7th Heaven

7th Heaven is an American television series about a pastor's family living in the fictional town of Glen Oak, California. It was created and produced by Brenda Hampton. The series premiered on Monday August 26, 1996, on the WB Network, the first time that the WB aired Monday night programming. The series finale was scheduled for May 8, 2006; however, the show was renewed by the CW Network when the intended final episode received high ratings. The eleventh and final season premiered on September 25, 2006 and ended on May 13, 2007.


The series follows the Reverend Eric Camden—a Protestant minister living in the fictional town of Glen Oak, California—as well as Eric's wife Annie and their seven children. Except for Lucy, the children are all named after key biblical figures. Originally, there are five children (making it a family of seven). The twins are born in season three, in the episode "In Praise of Women". Four of the children, Matt, Mary, Lucy, and Simon, at different times, move away from home during the show's run. Simon goes to college, Mary goes to live with her grandparents and Matt marries and pursues his career as a doctor, far away from the family. Despite these three being absent from the Camden home, the house is always full. When Lucy marries, they move into the garage apartment. Their daughter is born while they are there. Later, they move into a home next door. Ruthie leaves for a short while in the final season to go to Scotland. The Camdens offer shelter to various house guests at different points in the show.

The Camden Family[]

The Camden family originally consisted of spouses: Eric and Annie and their five children: Matt, Mary, Lucy, Simon and Ruthie Camden, in Season 3, however, Annie gives birth to twins boys: Sam and David. Three of the children (Matt, Simon, and Mary) moved away from home and thereafter appeared irregularly throughout the rest of the show's run. Mary, the show's "prodigal daughter", moved away to solve problems she was having in Glen Oak more than once, as well as being married and divorced. Unlike the others, which appeared again throughout the show, she was the only Camden who really got "kicked off" the show by the producers (see Jessica Biel's departure). Simon went to college, and Matt married and pursued his career as a doctor. Nevertheless, the house is always full; Lucy, her husband Kevin, and their daughter Savannah all live near the Camdens. Daughter Ruthie and son Simon also are in the final seasons regularly. Frequent house guests also find the Camden house a home of their own. Due to dissatisfaction with the show and her image, Jessica Biel was slowly written out of the show from 2000 and, after an appearance in September 2003, to announce her spur-of-the-moment marriage, she did not appear again until the Season 10 finale on May 8, 2006. On the other hand, Matt and Simon have regularly found themselves involved with the family since they moved out and Simon returned regularly in the same season.


Main article: List of 7th Heaven episodes


Main article: List of 7th Heaven seasons

The main cast of 7th Heaven[]

Main article: List of 7th Heaven characters

Recurring cast and characters[]

The themes of the Series[]

Each episode deals with a moral lesson or controversial theme that the family deals with either directly or indirectly. Some range from the traumatic (e.g., the fact that: Eric's sister came to visit, an that the children found out that she had a drinking problem) to the somewhat trivial (e.g., in one episode, every child acquired an addiction, with even Ruthie being addicted to gum). Beyond the moral lesson in each show, there are also longer-running story arcs. In the later seasons, Eric had to deal with his wife entering menopause and his youngest daughter Ruthie needing a training bra. The topics are usually approached from a socially and politically conservative Protestant Christian point of view (devoting almost the whole 9th season to the alleged need not to have pre-marital sex while, however, several pre-marital episodes occur, including a 10th season episode where Eric mentions that his parents had to marry because his mother became pregnant with him and most recently Ruthie disclosing that she lost her virginity while in Europe over the summer, although it was revealed to be a lie), although the series so far has avoided touching "hot button" issues (i.e. affirmative action, abortion, contraception and homosexuality). A 2004 episode about the importance of voting on election day seemed to suggest that men in the family were voting for incumbent president George W. Bush, while the women were voting for Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, although the script went out of the way to make sure that no mention of either candidate was ever made directly by name, leaving the viewer to decide and the message of the episode simply being "vote, no matter who you vote for". However, in the same episode in which Matt discloses that the family is Protestant, he also discloses to Sarah that his father, the Reverend Camden, is a Democrat.

