CBS has continued to become a ratings powerhouse over recent years by adapting and shifting with what viewers want. "Touched by An Angel" saw viewers apparently looking for more emotional, spiritual fare (while I can't say I was a real watcher of the genre, what happened to that "7th Heaven", "Touched", "Joan of Arcadia" genre that was around for a while?), as the series managed to score significant ratings wins for at least the first handful of seasons before the series started to fall off around the fifth season. Still, the series was commercially and critically successful while also managing to offer up a spin-off ("Promised Land".)
For those unfamiliar, the series follows angels interacting with humans and trying to set them on the right path. The main two leads are Monica (Roma Downey) and Tess (Della Reese) - Monica is the angel trainee (another spin-off could have been a workplace sitcom about angel interns in the city.) Other characters include Andrew (the late John Dye, in a strong performance), the Angel of Death.
While I didn't really follow the series during its run, it's easy to understand the reasons for its success: it's an often warm, moving series that delivers powerful performances from the key players and supporting cast. While it's heavy-handed and a bit soapy at times, the series does offer positive messages in most episodes and most episodes move at a reasonably brisk pace.
While the series was heading towards its conclusion at this point, this season still offers some strong episodes, such as: "The Letter" (Tess must convince a man to support his son's musical talent), "Voice of Angel" (Monica encounters a rude orphan who has a beautiful voice, and she becomes jealous), "A House Divided" (a child tries to separate herself from her parents and their troubled relationship) and the season finale, "Pandora's Box".
• Season 6
118 6-01 26/Sep/99 Such A Time As This
- A senator tries to clear the way for her re-election campaign, but has to face a decision to speak out against slavery in the Sudan despite her advisers telling her not to.
119 6-02 03/Oct/99 The Compass
- Monica intervenes in 1944 in the lives of soldiers a month after D-Day.
120 6-03 19/Oct/99 The Last Day of the Rest of Your Life
- The angels intervene with a support group who are facing death and a woman afraid to join.
121 6-04 17/Oct/99 The Letter
- Tess must convince a man that his son is a gifted musician.
122 6-05 24/Oct/99 Til Death Do Us Part
- After a man commits suicide on his 40th birthday, Andrew feels that he has failed. Monica reminds him that others are in need and Andrew shows the man's widow that she should remain hopeful.
123 6-06 31/Oct/99 The Occupant
- The angels must help a possessed homeless man rediscover his faith.
124 6-07 14/Nov/99 Voice of an Angel
- Monica becomes jealous of a rude orphan with a beautiful voice.
125 6-08 21/Nov/99 The Whole Truth And Nothing But...
- The angels show a woman running a tabloid that she should use the truth for good instead of harm.
126 6-09 28/Nov/99 Then Sings My Soul
- The angels help a man running a taffy factory that the business is a gift and that he can run it well.
127 6-10 12/Dec/99 The Christmas Gift
- Returning to her hometown, a woman clashes with her mother-in-law. The wife wants to move on from their modest roots.
128 6-11 02/Jan/00 Millennium
- On the even of Y2K, the angels help a woman let go of her past.
129 6-12 09/Jan/00 With God As My Witness
- A construction foreman takes a new job as a limo driver, but when he has a client with a criminal past, his family may be in trouble.
130 6-13 23/Jan/00 A House Divided
- A child of divorce tries to divorce their parents, while the angels help mend the family's sorrow.
131 6-14 06/Feb/00 Buy Me a Rose
- After a woman turns to an old flame when her marriage chills, the angels show her that love is a choice.
132 6-15 13/Feb/00 Life Before Death
- Monica travels to Ireland where she tries to broker peace.
133 6-16 20/Feb/00 A Perfect Game
- A bitter woman tries to embarrass her ex, but the angels show her the error of her ways.
134 6-17 27/Feb/00 Here I Am
- In a NYC museum, the angels help a variety of patrons.
135 6-18 12/Mar/00 Bar Mitzvah
- A man credits his recovery from a stroke from strength rather than pure faith.
136 6-19 19/Mar/00 True Confessions
- Monica and Tess work with an inmate to make peace with her past.
137 6-20 02/Apr/00 Quality Time
- When a perfectionist mother tries to make her family run on an exact schedule,the angels step in in order to show her the error of her ways.
138 6-21 09/Apr/00 Living the Rest of My Life
- The angels help an aging woman and her son cut the apron strings, but she then finds facing the world on her own difficult.
139 6-22 23/Apr/00 Stealing Hope
- The angels must help a struggling poet and mechanic realize his dreams.
140 6-23 30/Apr/00 Monica's Bad Day
- Monica realizes how easy is it to get caught up in anger, and tries to race to correct the day's wrongs.
141 6-24 07/May/00 A Clown's Prayer
- The angels join the circus in order to help a child come to terms with his father, who is a little person.
142 6-25 14/May/00 Mother's Day
- The angels try to help a woman suffering from the loss of her child come to terms with her grief.
143 6-26 21/May/00 Pandora's Box
- The angels try to help a family with the obstacles of the internet age.
VIDEO: The episodes of "Touched By An Angel" are presented here in their original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio. The picture quality is certainly not unwatchable, but I was a little surprised that some of the presentations appeared rather disappointing. This may stem from the fact that there is a little over three hours worth of material on each disc, although this hasn't been an issue as much on other TV on DVD sets.
The main issue is that the picture appears somewhat grainy and "digital" throughout most of the episodes. What the picture doesn't suffer terribly as a result, it is somewhat distracting at times. Patches of episodes appear cleaner than others, but this was a concern. Otherwise, edge enhancement, shimmering and other flaws were not noticed.
Sharpness and detail are satisfactory; the show does seem to be intentionally shot with a slightly soft appearance, but the problems previously mentioned do take away from the detail a step or two more at times. Colors remain bright and vivid, with no smearing or other faults. Flesh tones looked accurate and natural. These presentations were not terrible, but they were a little less than I'd expected, overall.
SOUND: The 2.0 soundtracks for each episode remained perfectly fine, with clear dialogue, music and sound effects. These are fairly basic tracks though, focusing mainly on the dialogue.
EXTRAS:: Zilch. While the first season offered a ton of extra features, given the show's sizable fan base, it's too bad that that wasn't really continued with additional season sets.
FINAL THOUGHTS: While the series was past its peak in popularity at this point, it still stands up as a well-acted, often touching drama. The DVD offers decent video quality and fine audio, but nothing in the extras department. Recommended.