Williamson said the show’s success was related to the way every episode stayed true to its message.
“You knew who these people were, you knew what their job was,” she explained. “… We stayed true to the franchise and that’s what makes any television show successful. You bring these characters into your home every week and you want to be comfortable with them and safe with them, particularly because we addressed so many difficult subjects over the years.”
|Two specially themed collections, Touched by an Angel: Inspiration Collection — Hope and Holiday debuted on DVD, Nov. 10 from CBS Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Entertainment. Each collection features four thematic episodes selected by series executive producer Martha Williamson. Suggested retail price of each set is $14.99|
Subjects like divorce, drug abuse, human rights in China, slavery in the Sudan and racism were episode themes that Williamson said were handled frankly, painfully and honestly, “but also in a safe place where parents and children could watch together.”
Williamson, who was raised Protestant, said she and her husband, co-executive producer of “Touched By An Angel” and a deacon at their Presbyterian church in Pasadena, Calif., send their daughters to a Catholic school because of the way the school and Catholic tradition embraced their family.
“We begin every day with prayer,” Williamson said of their family practice. “… That was why we were so drawn to that school, because they begin every day with the Pledge of Allegiance and prayer. Challenges of raising children and getting them through school are shared with the faculty at the school and dealt with in prayer. Everything that happens at the school, every program begins with prayer. That – what a message, what an amazing message to children that every endeavor begins with God.”
Williamson’s daughters are just beginning to watch the show that Williamson said has had the most impact on her career life.
“One of the challenges for me is that because they know mommy and daddy worked on the show, I don’t ever want them to feel that they have something to live up to,” Williamson explained. “So I’ve, oddly enough, not pushed for them to watch ‘Touched By An Angel’ until they can watch it for the stories and not think, ‘Oh, it’s just about mommy and daddy’s job.’”
Of the tens of thousands of stories and letters sent in sharing how the show touched lives, Williamson holds one in particular close to her heart.
“I will never ever forget the letter that I received from a man who was in prison for murder and wrote to me and said, ‘Every Sunday night all of us in prison gather around the screen and watch “Touched By An Angel,” because it’s the only time we are ever told that we are loved.’ Now, that’ll break your heart,” Williamson said, recalling the letter received around 1997. “That’s the sort of thing that keeps you working – it keeps you working hard even (at) 3 o’clock in the morning.”
The same message that reached through the jail bars in 1997 is the one that Williamson said is for anyone who has or is seeking a relationship with God.
“I think that that message that angels are sent by God to continue to support, bring healing, bring hope, bring messages of protection – to bring protection, to bring messages – those are all consistent with Christian tradition,” Williamson said, adding that they worked hard to ensure that the show wasn’t a right-wing, evangelical show, or just for Catholics, but for all Christians. “…Any Catholic can watch ‘Touched By An Angel’ and feel comfortable and recognize their faith in the words that are spoken by those angels.”
Williamson said the November debut of two DVDs – “Touched By An Angel: Inspiration Collection – Hope,” and “Touched By An Angel: Inspiration Collection – Holiday” – broken down into her four favorite episodes with those themes, was exciting because of their unique and evergreen quality.
“Not to mention the fact that CBS asked me to host that is important,” Williamson said. “It sends a message, I think, that the person who represents the message itself of God’s love is still standing behind that. This wasn’t just a job; this really was a ministry and still is.”
Williamson said the show that was nominated for 11 Emmys and two Golden Globes is for anyone who has or is seeking a relationship with God.
“I want those DVDs out there for children who are now 7, 8 and 9 and never saw ‘Touched By An Angel’ when they were growing up,” Williamson said. “I want those to show up in their little stockings and have them watch those Christmas episodes and say, ‘Wow, God loves me!’ That’s what I hope year after year after year. That’s the great joy is that long after I’m gone that message is still going out because you can cancel a show, but you can’t cancel God.”