Scott D. Pierce: ‘Touched by an Angel’ star returns in a new series. Well, an old series. It’s confusing.

And HBO’s ‘The Regime’ is not the comedy that it wants to be. It’s bad.

(Prime Video) Roma Downey (center) stars in "The Baxters," which will start streaming on Prime Video on March 28.

Amazon’s Prime Video is about to start streaming a new faith-based, family series headlined by former “Touched by an Angel” star Roma Downey.

Well, “The Baxters” is not exactly new. The 10-episode series was filmed in 2018, and has been sitting on a shelf since then. It will finally see the light of streaming because of corporate acquisitions and Amazon’s effort to bring more faith-based programming to its subscribers.

And Downey, who made Utah her home during the nine years “Touched” was filmed here and has often referred to the Beehive State as her “second home,” will appear in her first regular TV series role since that show went off the air in 2003.

“The Baxters” is based on author Karen Kingsbury’s best-selling series of books. “With over 25 million fans of the Baxter series books, we know audiences are going to love this family drama brought to life, and I am personally so excited to bring more inspirational content to Prime Video,” Downey said in a statement.

Downey, who is also an executive producer, stars as Baxter family matriarch Elizabeth; she and her husband, John (Ted McGinley), are the parents of five adult children.

Season 1 revolves around Elizabeth and John’s daughter, Kari (Ali Cobin), who “learns the shocking truth that her professor husband, Tim (Brandon Hirsch), has been secretly having an affair with one of his college students. As her relationship is tested, Kari must seek comfort in her faith and family to discover if love is truly a choice and if her marriage can be redeemed.”

According to Prime Video, it is a “deeply moving faith-based journey” in which the family must “come together … to work through the challenges of life.”

If “The Baxters” is any good, why has it been in storage since 2018? Prime Video has no answers for that, but at least some of it is clearly because of corporate maneuvering. It’s sort of a convoluted story, but here’s how this happened:

• “The Baxters” was filmed in 2018, produced by LightWorkers Media, which was founded by Downey and Burnett to produce faith- and family-oriented programming.

• The original plan was to stream “The Baxters” on a LightWorkers platform, which never came to fruition. So it just sat on a shelf.

• There are a whole series of corporate maneuvers, but LightWorkers Media was acquired by MGM, and Burnett became the head of MGM Television in 2015. MGM was acquired by Amazon in March 2022, and Burnett was pushed out eight months later.

• In January, Amazon announced “it has acquired the family drama series ‘The Baxters’ from LightWorkers Media.” Which is sort of weird, because Amazon has owned MGM and LightWorkers Media for the past two years, and acquired “The Baxters” when it bought MGM.

The show will start streaming on Prime Video on March 28.

And, although the streamer keeps referring to this as Season 1 of “The Baxters,” it has not ordered any additional episodes. Which should surprise no one, given that all the contracts on this show have long since expired and the odds of reassembling the cast, let alone the writers and producers, are virtually nonexistent.

(Miya Mizuno | HBO) Matthias Schoenaerts and Kate Winslet in "The Regime."

A swing and a miss from HBO

After screening the six-episode series “The Regime,” I was confused. According to HBO, it’s a comedy — but I didn’t find anything amusing about this story of a fictional central European country whose chancellor, Elena Vernham (Kate Winslet), is a germaphobic weirdo who goes full-on authoritarian as her regime crumbles around her.

Apparently, we’re supposed to laugh when Elena goes and talks to her father’s corpse in one room in the palace. Apparently, we’re supposed to be amused by Elena’s burgeoning/ultra-weird relationship with Herbert Zubak (Matthias Schoenaerts), a soldier who shot dead a bunch of protesting workers. Apparently, we’re supposed to laugh when Elena yells and curses at children who are gathered to ask her questions. And when she has the leader of the opposition, (Hugh Grant), beaten. And on and on.

If it weren’t for the lighthearted music, “The Regime” would often seem like a dark, depressing drama.

The whole thing is creepy and uncomfortable, and lacking in laughs. Apparently, it’s intended for a rather specific audience — people who think it’s funny when they learn that Elena convinced her husband (Guillaume Gallienne) to leave his first wife for her, never to see his children again. “It’s hysterical,” Winslet said in a teleconference a few days ago.


I tuned in to that teleconference to try to figure out what I was missing in “The Regime.” It didn’t help. It didn’t make me feel any less like I’d wasted six hours of my life watching the show.

Even HBO can’t always hit the mark. “The Regime” is a definite miss — it wants to be over-the-top, but it never quite gets there. Or, rather, the horrifying content — people die awful deaths, children are terrorized — keeps dragging it back to something that’s far more disturbing than anything else.

“The Regime” premieres Sunday at 7 p.m. on HBO. Episodes will also stream on Max.

Editor’s note • This story is available to Salt Lake Tribune subscribers only. Thank you for supporting local journalism.