according to Quill: "[It] will always be funny."

Lynch isn't the only television veteran among the show's cast. Lawson plays Allison, the beleaguered dermatologist, in all her incredulous, exasperated glory. When her self-proclaimed guardian angel whirls into her life without warning -- and completely lacking any sense of personal boundaries -- she recommends Amy see a psychologist. Ultimately, though, events coalesce to prove that Amy is, in fact, on Allison's side, and the two strike up a strange friendship.

At only 35 years old, Lawson has already been on the television scene for decades. She began her career in a 1996 episode of "Hang Time," and has had steady television work ever since. Most recently she starred in the first seven seasons of "Psych" (making a guest appearance in the eighth and final season as well) and had a 10-episode guest arc on the final season of "Two and a Half Men."

Seasoned actor Kevin Pollak will be playing Allison's dad, Marv, also a dermatologist and possibly working through a midlife crisis. Pollak is hopping from one CBS time-slot to another, having guest starred 14 episodes of "Mom" last year, but his film credits are what most people will recognize. He starred in classic movies "Willow" (1988), "The Usual Suspects" (1995) and "Casino" (1995), and many others along the way. He also hosts his own podcast, "Kevin Pollak's Chat Show," and has interviewed approximately 250 guests, including Tom Hanks and Dick Van Dyke.

Rounding out the cast is Kyle Bornheimer ("Bachelorette," 2012) as Allison's quirky brother, and David Denman ("The Office") as her hapless, cheating boyfriend, Evan.

With this caliber of talent on board, it's hard to see how CBS could miss with this series. Tune in and find out how it all comes together when "Angel from Hell" premieres Thursday, Nov. 5, on CBS.