7th Heaven: The Fifth Season (TV)
R1 - America - Paramount Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Rob Fields (7th January 2008).
The Show

I remember back in the late 1990's when The WB network (it's The CW now) was starting to establish itself more and more each year. The only downside...I didn't have a cable TV hook-up or a satellite TV hook-up. What's more, I still don't. Anyway, I would see previews for TV shows that I really wanted to see. There was "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (1997-2003), "Angel" (1999-2004), "Smallville" (2001-Current), "Charmed" (1998-2006), just to touch upon a few that I REALLY wanted to see. However, the only one I was actually able to watch was "Smallville" on the count of my best friend, Brad, always recording it for us to watch together. I have even watched some episodes of "The Gilmore Girls" (2000-Current) with him. During commercial breaks, I would see previews for another series that played called "7th Heaven" (1996-2007). Although I never caught a single episode, I could tell that it was a family drama. Brad also told me that Jessica Biel starred in it some time after we had seen the remake of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (2003). I never would have imagined that I'd ever watch "7th Heaven". In truth, I really didn't want to. Still, things have a way of catching up to you, don't they? Now "7th Heaven: The Fifth Season" has found its way into my DVD player. Many of the above series I found were titles I wished I could have been able to see when they were on TV. At the same time, they were WELL worth the wait when I got them on DVD. Was "7th Heaven" destined to be in this elite group? Read on and find out.
In the fifth season we find the staple family, the Camdens, getting through whatever curveballs that life throws their way. Reverend Eric Camden (Stephen Collins) is forced to take over the household duties when his stay-at-home wife Annie (Catherine Hicks) returns to college. Then we get to the siblings who have problems of their own. Oldest daughter Mary (Jessica Biel) is facing one bad influence after another. Simon (David Gallagher) has his dating issues (and what guy in his shoes doesn't). Ruthie (Mackenzie Rosman) is settling in at a new school. Then we come to older siblings Lucy (Beverly Mitchell) and Matt (Barry Watson) who are discovering their own paths, which include romances along the way.
One of the perks of this series is that life issues are covered here. You have your drug use storylines, both alcohol and marijuana. There are the many dating issues. There are the various peer pressure stories. Each sibling always has a different story from class projects to trying to get into college to just trying to get through that every day stages of the event called life. This is probably the biggest perk of the series. There's almost never a dull moment in the Camden household. Personally, I didn't like the religious moments, but at least they are there to help provide a lesson and are not a means of recruiting you into the religion itself. Also, Ruthie can be annoying at times. I think she's a little too smart for her own good. However, I'm trying to keep in mind that that's how her character is written, so I try and go with it. I actually dreaded watching this series, but after watching only the first few episodes I was kept interested. I also liked Biel's storyline about the recklessness she goes through when her life comes apart: drinking, drugs, not being able to hold a job, having creditors calling all the time, basically just hitting rock bottom. Then there's the road to redemption. At some point in our lives, everybody has their own story about redemption. Even I do. The two-part season finale was also an attention-getter. So, back to my original question: Was "7th Heaven" destined to be in my elite group of 'The WB' DVDs? The answer: While it certainly IS worthy, family dramas aren't really my thing. So I probably won't go on with this series, unless another season happens to fall into my lap. But, for those of you who really enjoy these types of family dramas, I would definitely give "7th Heaven" a recommendation.

All 22 season five episodes are featured in this set and include:

- "Here We Go Again" (44:14) A new school year finds Simon, Matt, and Lucy living the single life again. Meanwhile, Mary decides to postpone college just as Annie returns for her teaching certificate.

- "Help!" (44:21) Mary gets fired and her money problems spiral. Lucy enlists Simon's help for her homecoming queen campaign, claiming it will boost his popularity, and Ruthie gets accepted to an elite private school.

- "Losers" (43:18) Eric and Annie get jealous when they spend Friday night apart. Mary is tempted into drinking and runs a stop sign, and Lucy discovers that babysitting is tougher than she imagined.

- "Busted" (44:31) Ruthie spies on her parents' romantic evening, Simon's date flirts with Matt, and Lucy learns that her newest love interest spent time in a mental hospital. Meanwhile, Mary's new friends are busted for marijuana possession.

- "Blind" (42:32) Matt pursues a girl who mysteriously rejects him, Ruthie's best friends fight over her, and Simon gets an ear pierced to change his image. Mary, in trouble after getting caught drinking, considers smoking marijuana.

- "Broke" (44:32) Tension mounts when Annie and Eric disagree on how to handle Mary, who is now jobless, broke, and keeping bad company. Secretly, Matt, Simon and Lucy try to save Mary from ruthless debt collectors.