The show is reliant on the very special episode concept, attempting to introduce contemporary social issues to lend greater emotional resonance to episodes. These episodes do in fact lead to high ratings for the show. The January 24, 2005 episode, which featured the birth of Lucy's daughter Savannah, garnered 7.99 million viewers - the highest WB rating since 2003. Another example included the would-be series finale, now simply known as the Season 10 finale, which scored 7.56 million viewers on May 8, 2006.

Changes in the show's tone[]

Many long-time viewers noticed a gradual change in the tone of the show throughout the years. In the early seasons, Eric and Annie were very strict with their children, often harshly or strictly lecturing them for minor (by most families' standards) offenses. The show also had a more dramatic tone in earlier seasons, featuring very serious issues in each episode, such as alcoholism and self-mutilation. In later seasons, however, Eric and Annie were much more laid back, and the show had a lighter, more comic, tone to it. Because of Aaron Spelling's death, this is the last production under the Spelling brand name. It is thought that CBS would retire the Spelling name after 7th Heaven ended its run, out of respect for its namesake.

2006 renewal[]

After much deliberation within the now-defunct WB network, it was made public in November 2005 that the tenth season would be the program's final because of high costs, which later turned out to be no fault of the show's very low budget itself, but rather due to a poorly negotiated licensing agreement renewal by the WB network itself a few years earlier. Regardless, because of this, the program's future was hanging in the balance, and it was entirely in the hands of the newly-established CW network whether to renew it for an eleventh seasonal run. In March 2006, the main cast of characters was approached about the possibility of returning for an eleventh season.[1][2]

After further consideration by the CW network, it was decided -- three days after the airing of its "series finale" -- that 7th Heaven would be picked up for an eleventh season, which would air on their network, preserving the Monday-night slot that had helped make it famous.[3] In an article elaborating on the decision, John Consoli of Mediaweek said: "7th Heaven, the longest-running family drama in television history, in a surprising move, will return for its eleventh season on the new CW network this fall."[4]

Along with the show's unexpected, and last-minute, renewal came some changes. The show's already ultra low budget was moderately trimmed, forcing salary cuts among the cast and some episodes to be filmed in six days, instead of seven. Furthermore, Mackenzie Rosman, who played youngest daughter Ruthie Camden, had enrolled full time in high school and was not seen in the first six episodes, after appearing in every episode of the series prior to that, and even Catherine Hicks missed three episodes in the 11th season. Stephen Collins and Beverley Mitchell are the only two original cast members to appear in every single episode of 7th Heaven.

Also, after always airing Monday nights at 8/7c for its entire run, including two episodes from its 11th season, The CW unexpectedly moved 7th Heaven to Sunday nights in October 2006. The Sunday/Monday lineup-swap was attributed to mediocre ratings on both nights. While 7th Heaven did improve in numbers over the CW's previous Sunday night programming, it never quite hit its Monday night momentum again, and the shows that replaced it in its slot on Monday night never matched what it had achieved in that time slot.[5]


Although originally produced for Fox in 1996, the show aired on The WB. It was produced by Spelling Television, and distributed for syndication by CBS Paramount Television (the ABC Family network has off-network syndication rights and airs daily reruns of the program). Its producers, including Aaron Spelling, considered it wholesome family viewing, incorporating public service announcements]] into the show. 7th Heaven is now shown on the CW. The show wrapped production on the final episode March 8, 2007, which is about month before most shows film their last episodes of the season. This was due largely to the fact that after ten years of working together, the actors, producers and crew had gotten production down to a well oiled machine, slashing costs repeatedly and routinely coming in well under budget. This resulted in 7th Heaven filming episodes in shorter time during the final seasons, explaining why the show stopped filming earlier than other network dramas.


