Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|7th Heaven - The Complete Fifth Season|
Genres: Drama, Television
From leading television producer Aaron Spelling comes 7th Heaven, a critically acclaimed family drama about a minister, his wife and their seven children. The WB's highest-rated series, 7th Heaven has captured the hearts o... more »
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Our beloved Camdens grow up and taste reality in 7th Heaven'
MollyRK | Chicago | 08/30/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I always said that if the DVD manufacturers didn't get around to releasing all 11 seasons of 7th Heaven, I would be satisfied if they could just give us the first five. Well, not only is the series' (arguably) strongest and most credible season hitting stores in early December 2007 (just in time to stick it on your Christmas list if this is one of your favorites), but now that the show's run has finally been completed after 11 historical seasons, there's a good chance that the remaining 6 sets will find their way to DVD in time--and that is great news for the fans who have been loyally tuning in for all these years.
Although I continued watching this show to the very end, when the final episode officially aired in May 2007, it's the first five years that probably had the biggest impact. While Seasons 1-3 focused mainly on the young, fresh, and vibrant Camden family that we came to know and love, Season 4 started suggesting that their lives might be headed in a direction that wasn't yet pronounced in the lives of these tight-knit, generally sunny and optimistic characters. Sure, the 7th Heaven-style drama was never in short supply, but it's this fifth round that really got it down just right, creating pain and heartbreak for Eric, Annie and their 7-children brood without making it too off-the-wall (which started to happen in the show's later years, when plot ideas were scarce and repetition was forced to keep the story alive). I vividly remember this season airing on television, and being a high school sophomore at the time, it was plain to see that they had truly hit their stride, creating real-life emotion and depicting the lives of people who were good and loving Christians, yet vulnerable characters who did not always have all the answers.
The year opened in September 2001 with recent high school graduate Mary's decision to put college on hold for the time being, bumming around her parents' house and (occasionally) working for any employer who is patient enough to keep her around. "Get used to it, because I'm not going to college until I figure out what I'm going to college for," the headstrong 18-year-old tells her mother and father--and when she gets really foolish by purchasing a lavish sports car and ignoring the monthly payment bills, things get just a little bit messier. Loving mother Annie thinks it is best to coddle her through this difficult time and hope that she will eventually come to her senses, but good old Dad knows that it is not quite that simple, and as husband and wife's arguments over the situation grow more frequent, it becomes apparent that Mary's current lease on life might not be in the best interest of the entire family. As for the remainder of the Camden offspring, college student Matt may be reaching an unsettling break in his relationship with Heather, and as his current roommate moves on in his own life, he is forced to move back home. Type-A goody-goody Lucy (you just can't deny it) starts off her senior year with a Homecoming Queen nomination and a relationship with a formerly suicidal young man, but by the year's end, she makes a very un-Lucy-like decision that leaves her parents concerned. High school freshman Simon struggles to fit into his new surroundings, and fifth grader Ruthie (brassy as ever, but also quite a smart little cookie) becomes the first in her family to gain admittance to an elite private school, and now that she's growing up, she's eager to start piling on the make-up. Oh, the joys of becoming a tweenager.
Two-year-old twin boys Sam and David are also growing quickly and keeping the family on their toes, as toddlers tend to do, and Eric and Annie try their hardest to keep it all under control, but in the end, this entire season belongs to actress Jessica Biel, whose character undergoes a whole new metamorphosis after being arrested the previous year. Originally determined to work through these troubles and reinvent herself, Mary does what many a teenager in her exact position has done: she grows discouraged, gets stubborn, and risks losing herself to a world of laziness, deception, selfishness, and shockingly, even theft from her baby brothers' savings accounts. Oh yes, and this is also the year that we meet her new friends Frankie and Johnny, two teenage delinquents who work with Mary at the local pizza place, have a baby daughter that they can't seem to take care of, and threaten to pull once-innocent Mary into their own little land of alcohol and drugs. Eric and Annie must make one of the toughest mutual decisions of their lives when they finally take action with their troubled daughter, and although she does start to get her act together, bit by bit, the consequences of her past choices come back to haunt her as she must live with the reality of being perceived as the "fallen angel" of the Camden bunch.
