7th Heaven

I watched the very last episode of 7th Heaven yesterday. I enjoyed the show, but I don’t think I’m going to watch it all the way through a second time. I already know what happens to everyone. Maybe I’ll just watch my favorite episodes when they come on. Right now, I’ll be turning my attention to the Waltons.

When I first saw the show, it didn’t make that big of an impression on me. I think it was because it focused a lot on popular kids in high school, and I didn’t want to relive my high school years, since I was not popular. But, one morning, I got up and turned on the TV, and I saw that it was on ABC Family. It was an episode from the very first season–the one in which Eric was counseling a battered wife. It drew me in at that time, for whatever reason. Maybe it was because Reverend Camden had a special gravitas about him, for he displayed genuine compassion and warmth to people in trouble. And he looked good in a suit. Plus, Catherine Hicks was pretty nice to look at!

I saw the final episode when it first came on, but I didn’t recognize any of the characters. After all, at the time, I hadn’t seen any episodes between the first and the eleventh seasons. Ruthie had a deeper voice, and she was telling a man named Martin that she just wanted to be friends. Martin was incredulous, and he reminded her that she had wanted to go out with him for a long time. “Why the change?,” he asked. “Typical woman,” I thought. “She leads this poor guy on, then she drops him.”

But, after I watched the nine seasons in between, my impression was a lot different. Martin was actually the one who didn’t know what he wanted. He chased all sorts of women, then he finally came back to Ruthie and expected her to fall all over him. My feelings about Martin were rather mixed from the beginning. I didn’t care much for him the first time he was on–when he just came into the Camdens‘ house uninvited, plopped down on their couch, and watched TV, when nobody there even knew him. How arrogant! I did admire the fact that he was protective of Ruthie, plus he was a strong Bush supporter, since his dad was in Iraq. But his maturity kind of dwindled as the seasons went on.

And that’s the way it was with a lot of the characters. When Simon was a kid, he was somewhat of a prodigy, for he was interested in science and economics. His family called him “the bank of Simon” because he always had money. When he grew up, however, his only interests were sex, sex, sex, and he was so irresponsible! He almost contacted an STD!

Ruthie was also a good person who degenerated with her adolescence. In her younger years, she genuinely cared about other people. I think of that episode in which she confronted her father at the bowling alley about a secret she knew he was keeping (his bad heart condition), or the one where she told her brother, Matt, “Your secret is safe with me” (the secret being that he had hastily eloped with Sarah). Ruthie also had academic interests, and she asked questions about the world around her. That’s why she was in a school for the gifted! But, eventually, her interests became limited to sex, sex, sex. And she become so shallow, too. In the last season, she was unwilling to leave Scotland to be with her dying father (or at least everyone thought he was dying, including himself). How selfish can you get?

Plus, after I had watched the series all the way through, Ruthie appeared less mature than she did when I had first watched the last episode. Her voice wasn’t as deep the second time I saw it, for it still had that “little kid” quality.

One thing I liked about 7th Heaven was that it had a social conscience. You remember those “very special episodes” that you used to see on TV, which covered important topics like drugs or abuse or kidnapping? Well, 7th Heaven had a few of those! I think of this one episode in which a working man couldn’t feed his family, and it profiled high school students who were speaking into the camera about their difficulties with hunger. At the end of the program, it provided information about the federal food stamps program. I wondered how I’d be able to cope if I were hungry. There was also a special episode on child sexual abuse, which likewise gave information on whom to call. 7th Heaven obviously tried to make a positive difference in the world.

Regarding where it was on the political spectrum, I’m not entirely sure. It was supportive of America’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, yet it had a couple of anti-gun episodes. It pretty much towed the conservative line on sex before marriage, for, even though not all of the Camden kids followed that rule, their parents upheld it as much as they could. Swimming upstream against the culture is not always easy, especially in child rearing!

