Touched by an Angel is a CBS network drama first aired in September, 1994. It was created by John Masius. For its intended audience, the show has done immensely well; hundreds of fansites have been created devoted to this show. Its intended audience, however, is apparently not people like me.

Each episode follows the same formula of:
1.) Introduce crisis
2.) Introduce at least one angsty character who has a problem with the idea of angels
3.) Resolve crisis within 45 minutes

Cast and Characters

The show's core cast consists of:

Tess is the matron of the show, a tough "no-nonsense" lady who is often responsible for keeping the other angels out of trouble. Her dialogue is fairly cheesy; she often gets to say the stuff that sounds like a PSA. But her speeches are less saccharine in general than those of the other characters.

Monica is the show's "leading lady", so to speak. She probably does the most talking, and looks up to Tess as something of a motherly, teacher figure. She has a lot of direct contact with the humans that appear in each episode.

Andrew was a later addition to the show, and some suspect that he might have been an attempt to put some sort of a "hunk" factor into the show in order to increase female viewership. (Though I suspect that this show has a predominantly female viewership in the first place.) Andrew is always around when a character is near-death or actually going to die. His role is to help escort people to Heaven. He often seems to have something of a flat affect; either dealing with so much death has made him jaded, or he needs to take a class in passionate acting.

Gloria, Valerie Bertinelli's character, is sort of the Jan Brady of the series. She seems like a middle child, getting less airtime than the other characters, and often having to go to them for guidance.

The Critics Comment

My boyfriend's mom watches this show practically every night, and I've sat through enough of them myself simply due to morbid fascination. The dialogue on this show is probably some of the worst I've ever heard. I have the utmost respect for my boyfriend's mom, but I cannot see what she sees in this particular TV show. I mean, come on. One episode chronicled the manslaughter trial of a sixteen year old who had purposely run down a pedestrian with his car. The reason? The kid was "addicted to video games". He said he was certain that the pedestrian was a "hooker", and therefore her life wasn't worth anything. Melodrama, melodrama... can you say melodrama? Good. Tess, one of the angels, advises parents to give their kids a "Big fat dose of Vitamin NO" when they ask if they can play violent games. Sounds like some kind of PSA slogan belted out by Hulk Hogan.

The characters use cookie cutter dialogue. I swear, on every single episode some puppy- eyed child gazes up at one of the angels, looking eerily like a Precious Moments figurine, and asks, "Is my (insert Mommy/dog/cat/goldfish) OK?"

To which the Angel replies, "Of course, sweetie. They're in heaven with God. They love you, and are looking down on you this very minute."

I have no problem with spirituality. I DO have a problem with poorly thought out and repetitive dialogue. Can't they think of a more creative way to express what they want to express? I guess they don't really need to, considering the show is immensely popular even after 200 formulaic episodes. It does make me think that people really ought to expect more out of their entertainment. But they're probably not going to.

Some fundamentalists take issue with Touched by an Angel, claiming that it "preaches Universalism!" (as in, it does not insist that only one conservative Christian doctrine is the be-all end-all of existence.) I found a rather scary web site authored by an unnamed person from "Let Us Reason Ministries". This document claims that, among the other faults of the show, a major issue is that Touched by an Angel does not portray the God of the Christian Bible as "jealous". So these "Let Us Reason" folks think that all TV shows should be about Old Testament God charging around smiting all those who disagree? While this might be an iota more exciting and intriguing to watch than Touched by an Angel in its current sickly-sweet format, it would be bizarre and would alienate many mainstream viewers.


References:

www.touched.com
http://www.tvtome.com/tvtome/servlet/ShowMainServlet/showid-245/
http://www.letusreason.org/Curent1.htm
http://www.popmatters.com/tv/reviews/t/touched-by-an-angel.html

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