Paramount // 2000 // 1136 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // May 19th, 2013
Get touched...but not in a weird way.
The adventure continues as heaven sent -- literally -- Monica (Roma Downey, History Channel's The Bible) and her higher calling supervisor, Tess (Della Reese, Harlem Nights), move about the world helping regular everyday folks solve their problems. Joining them is a comforting angel of death (the late John Dye) and a new angelic recruit, the precocious and striking Gloria (Valerie Burtinelli, Hot in Cleveland). Along the way Monica and Tess bring the message of God's love and goodness to humankind, making things better in a world of heartache and turmoil.
As is sometimes the case, I walked in almost deaf, dumb, and blind into Touched by an Angel. I know very little about this inspirational drama/comedy, except the basics: it's about angels who help people. At the very least, I know it's about Christian values, which can certainly be commended. I don't think there are enough shows on the air that try to espouse goodness and love over violence and revenge. But that's another topic for another time.
Touched by an Angel aired for nine seasons and finally wrapped up in 2003, now off the air for over a decade. Although the show hasn't been "forgotten," per say, it's not something that plays reruns very often (except on niche 'spiritual' stations). It could be that Touched by an Angel is just a bit too corny and syrupy for many viewer's tastes (and Hollywood at large), although I could be wrong, since it ran for almost a full decade. Each episode of Touched by an Angel is usually filled with rather simple plot lines: a father needs help juggling his work, faith, and family obligations; a couple of sparring neighbors need some 'divine intervention' to solve their dilemma; Monica must help a man prove his innocence in both the earthly court and a 'higher' court. The lessons are straight out of the Bible, even mirroring parables like the Prodigal Son. This is not a show that works in grey areas very often.
Touched by an Angel has a very basic premise: people are in trouble -- or often at a crossroads in their lives -- and Tess and Monica are available to offer them a bit of spiritual guidance and show them that God loves them. There really isn't a whole let else to the show; while some of the episodes are a bit more complex than others, the crux of Touched by an Angel deals with happy, warm feeling surrounded by a spiritual overtone. Touched by an Angel is the kind of show that features dialogue like, "God is a father too, and he gave this life to you, and yes he's disappointed that you used it to spend money instead of love, but children disappoint their parents every day. But that doesn't stop fathers from loving their sons. And it doesn't stop God from waiting a lifetime for you to become the man you were made to be." I say this without a hint of sarcasm: if that sentiment appeals to you, then this show will be right up your alley.
Touched by an Angel is anchored by Della Reese and Roma Downey, two actresses who spend much of the show looking wide eyed and happy (what else?). That's not really a complaint, but it doesn't make for the most compelling of characterization. Della Reese in particular has a very strong presence, if not the most impressive of acting chops; I swear there were moments when it looked like she was reading a script just out of eyesight of the camera. Reese walks around the show acting like a clichéd older, southern black woman whose personality is as big as her presence. Reese's deep voice is also featured on the show's opening theme song. Roma Downey plays an attractive angel who is still trying to figure out how human nature works. Along for the ride is Valerie Burtinelli as a new recruit -- whom you can't help but think was brought in to maybe replace Roma Downey at some point -- and John Dye as the Angel of Death, a much more reassuring presence than most grim reapers, but also a lot less funnier than William Sadler in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey. Sadly, Dye himself met his own Angel of Death after a heart attack in 2011.
There is quite a bit of music in the show, including musical numbers by Reese and other actors; at one point, The Towering Inferno's Richard Chamberlain stands up in a western salon, complete with ten gallon hate and a handlebar moustache, and belts out an old-timey tune. Yeah, it's that kind of show. Again, the Touched by an Angel is all about inspiration, and music often comes along for the ride. Some of the music is well done, some of its pretty cheesy, and all if it fits perfectly into the theme of the show.
Each episode of Touched by an Angel: The Complete Seventh Season is presented in the show's original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers on this seven disc set are good, but certainly not great; the video quality is better than VHS, but this isn't the most pristine looking TV series on DVD. Colors are generally crisp and black levels mostly solid. Fans should just be happy that Paramount has decided to get this entire series on some kind of digital format. The soundtrack is presented in Dolby 2.0 Stereo in English. Each of these episodes features very front heavy audio mixes that don't have a lot in the way of dynamic range. Aside of the uplifting music, most of these tracks are relatively mediocre. Also included on this set are English subtitles.
There are no extra features on Touched by an Angel: The Complete Seventh Season.
I can't say that Touched by an Angel: The Complete Seventh Season is the most enticing or exciting of television shows. The episodes are light as air and have morals that aren't super complicated ("The Golden Rule" just about sums it up), and the characters often have as much depth as a Dixie cup of water. That being said, there's a lot of good to be found here in the way of lessons, especially for kids and teens. Just don't expect a lot of darkness with the light.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 1136 Minutes
Release Year: 2000
MPAA Rating: Not Rated