I also enjoyed seeing familiar faces, for, like Touched by an Angel, 7th Heaven drew its share of actors from old shows. I saw Mr. Belding from Saved by the Bell, Jason Seaver from Growing Pains, Meredith Baxter from Family Ties, Al from Step by Step, Pete from Smallville, Laura from Little House on the Prairie, Worf from Star Trek: The Next Generation, Kenny from Picket Fences, Jack Arnold from the Wonder Years, Loren from Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (who is married in real life to the mom on the Wonder Years), and Ray Walston from, well, all sorts of shows. And some of them went on to be successful, such as Ashley Simpson and Alyssa Lohman.

And so I’ll miss 7th Heaven. Of course, I watched the series in sixth months, whereas most of its fans did so for eleven years. They probably miss it more than I do! But it’s a fun show to watch. And I thank those of you who were patient with my write-ups about it, as I relived the 90’s and early 2000’s.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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7 Responses to 7th Heaven

  1. Pascalian Awakenings says:

    I enjoyed the 7th Heaven posts. I liked that the show did not make the family out to be saints. I think I read somewhere that Stephen Collins patterned his acting as Eric from his brother. Apparently his brother is really an Eric-type.

    I noticed you also like Star Trek Voyager. If you are a Trekkie overall, it is kind of cool that both Stephen Collins and Catherine Hicks were in Star Trek movies. Collins was in Star Trek the Motion Picture and Hicks was in The Voyage Home.


  2. James Pate says:

    What’s weird, Yvette, is this: When I saw Star Trek IV and then saw 7th Heaven later, I recognized Catherine Hicks from Star Trek IV. But I had seen Stephen Collins in so many things–Star Trek: The Motion Picture, First Wives Club, a Woman Named Jackie, Scarlett–and I did not recognize him when I first saw him on 7th Heaven. I almost feel like going back and watching those movies, now that he’s made an impression on me from that show.

    It’s interesting that he patterned himself off of someone. I was looking at You-tube, and Collins was talking about his “first time.” When I tried to watch it, it told me I’d have to register. But if it’s what I think it is, that doesn’t sound like something Eric Camden would talk about (though he did write a racy novel on the show)! I guess the actors are not necessarily the people they play. And, yet, I’d venture to say that there’s something of Eric Camden in Stephen Collins, the same way that Michael Landon’s characters were a part of him, even though he clearly was not a saint.


  3. James Pate says:

    P.S. It’s interesting that you like Star Trek V, Yvette. That’s also my favorite movie of that series, even though it got TERRIBLE reviews.


  4. Pascalian Awakenings says:

    I loved that movie, but my favorite is “The Wrath of Khan.”


  5. James Pate says:

    Yeah, where Khan and Chekhov recognize each other, even though Chekhov wasn’t even on that episode.


  6. Anonymous says:

    I liked 7th Heaven, but I thought the earlier episodes were better. I got tired of the girls and their boyfriends, but always enjoyed Ruthie.
    It’s funny how some old shows never lose “it”. Some shows I used to watch in my 20’s and 30’s seem so goofy now. I like Little House, but the later episodes seem a bit silly and the actors not so good. Can’t complain about the Waltons. Such a good show. I love how those times are depicted and how they managed. The characters are wonderful. So much diversity in the chldren’s personalities kind of covers anyone you might know. Doesn’t everyone know a social wannabe like Corabeth?! Or someone who lives in the past like the precious Baldwin sisters? Or someone who is Godly but not religious like John? The mix between Grandpa and Grandma is great. (Kind of reminds me of me and your Uncle J). Walton’s — definitely a classic in my book. Bet I’ve seen every one a dozen times.
    Aunt C.


  7. James Pate says:

    Hi Aunt C! Yeah, I mis-set the timer on my VCR, so I missed an episode of the Waltons. Oh well, I’m sure it will be on again! I’m in the first season, so Corabeth isn’t on yet. I also like the religious discussions on the Waltons.


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