In 1994 a prime time weekly drama debuted declaring, reminding, and assuring viewers that God exists and that He loves us. The program starred Roma Downey, Della Reese and John Dye as a team of angels dispatched from Heaven to inspire people who were at a crossroads in their lives. During its run, it was one of the highest rated shows on the CBS network and continued for nine seasons. Now it’s back – on pristine DVD.
While the series was not meant as a proselytizing tool to convert viewers to Christianity, it was an effective instrument for conveying the messages that we are more than physical beings. It always drove home the edict that we are each important to our Heavenly Father.
“Touched By An Angel” was created and produced by Martha Williamson, a devout follower of Christ, who felt privileged to offer the viewing public a spiritually themed drama. Just as importantly, she and her dedicated crew were able to witness to the Hollywood community.
I had the opportunity of interviewing Ms. Williamson a few years back. A TV veteran, whose producing credits include “The Facts of Life,” and other family-oriented shows, Williamson was delighted to relate the effect the show had on several guest stars.
“We always cast the show just looking for the right actor to play the part. But I found that God always brought the right person to the show. And not only for us, but many times the actor was in the place he needed to be.
“I can tell you of many instances when an actor would come to the show during a difficult time in his or her life – immediately after the loss of a loved one, in the middle of a divorce, or during a time when they were dealing with an addiction – and they would find themselves completely embraced by a remarkable group of people, a crew that just loved them. I have letters and letters from actors who said this is the best experience they ever had. One actor who came as an atheist left a believer.”
Which leads to the question devotees of the inspiring show want answered: Were the leads Christians?
“All three [Downey, Reese and Dye] always proclaimed their faith. And always acknowledged God as the source of their strength,” the producer happily proclaimed.
“The very last scene we shot on the final episode took place in a church. At the end of the day, I walked out of there with John Dye. He and I stopped at the altar and got on our knees. We each thanked God for the privilege of doing that show.”
Two uplifting collections from the series will debut Tuesday, November 10 on DVD. Touched By An Angel: Inspiration Collection – Hope includes three episodes – including the series milestone 100th episode, “Psalm 151,” in which the angels celebrate Monica’s 100th assignment – and features Wynonna Judd, Rosa Parks and Mandy Patinkin.
Touched By An Angel: The Inspiration collection – Holiday includes four episodes including “An Angel On The Roof” episode, following the angels as they try to perform a Christmas miracle by bringing the residents of a small Texas town together.
These are favorite episodes from the show’s creator, each presenting messages of faith and optimism. Each episode includes a personal introduction by Williamson, who provides her unique perspective and insight. Other extras include segments from the broadcast special, “More True Stories From Touched By An Angel,” and free music downloads, both of which can be accessed via eBridge Technology. This technology allows consumers to unlock segments by placing their DVD into their PCs.
So, does the producer have a favorite episode?
“The Christmas show with Randy Travis (‘It Came Upon A Midnight Clear’) is my favorite. It may be the first time the Hallelujah Chorus was ever performed in its entirety on a network drama. It was voted best episode by ‘Touched By An Angel’ fans. I think it’s a very moving show, and one that clearly presents the Gospel message.”
Here’s hoping Ms. Williamson isn’t through with creating family programming – programming that not only uplifts the Spirit of man, but proclaims the Spirit of God.