7th Heaven was the most watched TV series ever on the WB. It holds the record for the WB's most watched hour at 12.5 million viewers, on February 8, 1999, 19 of the WB's 20 most watched hours were from 7th Heaven. No other WB series has had as much success as 7th Heaven. On May 8, 2006, it was watched by 7.56 million viewers, the highest rating for the WB since January 2005. However, on the CW, ratings dropped. This was most likely because for six months it was advertised, heavily, as the last episode ever. The CW hardly ever advertised for it, with no billboards or bus stops and few commercials. It moved 7th Heaven to Sunday nights, and, as a result, its season average is 3.3 million, losing 36% of the previous year's audience. It at the time, was the third most watched scripted show on the CW. Overall, it was the seventh most watched show.

Jessica Biel's departure[]

Jessica Biel played daughter Mary from the show's beginning. However, gradually dissatisfied with her "goody goody" image, Biel eventually posed for seminude photographs for Gear magazine of which the producers of the show did not approve. During the fifth (2000-2001) season, her character had gone through a rebellious phase, and this storyline was used to write Biel out of the show, sending Mary to her grandparents' house in Buffalo, New York for some tough love to counter her rebellious behavior. During the sixth season (2001-2002), Mary returned home but the differences between Biel and the producers led to Mary leaving home full time and becoming a flight attendant.

Biel returned for five episodes during the seventh season (2002-2003), including Lucy's wedding episode and the season finale. She then appeared in the second episode of the eighth season, which aired on September 22, 2003, when she revealed to the family that she had married Carlos Rivera (Carlos Ponce) whom the Camden's assisted in returning home to his family in the Christmas episode "Here Comes Santa Claus" of the third season, and was pregnant with his child. Following that appearance, fans hoped for years that she would return at some point. After a nearly three-year absence, it was announced on April 3, 2006 that Jessica would make a triumphant return for the season finale "And Thank You," reuniting all nine Camden's for the first time since the seventh season finale "Life and Death" in April 2003.

While she was away, from 2003-2006, Mary has had major storylines off-camera, including giving birth to son Charles "Charlie" Miguel Rivera in 2004, and then subsequently divorcing her husband and signing away custody of her child in the May 2005 ninth season finale "Mi Familia." Her on-screen ex-husband Carlos Ponce, made several appearances during her absence to deliver these stories. Minor stories or tad-bits include Mary taking a political stance in season nine by sending her husband to the voting booth and attending rallies, sending Lucy a baby shower gift, going through job training in London, relocating to Chicago following her divorce, and most recently, helping Simon in the 10th season with financial difficulties. However, she has clearly maintained a connection with Carlos and son, and up until the divorce was made known, kept in contact with her siblings semi-regularly at least.

Her appearance in the 10th season finale, though limited, shed light on events taking place during the last few months. Mary graduated from college the same weekend as Matt and Sarah, reunited with husband Carlos, and is pregnant with twin girls. Although she was not with the family, her conversation with her husband during the episode revealed that Mary's reunion with the family would take place during Matt and Sarah's graduation ceremony. All of this brought resolution to the estrangement that had been present since the fifth season.

In the 11th season premiere it is revealed that Mary had the twin girls over the summer. She and Carlos also returned to New York for reasons unknown. She got a job teaching and was going to coach basketball for two months. Later on in the season Annie unexpectedly visited Mary to help with the kids while she taught the girls basketball team.


  1. "7th Heaven" Cancelled Because of Costs. TVFodder.com. Retrieved on 2006-01-16.
  2. Collins Celebrates New Life For '7th Heaven'. Zap2it.com. Retrieved on 2006-05-19.
  3. '7th Heaven' Back for an 11th Season. TVWeek.com. Retrieved on 2006-05-12.
  4. 7th Heaven Returns on CW. Mediaweek.com. Retrieved on 2006-05-16.
  5. CW Flips Sunday, Monday Lineups. Zap2it.com. Retrieved on 2007-10-05.

External links[]

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