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Highway to Heaven is an Americanmarker television drama series which ran on NBC from 1984 to 1989.

It starred Michael Landon as Jonathan Smith, an angel sent down to earth "on probation", and his human companion Mark Gordon, played by Victor French. Jonathan and Mark are given "assignments" by "The Boss" (God) where they are required to use their humanity (and sometimes a little bit of "The Stuff") in order to help various troubled souls to overcome their problems. Examples of these problems include families dealing with sick loved ones, wealthy and greedy businessmen being encouraged to use their wealth for good, and discouraging prejudice in regards to people of different ethnicities/appearances/socioeconomic backgrounds or who have disabilities. While dealing with these situations with sensitivity, Highway to Heaven also utilised humour - particularly between Jonathan and Mark, who would often goad each other. Jonathan's mission on Earth was to do enough good so that he could 'earn his wings' and presumably, ascend to heaven. Due to the close relationship that builds between Jonathan and Mark, this becomes a contentious issue as Mark doesn't want to lose his friend to "The Boss", and sometimes tries to prevent it from happening.

Although French appeared as an old man, he was in fact less than two years older than Landon. The third popular Michael Landon television vehicle (after Bonanza and Little House on the Prairie), it consisted of 111 episodes produced over five seasons.

The theme tune for Highway to Heaven was performed by David Rose.

Cancellation

The show was removed from the 1988 fall schedule and used as a mid-season replacement in 1989. This change was explained by Michael Landon on an appearance he made on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in early 1989 and is why the episodes, which were originally filmed in the fall of 1988, did not air until the late spring and into the summer of 1989 (the last episode aired on August 4, 1989). The series ending was due to it being canceled by the network and may not have been solely the consequence of Victor French's death in June 1989 from lung cancer.

Filming locations

Filming locations included Los Angelesmarker, Simi Valleymarker, Stanislaus National Forestmarker, and Tuolumne Countymarker, all in Californiamarker, USAmarker. In addition, the pilot episode from 1984 was partially filmed along Dawn Road, South of Tucson, AZ. The footage of Jonathan walking before being picked up by Mark was filmed in Tucson and along Soledad Canyon Road near Acton, CA.

Guest stars

Guest stars Devon Odessa, Alyson Croft, and Joshua John Miller all won Young Artist Awards for their appearances. Landon's Bonanza co-star Lorne Greene also earned critical acclaim for his own appearance in a 1985 episode. Barbara Stuart appeared as Carla in the 1986 two-part episode "Love and Marriage". In his last roles, Tyler McVey appeared in separate episodes in 1985 and 1986 as a minister. Don Keefer portrayed Dr. Washburn in the 1986 episode "For the Love of Larry". Anthony Zerbe played a servant of the devil in the episode "The Devil and Jonathan Smith".In the May 1985 2 part episode, "The Thoroughbred", future Academy Award winning actress Helen Hunt starred as a young and expectant mother with cancer.

DVD releases

Region 1 USA DVD Releases

A&E Home Video has released the first 3 seasons on DVD in Region 1. The episodes contained on these releases are edited, syndicated versions and not the original ones. It is not known if the remaining 2 seasons will be released on Region 1 DVD.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date Additional Information
Season 1 24 April 26 2005
  • "Michael Landon: Memories with Laughter and Love" documentary
  • Rare outtakes
  • Text Biographies of Michael Landon and Victor French
Season 2 24 August 30 2005
  • Commentary with Cindy Landon and Producer Kent McCray on "The Torch"
  • Text Biographies of Michael Landon and Victor French
Season 3 25 March 28 2006
  • Interviews with Cindy Landon, Kent McCray, Susan McCray & Dennis Korn.
  • Text Biographies of Michael Landon and Victor French


Region 4 Australia DVD Releases

Paramount Home Entertainment/CBS DVD has released the first 3 seasons on DVD in Region 4. The episodes contained on these releases are edited, syndicated versions and not the original ones. According to various websites, Seasons 4 and 5 will be released on DVD on 24 December, 2009.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date Additional Information
Season 1 24 April 9 2008
  • Audio Languages: English, French
  • Subtitle Languages: English, French
Season 2 24 September 4 2008
  • Audio Languages: English, French
  • Subtitle Languages: English, French
Season 3 25 April 2 2009
  • Audio Languages: English, French
  • Subtitle Languages: English, French
Season 4 24 December 24 2009
  • Audio Languages: English, French
  • Subtitle Languages: English, French
Season 5 13 December 24 2009
  • Audio Languages: English, French
  • Subtitle Languages: English, French


The Australian Region 4 DVD releases do not contain the Region 1 DVD Extras, but do have English and French soundtracks and subtitles. This appears to be the same line of DVDs being released in Germany as "Ein Engel auf Erden" (An Angel on Earth) and France as "Les Routes Du Paradis" (The Roads Of Paradise). Les Routes Du Paradis "Saison 4" has been available for purchase in France since June 2009 and according to Amazon France, "Saison 5" will be available from 1 December 2009. According to some Australian retailers, Highway to Heaven Seasons 4 and 5 will be available on DVD in Australia from 24 December 2009.

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