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Series / Miracle Workers

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Miracle Workers is a 2019 TBS anthology series starring Daniel Radcliffe, Geraldine Viswanathan, Karan Soni, and Steve Buscemi.

In Season 1, God (Buscemi) is in a funk, having come to the realization that Earth has turned into a Crapsack World and that it's all become too much to handle. Deciding that his creation is a lost cause, God announces that he's decided to blow it all up and pursue other ventures. It's up to Craig (Radcliffe) and Eliza (Viswanathan), low-level angels responsible for answering humanity's prayers, to convince God to give Earth one more chance by answering one impossible prayer within two weeks.

In Season 2, set in the Dark Ages, Prince Chauncley (Radcliffe) is struggling to live up to his tough father's expectations. Meanwhile, Alexandra "Al" Shitshoveler (Viswanathan) pursues an education in the hope of not becoming a dung-shoveler like her father (Buscemi). Inevitably, the two meet and have a common realization: it's quite a challenge to defy expectations and not follow in your parents' footsteps. And sometimes, a change like that is needed to add some light in the dark ages. While the first season had a central story arc, Season 2 is episodic in nature.


The show has been renewed for season 3, which will be set in the American Old West.

Miracle Workers provides examples of the following:

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    Miracle Workers 
  • Absurdly High-Stakes Game: Eliza bets God that she and Craig can answer one impossible prayer in exchange for giving Earth a reprieve from fiery destruction. If Eliza loses, God blows the Earth up and she has to eat a worm in front of her co-workers.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: In the book both angels were optimistic, while in the series Craig is pessimistic and cynical.
  • Big Damn Kiss: Laura and Sam at the last possible second.
  • Black Sheep: "1 Day" reveals that God is this for his family. His big sister rules over a planetwide utopia, while his big brother has almost beaten their mother's record for "longest period without a war".
  • Bolt of Divine Retribution: God isn't very bright and has no subtlety so his solution to any obstacle in governing Earth is throwing down lightning bolts or some other terrifying weather phenomenon.
  • British Brevity: As a limited series, the show was originally supposed to consist of a single season of seven episodes.
  • Celestial Bureaucracy:
    • God's angels work for Heaven Inc. and go about conducting celestial business as if they were mundane blue collar and white-collar workers.
    • Earth and Heaven are just a part of a grand cosmos, with other planets and galaxies being run like businesses by other deities.
  • Clueless Boss: God is almost helpless without Sanjay around to do everything for him.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: While God can be nice and merciful to his employees, the humans on Earth are not as lucky.
    • On a whim, God tries to get Sanjay to make Bill Maher's penis explode because he doesn't like it when he mocks him.
    • When God's newest prophet Dave Shelby tries ignoring him, waving him off as some psychotic break he's having, God has Craig destroy his house with a localized twister. When Dave tries rejecting him in a "It's Not You, It's Me" situation, God agrees and then tries to have Craig kill him.
  • Failed a Spot Check: One of Craig's earliest attempts to get Laura and Sam together is to "send them a sign", but Eliza points out that this has never worked, finding footage of Abraham Lincoln passing by multiple crows and a black cat on his way to the theater he's historically killed in.
  • For Want of a Nail: Answering prayers is a painstaking task, with even the most minute mistakes kicking off major earthly disasters. Even a successfully answered prayer can have unintended consequences, such as answering a prayer for a lost glove, only for the person praying to turn out to be an armed robber who needed the glove to go on a violent crime spree.
  • God Is Inept: The show depicts God as a well-meaning but bumbling Jaded Washout and Manchild who's seriously considering destroying Earth after it failed to turn out how he hoped. It's later revealed that he's the Black Sheep of his divine family and that his siblings have all created utopias with their own worlds. Played with, as it also turns out that Earth failed to work because he’s the only deity to give his creations free will and lives of their own. When the chips are down, God stands up to his family and refuses to let Earth die because even if it isn’t what he expected, he still loves it.
  • Groin Attack: In the second episode, God tasks Sanjay with engineering a way to make Bill Maher's penis explode.
  • Heroic BSoD: God is despondent at seeing just how much trouble Earth and its denizens are in and he's isolated himself from the rest of heaven and spends his time drinking and moping.
