Highway to Heaven: Season One (review)

If there can be said to be an “on a mission from God” genre of dramatic television, then Highway to Heaven inaugurated it with its 1984 debut, now reproduced in all its saintly glory on DVD. This is not challenging drama, and to call it melodrama is being kind — this is comfort TV of the most unambitious order, but golly, do folk love it. Michael Landon stars — and directs and writes and produces — as Jonathan Smith, a veritable angel on Earth here to plant flowers and give people puppies and bicycles and hugs and just be so generally gosh darn nice that no one can avoid being uplifted. People are sick a lot around Jonathan — cancer, usually, as if runaway cell reproduction were an act of the Devil himself — or they’re greedy or angry, but a smile or a kind word from Jonathan puts everything to rights. Oh, if only the world were so easy and simplistic! Can’t blame people for liking the fantasy, I guess. The image is a little flat in the 24 episodes — a minor miracle wouldn’t have gone astray here. A bonus feature-length documentary about Landon is also included, as well as rare outtakes.

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