The emotional power of this season is one that I could write about forever, but in short, if you enjoy this show and want to see it at its absolute best, then I would strongly recommend that you pick up this DVD. The characters are still as solid and loving as ever, but as a dramatic twist hits the plot, you get a glimpse of a real American family with real problems and intense reality to deal with on a regular basis. In addition, among this season's special guest stars are "Growing Pains" alum Alan Thicke in a somewhat dark role, and "Full House" prodigies Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, who were about 15 at the time and appeared in one episode as the rebellious love interests of Simon and one of his buddies. As teenage girls on the brink of adding more spice to their careers and showing the public that they weren't little kids anymore, the Olsens appeared to have a great time playing two girls who steal from local convenience stores, run out on a restaurant check, and convince innocent Simon Camden to sneak into a nearby movie theater. In retrospect, this wasn't Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen at their cutest or most likable, but regardless of that, it's fun to revisit them when they were a little younger.
All in all, it's a season that should not be missed, and although the clean and faith-centered quality of 7th Heaven held up during all those 11 years, this right here is the Camdens in all their glory--with all the drama and success that they strived for, before Ms. Biel exited the show (at least as a regular cast member), and way before a slew of new characters clouded the plot. Also included in this collection is the show's landmark 100th episode, which chronicles Eric's birthday celebration and includes some special surprises for the birthday boy from two of his cherished daughters. It's a genuinely sweet episode and a pleasure to watch--certainly a highlight from Season 5, and perhaps one of the best in the entire series.
As for the DVD's themselves......the packaging is sturdy, but it's clear as day that these DVD's have been thrown together faster than it takes to get through a one-hour episode. There are no special features, and some music has been changed, but that is becoming the norm. The thing that really needs to be addressed is the condensation of the episodes themselves, which have been done with Seasons 4 and 5. Nobody wants scenes edited out of the DVD's, especially when they are expected to shell out $40 for something that doesn't even have a couple interviews or featurettes tossed in. You're here to tell me they can't come up with a single bonus feature for an 11-season show, the longest-running drama in television history? Come on, folks, we're not dumb here. Unfortunately, if you enjoy the show and want them on DVD, this is what the public is receiving. Maybe they will at least make a few changes with Seasons 6-11, if we even see them all on DVD.
Well, the good news is that after a few months, most stores mark the sets down to about $19.99, and sometimes even less, so if you don't want to pay the original $35 or $40 list price, you can wait a while and get it for less. I was shocked when I saw Season 3 on the shelf of my local Target for $17! Sounds about right, though, since it just includes 20-some edited episodes and nothing else.
My opinion is that the show's downhill descent threw out its first couple of hints in Season 6, but just the same, it remained wholesome television that isn't very prevalent in today's world, and for that, let's hope that the DVD's for the last 6 seasons are not too far behind!
Uneven but ultimately pleasing
Mike Sobocinski | Lansing, MI | 04/10/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"On the one hand, this season marked a kind of decline in the show - based upon the weird idea of its writers that problems must be found/created within the Camden family rather than outside of it.
The result is not only the infamous declining behavior of the oldest sister, Mary, but numerous plots rooted in unconvincing "experiments" and misbehavior on the part of the middle brother, Simon. Fortunately, the Mary decline surprisingly turns into one of the most impressive showpieces for the collective acting skills of the cast, in which each family member gets to deliver a monologue (and youngest sister/daughter Ruthie finally shows that she has the skills to add to the drama of the show!)
On the other hand, the use of Simon as a dabbler in delinquency does not convince because it contradicts the previous history of the character - why would someone who stood up against racist peers and a school gunman in previous episodes suddenly feel it natural to dabble in smoking and sexist gangster rap? Ridiculous! Not that it's totally impossible, mind you, but this is NOT what keeps people as fans of the show. Rather, after enjoying several seasons of the family being able to help people (despite their own imperfections), what would make the writers/producers think that we would then want to see the family repeatedly divided against itself? I, for one, do not.
