7th Heaven: Season 10
There is an old saying ‘slow and steady wins the race’ it may not seem readily apparent but this axiom is good advice for a television series in today’s program environment. An increasing number of series are gaining membership to a regrettable list; brilliant but cancelled. Such show tends to be cutting edge, exciting and controversial but the wind up cancelled after only a season or two. In contrast ‘7th Heaven’ became the longest lasting family drama by running for an incredible eleven seasons from 1996 to 2007. This show quickly garnered a loyal fan base and was assisted by corporate merges making it success more notable but underlying it all the outstanding quality and quite approach to problem ranging from the familiar to the global that made this series such a fan favorite and darling of the critical community. The foundation of the series is religion, or more specifically spirituality. The family shown here, the Camdens, have a minister as their patriarch and many scenes revolve around the church. One of the reasons this approach worked so well in this series is the show never came across as preachy. The beliefs were not based on thumping the Bible but by honestly trying to guide their lives by its principles. So many show talk about family values and let’s face it, the majority of prime time series go out of their way to be explicit or cutting edge. While there is a place for every kind of show it should not be at the expense of programs like this. The series is pretty much non-denominational but definitely Protestant. The import part of the use of religion is not the details of a specific religious group but with the underlying positive human values. CBS Paramount owns the DVD distribution rights and has been release the show a season at a time. They are now almost done with the release of this penultimate tenth season set.
7th Heaven was one of the crowning gems for one of the most successful television producers in history; Aaron Spelling. Most people in the audience may associate him with more action packed faire such as ‘Charlie’s Angles’ or teen prime time soaps like ‘Beverley Hills, 90210’. His association with this series demonstrated Mr. Spelling’s commitment to giving his audience the best quality possible. The creator was Brenda Hampton who has gone on to creating one of the flagship series for the ABC family network, ‘The Secret Life of the American Teenager’. The one thing most of Mr. Spelling’s shows have in common was their ability to blend a socially relevant topic with wholesome entertainment. Since the clergyman here, the Reverend Eric Camdens (Stephen Collins) is married with a rather large brood of children, many of the problems he encounters are common to us all and readily recognizable. Actually, the Camdens have a tendency of collecting stray children like an old spinster brings in cats. The good Reverend and his loving wife Annie (Catherine Hicks) have seven children of their own but have repeatedly opened their home and hearts to kids in dire need of a stable family.
The eldest is Matt (Barry Watson) who in this season is completing medical school and is married to Sarah (Sarah Danielle Madison) whom he met in medical school. Mary (Jessica Biel) lives out of town and is divorced with a child. Lucy (Beverley Mitchell) followed in her father’s footsteps completing ministry school and serves as associate pastor withy Eric at the Glen Oaks church; she is married to a police officer Kevin Kinkirk (George Stults). They live in the garage converted to an apartment and have a young daughter, Savannah. Simon (David Gallagher) is the main source of teen oriented issues for the last few seasons. He was in an accident that took the life of a friend and went through a pregnancy scare with his girlfriend, much to the chagrin of his parents. Ruthie (Mackenzie Rosman) started off the series as the precocious youngest daughter but by this season has grown into a somewhat rebellious, self adsorbed teen. The youngest of the Camden’s seven natural children were Sam and David who generally supply the cute and mischievous factor always present in a family oriented series. This season did veer more towards the common motifs of a soap opera especially with Simon. He is caught between his season nine girlfriend, Rose Taylor (Sarah Thompson) and what everyone around thought of her. Rose comes across as a selfish individual that is generally disliked by Simon’s friends and family but he is intent on marrying her.
A brighter side was the development of Lucy. Over time she went from the boy crazy middle daughter to giving her first sermon at the church she shares with her father. Lucy is also used to introduce some of the deeper topics and themes with her work for Habitat for Humanity and founding a somewhat progressive youth ministry. The current pair of ‘strays’ taken in by Eric and Annie are Jane (Sarah Mason) and Margaret (Andrea Morris). Jane had been briefly married to a service man and Margret was painfully shy. The Camdens let them stay in the garage apartment and helped find work at the Dairy Shack. You might think that Eric and Annie had enough going on with just their own kids but they continued to provide a nurturing environment for kids in trouble. This is living your faith instead of just pontificating about it. so many family shows are bland, devoid of any sense of drama but here there are stories and character development that can engross and entertain the entire family.