Evil” (Thursdays, CBS) can be added to the grand collection of post-“X-Files” shows, so I have a soft spot for it. But this is an era when “The X-Files” itself gives us new episodes every few years, so I don’t need to be so lenient as when I reviewed “X-Files” Lite shows from the dark years of 2003-15. Katja Herbers, as Kristen, and Mike Colter (“Luke Cage”), as David, are excellent as the skeptic and believer, and there are nice touches such as Kristen’s home under the train tracks that she shares with her four young daughters. But the possession-of-the-week story is weak, and if this is the one creators Robert and Michelle King (“The Good Wife”) chose for the pilot, it doesn’t bode well for the series.
A touchstone even more similar than “The X-Files” is the one-season wonder “Miracles” (2003). The investigators work for the church, and the supernatural element is a given, at least from the viewer’s perspective. Honestly, there can’t be much debate even in the mind of Kristen; she emerges from a night-terror visitation from a demon named George with marks on her wrist where he grabbed her.
Kristen is a sober (aside from her love of canned margaritas), science-based person, but she’s not set in her beliefs. With a certain level of clinical detachment, she observes George creeping about her bedroom, conversing with her and even cutting off her pinky finger. While it’s true that this is happening on a dream plane – as she knows because she can’t read text in this state (and also because, well, her pinky is still attached) – Kristen can observe that the dream plane is real, for what it is.
As world-traveler-turned-prospective-priest David, Colter of course glides in all suave and confident. He approaches supernatural beings and events as normal occurrences in life, merely more rare than natural elements that hold up to scientific rigor. Ben (Aasif Mandvi) rounds out this three-person team as the guy who seeks and often finds real-world explanations, such as a clogged dishwasher making a whistling sound.
Not that a CBS show with commercial breaks has much chance of being scary, but it should be noted that “Evil” isn’t at all scary. Disappointingly, it doesn’t evoke much of a mood, either, Kristen’s cool home under the tracks notwithstanding. This is a daytime, indoor procedural; the table where investigators chat with chained-up prisoners will likely see a lot of use.
The answer to the pilot episode’s mystery is lame. The guy isn’t really possessed; he’s faking it with a boost from Leland (Michael Emerson of “Lost” and “Person of Interest”). Leland is a psychopath who will apparently be the court jester amid Kristen’s and David’s cases. Inexplicably, this nutjob is used as an expert court witness on defendants’ level of sanity. I’m already annoyed by him.
I appreciate that “Evil” is mostly a straight-laced show, avoiding the winking and nodding of this fall’s other big psychology-based procedural, “Prodigal Son.” The two leads are strong, and the premise will be serviceable if the irritation factor of Leland is tamped down. Still, I’m not possessed of the desire to watch a second episode. There’s not enough here that I haven’t seen in moodier and better shows.