While John Masius is credited with creating "Touched by an Angel," the series as produced was substantially different from the pilot Masius wrote, which never aired. Masius' script emphasized human suffering, and the angel Monica confides that God toys with humans for sport. CBS fired Masius early in the first season when Masius refused to write a more life-affirming story. He was replaced as executive producer by Martha Williamson, a Christian writer and producer who made the show what it eventually became.
In the series premiere, bold supervisor Tess (played by Gospel singer, actress and pastor Della Reese) guides Monica (played by Roma Downey) on her first assignment as a case worker after being promoted from search and rescue.
The series finale shows Monica, who is up for promotion, defending Zack, an innocent drifter accused of blowing up a school full of children. The prosecutor is actually the Devil, played by David Ogden Stiers. Despite Monica's best efforts, Zack is convicted.
Visiting him in the prison, Monica offers herself to be his guardian angel for the rest of his life, protecting him from the dangers of the federal prison.
Later the citizens find out the truth: it was the prosecutor who blew up the school and framed Zack. Monica makes the citizens see that there's still hope to rebuild the life in the town and helps them to free themselves of the anger.
Before Zack can be sent to jail, however, he disappears. Monica then finds out that Zack was actually God. Defending Him was a test, and she succeeds: according to His words, "There's no greater love than to give your life away for someone else." This has been considered the most explicit Gospel message of all the series, since it almost directly quotes Jesus' words ("Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.") in John 15:13. Monica is finally promoted.
Monica (Roma Downey): Monica is the main character of the show. Sweet and tender, she was promoted from the Search and Rescue department to become a caseworker, with Tess, to help people, delivering them a message of hope from God. She also has a weakness for coffee, especially mocha lattes. Downey's natural accent is Irish. She was born in Derry, Northern Ireland.
Tess (Della Reese): Tess is the second protagonist of the show and Monica's angelic supervisor. Sometimes tough but always compassionate, she would eventually brighten everyone's spirits by singing with her melodic voice. A car and a dog were both given to her, both of which she values dearly, and an iguana, from a dying boy, which she tolerates. She is very frank and honest about the truth and usually tells people what they have to hear, not what they want to hear. She constantly refers to Monica as "Angel Girl" and "Ms. Wings." She also refers to Andrew as "Angel Boy."
Andrew (John Dye, 1996-2003, seasons 2-9): Andrew became an all-episode character in the third season. He is an Angel of Death, that is, one of the angels that takes people who die to their eternal fate, heaven or hell. Andrew was a caseworker before he was promoted. He still helps the other angels, esp. Monica & Tess, in their casework. He hates being stereotyped as a Grim Reaper.
Gloria (Valerie Bertinelli, 2001-2003, seasons 8-9): Gloria is an inexperienced angel, because she was created by God during one of Monica's assignments (in the seventh season). But she's highly intelligent and constantly learns new things, like human strength and weakness. She's good with technology as well. Although initially shy, she adds a lot of humor to the show.
The show featured different guest actors in each episode.
As the show's resident songbird, Della Reese performed the theme song to Touched By An Angel, "Walk With You." A full-length version of "Walk With You," recorded with the Verity All-Stars, was included on the show's soundtrack album, which was released in November 1998 and went platinum. The album came out on the heels of the episode Psalm 151, broadcast November 15, 1998, which starred Wynonna Judd as the mother of a terminally ill boy and featured a guest performance by Celine Dion of "Love Can Move Mountains" (the boy's best friend, played by Mika Boorem, was a huge fan of Dion's and even nicknamed herself Celine). Dion recorded a new version of "Love Can Move Mountains" (originally a #36 Pop hit in 1993 from her self-titled second English album) with gospel group God's Property for the soundtrack. The song Wynonna's character performed at the end of the episode, "Testify To Love," was also featured on the soundtrack album, as was Wynonna's cover of Whitney Houston's "You Were Loved" (from Houston's movie The Preacher's Wife). "Testify To Love" was also a Contemporary Christian radio hit for the group Avalon.
The soundtrack album was comprised of other songs featured on the show that season, including tracks by Shawn Colvin, Bob Dylan, Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Amy Grant, and Jaci Velasquez. One other track from the album, "Somebody's Out There Watching," was a moderate country hit for The Kinleys, and Amanda Marshall's "Believe In You" was a hit on Canadian adult contemporary radio.
MADtv aired a sketch titled "Touched by an Atheist" (featuring well-known atheist George Carlin) that showed the angels and Carlin disputing the existence of God at a dying man's bedside. The sketch also poked fun at the well-publicized salary discrepancy between Reese and Downey.
The show was also mentioned by Drew Carey on Whose Line is it Anyway?, during which he said he had a new show that was a cross between Touched by an Angel, King of Queens and Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place, called "I was Touched by Two Queens in a Pizza Place". It was also satirized in the beginning of an episode of The Simpsons, in which Bart writes repeatedly on a chalkboard "I was not touched 'there' by an angel;" similarly Family Guy created a courtroom scene in which a child points at an angel saying he was "touched" by him,the angel is seen fighting the allegation. The scene was aired when the episode was syndicated on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming block.
Besides the DVD releases, the series will be aired on the Hallmark Channel again starting Jan. 2, 2008- Monday- Friday at 12 PM. (According to the official Touched By an Angel Website)
|DVD Name||Ep #||Release Date||Additional Information|
|The Complete 1st Season||13||August 31, 2004|
|The Complete 2nd Season||22||May 3, 2005|
|The 3rd Season, Vol 1||16||February 7 2006|
|The 3rd Season, Vol 2||14||November 28, 2006|
|The 4th Season, Vol 1||13||March 27, 2007|
|The 4th Season, Vol 2||13||December 4, 2007|