7th Heaven, which airs Mondays at 8 on the WB network, is the story of the Camden family, a minister, his wife, and seven children who manage to solve crisis after crisis with good old-fashioned family values. According to TV Guide, "The show makes a quiet convincing argument that traditional values are still applicable to contemporary problems." Above all, they say it's a show "that parents can share with their children." I don't know. If I were a teenager, I think watching 7th Heaven with my parents would drive me to drink. Or do drugs. Or start practicing witchcraft. It's that bad.
There's literally a moral a minute. It's as if a family from the fifties was put into a time capsule and forced to deal with all the problems of the nineties -- except that not even the TV families of the fifties were this earnest. Unlike the Camden family, those families never had to deal with serious problems like drugs, teenage sex, or school violence. But if they did, something tells me their response would be nowhere near as syrupy as in this show. Whoever is writing 7th Heaven should take a moment to look in the dictionary for the definition of "believable."
But still, like most bad television, it's so much fun to watch. I was hooked from my first episode, the one about gun control. What follows is dialogue from a scene that took place in a principal's office.
Rev. Camden: "Your son is dangerous. He's threatened my son."
Bad Father: "He's just a kid."
Rev. Camden: "You have a gun in your house. You have to get rid of it."
Bad Father: "That gun is for my protection!"
Helpful Police Officer: "But don't you realize that 43% of guns in homes end up killing family members or loved ones?"
Bad Father: "Guns don't kill people. People kill people."
Rev. Camden (with Emmy-like over-acting) "No, people with guns kill people!"
"Come quick!" I yelled to my friend Biljana. "I've just found the worst show on television. You have to see this!" After that, we made it a point to watch every week, howling with laughter. I think it was during the our-aunt-is-an-alcoholic-and-needs-our-help episode that we decided someone should create a drinking game to go along with the show. Perhaps every time a character did something patently unbelievable, we could take a swig. But then we would all be in an alcoholic coma before the first commercial break.
The gun control exchange captures the essence of the show. Every week, there's a massive crisis. In that episode, the kid with the gun ended up shooting Rev. Camden in the shoulder. While the family waited in the hospital, the children uttered implausible line after implausible line. The seven and twelve year olds practically sounded like they were in some Ted Koppel town meeting about violence in society.
It's a strange show. One week, one of the teenagers will bring home a joint, and there will be a giant crisis. Another week, one of them will skip a class, and the crisis will be just as intense. One of the silliest episodes was the teenage-sex-is-bad episode. In this one, Lucy, the 15-year-old, tries to convince her senior boyfriend to sleep with her. He doesn't want to because he doesn't think they are ready. By the way, that's not the funniest part. No, the teenage boy turning down sex is actually the most believable part of the episode. When her parents find out about her plan, this kid actually goes to their home to apologize and explain that he knows they are not ready for sex because having sex is a very important step for two people to take. Yeah, I'm sure lots of teenage boys talk like that.
Not only is 7th Heaven on against Melrose Place (allowing us all to click from morals to cleavage in a moment). Interestingly, it's also produced by the same man -- uber-producer Aaron Spelling. Forget Charlie's Angels, Dynasty, or 90210, this is Spelling's crowning achievement. To be involved with a show this cheesy takes pure talent. Mr. Spelling, I bow down to you. You've really outdone yourself this time. For all the many bad shows of your career, 7th Heaven is your opus, and the fact that it features a minister's family instead of bouncing bimbos just makes it all the sillier.
Forget about Thursday. This is the real Must See TV.
|Copyright 1999 by Joe Lavin
Joe Lavin's Humor Column is published every Tuesday at: http://joelavin.com
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Submitted By: Joe Lavin
Mar 17, 1999 10:59