"Bye" (44:32) Eric and Annie uncover the truth about Mary's destructive actions. They make a heart-wrenching decision to send her, against her will, to live with her grandfather in Buffalo.

- "Gossip" (43:16) Ugly rumors fly when the town learns of Mary's sudden departure to Buffalo. Simon takes a walk on the wild side when he and a friend date twins with bad-girl reputations.

- "Tunes" (44:08) Questions fly when Heather leaves Matt a note that she wants to talk. Simon stops listening to misogynistic rap music when his new hip-hop buddies harass his mother and sister.

- "Surprise" (43:24) Annie isn't happy when Eric offers refuge to Mary's infamous ex-boyfriend, Robbie, who is now homeless. Lucy is thrilled to be accepted into college.

- "Home" (44:32) Robbie's continuing presence in the house causes problems for everyone. Annie resents him, Ruthie gets a crush on him, and Mary is convinced that Robbie is dating Lucy.

- "One Hundred" (43:51) Ruthie finds an abandoned baby on their front porch. Meanwhile, Eric receives two joyous birthday surprises: a visit from the reformed Mary, and the news that Lucy has decided to study theology.

- "Kiss" (44:32) Lucy gets jealous and seeks revenge when her friend Mike asks her to set him up with another girl and Matt gets jealous when his best buddy John befriends Robbie.

- "V-Day" (44:32) Everyone works to discover the identity of Robbie's secret Valentine's Day date. On her first date with Jeremy, Lucy is embarrassed when they keep running into her ex-boyfriends.

- "Sweeps" (44:32) Mary flies home to see Robbie and asks him to move to Buffalo. An attractive older girl expresses interest in Simon, and Eric is shocked and dismayed when a condom is found in Simon's wallet.

- "Parents" (44:30) The deadbeat dad who abandoned him wants back into Robbie's life. Annie feels inadequate when Lucy spends time with her friend's youthful, attractive man.

- "Crazy" (44:32) An unlikely therapist helps Matt overcome his fears of becoming a doctor, Ruthie has a secret reason for skipping homeroom, and Annie gets in the middle when Simon tries to break up with his girlfriend.

- "Apologize" (43:22) Robbie sparks jealousy when he meets a girl who looks just like Mary, and Mary goes out to dinner with her old boyfriend Wilson. Robbie's ex, Cheryl, accepts a date with Matt.

- "Virgin" (44:31) Simon is mortified when his mother's admission gets him nicknamed "Virgin Camden" in school. Matt, who is secretly dating Robbie's ex, is furious when he finds out that Robbie and Heather are classmates.

- "Regrets" (44:01) At first, Annie is devastated when she finds out her father secretly had a daughter out of wedlock. Eventually she comes to accept her new half-sister.

- "Chances...Part 1" (44:32) Lucy and Jeremy announce their engagement, and Matt reveals that he's been dating Cheryl. Feeling rejected by Robbie, Mary makes a shocking declaration that causes havoc in the family.

"...Are Part 2" (44:31) Lucy and Jeremy are delighted when Annie and Eric offer to support their long-term engagement. Robbie and Mary agree to be friends, but an ultimatum from Wilson leaves Mary with a life-changing decision.

Video

All 22 episodes are presented in their original televised full screen formats (1.33:1 ratio). Since I have never seen a single episode of the series when it aired on television, it definitely didn't bother me to read the fine print on the back cover : "Some episodes may be edited from their original network versions." Although there are no chapter selection menus, each episode does have chapter stops. I remember the feel of watching a few shows on The WB, and each episode feels the same way here. The quality of the picture is excellent. The colors stand out really well (the flesh tones are very evident). Once in a while, you do see tiny pieces of film grain. Far from that, I'm not seeing any other problems, or pixels. You also get the option to watch the episodes individually or all together with the 'Play All' option.

Audio

Each episode is accompanied by an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack. Like most of the Paramount / CBS DVD releases that I've reviewed, there's that piece of fine print : "Music has been changed for this home entertainment version." There are no subtitles available. While you can hear the background or soundtrack music, it's not so evident that it overshadows all else. The voices probably stand out more than everything. In fact, you can hear the lines clearly. As for the background noise, you can hear it good for utilizing only two speakers. The mixture of the two front speakers makes the audio presentation balanced.

Extras

The only extra feature on this disc is a bonus trailer for:

- "Sabrina the Teenage Witch: The Second Season" which runs for 17 seconds.

Note: You can only select this preview from a menu before the Main Menu only.

Packaging

"7th Heaven: The Fifth Season" is a 6-DVD set with all 6 discs packed into one clear Amaray keep case. The episodes, summaries and air dates are printed inside the cover art.

Overall

The Show: A+ Video: A Audio: A Extras: F Overall: B+

 


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