Touched by an Angel

Last updated
Touched by an Angel
Touched by an Angel (logo).jpg
Genre Fantasy
Drama
Created by John Masius
Starring
Theme music composerMarc Lichtman
Opening theme"Walk with You"
Performed by Della Reese
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons9
No. of episodes211 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s)
  • R.J. Colleary
  • Burt Pearl
  • Jon Andersen
  • Robert Visciglia Jr.
Production location(s) Salt Lake City, Utah
Running time48 minutes
Production company(s)
Distributor CBS Television Distribution
Release
Original network CBS
Original releaseSeptember 21, 1994 (1994-09-21) 
April 27, 2003 (2003-04-27)
Chronology
Related shows Promised Land
External links
Website

Touched by an Angel is an American fantasy drama television series that premiered on CBS on September 21, 1994, and ran for 211 episodes and nine seasons [1] until its conclusion on April 27, 2003. Created by John Masius and executive produced by Martha Williamson, the series stars Roma Downey, as an angel named Monica, and Della Reese, as her supervisor Tess. Throughout the series, Monica is tasked with bringing guidance and messages from God to various people who are at a crossroads in their lives. From season three onward, they are frequently joined by Andrew (John Dye), the angel of death (who first appeared as a recurring character in season two).

Contents

Plot

The episodes of the series generally revolved around the "cases" of Monica (played by Roma Downey), an angel recently promoted from the "search and rescue" division, who works under the guidance of Tess (played by Della Reese), a sarcastic boss who is sometimes hard on her young colleague, but is more of a surrogate mother than a mentor. Monica in one episode outlines that she started in the choir, then annunciations, followed by search and rescue and then case work. Most cases involve a single person or a group of people who are at a crossroads in their lives and facing a large problem or tough decision. Monica and Tess bring them messages of hope from God and give them guidance to help make decisions. During their first episode, the pair receive a red 1972 Cadillac Eldorado convertible as a gift; they use it for transportation throughout the rest of the series while in the human world, with Tess doing the driving. As the series progresses, Monica continues gaining experience as a case worker and, during some cases must learn lessons of her own.

During the series pilot, an angel of death named Adam is introduced. In the season two premiere, "Interview with an Angel", the Angel of Death is introduced as Henry. In the season two episode entitled "The One That Got Away", Andrew (played by John Dye) is introduced as the Angel of Death. (Initially a recurring character, he becomes a main character in season three, making him the permanent Angel of Death for the remainder of the series.)

During season seven, a new angel, Gloria (Valerie Bertinelli), is sent by God during one of Monica's assignments. She becomes a regular character for seasons eight and nine, as a trainee under Monica and Tess's guidance.

In the series finale, Monica is up for promotion to supervisor, pending the outcome of a difficult case in which she must defend Zach (Scott Bairstow), an innocent drifter accused of causing a boiler explosion at a school two years ago in the small town of Ascension, Colorado. The explosion killed most of the children, leaving the citizens devastated. During the case, Monica sees many familiar faces, including Joey Machulis (Paul Wittenburg), one of Monica's previous assignments who is a witness to the events, his brother Wayne (Randy Travis), who is now sheriff, Sophie (Marion Ross), a formerly homeless acquaintance, and Mike (Patrick Duffy), a lawyer Monica saved during her search and rescue days who is now the Mayor. An out of town developer claims Zach is the perpetrator and despite the lack of evidence, Zach is put on trial. Monica does all she can to help him, including asking Mike to represent him, but the prosecutor in the case, Jones, is really Satan in disguise, and Zach is eventually convicted.

After the trial, Monica is able to help the citizens realize their mistake and to see that Zach's return to the town had helped them finally start living again. They begin going back to church, welcomed by the pastor they had once abandoned. Their change of heart, however, cannot free Zach, so Monica visits him in jail and reveals that she is an angel. She then promises him that she will become his guardian angel, forgoing all future assignments and the coveted promotion, to protect him from harm in prison. When she returns in the morning, however, the cell is empty. The citizens decide not to search for him, and it is revealed that Joey inadvertently caused the explosion after the devil tricked him into turning the boiler too high to warm some kittens he'd found.

