Case Number 08818: Small Claims Court

TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL: THE THIRD SEASON, VOLUME 1

Paramount // 1997 // 740 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // March 15th, 2006

The Charge

Sixteen inspirational episodes that will make your heart soar and your TV bleed sugar.

The Case

A heavenly angel, Monica (played by the plainly attractive Roma Downey), struggles to fulfill her earthbound assignments, supervised by the often boisterous but caring Tess (Della Reese), another prominent angel of God, and the Angel of Death, Andrew (John Dye), who doubles as their caseworker. The three angels attempt to work miracles onto the lives of every day people, always spreading God's eternal message of love and hope...even when times get tough.

The following episodes from season three are included on this DVD set:

* Promised Land
* A Joyful Noise
* Random Acts
* Sins of the Father
* Written in Dust
* Secret Service
* Angels Anonymous
* Groundrush
* The Sky Is Falling
* Something Blue
* Into the Light
* The Homecoming: Part 1
* The Journalist
* The Violin Lesson
* Forget-Me-Not
* Smokescreen

In the mid-'90s (maybe a bit earlier, maybe a bit later) a new kind of television programming came about: non-denominational Christian TV. Seeped with sex and violence, families looked elsewhere for entertainment, something that would lift their spirits and that they wouldn't be ashamed to watch with old Aunt Millie and Grandma Lorraine. The shows harkened back to a simpler time, a time when folks would run to little homes on the prairie and people named "John Boy" were commonplace on the boob tube. Suddenly there was a deluge of 7th Heavens and Joan of Arcadias popping up all over the airwaves.

One of the most popular of these newfound spiritual shows was Touched by an Angel. The program was simple in its format: take three well-to-do Angels of the Lord, throw them down on earth, and have them help downtrodden, depressed, and otherwise flawed humans solve their problems (or, if they can't solve them, send them a message of hope from God). I can't begrudge this message: in a time when crazy suicide bombers are blowing up churches and the message in movies and TV is "have sex, drink a lot of beer, and be a faithful consumer," Touched by an Angel's message is downright splendid.

This set contains the first sixteen episodes from the third season of Touched by an Angel. The show's leads play their characters with the just the right amount of warmth and affection; nothing more, nothing less. Some episodes are decent, others trite, most all of them sappy and unabashedly sentimental. The Angels tackle everything from a boy with AIDS returning to his childhood home to die, a secret service agent's kidney transplant, and a streetwalker trying to work her way through drugs and prostitution. Of course, as titillating and disturbing as these topics are, all are handled in a very family friendly way that is never offensive or overly disturbing (we are, after all, talking about PAX TV material here).

It's also during the start of this season that we're introduced to Russell Greene (played by Gerald McRaney), a laid off factory worker traveling with his family in a trailer and ends up running into Monica and Tess. From this episode -- in which Russell discovers that God wants him to travel the country and help others -- the show The Promised Land would spring forth, a spin-off drama about Russell's family in the heartland of America. I'll say this: if you hated Touched by an Angel, please don't even think about checking out The Promised Land, an even cheesier version without the heavy supernatural undertones.

I realize there are a lot of Touched by an Angel fans out there. I know you yearn for something that won't offended, won't warp your child's mind and sports an uplifting message. I can hardly begrudge you these episodes. Although they clearly aren't to my taste, fans of the show will like this set...even if they have to separately purchase the rest of the season later in the year.

Each episode from the third season of Touched by an Angel is presented in 1.33:1 full frame, the show's original aspect ratio. These particular episodes ran during the mid 1990s, and as such they're in decent, but not great, shape. The picture is warm and colorful without any major defects or distractions. However, considering how good TV looks today on shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and premium HBO programming, Touched by an Angel looks just south of heavenly.

Each episode is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo in English and Spanish. Much like the video transfers, these audio mixes do the job and little else -- they are very front heavy and feature little-to-no surround sound or directional effects. Overall these are good soundtracks, and upon reflection I don't think I needed to hear that swelling theme song in 5.1 DTS. No alternate soundtracks or subtitles are available on this set.

The extra features on this set are minimal. Actually, they're below minimal -- they're hovering right at zilch.

Review content copyright © 2006 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 74

Perp Profile
Studio: Paramount
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)

Subtitles:
* English

Running Time: 740 Minutes
Release Year: 1997
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* None

Accomplices
* IMDb
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0108968/combined