  • Hollow World: According to God's sister he forgot to build a middle into his world so humans are forced to live only on the surface because the inside is all fire.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All the episodes are named after the time remaining before the world-ending bomb erupts.
  • Impossible Task: A large portion of humanity's prayers are immediately labelled as being impossible to answer because there are too many variables to try and control. Some of the worst are love prayers, one of which Craig and Eliza have to successfully answer in two weeks or else God blows the Earth up.
  • Jade-Colored Glasses: Craig is worn down after millennia of dealing with a never-ending deluge of prayers from humanity, most of them impossible to answer. He's managed to carve out a small bit of satisfaction by answering a handful of small scale prayers each day.
  • Kick the Dog: When Craig finds out that Sanjay has been helping wipe God's ass, he immediately gets it on camera to further the humiliation.
  • Meaningful Name: In press materials, the main characters' surnames are listed as Craig Bog, Eliza Hunter, and Sanjay Prince. In their former lives, Craig was a bog guardian, Eliza was a warrior, and Sanjay was royalty.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • The protagonists leave a swath of death and destruction in their wake as they try to win their bet against God. Justified, as they only have two weeks to win, otherwise God will blow up the Earth and bring about even more death and destruction.
    • Sanjay, Eliza, and Rosie's idea of getting Sam and Laura on the kiss cam at a basketball game results in Sam and Laura freezing up, the mascot getting involved and putting even more pressure on them, and the date ending in disaster after the mascot dies because Eliza tries to defuse the pressure by making his appendix burst.
    • Turns out that God's not much better, with the whole situation being his fault in the first place because he put no thought or care into his initial design and was apathetic in maintaining it.
  • No Hero to His Valet: While Sanjay relishes the status he gets from being God's right-hand angel, he knows better than anyone that God is a complete wreck who is helpless on his own.
  • Not So Omniscient After All: A Running Gag has his employees think that God is playing some masterful, carefully constructed plan to impart wisdom onto those in his employ (both in a "grand scheme" and personal level), when really he's an Almighty Idiot who makes it up as he goes. He doesn't even hide the fact that he doesn't plan anything.
  • Oh, Crap!: At the end of the fourth episode, the team finds out that Sam's beloved grandmother is due to die in two days.
  • Older Than They Look:
    • Craig, Eliza, and Sanjay all look like they're barely out of college, but they all lived and died hundreds of years ago.
    • God's older siblings both look younger than him. His sister looks like a child.
  • Only Sane Man: Craig's caution makes him this. While Eliza, Sanjay, and Rosie are prepared to go to drastic measures to achieve their goals, Craig advocates caution and avoiding as much collateral damage as possible.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: In their quest to bring two people together, Craig and Eliza cause a great deal of havoc, including rupturing some poor guy's appendix, destroying a major airport in China, and crashing an oil tanker into the Galapagos Islands. Justified, as they only have two weeks to win, otherwise God will blow up the Earth and bring about even more death and destruction.
  • Ruptured Appendix: The angels usually turn to bursting people's appendixes when they're panicking and out of options. They become even more panicked if their target has already had their appendix removed.
  • Snipe Hunt: In his former life, Craig was a caveman whose job was to keep watch for the "bog monster". As he thinks about it, it occurs to him that there probably never was a bog monster and the villagers just wanted to get rid of him.
  • Technician vs. Performer: Craig and Sanjay have a rivalry based on their approaches to miracles. Craig prefers tiny, carefully-engineered miracles that make as few waves as possible. Sanjay is more willing to take risks in order to create big miracles.
  • This Explains So Much: Sanjay says this when he hears another say that God can't read.
  • Timed Mission: Craig and Eliza have only two weeks to save Earth from destruction.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Eliza has pure intentions, but she causes more trouble by trying to help. In the first episode alone, she accidentally inflicts deadly typhoons while trying to answer a farmer's prayer for rain, which snowballs into her giving God the idea to blow the Earth up.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Eliza comes to the Answered Prayers Department thinking that she can really make a difference. Craig quickly disabuses her of that notion.
  • White Sheep: God might not have created a perfect utopia like the rest of his family, but that's because he's the only member of his family that gave his creations free will.

