Highway to Heaven

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NBC (ended 1989)

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  • Season 5 Episode 13: Merry Christmas from Grandpa

  • Will Estes previously appeared in 'The Correspondent' back in season 4.

  • Michael Landon's five-year old daugher Jennifer appears in this episode. She has an uncredited part as a little girl at the White House. A few years later, she had a bit part in Landon's last project, 'Us.' As a young adult, Jennifer Landon would receive several Emmy awards for her work in daytime television.

  • Interestingly, the final broadcast of 'Highway to Heaven' is a Christmas episode, just like it was in 1984 for Landon's previous series 'Little House.'

  • After Highway to Heaven finished its original broadcast run on NBC, it went into syndication. However, after its initial rerun phase, it was not seen on U.S. stations for a long time and disappeared from the public. About fifteen years later, in the mid-2000s, it resurfaced on cable's TVLand channel which devotes itself to playing classic television. Highway to Heaven experienced a new resurgence in popularity, which coincided with its release on DVD. Since finishing its run on TVLand, it has been picked up by the Gospel Music Channel and INSP - Inspiration. As of late December 2010, it was airing twice a day Monday through Friday on these religious and family-value themed cable networks.

  • Season 1 was released on DVD by the Michael Landon Estate and A&E Home Video in 2005. Season 2 quickly followed, with the third season in 2006. It did not sell as well as anticipated, so season 4 and season 5 were not released in the U.S. However, sales have been better overseas. During 2008 and 2009 discs for all five seasons were released in France. The first four seasons have been made available to consumers in Germany; and the first three seasons have been released in Australia. According to the wiki page for this series, "the episodes contained on these releases are edited, syndicated versions and not the original broadcast versions." That means a few minutes are missing from each episode, and in some cases, the lost footage negatively impacts the story (see notes for season 2's 'Birds of a Feather').

  • Michael Landon died on July 1, 1991, less than two years after the broadcast of this final episode of Highway to Heaven. He had been set to do another series, a family drama called Us, for CBS. He filmed the two-hour pilot which has been shown as a telefilm on CBS and cable, but unfortunately his health prevented him from continuing with plans for another weekly show. He was 54 years old when he died of pancreatic cancer, the exact same age of Victor French who passed from lung cancer.

  • NBC gave Landon a 13-episode order going into season 5. The first episode of the fifth season, 'Whose Trash Is It Anyway?' aired in October, then NBC pre-empted the series till early December when the two-part 'Hello and Farewell' was broadcast. This holiday themed episode should've aired next, but NBC was not happy with the ratings and put the show on an extended hiatus until March. The remaining ten episodes of the series aired in the spring and summer months. That is why this Christmas episode did not air in December as Landon likely intended, but in August. It turned out to be the series' final episode.

  • Season 5 Episode 10: Summer Camp

  • In addition to acting and singing, Tom Sullivan has achieved notoriety as a motivational speaker. National audiences first became familiar with his talent when he sang at Superbowl X and the Indy 500. Before he appeared on 'Highway to Heaven,' a film had been made about his life entitled 'IF YOU COULD SEE WHAT I HEAR.' Tom Sullivan went on to receive the American Foundation for the Blind's Helen Keller Achievement Award.

  • Season 5 Episode 8: Goodbye, Mr. Zelinka

  • Ronne Troup is also in season 2's episode 'Alone.'

  • This is the last appearance that Lew Ayres makes on the program, having portrayed different characters in each of his three episodes. He was over 80 when 'Goodbye, Mr. Zelinka' was broadcast. His Hollywood career began 60 years earlier with his first film back in 1929. He would continue working for another five years on television before passing away at age 88 in 1996.

  • Season 5 Episode 7: The Squeaky Wheel

  • Guest Deborah Benson works with Michael Landon once more when Susan McCray casts her for a role in 'Us.'

  • Victor French died the day before this episode was broadcast. He was 54 years old.

  • Season 5 Episode 5: The Reunion

  • The show has already been cancelled. NBC is now 'burning off' the remaining nine episodes in the summer months. Highway to Heaven will conclude its five year run on NBC the first week in August.

  • Season 5 Episode 4: The Silent Bell

  • This is the first time that Highway to Heaven is not broadcast in its usual Wednesday night time slot.

  • Season 5 Episode 3: Hello and Farewell (2)

  • Several episodes of Highway to Heaven explored the aftermath of the Vietnam War. This two-part episode tells it from the point of view of a female officer.

  • Season 5 Episode 2: Hello and Farewell (1)

  • The actor in this episode, David Ackroyd, is playing a charater named Matthew Rogers. Now in the Little House episode "The Wild Boy", an actor by the name of Jonathan Hall Kovacs also played a charater of the same name.

  • Matthew Perry, of the hit series Friends, was just starting as a television actor when he appeared in this episode. His father, John Bennett Perry, worked with Michael Landon during the final season of Little House in the episode 'Once Upon a Time.'

  • Season 5 Episode 1: Whose Trash is It Anyway?

  • This is David Spielberg's third appearance on 'Highway to Heaven.' He previously appeared in season 2's episode The Smile in the Third Row.

  • Guest star Ken Kercheval would soon begin his 12th season on Dallas. This episode was produced when he was on summer hiatus from the hit CBS soap.

  • Season 4 Episode 23: Heaven Nose, Mister Smith

  • Bill Macy was previously seen in the season 2 episode, 'Cindy.'

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More Info About This Show

Categories

Drama, Fantasy, Kids

Themes

Kids Fantasy, Family Dramas