A show that I've warmed up to since it hit syndication, "7th Heaven" does occasionally veer into soap opera ("Mad TV" parodied it best, showing that the family manages to sit down and work out any problems in just under an hour), but it often manages to be pleasant, inoffensive viewing. Despite the fact that the show is message-driven, the writers have crafted well-defined characters, provide involving situations and throw in occasional instances of warmly funny humor at times. The show's acting was generally pleasant, and the focus - at least early on - was strongly on the main characters.
The show focuses on the conservative Camden family, lead by Reverend Eric Camden (Stephen Collins) and wife Annie Camden (Catherine Hicks). Children include oldest Matt (Barry Watson), older daughter Mary (Jessica Biel), middle daughter Lucy (Beverly Mitchell, irritating even early on, although it seems like more the way the character is written), youngest son Simon (David Gallagher) and youngest daughter, Ruthie (Mackenzie Rosman).
While the show's realism can certainly be called into question - as the "Mad TV" parody noted, "Heaven" offers a new crisis every week and yet, manages to wrap things up with a happy ending in just under an hour nearly every time out. Still, despite the show's sentimentality and sometimes questionable moralizing - despite the show's "wholesome" nature, it gets pretty flirty (and oddly so) at times - these episodes work more often than not. Somehow the show proceeds with enough good intentions (as well as a level of sappiness that somehow just keeps from going over the line) that these easy wrap-ups are usually more comforting than gag-inducing.
The fifth season of the series does have some "crisis" storylines that aren't just wrapped up in the span of an episode, with the main one being that Mary (Jessica Biel) starts to spiral downward, first postponing her college and then getting into serious debt trouble and having her friends being busted for pot. This season of the series does see the characters developing further - especially the children, who are all getting older and going through many of the usual teenage issues.
This set contains all 22 episodes of the fifth season.
89. 5- 1 2 Oct 00 Here We Go Again
- A new school year finds Simon, Matt and Lucy single again. Mary decides to postpone college just as Annie returns for her teaching certificate.
90. 5- 2 9 Oct 00 Help
- Mary gets fired and her money problems spiral. Lucy enlists Simon's help for her homecoming queen campaign, while Ruthie gets accepted to a private school.
91. 5- 3 16 Oct 00 Losers
- Eric and Annie get jealous when they spend Friday night apart. Mary is tempted into drinking and runs a stopsign, while Lucy discovers that babysitting is tougher than she thought.
92. 5- 4 23 Oct 00 Busted
- Ruthie spies on her parents' romantic evening, while Simon's date flirts with Matt and Mary's friends are busted for pot.
93. 5- 5 30 Oct 00 Blind
- Matt persues a girl who mysteriously rejects him. Ruthie's friends fight over her and Mary - who has been caught drinking - considers smoking pot.
94. 5- 6 6 Nov 00 Broke
- Tension mounts when Annie and Eric disagree on how to handle Mary, while Simon, Lucy and Matt try to save Mary from debt collectors.
95. 5- 7 13 Nov 00 Bye
- Annie and Eric uncover the truth about Mary and send her - against her will - to live with her Grandfather in Buffalo.
96. 5- 8 20 Nov 00 Gossip
- Ugly rumors fly when the town learns about Mary's move, while Simon and a friend date twins with bad reputations.
97. 5- 9 27 Nov 00 Tunes
- Heather leaves Matt a note that she wants to talk. Simon stops listening to misogynistic rap music when his hip-hop buddies harass his mom and sister.
98. 5-10 18 Dec 00 Surprise!
- Annie isn't happy when Eric offers refuge to Mary's ex-boyfriend, who is no homeless. Lucy is accepted into college.
99. 5-11 22 Jan 01 Home
- Robbie's continuing presence in the house causes problems for everyone.
100. 5-12 29 Jan 01 One Hundred
- Ruthie finds an abandoned baby on their front porch, while Eric gets two birthday surprises: a visit from the reformed Mary and the news that Lucy has decided to study theology.
101. 5-13 5 Feb 01 Kiss
- Lucy gets jealous and seeks revenge when her friend Mike asks her to set him up with another girl.
102. 5-14 12 Feb 01 V- Day
- Everyone works to discover the identity of Robbie's secret Valentine's Day date.
103. 5-15 19 Feb 01 Sweeps
- Mary flies home to see Robbie and asks him to move to Buffalo. An attractive older girl expresses interest in Simon.
104. 5-16 26 Feb 01 Parents
- Robbie's deadbeat dad wants back in his life, while Annie feels inadequate when Lucy spends time with her friend's youthful, attractive mom.
105. 5-17 16 Apr 01 Crazy
- An unlikely therapist helps Matt with his fear of becoming a doctor, while Ruthie has a secret reason for skipping homeroom. Annie gets in the middle when Simon tries to break up with his girlfriend.
106. 5-18 23 Apr 01 Apologize
- Robbie sparks jealousy when he meets a girl who looks like Mary, while Mary goes out with old boyfriend Wilson. Robbie's ex, Cheryl, accepts a date with Matt.
107. 5-19 30 Apr 01 Virgin
- Simon is mortified when his mother's admission gets him nicknamed "Virgin Camden" in school.
108. 5-20 7 May 01 Regrets
- Annie is devastated when she finds her father had a daughter out of wedlock, but she eventually accepts her half-sister.
109. 5-21 14 May 01 Chances (1)
110. 5-22 21 May 01 Are (2)
- Lucy and Jeremy are engaged, while Matt reveals his relationship with Cheryl. Mary makes a shocking delcaration, while an ultimatum from Wilson leaves Mary with a life-changing decision.
VIDEO: "7th Heaven" is presented by Paramount in 1.33:1 full-frame, the show's original aspect ratio. The picture quality remained perfectly fine throughout, and seemed improved a little bit over the first season's presentation. Sharpness and detail were generally good (a little stronger than these episodes look in syndication), although the picture could appear slightly soft here-and-there.
The picture quality does suffer slightly from some minor shimmering and occasional instances of minor pixelation. No edge enhancement was spotted, however, and the elements used seemed free of wear and tear. Colors remained pleasing, looking well-saturated and clean, with no smearing.
SOUND: The show offered a basic Dolby Digital stereo soundtrack, which focused on the backing score and dialogue. Little in the way of ambience or other additional sound layers are present. Overall, basic TV drama audio. As noted on the back of the box, music has been changed.
EXTRAS: Unfortunately, still no supplements for this season of "7th", either.
Final Thoughts: The fifth season of "7th" sees the series continuing to improve, with compelling (and thoughtfully handled) plotlines that stretch through large portions of the seasons. The DVD presentation once again sees no extras, but fine audio/video quality. Recommended for fans.