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Highway to Heaven (NBC 1984-1989, Michael Landon, Victor French)

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Michael Landon had an uncanny ability to jerk a tear or two out of his TV audience. Even though plenty of us aren’t comfortable going all mushy or falling victim to syrupy TV operatics, whether we liked it or not, we were putty in Landon’s hands. Highway to Heaven, which Landon produced, starred in and sporadically directed, was no exception.

With two successful shows already under his belt (Bonanza and Little House on the Prairie), and supposedly inspired by the near-death car accident that a stepdaughter was involved in, Landon pitched his idea for an earthbound angel to the boys at NBC. Since the network was looking for a family program to put opposite The Fall Guy on Wednesday nights, they bought the pitch—though reluctantly, because any show devoid of car crashes and scantily clad women was an automatic underdog.

Landon played a guardian angel named Jonathan Smith (an Everyman name for an accessible, Everyman angel), who was sent back down to Earth so that he could help people. In the pilot episode, angel Smith turned a bitter ex-cop named Mark Gordon (Victor French, who was seen in Little House as well) on to the good in life, and Gordon subsequently became his right hand cherub. The two traveled around the country and told people they were itinerant workers. Jonathan was known to refer to his “Boss”—a.k.a. the Big Guy Upstairs, who apparently gave the wandering angel instructions off the air.

Jonathan made some mistakes along the way and sometimes didn’t accomplish all that he set out to do, but his heart, obviously, was always in the rightest of places. Despite all his years in Hollywood, Landon had lost none of his sentiment, none of his altruistic intent (and this was mid 80’s, remember—years not exactly brimming with humanity), and expert tear-tamer that he was, he could still make us choke up with the best of ‘em. The show was a surprisingly big hit (much bigger than that worldly The Fall Guy, thank you very much), and the angelic ministries continued for five successful seasons.

production details
USA / NBC / x50 minute epiodes / Broadcast 19 September 1984 – 4 June 1989

Creator/Executive Producer: Michael Landon

cast
MICHAEL LANDON as Jonathan Smith
VICTOR FRENCH as Mark Gordon

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TV

Clochemerle (BBC-2 1972, Cyril Cusack, Roy Dotrice)

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Clochmerle BBC 1972

Period sitcom, based on a novel by Gabriel Chevallier that was adapted by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, that saw the French villagers of Clochemerle kick up a fuss over plans to install a new toilet.

cast
CYRIL CUSACK as Major Piechut
ROY DOTRICE as Ponosse
KENNETH GRIFFITH as Ernest Tafardel
WENDY HILLER as Justine Putet
HUGH GRIFFITH as Alexandre Bourdillat
BERNARD BRESSLAW as Nicholas the Beadle
MADELINE SMITH as Hortase Girodet
GEORGINA MOON as Rose Biraque
PETER USTINOV as Narrator

crew details
Writers: Ray Galton, Alan Simpson
Novel: Gabriel Chevallier
Producer: Michael Mills

production details
Country: UK
Network and Production Companies: BBC Two – Bavaria
Duration: 9×30 minute episodes
Aired From: 18 February – 14 April 1972 Fridays at 10.05pm

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TV

Clairvoyant, The (BBC-2 1986, Roy Kinnear, Sandra Dickinson)

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In Roy Clarke penned sitcom The Clairvoyant used car salesman Arnold Bristow is knocked down in a car accident and suddenly finds himself with psychic powers – or so he believes. There was a pilot broadcast 27 Nov 1984.

cast
ROY KINNEAR as Arnold Bristow
SANDRA DICKINSON as Lily
HUGH LLOYD as Burma
SHAUN CURRY as Newton
GLYNIS BROOKS as Dawn
CARMEL CRYAN as Carmen

crew details
Writer: Roy Clarke
Producer and Director: Alan J.W. Bell

production details
Country: UK
Network and Production Companies: BBC-2
Duration: 6×30 minute episodes
Aired From: Pilot – 27 November 1984 and Series – 15 May – 19 June 1986

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Christmas Princess (UP 2017, Nicole Munoz, Zak Santiago)

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Christmas Princess Nicole Munoz

Christmas Princess is the true story of Donaly Marquez who, through a childhood of neglect and abuse, achieved her dream of becoming a rose bowl princess. An inspirational story of resilience, strength and finding a family to call your own.

cast
Nicole Muñoz as Donaly Marquez
Rosa Blasi as Sara
Zak Santiago as Ignacio Marquez
Olivia Steele Falconer as Emily Marquez
Jaedon Siewert as Abraham Marquez
Lina Renna as Young Donaly
Paloma Kwiatkowski as Chloe
Ty Wood as Trent
Pendo Muema as Monique
Kalyn Miles as Maria
Kaaren de Zilva as Roberta
Garfield Wilson as Dr. Miller
Clay St. Thomas as Judge #1
Patti Allan as Judge #2
Natalie von Rotsburg as Judge #3

crew details
Director: Allan Harmon
Writer: Tracy Andreen

production details
Country: Canada
Network and Production Companies: UP
Duration: 1×120 minute episode
Aired From: Sunday 10 December 2017

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