TITLE: HIGHWAY TO HEAVEN - THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON
Release Date: September 16, 2014 (Mill Creek Entertainment)
Packaging: Standard DVD Case
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 13
Running Time: 622 minutes
Running Time of Features: N/A
Audio: English Mono
Subtitles and Captioning: None
Special Features: None
For the first time in the United States, the fifth (and final) season of Highway to Heaven arrives on DVD from Mill Creek Entertainment. The three disc set contains all 13 episodes of the final season of the series that followed Jonathan Smith (Michael Landon) and Mark Gordon (Victor French) as they try to do odd-jobs in order to do good deeds in order to make the world a better place. The series ran for five seasons on NBC, and while it was far from the most memorable series of the highly successful NBC lineup of the late 80s, it remains a favorite among fans and continues to be played in syndication worldwide, often more so than some of the more memorable series.
The first three seasons were released on DVD nearly a decade ago, but the series was never finished... until now, as Mill Creek took over the series, started over with the first season, and continued until all five seasons were released. With this release, fans finally have all five seasons on DVD.
Jonathan and Mark get involved in a political campaign in "Who's Trash Is It Anyway?" Matthew Perry makes an appearance as a teenager who learns the truth about his past in the two-part episode "Hello and Farewell;" and meanwhile, a nurse is still reliving the emotional wounds of Vietnam. In "The Silent Bell," a minister isn't happy when church orders demand fire his non-Christian teachers. It's time for Mark's high school reunion in "The Reunion."
A school bus is involved in an accident in "The Source," but that may not be the biggest problem that the driver faces. An amputee wants to bring attention to the difficulties the disabled face in life in "The Squeaky Wheel." Lew Ayres guest stars as a high school teacher being forced to retire due to his age in "Goodbye, Mr. Zelinka." The parents of a Vietnamese teenager who is living with an American family are looking for their son in "Choices."
Priscilla Barnes guest stars as an actress scarred in a fire in "Summer Camp." In "The Inner Limits," a man learns things about his brother that he never knew before. Mark gets to experience life as a dog in "It's a Dog's Life." The series ends with "Merry Christmas From Grandpa," where Jonathan and Mark travel to the future (2018) to save America's future.
1. "Whose Trash Is It Anyway?" (47:19)
2. "Hello and Farewell (Part 1)" (47:14)
3. "Hello and Farewell (Part 2)" (49:27)
4. "The Silent Bell" (48:00)
5. "The Reunion" (48:09)
6. "The Source" (47:35)
7. "The Squeaky Wheel" (48:11)
8. "Goodbye, Mr. Zelinka" (48:05)
9. "Choices" (48:12)
10. "Summer Camp" (48:13)
11. "The Inner Limits" (48:08)
12. "It's a Dog's Life" (48:02)
13. "Merry Christmas from Grandpa" (48:13)
The packaging for the set is pretty standard for recent Mill Creek releases, and it matches all of the previous Highway to Heaven releases. On the cover, there is a photo of Jonathan and Mark, and on the back, there is a brief description of the season. Inside, you'll find the three discs stacked on top of one another on a center hub. Each disc has photos of Jonathan and Mark, along with a listing of the episodes contained on the disc.
Menu Design and Navigation:
They haven't changed the menus on this set at all from the previous releases. They begin with Jonathan and Mark standing on a highway, with options of Play All and Episode Select. Choosing Episode Select takes you to another menu that lists the episodes. Once you select an episode, it plays immediately. There are chapters throughout each episode.
Video and Audio Quality:
Like the previous sets (and pretty much every airing of the series in syndication), the video and audio quality is just so-so. It doesn't look unwatchable, necessarily, but there has always been something about this series that has made it look not so great whenever watching it. I'm guessing that it was just produced with a tight budget, but I don't know the real answer to the issue. Of course, if you've seen the series in syndication, you'll know exactly what to expect: a dull quality picture that seems a bit faded at times, with a few defects. The audio is a somewhat dull mono track. There are no closed-captioning or English subtitles on the set.
The set contains no special features whatsoever, which is what we have somewhat come to expect from these value-priced DVD sets from Mill Creek.
Mill Creek has managed to not only get every season of this series on DVD (for the first time in the United States), but they've also managed to get most of the episodes out unedited, although they mysteriously dropped the ball on the second season. Still, it is nice to see that every episode of this series can be owned on DVD, and at a great price. Mill Creek will be following up soon with a release of the complete series. It remains to be seen as to whether or not that release will fix the second season issues (I'm not counting on it, but you never know).
Looking back at this season (and the others), the show remained rather consistent over the years, with each season containing some great episodes and others that aren't so great I think what is so intriguing about this season is that most of these episodes aired in the summer of 1989, which means that Victor French didn't even live to see half of these episodes air, as he died in June 1989. Even further, Michael Landon only lived two more years himself. So, even though NBC had already canceled the series and was just burning off episodes for most of this season, the series really could not have continued anyway. The end of this series also marked the end of a very long era for Michael Landon on NBC, as he made his first appearance as a regular on a NBC series on Bonanza in 1959, and in 1989, he was wrapping up this series, and for all but two years between 1959 and 1989, he was a regular on a NBC series... and he even worked behind-the-scenes on some projects for NBC during the only two seasons in there in which he was not a regular on a series.
These value-priced releases of the seasons from Mill Creek are well-worth picking up if you like the series at all, and the complete series set (which is coming soon) is an even better deal. I would even argue that this is a series that is worth a blind buy at this price. I think that there is something in each episode that anybody could enjoy, and it is great that we finally get a chance to see the entire series on DVD.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 3.5/5
Audio Quality: 3.5/5
Special Features: 0/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
-- Reviewed by skees53 on 10/27/14
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