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"Christy" and "Touched"

By admin Published: March 16, 2007

Networks shouldn't think in quotas -- shouldn't consider, for example, that a schedule has room for only one show with a strong underpinning in faith. But that's how networks do think, and it let to a great disappointment for me in 1995 ....

At the time, CBS had two faith-based shows on its schedule, "Christy," based on the book by Catherine Marshall, and "Touched by an Angel," based largely on the spiritual notions of executive producer Martha Williamson. And it decided to keep one for the following season. You pretty know which one, and I still think CBS made the wrong call.

And why? Because "Touched" was never grounded in real religious belief. It had generic angels, a generic God, no sense of a strong philosophy beyond "God loves you." "Christy," in contrast, was about specific doctrines -- a character on that show had no problem saying he was a Methodist, for instance. It was more thoughtful, more textured -- and it had a stellar core cast, with Kellie Martin (as the title character) and Tyne Daly.

So why am I muttering about a decade-old grievance? Because the CBS "Christy" (there were later some movies on Pax, without Martin and Daly) comes out on DVD next week and I have been dipping into the set.

Having had some distance from the show, and without the passion you attach to a program when you're trying to keep it on the air, the flaws in "Christy" are a little more evident. Martin's attempt at a Southern accent, for one, is wobbly, and the show never quite figures out the balance between the grit and grime of rural life and picture-book prettiness. But I still value the show, and I still think CBS made the wrong call in 1995.

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