“7th Heaven” on TheWB provided an evolving picture of family values, over a decade


The WB series “7th Heaven” (or “Seventh Heaven”) did grab my attention for a few years, about the time I returned to Arlington from Minnesota, particularly from about 2003 until it ended in 2007.  It had started in 1996 and was one of the longest running evening series in history (usually running on Mondays, almost as if to fit the LDS idea of a “family home evening”).  At the same time I often watched “Everwood” on Mondays and “Smallville” on Wednesdays.

The story (created by Brenda Hampton) concerns a protestant (mainstream, not LDS) minister Eric Camden (Stephen Collins), his wife Annie (Catherine Hicks) and seven children, all of whom except Lucy (Beverly Mitchell) is named after a Biblical character.  Some commentators find evidence that his denomination is Disciples of Christ.

One of the sons, Matt Camden, played by Barry Watson, is a medical resident.  There is a scene in a hospital operating room where Matt doesn’t know how to turn off his cell phone, and the lead surgeon smashes it.  The actor playing him developed Hodgkin’s Disease around 2002, but wend into remission.  This particular lymphoma got a lot of media attention in the late 1970s around NYC, in the years before AIDS and HIV became known, and it may very well be related to a virus (of the herpes family) itself.

Another prominent role was the teenage son Simon, played by David Gallagher, who grew up in the role.

Toward the end of the series, the Camden’s took on looking after a neighbor’s teenager, Martin Brewer, whose father is challenged by combat in Iraq.  Brewer is played quite charismatically by Tyler Hoechlin. Brewer aspires to become a major league baseball player, perhaps an appropriate character to remember at this time of year.  Some episodes relate to his emotional breakdown over his relationship with his father, which affects his play in the field.

Although the political stance of the show is rather moderate, there are a few moments of outright social conservatism, such as when Eric says “Sex is only for married people.”  Think of the implications of that statement (uttered well before gay marriage had made the progress in the U,S. that it has recently).

(Published Wednesday, April 2, 2014, at 5 PM EDT)



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