     Dark Ages 
  • Abdicate the Throne: In the finale, Chauncley renounces his claim to stay with Al, his father abandoned them, and all other relatives died in "Holiday", leaving Vexler in charge.
  • Artifact Title: The second season is still called "Miracle Workers" despite not involving the divine or supernatural at all. (In the first season, Radcliffe and Viswanathan's characters were literal miracle workers in Heaven.)
  • Big Damn Kiss: In the finale, Al and Chauncley share one after saving the town.
  • Black Vikings: Though ostensibly set in Dark Age Europe, black or South Asian characters exist along with the white ones without an explanation. Al's father is white, though her (unseen) mother might also be South Asian. Of course, it's no less (or more) accurate than the rest.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Maggie doesn't like apprenticing to be a nun because the pay is crap, there’s no upward job mobility, and they cut out your tongue after you take your vows.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: In "First Date" Al and Chauncley go to a astronomy lecture, but due to his extreme inability to express his feelings, Al winds up dating the handsome astronomer who came to the village to give a talk.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Subverted; in the A-plot in episode 3 ("Road Trip") it's established that Lord Vexler, the king's far more competent aide, speaks the native language of the tribe that he and Chauncley are visiting on a diplomatic mission. Chauncley insists that they must know English, and he's right, they do—but Lord Vexler overhears what he thinks is the enemy leader talking in his native language about how he's going to serve Chauncley poisoned wine. This misunderstanding ruins the treaty signing.
  • Competition Freak: King Cragnor and his kin and very intent on proving their dominance. In fact, a series of pleasant party games turns into a three-way fight-to-the-death, to Chauncley's horror and disappointment.
  • Con Man: Dr. Goodman in "Help Wanted" first comes across as an intelligent man, but he doesn't actually understand medicine himself, and most of his procedures involve genital amputation. When his reputation is blown, he ends up skipping town to become an Italian architect.
  • Dark Age Europe: The season's setting, and it's a very stereotypical example. Even their higher education is comically sparse and ignorant. Most people live in a harsh, filthy environment with constant war and brutal punishment for even trivial offenses.
  • Deliberate Injury Gambit: Chauncley tries to impress his father in the first episode of the season by going off to war with his enemies, but quickly gets cold feet and ends up faking an injury from the Shitshovelers' runaway shit cart.
  • The Dung Ages: The season is set during a dirty and ignorant pastiche of the medieval age.
  • The Elite Jump Ship: The astronomer who romances Alexandra Shitshoveler jumps seems like a free-spirited bohemian at first but when the peasants are attacked, he shows no empathy towards them at all.
  • Greek Chorus: Lampshaded quite well with a minstrel who annoys Prince Chauncley with a song that's essentially running commentary on the bad date.
  • His Name Really Is "Barkeep": In regards to character's surnames, which come from their families' professions. So, Ted Carpenter is a carpenter and Mary Baker is a baker. Wesley Pervert, meanwhile, does "stuff". Alexandra Shitshoveler seems destined to be a shit shoveler like her father, but she dreams of bigger things.
  • I Am What I Am: Wesley Pervert says this word-for-word in the season finale when Chauncley and Al catch him watching them kiss.
  • Incest Is Relative: Mary Baker quickly ends up engaged to her own brother, mainly due to a lack of other options.
  • Ignored Epiphany: The King makes a breakthrough with his therapist and seems to be improving his relationship with Chauncley, but reveals he burned down the therapist's hut when she charged him for a full hour after only 50 minutes. At the end of the episode he admits to never growing or changing before strangling a servant to death for telling him they're out of cherries.
  • It Will Never Catch On: Eddie actually says "it'll never catch on" when confronted with the idea that the peasantry might poop in a hole, instead of just pooping on the floor and paying Eddie and Alexandra to come shovel it up.
