The last time I reviewed a set of the popular family TV series Seventh Heaven, I made the statement that “one of the hardest parts of reviewing DVD’s for this site is getting dropped in to the middle of a show I neither followed nor cared to follow….” Not much has changed since that time, certainly not regarding an improvement in the show’s quality, or in my enthusiasm regarding it. With Seventh Heaven – The Eighth Season, the Camden family and friends become increasingly obnoxious in their journey to the heart of sappy endings and Full House-esque melodrama. A dear friend of mine – a girl, no less, so it’s obvious this is not a matter of gender, but experience – recently pointed out that Seventh Heaven is little more than the one-hour drama version of the old TGIF lineup’s crap-tastic Bob Saget-starring sitcom. I agree.
Again, the issue is not that this is pro-faith entertainment, but rather pro-faith entertainment of low quality in writing, acting, and direction. See our recent Best Picture Winner Slumdog Millionaire for a spiritual film that is a fine example of faith as subtext. And just as an aside, why does “faith” have to invoke only Christian metaphors? As a Christian, I don’t believe we have the market cornered on the word, and as far as entertainment goes, it’s preferential that a film or book cast the widest net possible. While Seventh Heaven manages to do this, it burdens viewers with a world that is a little too perfect, and often endeavors to dig a little too deep into the pastoral side of headliner Eric Camden’s (Stephen Collins) job, a matter of which the show’s writers obviously know nothing about.
Stroll through the eighth season gutter with moments such as these:
- The twins learn a few more words;
- Lucy and picture perfect policeman/underwear cover model husband conceive;
- Lucy attempts to be a loveable bitch, but comes across as only the latter;
- Chandler tries to buy the Camden’s house with his inheritance money as a gift to them, only to be rejected;
- Chandler also finds love, and gets a black eye for the trouble;
- Ruthie becomes the only halfway likeable character in the troupe; and again,
- The twins won’t shut their damn mouths.
Perhaps the most ridiculous element?
Mary is pregnant. She doesn’t want her family anywhere near for the birth. She gives birth. Her mom and dad are the only two who get to see the baby. All this happens without her even showing up for one moment of the proceedings.
It’s the most awkward use of writing a character out of a show since those dreadful phone calls from Suzanne Sommers in Three’s Company. Actually, it’s worse, because you don’t see Jessica Beal one time.
Not. One. Time.
While I admire the writers for trying to pull this major arc off with no actual character, it sticks out big-time.
Paramount has once again turned in an excellent full frame transfer. It’s a crisp, clean picture with strong flesh tones and accurate color schemes. Blacks are still rarely used, but this is more of the show’s nature than any glitch. It’s an acceptable standard for a show that should have spent as much time in characterization and story development.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack is a slight improvement over the last season, but it’s still nothing special. A family drama needn’t be. The end result balances music and dialog levels perfectly. It succeeds in serving the story – what little there is of one.
Is it possible the longer you spend with this family, the more you grow to hate them? I’m not sure, but to be safe, it’s a good thing I didn’t start with season one. There are no extras, but 17 hours of Camden family matters should keep fans appeased, as should the solid A/V presentation.