Jonathan Smith - The spiritual drama HIGHWAY TO HEAVEN/NBC/1984-89
starred Michael Landon as a "honest" lawyer named Arthur Gordon who died in
1948. In heaven, God makes Arthur a probationary Angel and sends him back to
earth in the guise of Jonathan Smith. His mission: to help and council the
troubled and the needy. Beginning his assignment alone, Jonathan later partners
with a cynical, bearded ex-Oakland cop named Mark Gordon (Victor French), who
likes to wear an A's baseball cap.
They drive from assignment to assignment in Mark's aging grey Ford LTD sedan
(license plate: IDTD458) which on many occasions breaks down, but through the
power of God (a.k.a. "The Boss") and some good old fashioned elbow grease Mark
away finds a way to get the car going again.
Over the five years they were on the road, Jonathan and Mark interceded in the
lives of people who were lonely, desperate or dying. They befriended those with
cancer, the elderly in retirement homes, the physically challenged (amputees,
blind, disfigured, mentally ill, etc.), football players addicted to pills,
disillusioned movie stars, corrupt politicians, a grieving veteran WWII pilot
whose son was killed in Vietnam, bickering divorced parents fighting over
custody of the children, Nazi death camp survivors, a heartless business man,
and basically those who needed a second chance to get their lives together.
Jonathan even turned from an angel to a werewolf one Halloween night to help a
boy overcome his fear of monsters. And once one Christmas Eve, Jonathan and Mark
like the three ghosts in Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol gave several men a
look at their future.
Occasionally, along the way, both Jonathan and Mark lost faith in God but they
always found a way back to their mission. Once, the Devil himself interfered
with Mark when he accidentally ran over a girl. In his frenzy, Mark mistakenly
sells his soul to Satan in exchange of the girl's life. But through a little
slight of hand, Jonathan manages to retrieve the contract and resume their
mission on earth.
Jonathan, too, made mistakes. Once he used his angelic powers to lash out at
some bullies and lost his job for a time, until Mark's good deeds helped
Jonathan get reinstated. And when Jonathan learns his wife, Jane Gordon (Dorothy
McGuire) was dying, he hates God when He fails to reunite him with his wife in
death. But God had a plan and Jonathan soon dealt with his disappointment and
resumed his role as an angel.
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