The perplexed Monica returns to the desert to find Tess and Zach. There, she learns that Zach was actually Jesus, [2] and that her defending him was a test, which she passed by being willing to sacrifice herself for him. Monica is promoted to supervisor. As she leaves, she says her goodbyes to Gloria, and to Andrew, who gives her a pocket watch to remember their friendship by. Before parting, Tess gives Monica the keys to the Cadillac, as she is leaving her job to sit at God's feet. Monica is last shown driving away as the camera pans out over the desert. [3]

Episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedRankRatingTied with
First airedLast aired
1 11September 21, 1994 (1994-09-21)March 4, 1995 (1995-03-04)81 [4] 8.9 [5] N/A
2 24September 23, 1995 (1995-09-23)May 18, 1996 (1996-05-18)34 [6] 11.1 [7] N/A
3 28September 15, 1996 (1996-09-15)May 18, 1997 (1997-05-18)1013.6N/A
4 27September 21, 1997 (1997-09-21)May 17, 1998 (1998-05-17)614.2N/A
5 26September 20, 1998 (1998-09-20)May 23, 1999 (1999-05-23)813.1N/A
6 26September 26, 1999 (1999-09-26)May 21, 2000 (2000-05-21)1011.6N/A
7 25October 15, 2000 (2000-10-15)May 20, 2001 (2001-05-20)229.7 Cursed/The Weber Show
NYPD Blue
8 22September 29, 2001 (2001-09-29)May 11, 2002 (2002-05-11)68 [8] TBAN/A
9 22September 28, 2002 (2002-09-28)April 27, 2003 (2003-04-27)88 [9] 5.1 [10] N/A

Cast and characters

Main

Recurring

Notable guest stars

The show also featured early appearances by Jack Black, James Marsden, Shia LaBeouf, Brie Larson, Kirsten Dunst, Justin Timberlake (as a member of N*SYNC) and Bryan Cranston. [11]

Production

Touched by an Angel was produced by CBS and Moon Water Productions. [12] Most episodes of the series were produced in Salt Lake City, Utah. According to New York Times reviewer Caryn James, John Masius created the first pilot episode for the series, but it was a darker, less hopeful story than the producers wanted. [13] [14] It cost the studio $2 million to produce the episode. Masius wrote the show as a reflection of his spiritual anger at the time at his two children being born disabled. [15] Martha Williamson was approached to be the series executive producer in early 1994. She described the pilot she received as "upsetting" as it "portrayed angels as recycled dead people with power over life and death". She initially declined the position, but during a lunch with Andy Hill, then President of CBS, she mentioned the show and suggested he find a producer who would create a show with "loving, joyful" angels that the audience would have to believe in. [16]

Williamson stated that she could not stop thinking about the show after that meeting, and eventually called to ask if the position was still open. Though getting the position was no longer a sure thing, she passed up a more lucrative position directing a court drama and went in for an interview with CBS in June 1994. During her interview, she states she emphasized that she was a Christian and could only do a show that depicted angels in a way she felt was true to her view of angels and that was respectful towards God. She also indicated that the pilot should be redone from the beginning, keeping only the characters Monica and Tess, reworked. The studio agreed with her remarks and hired her. [16] Williamson herself wrote a new script for the pilot episode, while also working on hiring the remaining staff for the series, which was due to premiere in September. The pilot was filmed in Salt Lake City, Utah and the show was ready on schedule. The first episode aired on September 14, 1994. [16]

Theme song

The lyrics to the show's theme song, "Walk with You", are sung at the beginning of each episode by Della Reese.

Spin-off

In 1996, Promised Land was launched as a spin-off series, following the Greene family whom Monica had met during one of her cases, as they travel the United States helping those in need. Four crossover episodes aired during Promised Land's three-season run.

Broadcast and syndication

The series went into syndication in 1998, and has aired on PAX-TV, Hallmark Channel, CBS Drama, Up, MeTV and Start TV. It has also aired on Hallmark Drama. [17]

International broadcast

In Canada, the show was simsubbed to CBC for 2 seasons. The show was then moved to Global Television Network.[ citation needed ]

Home media

CBS DVD (distributed by Paramount) has released all nine seasons on DVD in Region 1. Seasons 1, 2, 5–9 were released as single season box sets, while seasons 3 & 4 were released as two volume sets.

