Paramount // 2001 // 412 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // August 11th, 2013
They're looking out for us.
Those wacky angelic do-gooders are back for an eighth season of Touched by an Angel. Arriving on television in 1994, Touched by an Angel was an inspirational hit for CBS that ran for an astonishing nine (!) seasons. How can this be? Apparently there was a void in religious programming and the studio executives knew that the hole had to be filled somehow and, frankly, Highway to Heaven reruns just weren't cutting it anymore.
Touched by an Angel: The Eighth Season follows the exact same path as the previous seven seasons: a group of heavenly volunteers led by lovely Monica (Roma Downey, History Channel's The Bible miniseries), straight talking Tess (Della Reese, Harlem Nights), and the "Angel of Death" named Andrew (John Dye, The Perfect Weapon), reach out to mortal men and women to help them solve their problems and learn a lil' bit about God and faith along the way. It's a show that features zero in the way of surprises, unless you want to count the fact that Neil Patrick Harris shows up in one of the episodes and doesn't sing or dance as a 'surprise'. The stories aren't overly complicated and for families this is certainly a 'safe haven' show that features heartwarming stories without any sex, violence, or salty language.
This time around, the angels have a new team member (who appeared in the previous season as well): button cute Gloria (Valerie Bertinelli, Hot in Cleveland), who looks suspiciously like Eddie Van Halen's ex-wife (hmmm). Gloria is here to inject new life into the series seeing as, let's be honest, by this point Touched by an Angel was starting to get a little long in the tooth. Nurturing Roma Downey still doles out life lessons with her adorable Irish accent while bigger-than-life Della Reese throws around both her frame and husky vocals for anyone that wants to listen. The late John Dye is the Angel of Death, who is probably the nicest Grim Reaper you're apt to come across save for William Sadler in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey. Valerie Bertinelli, as the newest member of the Holy Care Squad (my term, not the show's) is adorable and funny but her addition to the series feels just a little too late in the game. All of the actors do what's required of them, which isn't a ton when it comes to character depth or raw acting power. Along the way they meet a lot of guest stars, including The Cosby Show's Phylicia Rashad, Barney Miller's Hal Liden, Growing Pains' Kirk Cameron, and musicians Steven Curtis Chapman, Toby Keith, and the late Luther Vandross.
Each episode during this eighth season concerns everyday folks dealing with various difficulties, from troubled teens ("The Birthday Present") to divorce and reconciliation ("Secrets & Lies") to convicted killers ("Famous Last Words") on death row. The stories are well written for what they are (no one will confuse the scripts, many by creator Martha Williamson, with Oscar winning screenplays) and focus mainly on faith, healing, and God's love. The good news is that many of the scripts focus on the positive and uplifting, though I wish they weren't quite so heavy handed in their lessons. The humor is often gentle and mild (like baby shampoo), without a hint of sarcasm to be found...and those who do show sarcasm usually get their comeuppance one way or another. If you're in the mood for something that will lift your spirits and not tax your brain, Touched by an Angel: The Complete Eighth Season may do the trick.
Each of the 22 episodes (spread across six DVDs) of Touched by an Angel: The Eighth Season is presented in 1.33:1 full frame (the show's original aspect ratio). Overall these video transfers all look good -- colors are evenly saturated and black levels look solid. While a show like this can't complete with newer fare like Lost or Glee, overall it's a fine looking presentation. The soundtracks for each episode are presented in English 2.0 Stereo in English. Not surprisingly, each episode is mostly front heavy with the musical numbers providing the biggest boost. Also included on this set are English subtitles. There are no bonus features.
Fans of Touched by an Angel -- and let's be honest, you know who you are -- will be thrilled that this second to last season is finally out on DVD. Those who aren't interested in owning an entire season will just have patiently wait for reruns on the Trinity Broadcast Network.
A Godsend for fans.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 412 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Not Rated