Heaven Help Us” enters the syndie race with a seasoned cast of TV veterans having a good time as they play with the idea of divine intervention and life in immortal limbo. The challenge will be to bring something new to the angels-come-to-the rescue plots.
The debut episode has a strong supply of TV vets, including John Schneider, always steady Shirley Jones as — you guessed it — mom, Efrem Zimbalist Jr. playing patriarch and Ricardo Montalban as the host to a place more beautiful than Fantasy Island.
Plot takes off as a pro baseball pitcher (Schneider) and his bride (Melinda Clarke) fly off to their honeymoon, only to be thrown a curve when their twin-engine craft crashes.
Dead and dazed, they meet heavenly emissary Montalban, who informs them they are between heaven and hell and have to do good deeds to prove their worthiness to enter the pearly gates.
Direction by Noel Nosseck has a nice rhythm, with a strong sense of humor throughout. Jerry G. Callaway’s camerawork and Derek R. Hill’s production design contribute to the Spelling feel of brightness and color.
The primetime syndie track is tough, but if producers keep a strong stable of recognizable actors on hand, channel surfers may come across this feel-good hour and stick around.