On February 9, 2016, CBS DVD released Touched by an Angel: The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1. [18]

Four themed sets, each containing four episodes, have also been released. The first two, "The Inspiration Collection: Holiday" and "The Inspiration Collection: Hope" were released on November 10, 2009; [19] "The Inspiration Collection: Faith" and "The Inspiration Collection: Love" were released January 26, 2010. [20]

In Region 4, Shock Records has released five volumes of episodes from the series, each containing nine episodes and a set containing all five volumes together. [21]

DVD nameEp #Release date
The Complete First Season13August 31, 2004
The Second Season22May 3, 2005
The Third Season, Volume 116February 7, 2006
The Third Season, Volume 213November 28, 2006
The Fourth Season, Volume 113March 27, 2007
The Fourth Season, Volume 214December 4, 2007
The Fifth Season26July 24, 2012
The Sixth Season26September 25, 2012
The Seventh Season25April 23, 2013
The Eighth Season22July 30, 2013
The Ninth Season22November 19, 2013
The Complete Series211February 9, 2016

Reception

Critical

Touched by an Angel received negative to mixed reviews from critics but positive reception from audiences. A negative review came from David Zurawik of The Baltimore Sun , who opined that it was "the worst new series of the TV season [...] there's absolutely nothing divine about it." The same review noted several scenes in the first episode where Monica's bare feet are shown, with Zurawik remarking "I'm not sure what that's all about unless CBS has research showing a large audience of foot fetishists waiting for a reason not to watch ABC's Roseanne . [22] In his column for Religious Dispatchers titled "Mauled by an Angel", W. Scott Poole stated that Downey and Reese "served up a syrupy but powerful advertisement for a greeting-card brand of religious faith with little theological definition but a healthy serving of “chicken soup for the soul” (a franchise that itself became popular in the same era)" and even the show "seemed to suggest that God was deeply concerned but mostly unable or unwilling to get directly involved, sending along his messengers to patch things up with and for humanity (or select portions of it), now and again". [23] Earlier reviews were skeptical of the show's first season, with Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly saying that it "succeeds in being so unpretentiously, innocently pure-minded—this is the Forrest Gump of fall ’94—that it’s possible to feel sympathy for its ratings plight." [24] Common Sense Media reviewer Emily Ashby gave the series 3 out of 5 stars, who said that "this uplifting, inspirational show is steeped in strong moral messages, life lessons, and Christian overtones that include multiple references to "God," "Lord," and the "Father." [25] Conversely, the Parents Television Council picked it as one of the best shows for family viewing for several years [26] while during its run, it was either #1 or #2 on its "best" list of the "Best and Worst Shows on Network TV". [27] [28] [29] [30] [31] [32] [33]

Ratings

Touched by an Angel became one of CBS's highest-rated series during season three and continued through season six, when it was the ninth most watched network series, with 17,190,000 viewers that amounted to a 15% share of the market as determined by Nielsen Media Research. [34] In season eight, after the series moved from its Sunday time slot to a Saturday one, it dropped to 79th place, with 8.3 million viewers. [35]

SeasonEpisodesTime slot (ET)Season premiereSeason finaleSeason
rank
Viewers
(in millions)
1 1994–1995 11Wednesday at 9:00 pm (Episodes 1-8)
Sunday at 8:00 pm (Episode 9)
Saturday at 9:00 pm (Episodes 10-11)
September 21, 1994March 4, 1995#788.90
2 1995–1996 26Saturday at 9:00 pmSeptember 23, 1995May 18, 1996#3411.10
3 1996–1997 29Sunday at 8:00 pmSeptember 15, 1996May 18, 1997#1013.19 [36]
4 1997–1998 26Sunday at 8:00 pm (Episodes 1-25)
Sunday at 9:00 pm (Episode 26)
September 21, 1997May 17, 1998#521.80 [37]
5 1998–1999 27Sunday at 8:00 pmSeptember 20, 1998May 23, 1999#619.50 [38]
6 1999–2000 26September 26, 1999May 21, 2000#917.19 [39]
7 2000–2001 25October 15, 2000May 20, 2001#2514.00 [40]
8 2001–2002 22Saturday at 8:00 pm (Episodes 1-10, 12-20, 22)
Sunday at 8:00 pm (Episodes 11, 21)
September 29, 2001May 11, 2002#798.30 [41]
9 2002–2003 22Saturday at 8:00 pm (Episodes 1-21)
Sunday at 8:00 pm (Episode 22)
September 28, 2002April 27, 2003#917.60 [42]

Awards

The series was nominated for eleven Primetime Emmy Awards between 1997 and 2000, including two nominations each for Downey and Reese in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series categories, respectively. [43] [44] It was also nominated for three Golden Globe Awards, two in 1998 and 1999 for Downey for Best Performance by an Actress in a TV-Series - Drama, and one in 1998 for Reese for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series [45] [46] even though the series was never able to secure either award. Marc Lichtman was awarded five BMI Film and Television Awards for "Television Music" in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001 for his work as the series composer. [47] [48] [49] [50] [51]

