Highway to Heaven

 
Michael Landon takes morals to a higher power.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The show tackles heavy emotional issues like unplanned pregnancy, death, and personal regret and always includes a strong moral message. The main characters (one's human, the other's an angel) travel the country to help people in distress.

Violence

Fist fights are common, and some characters carry and use weapons. One scene shows a police officer shoot and kill an unarmed teen. The violence is very realistic, and the physical effects are obvious.

Sex

When an episode's plot includes romantic interest between adults, there are a few kissing scenes -- but no nudity.

Language

Mild curse words include "hell." Racial slurs are used when they relate to the plot. One episode about the dangers of racism had characters using terms like "jungle bunnies," "Sambo," "black piece of trash," and the n-word.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Occasional social drinking and smoking isn't always limited to the 18- and 21-and-over crowd, but when it's central to the plot, there's often an obvious negative outcome.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the main characters in this drama are an angel (who looks human) and his human companion, who travel the country on orders from God to change people's lives for the better. The show's ever-changing content is often emotionally charged, with plots centering on issues like coping with a loved one's death, facing the uncertainty of aging, and dealing with broken relationships. When the subject matter calls for it, language and violence can be very strong (in one episode, racial slurs include the n-word and multiple substitutes, and a teen is shot by a police officer), but the iffy stuff is integral to the show's positive moral messages. This is an excellent choice for parents to share with older tweens and teens, as it brings up lots of great discussion topics.

What's the story?

In HIGHWAY TO HEAVEN, an angel in human form and his very human companion follow orders from a higher power to help guide people through stressful times in their lives. Angelic Jonathan Smith (Michael Landon) and his friend, ex-cop Mark Gordon (Victor French), travel the country on assignment from God -- whom they call "The Boss." In each episode, they wander into the lives of men and women who need some help coping with grief, anger, or guilt. Jonathan and Mark establish relationships with their subjects (who never suspect that the duo are anything but drifters), gain their trust, and lend a hand (and a shoulder) when it's needed. Along the way, Jonathan offers some subtly divine intervention through lots of moralistic straight-talk that changes the lives of those he meets. Once they've completed their task, he and Mark head down the highway again, on their way to a new assignment.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Despite its title, Highway to Heaven's focus is on addressing moral issues rather than religious ones, so it appeals to a broad audience. References to God are uncommon (as mentioned, he's almost always called "The Boss"), and when Jonathan speaks in prayer, he rarely addresses anyone in particular, more often seeming like he's talking to the wind. The show tackles serious topics like family distress, unplanned pregnancy, the death of a loved one, and murder. Storylines are often emotionally charged, and depending on an episode's subject matter, both language and violence can escalate. For example, an episode that addressed racial bigotry and law enforcement's racial profiling included multiple degrading terms (like the n-word) and culminated in the shooting death of an African-American teen. While disturbing, the content was integral to the seriousness of the plot and the impact of the message.

Given the varying content of each installment, parents may want to at least scan episode descriptions before allowing younger kids to watch. But the show's overwhelmingly positive lessons are inescapable, and parents who watch with older tweens and teens will probably find themselves having interesting discussions about the many issues each episode raises.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the many questions inspired by each episode's topic. How would you respond if you were faced with the characters' challenges? How do kids react to difficult situations? From where and whom do they draw their strength? Families can also discuss their own spiritual beliefs. How can faith help in times of stress? Do you believe there are angels among us? What other ways have religion and faith been portrayed on TV? How do the media treat religion and faith in general?

TV details

Cast:Michael Landon, Victor French
Networks:Syndicated, TV Land
Genre:Drama
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of Highway to Heaven was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 16 years old Written byFilmFanatic April 17, 2012
age 5+
 

Must See

Landon is amazing! If you've seen (and loved) Little House on the Prairie, you will LOVE this show. Yes it does have a lot of religious themes, but the MAIN theme is about helping people and being a better person. If you believe in God, its a great show to watch with your family, and if you don't, watch it anyway. There is SOME minor violence and suicide references, references to cancer , dying and racism. As far as I've seen there is no sex or nudity. There is some language but nothing you shouldn't be afraid for your children to hear. Mainly the N word used in a racist manner. The language is used very sparingly and only to express something. The is some mentioning of drinking and gamboling, but its something Jonathan and "The Boss" don't approve of. The acting and chemistry is FANTASTIC from the leads (French and Landon are an amazing team!) Aside from teaching a lesson and being one of those "feel good" shows, it can be worth a chuckle at times as well :) If you like LHOTP , you'll love this. If you love this , you'll adore LHOTP, so check it out if you haven't seen it!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written byRockybalboa211 February 20, 2011
age 7+
 

A very good show!!!

Michael Landon and Victor French at their best! A very good show for the entire family!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 15 years old Written byCritiNumba1 February 11, 2011
age 5+
 

I Love It!

I love Highway to Heaven. I watch it with my parents almost every day. It only has brief language like h--l, a--, and n----r. Only about five bad words I every heard in this show. It has some deeply disturbing episodes, like the one about the Nazis, and the one where the dog "Boomer" turns out he was an angel and is constantly shown dead. I love this show.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Great messages
Great role models

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