'7th Heaven' goes to TV heaven

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

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The CW's "7th Heaven" is the rare TV show that gets to sign off twice.

More than a year ago, The WB canceled "7th Heaven" and its series finale aired in May 2006. But then the new network CW, cobbled together Frankenstein-like from the remains of The WB and UPN, performed a resurrection. "7th Heaven" was back for its 11th season.

Now the series ends again with its second and presumably final series finale at 8 p.m. Sunday on The CW (WPCW, Channel 19, in Pittsburgh). This time, there are no return guest spots from former series stars Barry Watson and Jessica Biel. It's sort of an anti-climactic series-ender that allows fans to envision life with the Camdens on the road in an RV.

Don't let the idea of living in a confined space with the Camdens scare you off of reading this final Q&A with series stars Stephen Collins (The Rev. Eric Camden) and his TV wife Catherine Hicks (Annie Camden) from Monday's conference call with reporters.

Question: Not many shows get two finales. Which one do you prefer?

Stephen Collins: And wait 'til you see next year's! It's gonna be even better.

Catherine Hicks: This year's was delightful and fanciful. Last year's was sort of clunky. I didn't understand it.

SC: Last year it felt like we threw everybody but the kitchen sink in the last episode. We were lucky to get Jessica and Barry to come back, but it felt like a big graduation picture at the end.

CH: We're happy the way it ends, but it is bittersweet.

SC: It felt good shooting it. It's an appropriate one.

Q: How do you feel about "7th Heaven" ending for good this time?

CH: Numb. I feel sorry for the audience because they still really want it, and, as a performer, I'm excited about the unknown future.

SC: I think it will hit me in summer. This is the time we're always on hiatus anyway. Somewhere after the Fourth of July when we'd go back to start shooting is when it will hit me.

Q: What did you think about the plots this season?

SC: It was kind of a bonus year and everything comes from the scripts. [Series creator] Brenda [Hampton] decided we got a reprieve and she was just gonna write whatever she felt like writing. I think script-wise there were a lot of really great episode that were vintage "7th Heaven" shows that came from not trying to stay on top of the ratings.

Q: How did the show change over time?

SC: [Executive producer] Aaron [Spelling] was big on having half to one-third of our episodes relate to real-world issues: Teen drinking, cutting, women living under the Taliban in Afghanistan was something we did before 9/11 and people thought we were nuts. The last couple of years there were probably fewer of those shows and it was more involved in the inner workings of the family.

Q: Which did you prefer?

SC: I think from an acting standpoint, the issue shows were important and we knew that. We were putting information out there that people needed. From a pure acting point of view, I preferred the ones that were more insular and dealt primarily with the family.

Q: What did you think of the episode about Simon and pre-marital sex?

CH: I think we felt a little unrealistic with that one.

SC: Brenda used to say her idea about handling pre-marital sex was to make married sex look really good. Eric and Annie were always nuzzling and kissing and sneaking off to bed together. But that one was certainly a stretch to make that seem everyday and normal.

Q: Did the kids on the show come to feel like your kids?

SC: We're incredibly proud of them, but you get proud of them in their own way, not like they're your own kids, but like they're family. David Gallagher will graduate from USC film school on Friday.

CH: He'll be a big director.

SC: I feel like I'm their uncle or brother.

CH: I'm proud of Jesse. She's down to earth and not affected. She has good, real parents.

SC: We didn't have to be their parents.

CH: And a lot of child stars' parents are nuts. Fortunately, we were lucky not to have to deal with that.

Q: Did you feel "7th Heaven" got the credit it deserved compared to some other shows on The WB?

CH: We would get so ticked. Our reruns had better ratings than the premieres of their favorite little babies and then all we'd get were these crappy little cupcakes at Christmas.

SC: At WB parties there would be huge pictures of Sarah Michelle Gelar and somewhere in a corner a little Polaroid of me and Catherine. On the other hand, we got used to it.

Q: Were either of you ever jealous if your TV spouse went out and played the spouse of someone else during hiatus?

CH: I can go right away to always being jealous since day one when he showed up raving about one on "Sisters."

SC: It was Sela Ward.

CH: Sela Ward. I would ask, "How's Silla?" And he'd say, "It's Sela." I've always been threatened by Sela Ward.

SC: And that was before "7th Heaven." This is how long she holds a grudge. It's just like real marriage, folks.

Paul McCallum/The CW
"Come on, Eric. After 11 seasons and all those kids, you know you want this booze."


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