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HIGHWAY TO HEAVEN
Season One

Review by Chastity Campbell

Starring: Michael Landon, Victor French
Director: Various
Video: 1.33:1 Standard Full-Screen
Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo
Studio: A&E
Features: See Review
Length: 1200 Minutes
Release Date: April 26, 2005

Shows ***

The Highway To Heaven is paved with a Bonanza of talent and knowledge.  Michael Landon and Victor French are two men who have braved the frontier together many times before.  However, this time around they are not confined to a Little House On The Prairie...they have the whole world at their fingertips. 

Jonathan Smith is a handyman.  Well, heís Gods handyman, on a mission to help fix things gone wrong in the world.  During his travels Jonathan ends up with a traveling companion named Mark Gordon.   Mark is an ex-cop who was wasting his life away in a bottle until Jonathan showed him there was a better way.

When someone veers off the straight and narrow, Jonathan is there to make sure they find their way safely back...sidestepping the pot holes, and washed out bridges as they go.  Whether they are working to help a group of senior citizens keep their communal home, or teaching an illiterate basketball player to read, Jonathan and Mark always finish the job, and make the boss proud.  Good thing too, because this boss wields more power in the boardroom than Donald Trump ever dreamed of!

This seven disc box set of DVDs contains 24 uplifting episodes.  There is approximately 20 hours worth of family friendly entertainment on these DVDs that is guaranteed to enlighten as well as educate you.

When I was growing up on the farm in Kentucky, one of my favorite TV shows was Little House On The Prairie.  I was too young to remember Bonanza and it wasnít being aired in syndication where I lived, so beyond Little House I had no idea who Michael Landon was.   

Now that Iím all grown up, Iíve had an opportunity to take a look back at Michael Landon and his career.  Let me tell you, few actors have the opportunity to star in not one, not two, but three successful television shows during their lifetime.  Not to mention the made for TV movies and big screen work Landon did.

I will leave it to the featurette in this box set to give you a look into the life of Michael Landon, but I will say that when it came to television acting, there are very few who come close to this man's talent.

Victor French is also another Little House On The Prairie alumni that I adored growing up.  I still credit his character on Little House with teaching me the words to ďOld Dan Tucker!Ē Victor really did an excellent job as the brooding ex-cop Mark on Highway To Heaven.  He was able to clearly and cleverly capture the guarded spirit of one who has traveled a very bumpy road in life, and is seeking redemption. 

When Highway To Heaven hit the airwaves, it brought with it a level of intelligence and morality that had been sorely lacking in other television shows at that time. This little show with its two heroes rode on faith alone, and drove itself right into the must see TV lineup. 

Whether you are looking for some good family entertainment, or you simply want to revisit 80s style TV, this box set should definitely be on your must have list. 

Video **

This DVD box set is presented in a 1.33:1 Standard Full-Screen format. 

The episodes on these DVDs were pretty dirty.  The dirt was very visible in the opening sequence, and continued to be a problem throughout almost all of the discs.  The colors were bland, and flat.  I know this show is old, but these colors make it look as though it had one foot in the grave.

I always try to give older shows the benefit of the doubt.  I have stated many times before that, prior to the digital revolution older movies and TV shows were not filmed or stored in a way that transfers cleanly onto DVD.   There are so many of these older shows and movies out there, that it makes giving them all a good cleaning near to impossible. 

So we either take what we can get, or do without.  Personally Iíll take all the old TV shows on DVD that I can get my hands on!

Audio **

The Dolby Digital Stereo on these DVDs didnít blow me away, but there werenít any real problems with it, so Iím in the middle of the road on this one.

The quality was okay, with only a little white noise audible.  There were no dips or drop outs in the audio level, but I did have to boost the over all audio levels quite a bit in order to hear it well.

Features ***

This Heavenly box set scores nicely with its extra features.

The biggest and best this box set has to offer is a feature-length documentary, Michael Landon: Memories with Laughter and Love.   This documentary takes you into the home of Michael Landonís family, where they spend a day reminiscing about the man that was husband, father, and grandfather.  Melissa Gilbert paints a very vivid picture of the man she called Pa.  I learned more about this amazing man from one featurette than I thought possible.

Outtakes and bloopers from the show are included to tickle your funny bone, along with text biographies of Michael Landon and Victor French. 

Summary:

Approximately 20 hours of divine DVD entertainment, packaged and wrapped for your viewing pleasure.  It doesnít get any better than thisÖhop in your car and hit the highway today!

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