7th Heaven: Season Seven
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7th Heaven: Season Seven

It might not seem like it but creating a family television series is one of the most difficult jobs in the entertainment industry. You have to tread a fine line between being realistic and going into the dreaded sickly sweet side of the genre. If you dare to through a faith based theme into the mix the expectations and complaints are drastically increased. The people in the audience want strong family values in their television programming but they don’t want the appearance that they are being force feed. One series has distinguished itself in this most difficult of genres; ‘7th Heaven’. It was as close as possible to a perfect family series. It was strong in the values we all want our children to be exposed to yet the stories were realistic and heart felt. This show was able to seamlessly blend comedy with drama like few have ever done. There should be little wonder as to why this series currently holds the longevity record for family show, eleven years. ‘7th Heaven’ managed to survive over a decade of changing times, changes in production and casts to not only survive but remain interesting throughout its long run. What is even more amazing is that this is basically a faith based series. Some hit TV shows have had God as an active presence such as ‘Highway to Heaven’, Touched by an Angel’ and ‘Joan of Arcadia’. This one wasn’t as overt but the parents were strong in their faith which was reflected in how they raised their children and interacted in the community. Admittedly this is not a series for everybody. If you expect something edgy, always pushing the limits you should look elsewhere. However, if you want a gentle series that you can watch alongside your entire family then give this one a try. CBS Paramount has now released the seventh season DVD box set.

In order for a series to last as long as this one did it has to be resilient. Every season presented a challenge to the staff of writers and the creative force behind the show; Brenda Hampton and TV producer extraordinaire Aaron Spelling. At its heart the basic concept remained the same. Reverend Eric Camden (Stephen Collins) is the minister at the Glen Oaks Community Church. He and his wife Annie (Catherine Hicks) have seven children; Matt (Barry Watson), Mary (Jessica Biel), Lucy (Beverley Mitchell), Simon (David Gallagher), Ruthie (Mackenzie Rosman) and the twins Sam and David (Lorenzo and Nikolas Brino). By the time of this season Matt had left home to attend medical school and Mary was elsewhere with her own life. This still left the Camdens with more than enough still at home to keep the story lines coming. Lucy was a young adult studying to be a minister. Simon was in college and Ruthie was in the midst of the typical teenage angst stage. The twins were still mostly on set to maintain the all necessary cute factor.

As the season opens romance is the main plot device used. Lucy’s boyfriend Officer Kevin Kinkirk (George Stults) has moved into the Camden’s garage apartment. He wants to propose marriage to Lucy but the time has to be just right. This goal is pushed back when he introduces Lucy to his new partner, the beautiful Roxanne Richardson (Rachel Blanchard). All this manages to do is get Lucy very jealous. Mary is now living in Florida and working as a flight attendant. The family is in an uproar when she introduces them to her new boyfriend, Captain Jack Smith (Grant Goodeve) who is almost the same age as her father. Jack’s father Ken Smith (Pat Boone) is upset with Mary ‘seducing’ his son and threatens the church with a land deal if they don’t break up. Robbie Palmer (Adam LaVorgna), a former boyfriend of Mary’s is living with the Camdens and is lamenting his breakup with his current girlfriend. This passes when he meets Roxanne who happens to be from his 7th grade class. Little Ruthie is growing up too fast and to the chagrin of her parents already has a boyfriend. Simon is also having some romantic problems. He was dating Cecilia Smith (Ashlee Simpson) for awhile. Simon turns running a paid dating service until Cecilia tells his parents.

There were problems here that did not revolve around the numerous interconnected romances of the kids. Eric had had a heart attack a few seasons back and cardiac problems come up again. Eric discovers that he needs a double bypass. He calls a family meeting, they are big on this, and Annie gets suspicious when their brother-in-law Hank (Ed Begley Jr.), a doctor, shows up out of the blue. The truth finally comes out and Eric has the surgery. In one of the strangest and worse episodes of the series Eric imagines he is Elvis while under anesthesia. The medical problems of her father bring Lucy to examine her life and she comes to the conclusion that Kevin is the man for her. While Eric is recovering from his surgery the church hires an associate minister Chandler Hampton (Jeremy London). Eric doesn’t take the news well feeling he is being pushed out by the younger, charismatic minister. The kids are still acting up. Simon has remained friends with Cecilia but becomes upset when she tells him about her new boyfriend. Ruthie gets in trouble slow dancing with her boyfriend while she was supposed to be watching the twins. Lucy continues to be upset when she meets Kevin’s ex wife Mindy (Mindy Burbano). Annie has a lot to deal with when Eric decides he wants to leave the ministry. He winds up taking on a radio show at a local college station. Eventually Annie convinces him to see a therapist but the advice is not what Eric expected. Meanwhile Lucy is still at it. She tries to get Kevin jealous by dating the chain smoking brother of Chandler. That seems to work since Kevin finally pops the question. Lucy is adamant that her father performs the ceremony which helps pull him back into the ministry.

At this point in the run of the series it seemed that every season was a rebuilding one. It was necessary in order to keep the story line somewhat fresh although if you are a long time fan you will see some retread stories here. What helped to keep the show going was the human drama that unfolded with each episode. The story arcs would span each season and the series in general. This was a family many of us watch grow up. There was a built in familiarity with the characters that kept people tuning in each week. Little Ruthie was up to mischief but is now dating. Simon was the frugal younger brother facing the issues of premarital sex and trying to gain some independence from his family. These are relatable themes that reverberated through the audience. Now all of this seventh season is ready to include in your home collection thanks to CBS Paramount. If you are tired of the sex and drug fueled night time soaps or another crime show sit back with the family and enjoy this.

Posted 10/25/08

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