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Paramount Studios presents

7th Heaven: The Complete Second Season (1997)

"Where can you go when the world don't treat you right?
The answer is home; that's the one place that you'll find 7th Heaven"- theme song lyrics

Stars: Stephen Collins, Catherine Hicks, Barry Watson, Jessica Biel, Beverley Mitchell, David Gallagher, Mackenzie Rosman
Other Stars: Peter Graves
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 16h:34m:00s
Release Date: 2005-02-08
Genre: television

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Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- C-BB D-

 

DVD Review

If there's one thing I've learned from years of watching horror movies is that for everything dark there is something light, and the long-running series 7th Heaven certainly falls under bright and beamy.

A product of the calculating Aaron Spelling trash grinder, this series first appeared in 1996, bearing a bold return to family values. At the center were the Camden family, a decidedly touchy-feely group led by Reverend Eric (Stephen Collins) and his perpetually smiley wife Annie (Catherine Hicks). Their five children (including a blossoming Jessica Biel) cover all the proper demographic age ranges, guaranteeing appropriate storylines to attract all manner of viewers.

The first season, all that against-the-grain sugar and some spice, was kind of refreshing, at least to a point, because as a modern-day Waltons, the Camdens tackled the litany of family issues without all the soap opera-ish dirt found on other shows. With this season two set, it's more of the same old same old drama, and though the kids are another year older, the hassles are just the same (if I may paraphrase Strangers With Candy), and the resolution via family love is a mere 42 minutes away.

There's conflict aplenty here, but it's all largely salvageable. Even when Eric's stern father, known as The Colonel (played by Peter Graves), shows up midway through this second season to provide some order and get the Camden's back on track, it seems like he could be better utilized with some other, more dysfunctional television family.

Those Camdens, for all their comparatively gentle head-butting, are nice, loving people, and the fact that they have open lines of communication makes them better than most folks by leaps and bounds. Problems such as whether son Matt (Barry Watson) will decide to go to an out-of-state college or if daughter Mary (Biel) is pregnant are significant, but the ultimate resolution of the trials and tribulations comes back to faith; a sugary, love of family faith that only seems to exist in the television world of the Camdens.

After the first season I wrote that I was a bit jealous of the Camdens. I was. They seemed too good, too perfect, and maybe they reminded me how uniquely imperfect most families really are. I might have been temporarily blinded by the jarring niceness that first time around, but as I dug through this next block of 22 episodes I found the experience to be simply dreadful. For all the dalliances in relatable subject matter (unexpected pregnancies, smoking marijuana, blind dates, college life)—endured by all the attractive, well-dressed Camden kids—the reliance on faith morphs 7th Heaven into something better suited for the PAX network.

Damn those open Camdens. Even their dog's name is Happy.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: All 22 episodes are presented in 1.33:1 fullframe, the original broadcast aspect ratio. Very presentable transfers, a slight improvement over the first season, with a steady stream of warm colors and no evident blemishes.

Image Transfer Grade: B
 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Frenchyes


Audio Transfer Review: Audio is provided in 2.0 Dolby Digital stereo surround, with all of the dialogue presented cleanly and clearly. The rear channels don't really get utilized at all, but the mix across the front speakers is pleasant, if unremarkable.

A French language 2.0 track is also included

Audio Transfer Grade:

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 136 cues and remote access
Packaging: Nexpak
Picture Disc
6 Discs
6-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: No extras at all, but this set comes packaged with six colorful thin line NexPak cases housed in a cardboard slipcase.

Each episode is cut into 6 chapters.

Extras Grade: D-
 

Final Comments

What once was cute has become cloying, and while I surprised myself at finding some unexpected wholesome solace in the first season I just can't muster the same durability for this go round.

Please make the goodness stop.

Rich Rosell 2005-03-10