A probationary angel sent back to earth teams with an ex-cop to help people.
You might find this choice to review on this site to be a bit outside our usual genre. This is true, though due to the metaphysical aspect, even if religious, I thought the series to be right in line with some of the films and TV shows we review. Usually in the case of TV series such as “Brimstone” and “666 Park Avenue“, the theme is one of demons and evil. “Highway to Heaven” takes a complete opposite premise with the arrival of one angel Michael Landon as Jonathan Smith who was sent from God (on probation) to find the worthy people in existence that deserves God’s intervention. More specifically, the advice and suggestive tactics of an angel.
This series which originated in year 1984 (ran to 1989) was one that I can honestly say drew me in with each episode. The writing here was so well placed and dramatic that every episode seemed powerful in its own respect. The aspect that caused a slight snicker was that Michael Landon’s name seemed to be on almost everything (however well deserved in all due respect). The show is without a doubt a brainchild creation under Michael Landon who was also reported to have full ownership of the series. If the show was a mirror into Landon’s soul, then I’m sure fiction was made reality when he passed away on July 1, 1991.
Recently the series was released on DVD per Mill Creek Entertainment who have compiled the entire first season under one roof. The quality is adequate but worthy for viewing (seeing that much that still exists from this series was rehashed VHS recordings). In short, its good enough quality to get what you came for, just don’t expect bluray high def on this one. I strongly urge families to spend some time with this heart warming TV show.
The first episode which spans over 2 episodes introduced the arrival of Michael Landon as Jonathan Smith. He is instantly presented as the perfect “nice guy” who spends every moment consoling others and making life a better place. In fact, he finds that most are a bit questioning as to why he “is” so nice. Though this option quickly becomes the norm as we adjust to his dynamic and emotional character.
Jonathan Smith, (a play on the generic name of John Smith) although limited to God’s control of how he uses his abilities, is equipped with a batch of supernatural skills that his friend Mark Gordon (Victor French) refers to as the “stuff” (an ongoing somewhat humorous referral to an angel’s powers).
In essence, Jonathan is able to teleport at times, make stuff appear out of thin air, heal instantly, and exhibit a sense of super strength when needed. Though make no mistake, his style is never represented as a super hero but as a vessel for God who is able to use specialities as he needs under the umbrella of an his masters rules.
At times this aspect is quite humorous without a need for sleep, eating or mortal confines (especially when Smith pops out of the bushes without need for sleep). The series down plays much of this in favor of the human dramas that they encounter with each episode. This human drama works as a moral-driven experience that takes on a number of situations aimed to either send a message or warm the hearts of viewers. In the case of death, God’s reasons are usually explained or left to “works in mysterious ways”. In any case, Jonathan is limited to what is allowed even for an Angel’s influence.
The show simply works, even though each episode becomes somewhat predictable. It’s a nice change of pace from all the evil rooted shows we have nowadays. In that respect, it may have not lasted for as many years as it has if it were presented today…however, I still believe in the simple core of good TV and good writing. “Highway to Heaven” has all of that and more