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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Thu, 11 Mar 99 11:27:19 -0800
Subject: 7th Hell
Forwarded-by: Nev Dull <firstname.lastname@example.org>
From: "Joe Lavin" <email@example.com>
by Joe Lavin -- http://joelavin.com
Not that I normally trust TV Guide, but how could they possibly be this
wrong? There I was walking through the supermarket when I saw on its cover
the happy, smiling cast of 7th Heaven. Underneath were the words: "The Best
Show You're Not Watching." I was amazed. The only way 7th Heaven could
possibly be the best show you're not watching is if you happen to watch
everything on television but 7th Heaven. Indeed, it may be the worst show
I have ever seen in my life -- and I mean that as a compliment.
Unintentionally, it has become the funniest show on television, so
staggeringly bad that I can't bear to miss an episode.
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
© 1999 Peter Langston