Way, way back in the depths of the 1980s–so far back that even I only half-remember it–there was a TV show on NBC (I think it was NBC, anyway) called Highway To Heaven. And in this show, Michael Landon got to once again play the upright sort who went around helping people. And the folks out at A&E got the whole first season together on a huge seven-disc array and sent me out a copy for me to review, and that’s just what we’re doing right now.
Highway to Heaven follows Jonathan Smith, an angel sent down from heaven to do some good things for folks who were in need, and also help improve some of the folks whose souls could stand a bit of shoring up. Smith would go all around, performing these various deeds, and often accompanied by a bitter former police officer. And sometimes, when the situation called for it, Smith has just a little extra angel power in line to get the job done.
Highway to Heaven has a tendency to get a bit schmaltzy at times…okay, maybe a LOT schmaltzy at times…but it’s got an endearing quality, a little bit of an inspirational quality, the kind of uplifting theme that you hardly ever see in television shows today, and the kind of thing that you actually could get from television shows way back in the eighties.
The individual episodes were geared to run an hour each–rather, an hour with commercials, so about forty five minutes–so they do have a tendency to feel a bit over long, wearing out their welcome after a bit. But still, you’ll get that uplifting, feel-good quality out of them, so it’s probably best to take these in small bits, a little at a time, and probably just before bed because these might make you a bit tired, what with wading through all that sentimentality and all. But still, this is some solid work here, and watching it will often make you feel good, which is something that doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should when you watch television.
The Screenhead Ten Scale gives Highway to Heaven Season One a thoroughly angelic seven out of ten. It’s got its drawbacks–pacing is a big one, and the occasionally over the top nature of the plot is a second–but it will often make you feel good, and this dose of retro joy is, as a result, quite worth it.