7th Heaven: Season Nine
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7th Heaven: Season Nine

Of all the possible genres that television can utilize one of the most difficult has to be the family drama. It just seems to be one of those can’t win situations where critics are going to rip you apart no matter what tact you try. If the writers go to more cutting edge material it will be deemed not family friendly defeating the effort before it can start. On the other hand if the creators of the series play it too safe the show will be branded as childish with nothing to offer any but the youngest members of the household. One of the main reasons for the failure of family entertainment lies in people not remembering what the genre is supposed to accomplish; entertain the entire family but one series did manage to pull this off for over a decade; ‘Seventh Heaven’. Between 1996 and 2007 this series received a lot of kidding for being vanilla television but the truth of the matter is it remained one of the most popular series on the ‘WB’ and one of the few to make the transition after a merger created the ‘CW’ network. The show successfully lasted such a long time for the simple reason people wanted to relax after a difficult day in the world and watch something that reaffirms traditional family values without being heavy handed or preachy about it. The series presented a balanced view of a family where their strong faith guided their actions but the still lived in the real world facing the same trials and tribulations common to us all. Some may have shied away from the series just because it is about a minister so naturally there will be some discussion concerning God along the line. Okay, other series have included God usually with the use of angles and miracles. While this did find its way into this series it was usually restricted to a semi fantasy episode late in the series run.

This series was just one hit in the extremely successful career of TV producer extraordinaire Aaron Spelling. While he is perhaps best known for more late teen and young adult faire like ‘Charlie’s Angles’, ‘Beverly Hills 90210’ and ‘Charmed’ the fact is he was a man dedicate to television and providing entertainment to his audience. The creator of this series was Brenda Hampton who was just starting out as a series creator but had experience with series like ‘Blossom’. This series quietly changed prime time family programming with its consistent dedication to quality and integrity. The series takes place in the fictional California town of Glen Oaks centering on the Camden family. The father, Eric (Stephen Collins) is the pastor of a local non-denominational Christian church and his wife Annie (Catherine Hicks). Together they have seven children although most of them are adults by this season. The Camden’s have the habit of taking in stray children like others night shelter a stray dog or cat. The reason for this is instead of just preaching about family values Eric and Annie live them. Their eldest Matt (Barry Watson) is in medical and former wild child oldest daughter Mary (Jessica Biel) is back east busy with her own life. The oldest still living at home is Lucy (Beverley Mitchell) who lives with her husband police officer Kevin Kinkirk (George Stults) in an apartment over the garage. She is in the family business and is an associate minister in the church. In this season she is following another family tradition; pregnancy. The always sensible Simon (David Gallagher) is in college and beginning to rebel from some of his father’s core values. At the start of this season he creates a bit of a disruption when he is caught getting intimate with his latest girl friend Georgia (Rheagan Wallace). Youngest daughter Ruthie (Mackenzie Rosman) is just starting high school while the youngest Camdens, twins Sam am David are just beginning kindergarten. Simon gets kicked out of college for letting a girl crash in his dorm room, something that doesn’t sit well with the parents. When it comes out that she was separated from her siblings by social services Eric leaps into action to reunite the family. Another scare happens when Georgia tells Simon she is pregnant but it turns out to be a ploy. Meanwhile Lucy almost miscarries and bed rest drives the normally active young woman stir crazy. Thankfully the time spent confined to bed is successful and they have a daughter. Simon’s sex life continues to be a major theme when he tries to get a prescription for birth control for his girlfriend. There is also yet another scare involving the possibility that he has a sexually transmitted disease.

While many series claim they are for the entire family this one really delivers. I admit I have been a fan throughout its entire run; impressed by the quite way it addresses important, real life topics. this is something that you should watch with the whole family together.

Posted 11/22/09

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