On the other hand, when the show isn't stumbling in this way, some very interesting things occur during the season. Youngest daughter Ruthie finally has her character become an asset to the show again by not merely being an annoyance, but progressing to a new elite school where her cleverness may find more productive outlets. The perpetual juggling of Matt's two girlfriends finally settles into more normal behavior (although the actor consistently delivers brilliantly performed humor amidst some of the obsessive characterization the writers give to his character) and allows him to return to his status as a functional and varied character instead of a study in OCD. The episode they titled "100" turned out to be, in my opinion, one of the most pleasing of the entire series, and "restored my faith" in the show. Lucy's character is now one of the most solidly reliable groundings of the show, in addition to the two perpetually stalwart parents (which is what the biggest appeal of the entire show should be).
Despite some lingering tediousness about Mary's unreasonableness that persists at the end of the season, a new character unexpectedly joins the family, to very good effect. This surprising development turns out to add a lot of new strength to the show, as again there are several family members who can set good examples for each other and for others - just as had been the strength of previous seasons.
So, although there were frustrating moments during this season when I felt that the show had finally "jumped the shark," these tremors turned out to shift things in generally positive ways. The treatment of Mary's character as a perpetually disturbing and unreasonable element, and the effort to focus on (create) internal family problems rather than external problems (such as social issues) are the two most serious weaknesses of this season of the show. Despite that, there were several standout episodes and major changes throughout the season that promised to overcome that turbulence and head in a more productive and positive direction. While the show is always interesting to watch, the writers have seriously overdone the Mary roller-coaster ride, and the (stereotypical) teenage conformity plot device that has been handed to Simon.
At least the largest problems with the Matt and Ruthie characters have been mostly solved during this season, and they rejoin the show as strengths rather than distractions. The entire cast has now exhibited many strengths as actors, with some of them capable of doing a phenomenal job when given the chance, but the writers/producers keep insisting on dragging out this whole "Mary in decline" notion way too much. At least she's absent for half of the season (and good riddance, if her character is now going to be reduced to mere unreasonableness and disturbance) but she returns toward the end of the season to mess things up again. Fortunately, the new family member is there to help keep her in line, and to balance the audience's likely reaction against her. I don't care if the "conversion" of the new family member will seem unbelievable to many viewers - if he is a positive element in the show then the change is a good thing and I will applaud it as a needed balancing force on the side of decentness and temperance and discipline. Simon's character should consistently be showing the same virtues as well, as he'd done in previous seasons. I will certainly be buying episode 6, due to the numerous strengths of the show, but I'm starting to see what sorts of things might possibly go totally haywire in the show's future. This season may be a case of "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."
Oh, yes, and I finally noticed a serious problem with the "edited episode" complaints that other reviewers have commented on. One of the episodes inexplicably removed a "swear word" from the audio track. Some might think that this adjustment is helpful to retain a "family" atmosphere to the show, but no - the change was totally ridiculous. It's in the "gangster rap" episode ("Tunes") and when Lucy runs into a sexist jerk at a local record store, her reactions and dialogue, plus Ruthie's line "He just called you a bad word." are responding to something that NO LONGER APPEARS in the episode! I had to rewind and watch carefully to find that someone had removed the word "b--ch" from the soundtrack!! Absurd! If they don't want the word to appear in their show then they should not have chosen that theme for the episode to begin with! Who's making these decisions, anyway? Was it like this on the original broadcast, or was it re-edited (and in either case, WHY???)
There was a different episode that felt kind of jumpy and made me wonder whether some of the DVD "editing" was at work. I can only add to the forceful criticisms of other reviewers that THERE IS NO REASON FOR THIS TYPE OF DESTRUCTIVE EDITING TO TAKE PLACE for the production of the DVD sets.
Oh, and finally, a comment that, once again, the season as a whole would be
rated PG-13 if it were submitted for MPAA rating, due to drug content and thematic elements."
Wonderful family show
Heather C | Pennsylvania | 11/25/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Even though they don't touch on controversial issues such as abortion, and even though they are politically correct from time to time like with the Muslims, and even though they are VERY minimal religious in a way because they are trying to be nondenominational Protestant...
From a Catholic point of view, I really like this show compared to what is out there, and think it's a great family show."
7th Heaven Review
Natasha Thompson | 07/13/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The reason I bought this season on 7th Heaven is because I have always enjoyed watching the television show. This television series has taught me many life lessons that I will put to use over course of my lifetime."