  • Jock Dad, Nerd Son: Prince Chauncley is a sensitive soul while his father and all his forebears are all blood-thirsty despots.
  • Match Cut: In "Miracle Workers: Holiday", from Al holding the bottle of wine that her obnoxious Uncle Bert brought, to a different bottle of wine being uncorked in the palace.
  • Meaningful Name: All of the peasant characters have a last name that matches the job they inherit from their parents. Aside from Alexandra Shitshoveler and her father Eddie Shitshoveler, there's Mary Baker the baker, Ted Carpenter the carpenter, and Wesley Pervert the...well, he's a tad tight-lipped about it.
  • Medieval Morons: Alexandra learns a mere three "facts" at the university (the Earth is flat, the Devil is real, the sun is crazy) before graduating.
  • Misplaced Accent: Most characters speak in their actors' natural accents, resulting in a mishmash that emphasizes the season's fictional European setting.
  • Missing Mom: Al's mom is mentioned to be dead in the first episode.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The kingdom is ruled by King Cragnoor the Heartless.
  • Nasty Party: Chauncley's side of the "Holiday" episode ends this way, as Cragnoor kills all their relatives, as he planned, to consolidate his power.
  • New Technology is Evil: Alexandra tries to use her intelligence to make her father's job easier, but he at first refuses to accept any change, even though the old ways are intentionally more laborious and painful. He does become more accepting by the end of the first episode, however, after they're both honest about their feelings to each other.
  • Noodle Incident: The prince does such a bad job at shoveling manure that every time he does it, houses and carts combust in flames. We're not shown how this improbable series of events happen; they always cut past it.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: The season is set in Medieval Europe, but no attempt was made to come up with a singular accent for the fictional kingdom. Instead, everyone just uses their natural accentsnote  to create a comedic mishmash.
  • Official Couple: Chauncley and Al, if the ending of "Holiday" and opening of "First Date" is any indication. Made truly official in the finale.
  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: The season ends with Al and Chauncley riding a wagon to Paris, Chauncley having renounced the crown.
  • Royal Inbreeding: A small gag is made that Al can't tell if Chauncley sweats because he likes her or because his inbred body can't properly self-regulate its temperature.
  • Second-Act Breakup: In the episode "First Date", the prince has to compete with a handsome astronomer for Al's affection. He fails at every chance, eventually deciding to cut ties with her rather than keep trying, leading to the events of the two-part season finale "Moving Out".
  • Stock Scream: The Wilhelm Scream is heard offstage in the season finale, as Valdrogian arrows rain down on the village.
  • Take Me Instead: When King Cragnoor demands recompense for his son after his Deliberate Injury Gambit, Alexandra's father takes the blame to spare his daughter. Thankfully, the Prince calls the execution off in time.
  • Thanksgiving Episode: Despite the fact that it first aired in February, "Miracle Workers: Holiday" has Lower Murkford celebrating "Harvest Day", complete with a pageant about the extermination of the local people, and Al having to deal with her horribly obnoxious Uncle Bert coming over for holiday dinner.
  • Universal-Adaptor Cast: Although all of the main actors from the original season return, they all play roles completely unconnected to their heavenly positions. These roles are also vastly different from what they were previously; for example, former God Buscemi plays Alexandra's father, a professional manure shoveler who's surprisingly competent (if old-fashioned).
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Prince Chauncley doesn't want to disappoint King Cragnoor, but really doesn't have the killer instinct to impress his father.
  • White Sheep: Chauncley, in comparison to his tyrannical father and ancestors.

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