An Angel on Earth (TV series)

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Television series
German title An angel on earth
The angel returns
Original title Highway to Heaven
Country of production United States
original language English
Year (s) 1984-1989
length 45-48 minutes
Episodes 111 in 5 seasons ( list )
genre drama
music David Rose
First broadcast September 19, 1984 (USA) on NBC
first broadcast
January 2nd, 1987 on ZDF

An angel on earth / The angel returns (Original title: Highway to Heaven ) is an American television series that was produced from 1984 to 1989. The series was also very popular in Europe before it was decided to discontinue it because of falling audience figures.

In Germany, ZDF broadcast 53 episodes from 1987 to 1988 under the title An Angel on Earth . Four double episodes of 90 minutes were shortened to the length of a normal episode of 45 minutes. The private broadcaster RTL Plus secured the rights to the next few seasons and broadcast another 53 episodes from 1988 to 1991 under the title Der Engel returns .

Well-known film and television actors such as Leslie Nielsen , Edward Asner , Helen Hunt , Lew Ayres and Shannen Doherty often appeared in the guest roles of the individual episodes . Michael Landon's friend and co-star Victor French died of lung cancer in June 1989 , before the final episode aired. All five seasons have now also appeared on DVD in Germany .


The series is about the deceased Jonathan Smith, who returned to earth as an angel, and his human partner Mark Gordon, who are on the road through the USA on behalf of God and always stop where their help is needed.

In order to be able to help the people to whom God sends them, they take a job in their environment in almost every episode. While Jonathan demonstrates his knowledge of various professions, Mark is usually very clumsy. If it has to do with the divine commission, Jonathan also has extraordinary abilities and knows what other people think. Combined with his empathetic manner, it is mostly his words that convince and turn things for the better.

In the pilot episode (double episode) you get to know Mark, who worked as a police officer in Oakland (this place is mentioned in episode 86, "Changes", Season 4) for 15 years, as an alcoholic and unemployed. Here he still lives with his lonely sister Leslie, who works in a retirement home that Jonathan saved from closure. Mark initially thinks Jonathan is a fraud, but lets himself be convinced that he is an angel. At the end of the episode, he moves out to live with his sister, who meets a man, and joins Jonathan to work for God too.

As shown in episode 39 ("Till Death Do You Part", Season 2), Jonathan lived on Earth from September 7, 1917 to March 21, 1948 as Arthur Thompson. In this episode, Jonathan returns to his hometown after almost 40 years and meets his then wife Jane at his grave. Because God's mission concerns her this time, he and Mark move in as lodgers with Jane for a while. Jonathan learns that his wife has not remarried and also meets his daughter, her husband and his two grandchildren. Jane does not recognize her former husband because he walks the earth in a different form. That he is actually an "angel on probation" is learned in episode 63 ("In Love, Your Daughter", Season 3), when Jonathan is checked by an angel inspector. He passes this test and would go to heaven, so to speak as a promotion - but since, according to the inspector, Jonathan does the best work among all the angels, he should stay on earth.

In episodes 87 and 88 (“A great love”, double episode) Jonathan meets his wife without knowing it. Shortly before, he stands at their deathbed and gets angry with God because - unlike Jonathan expects - he does not take him to his wife in heaven. Thereupon Jonathan loses his strength, separates from Mark and, heavily drunk, saves the life of a woman named Jennifer. Jennifer takes Jonathan in, and a two-month romance ensues. When Jennifer finally disappears, Jonathan reads in her suicide note that Jennifer was actually Jane, who is now also used as an angel on earth. She promises that at some point they will be reunited in heaven.

In the course of the series, Jonathan and Mark meet a few more angels - for example, Ted in episode 52 ("Love At Second Sight", Season 3). Ted also meets his former wife on earth (like Jonathan in episode 39), who lives in the retirement home and whom he is supposed to couple with another resident. However, Ted is overcome by jealousy and almost spoils this assignment, so that Jonathan has to intervene.

In episode 56 ("A Heavenly Messenger in the Senate," Season 3), Mark and Jonathan return to Mark's sister (played by Mary McCusker , who played Leslie in the pilot) to meet their future husband. The sad, lonely woman she was at the beginning has now become a cheerful person.

Episode list


  • Michael Landon and Victor French have worked together on the Bonanza and Our Little Farm series.
  • In the episode A Bad Joke (in the original I Was a Middle Aged Werewolf ) Mark (Victor French) watches the horror film Death Has Black Claws (in the original I Was a Teenage Werewolf ) on television , in which Michael Landon starred in 1957 played.
  • In the episode The Apparition , Lorne Greene appears in one of his last roles. Greene and Landon, who were both friends, played together on the Bonanza series between 1959 and 1972 . Greene plays the head of the family as Ben Cartwright, and Michael Landon was his youngest son, Little Joe.
  • In The Man of the Year episode , Mark and Jonathan stand in front of the Michael Landon star in Hollywood, and Mark explains that this is one of his favorite actors, he starred in Bonanza and Our Little Farm , to which Jonathan replies that he never heard of it .

The German voice actors

Web links