We Had an Amazing Superhero Series in the 80s and We Didn’t Even Know It! HIGHWAY TO HEAVEN
When I was growing up, there was a show that I loved to watch called Highway to Heaven. It had been years since I had seen the show, then it recently popped up on Netflix and I immediately started rewatching it.
As I watched the show, I was flooded with nostalgia and the memories of the show started flooding back. The show was filled with hard-hitting drama, humor, inspiration, and even action in some cases. One of the things I loved about the series most was the positive heartfelt messages that each episode revolves around.
Most episodes stressed moral themes and dealt with common human failings, such as egotism, bitterness and greed. Other episodes addressed such topics as racism, bullying, Mental illness, self-esteem, the environment, cancer, and more. There are also some big stars that got their start in the series like Paul Walker, Will Wheaton, and Josh Brolin. It also included guest stars like James Earl Jones, Dick Van Dyke, and more.
If you’re not familiar with the show, it centers around a probationary angel named Jonathan Smith (Micheal Landon), who is sent back to earth to help people. He teams up with an ex-cop named Mark Gordon (Victor French) and God a.k.a. “The Boss” gives them an assignment in every episode to accomplish. That assignment involves certain individuals in the world who are struggling with something in life. This is their heavenly mission.
As I’ve been watching the series, I’ve noticed that this is actually one the first great superhero series that had been made for TV and we didn’t even know it! With Jonathan being an angel he has certain superpowers bestowed on him that he can use to help people. He only uses these powers when it’s completely necessary, though.
Jonathan Smith has access to a power that he and Mark called “The Stuff” which gives him and sometimes others he bestows it on a wide variety of super powers. Some of the powers include super strength, super speed, invulnerability, the power to make various objects spontaneously appear when needed, makes cars break down, the ability to enter and affect other people’s dreams, and one of my favorites… the power to easily land a job in a single day. In every episode, they have to take new jobs as they work on their assignments and they never had issues getting a job. Oh yeah, I can't forget shape-shifting! In one episode Jonathan turns into a werewolf. What made that so great is that Michael Landon starred in the film I Was a Teenage Werewolf. So this was a homage to that.
As far as Jonathan Smith's origin story goes. His real name is Arthur Thompson and he was a happily married lawyer who ended up dying from lung cancer. When he went to heaven, he was assigned to be a Guardian Angel.
Michael Landon was so great in this series. He was just so damn charming in the role. You know how Mr. Rogers had that comfortable soothingness and friendly demeanor about him? Landon brought the same exact thing to the character Jonathan Smith in Highway to Heaven.
Now Jonathan wasn't flying into to save the day like Superman. Instead, he swooped in then took the time to make sure the people he was helping ended up learning a valuable lesson in the end. He pointed people in the right direction then let them make their own choices. However, there are many times where he uses his powers to help.
In all honesty, the world could really use a show like this right now. It deals with all of the same kinds of issues in the world that we are all still facing today. If you haven’t watched Highway to Heaven, you really should check it out. Yeah, it’s a little cheesy, and definitely dated, but there’s nothing wrong with that. It just adds to the shows charm.
Even though it was never really the intent of the series, in my opinion, Highway to Heaven was one of the best superhero series that has been made. Good stories with good characters that told Wonderful heartfelt stories that made an attempt to help change the world and make it a better place. At the center of it all was an angel with superpowers and his sidekick.
This is just my opinion, and you are welcome to disagree with me. This is just how I'm seeing the series after not having watched it in almost 30 years.