On a wing and a prayer. When I first spoke Martha Williamson, the respected writer/producer who brought Touched by an Angel to life for nine highly-successful seasons on CBS, her two-hour movie pilot for Signed, Sealed, Delivered was just about to air on Hallmark Channel.
That film — about a motley crew of postal investigators charged with uniting lost mail with its intended recipients — drew red letter for the network and naturally led to the current weekly series airing Sundays at 8:00 PM (ET). That, of course, is a time slot that for Williamson — and millions of TV viewers yearning for uplifting fare — has already been, well, Touched by an Angel.
The show, starring Eric Mabius (Ugly Betty) debuted strongly last Sunday with over 2.1 million viewers, making it, in terms of total viewers, the third most watched show in a very competitive time slot. The premiere episode (reviewed here) featured Valerie Harper in the colorful role of a legendary post office supervisor. In this Sunday’s episode, her character comes to a pivotal crossroad in her life.
Prior to last week’s premiere, I had the opportunity to talk again with Martha about her plans to help bring optimistic and uplifting drama back to television.
JWK: Touched by an Angel left the air in 2003. You’re two-pilot movie for Signed, Sealed, Delivered was a big success and now you’re suddenly back in the series game. How’s it feel?
MARTHA WILLIAMSON: The challenge of a weekly series, of course, is just that there is no time to take a breath. You just keep working. The farther along you get the more shows you’re juggling at one time. When I was doing Touched by an Angel, it was much more an anthology. It was sort of like writing a pilot every week because you didn’t have to grow the relationships of the angels. They weren’t going to be getting married or falling in love or having babies — all the usual twists and turns that you find. So, they were more separate entities, each episode.
Now, we have arcs for our main characters and I’ve never done that before. I think the closest I came was sort of sometimes in sitcom, when I was (writing for) Facts of Life. But I’m enjoying it because it really is an opportunity to start exploring relationships. We don’t just explore the nature of love but what is love about?…We’re building this little family of people. They are in many ways average American heroes. They don’t have exciting jobs that get everyone’s attention. They don’t make a lot of money. They’re not autopsying anything. But they are committed to doing the best work they can and doing a job well done — which is an old-fashioned concept. (More @ Beliefnet)
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