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The Soul Collector

Year - 1999
Studio - Brayton-Carlucci Productions, Hearst Entertainment Productions
Stars - Bruce Greenwood, Melissa Gilbert, Ossie Davis, Scotty Leavenworth, Todd Allen, Buck Taylor, J.D. Garfield, Christina Carlisi, Hiliary Duff
Director - Michael Scott
Writing Credits - Kathleen Kane (book), Joyce Heft Brotman (teleplay)
Music - Dan Foliart

Synopsis

Zachariah (Bruce Greenwood) is a "soul collector", responsible for escorting the souls of newly deceased to heaven. But he has recently been neglecting his duties, and his supervisor, Mordecai (Ossie Davis) arrives to confront him. He informs Zacariah that the decision has been made that he is to exist as a normal human being for 30 days in order to develop a greater sense of compassion. In addition, when he returns he will be bringing one soul with him. Zachariah is immediately dispatched to a large cattle ranch where he is met by the suspicious owner, Rebecca (Melissa Gilbert). He insists that he doesn't know how he got there and doesn't remember anything about himself, other than his name, "Zach". She introduces him to her young son, Danny (Scotty Leavenworth), daughter Ellie (Hilary Duff) and her ranch hands. One of them, Jake (Todd Allen) is Rebecca's boyfriend, and he is distrustful of this strange visitor. The others, Charlie (Buck Taylor) and Tom (J.D. Garfield) are cordial with Zach, and they offer him room and board, in exchange for working on the ranch.

Tom's wife and Rebecca's best friend, Helen (Christina Carlisi) is suffering with cancer, which has recently returned after a period of remission. And the ranch is having problems; large numbers of cattle have gone missing, and Rebecca fears for the financial future of her life-long home. Zach, responsible for repairing all the fences on the property, becomes very close to young Danny. And Zach and Rebecca begin to develop an intimate relationship.

Mordecai arrives periodically to remind Zach that his responsibility is to observe the humans, not to get involved with them. But Zach argues that his very presence there affects the lives of everyone he encounters. Determined to learn more about Zach, Jake takes him out to a bar. After a few beers, Zach drunkenly reveals that he will be leaving them soon. When Rebecca learns this, she confronts Zach, who only admits that he is not in control of his future.

Helen passes away in bed as her grieving friends and family look on. Another soul collector arrives, invisible to all but Zach, to take her to heaven. But Zach causes Helen's spirit and the soul collector to be visible to the others, to lessen their pain. Later Charlie and Zach drive out in search of the missing cattle. They discover three men in the act of stealing them. One of the men is Jake, who says that he's doing it to provide Rebecca with financial security. One of the men shoots Zach in the chest, but it has no effect. The three rustlers are overtaken and given to the police.

On Zach's 30th day as a human, he, Rebecca and Danny drive into town, but their dog jumps out of the jeep to chase something. Danny runs after him and is about to be hit by a car, when Zach pushes him out of the way and himself, is struck. He is apparently dead, and Mordecai arrives to take him back, but not before chastising him for interfering with Danny's destiny. His was supposed to have been the soul Zach returned with. Zach vows that he will trade his immortal existence for a normal human life. His request is granted and he lives out that life with Rebecca.

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