Email controversy

A 1999 variation of the "Madalyn Murray O'Hair petition" urban legend, which claims to seek a ban on religious programming, mentioned the show and appeared via e-mail chains despite O'Hair being deceased since 1995 and her original actual religious programming petition to the FCC being rejected in 1975. [52]

Maria Bamford imitated Monica on the track "Touched by an Angel" on her Burning Tours album. [53] [54]

It was also spoofed on MadTV as "Touched by an Atheist" guest starring comedian George Carlin. [55]

It was also spoofed on the Family Guy episode "Ready, Willing and Disabled" except they show where the angel in court touched the child. [56]

In other media

A book on the series, Touched by an Angel, was published by Zondervan in November 1997. Written by Williams and Robin Sheets, it contains background information on some of the stories featured, series production information, basic details on the first fifty episodes and profiles of Downey, Reese and Dye. It also has short story versions of four episodes: "Interview with an Angel", "There, but for the Grace of God", "An Unexpected Snow" and "Jacob's Ladder". [57] A second book, In the Words of Angels: Twenty Inspiring Stories from Touched by an Angel, was published by Fireside Books on August 28, 2001. Also written by Williams, it collects twenty short stories based on episodes from the series. [58]

An audio soundtrack, Touched by an Angel: The Album , was released on November 3, 1998. The 15-track CD includes a full-length version of the series theme song, "Walk with You", performed by Della Reese and songs by Céline Dion, Shawn Colvin, Bob Dylan, Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Amy Grant, Jaci Velasquez, The Kinleys, Wynonna and Amanda Marshall. [59] The soundtrack went platinum. [60] A second album, Touched by an Angel: Christmas Album, was released on November 9, 1999 with 13 tracks of Christmas music. In addition to having tracks performed by Reese and Downey, it features songs from Randy Travis, Keb' Mo', Charlotte Church, Kirk Franklin, Collin Raye, Amy Grant and Donna Summer. [61] Both albums were released by Sony Music Entertainment, the successor to the former record division of CBS.

See also

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The first season of the American dramatic television series Touched by an Angel premiered on CBS on September 21, 1994 where it ran for 11 episodes until it concluded on March 4, 1995. Created by John Masius and produced by Martha Williamson, the series chronicled the cases of two angels, Monica and her supervisor Tess, who bring messages from God to various people to help them as they reach a crossroads in their lives. A season set containing all of the episodes of the season was released to Region 1 DVD on August 31, 2004.

The second season of the American dramatic television series Touched by an Angel ran on CBS from September 23, 1995 to May 18, 1996, spanning 24 episodes. Created by John Masius and produced by Martha Williamson, the series chronicled the cases of two angels, Monica and her supervisor Tess, who bring messages from God to various people to help them as they reach a crossroads in their lives. A third angel, Andrew is introduced as the "Angel of Death".

The third season of the American dramatic television series Touched by an Angel aired CBS from September 15, 1996 through May 18, 1997, spanning 29 episodes. Created by John Masius and produced by Martha Williamson, the series chronicled the cases of two angels, Monica and her supervisor Tess, who bring messages from God to various people to help them as they reach a crossroads in their lives. They are frequently joined by Andrew, the angel of death. A season set containing all of the episodes of the season was released to Region 1 DVD on August 31, 2004.

The fourth season of the American dramatic television series Touched by an Angel premiered on CBS on September 21, 1997 and concluded airing on May 17, 1998, spanning 26 episodes. Created by John Masius and produced by Martha Williamson, the series chronicled the cases of two angels, Monica and her supervisor Tess, who bring messages from God to various people to help them as they reach a crossroads in their lives. They are frequently joined by Andrew, the angel of death. A season set containing all of the episodes of the season was released to Region 1 DVD on August 31, 2004.

The fifth season of the American dramatic television series Touched by an Angel aired CBS from September 20, 1998 through May 23, 1999, spanning 27 episodes. Created by John Masius and produced by Martha Williamson, the series chronicled the cases of two angels, Monica and her supervisor Tess, who bring messages from God to various people to help them as they reach a crossroads in their lives. They are frequently joined by Andrew, the angel of death. A season set containing all of the episodes of the season was released to Region 1 DVD on July 24, 2012.

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