A subdivision of ACIDEMIC

Monday, September 28, 2015

CHARLIE'S ANGELS Season Three: Episode Guide (1978-79)

Purists say that, like some crooked boxer, Charlies Angels took a dive in the third. It definitely kind of peters off after occasional flashes of the old magic. The Angels had been around long enough now, one guesses, they figured they could take 'er easy. EASY!? How else had they been taking it? Old plot lines from old Spelling cop shows began to resurfaceKate Jackson left at the end, replaced for season four in a stunningly wrong move by high end London model Shelly Hack. Way too skinny and posh for the mellow LA vibe of the Ladd and Smith, by the end of season four, Hack too was gone. And in the end of season four, the last two-part finale, came the very cool and enchanting Tanya Roberts. Critics all say that if she came in on season four instead of Hack then it might still be running today. Roberts, man - those aquamarine purple eyes --is a cool hip goddess as natural a fit for the Angels as the day is long. But it was just too late.

But first, season three, episode by episode, in all their sporadically competent glory. This is the season wherein, even with Sabrina still in the mix, the Angels seemed to be forgetting how to do their job. No longer able to defend themselves, or think on their feet, they fell victim to lazy writing, Old plots were borrowed from Spelling's Honey West, a half-hour, quick-moving series; at an hour, they felt really stretched and empty. Allergic to guns, void of moxy, the girls depended on time and again on convenient coincidental machinations and cross-cutting to see them through. Thanks to the wavering attention of overtaxed screenwriters like the "Selznick of Spelling"  Ernest Lakso, there's also no shortage of easy 'going nowhere slow' old hammy show biz types meandering around the edges of scenes, mugging indiscriminately for, presumably, SAG scale and the chance to get back under the studio roofs like the old times.

But there's still occasional glimmers of 70s charm and the slyly assertive feminism of the first season; Jill Monroe even comes back for a spell or two, looking dangerously thin but with one hell of an impressive tan. And today's Law and Order variations owe a rather large debt to this show and its contemporary and tawdrier later-in-the-evening ancestor, Police Woman. Tell your friends, pally.

49-50 - Angels in Vegas (Parts 1, 2) Sept. 1978

Sammy Davis Jr. must have had fun working with the Angels last season and told his Rat Pack about it, because here's Dean Martin strolling through real Vegas locations, showing card tricks to an unimpressed Scatman Crothers, standing by various Tropicana wheels and craps tables looking enigmatically important, and trusting too much in Bewitched's Dick Sargent playing a shifty-eyed lounge singer named Marty Cole. As they did for Sammy, the Angels need to act as Dean's bodyguards, this time because one of the Tropicana's dancers-- bedecked in a fur coat and Trans Am she clearly never paid for--is followed by an ominous looking truck that runs her off the road. Beep Beep! We learn that Frank (Martin) won the Tropicana in a crap game. What happened to the guy who lost it? Sabrina asks. "He is nowhere," Dino says. "He just walked through that door and shot himself right through the head." Frank was in 'the Tank Corp' during the war (a reference maybe to the ill-fated Anzio?) and is kind of mule-headed in refusing to question the loyalty of his employees, nearly all of whom are stealing him blind and working all sorts of shady scams. It's Vegas, after all, and he didn't exactly get the casino by being a girl scout. Beep Beep! 

The Angels set up a "Command Center" in Frank's suite of Tropicana penthouse apartments. Downstairs, as part of her cover, Kris sings for Marty Cole. So we hear a stanza or two from her (real) album: "Take a chance and see / love will never be / foreplanned (?)" Great lyrics, m'Ladd (did you know she did the singing voice of Melanie on Josie and the Pussycats?). Marty thinks Kris looks just like his ex-wife, Leslie, which is funny since later this same season Kris will turn out to be a dead Lylah Clare-style ringer for a dead 20s star. Meanwhile Sabrina, as usual with louche reprobate clients, gets to play the girlfriend so she can drop some feminism (or women's lib as it was called then) and make him reconsider his stringent no-prisoners approach to the fairer sex. But Frank's waxing on the poetry of dice games and coin flips proves more affecting than Sabrina presumes, and way more interesting than some of the other tangents in this two-parter, such as who-- other than all the shady suspects he refuses to consider--might be out to get him.

Pros: Surprisingly adult references to prostitution and blackmail; Kelly looks hot in dancer tights (and loves to get the chance to show her high kicks) and she gets to come on strong to Vic Morrow as a rival casino owner suspect, scaring him mightily. Poor Vic would be dead in just two years due to a helicopter accident on the set of the Twilight Zone movie, so savor his greatness.

Cons: Scatman Crothers forgets that the first rule when being chased by a demon truck while walking your cat: get the hell out of the center of the road. Second rule: cats don't need to be walked. The writers of this episode clearly have no knowledge of how casinos operate if an Asian businessmen can use a handheld computer right at the craps table, and not only that, play with crooked dice which Martin never thinks to swap out. He wouldn't have held onto that casino for more than five minutes with that kind of permissive negligence. Equally aggravating is some annoying can-can numbers, probably thrown in there for Jaclyn's high-kicking benefit, though most of it is just mismatched stock footage of the 'Folies Bergere of '79' a well-known (I guess) real Vegas act. Good lord why is that awful dance still around now that we've moved past arresting girls for showing their ankles in public?

Pros again (Part 2):
Either way, Angels be gettin' some. Sabrina hooks up with Frank and they form a relationship only a talented resourceful brainy actress and a boozy laureate could conjure. Her nerdy younger girl ectomorph and his thirty years-older, shoot-from-the-hipness make for an interesting, even touching, combination. Ladd gets to sing a second time. Bosley does a neat golf cart tumble. ABC steps in to introduce Dan Tana and the new show Vegas at the end, cuz when in Rome....

Angel Come Home

Jill returns; she's become a Formula 1 racer! Farrah does a fine guest star turn. We first see her wearing the same bathing suit she wears in that famous poster, with a flowing white skirt added, but her hair is a mess and she's wearing way too much eyeliner. Seems her handsome racer fiancee Mark Carmony (Stephen Collins) is a suspect in sabotage surrounding some prototype model car created by an ambiguous but handsome character named Paul Farino (Horst Bucholtz), who's lured Jill to LA (or did he?) and then talks her into driving his experimental baby in the local race. Angels, assemble!

Jill has terrible judgment in men. Mark tries to get all bossy and argue her out of racing for Paul Farino. Why was he at Paul's seedy LA racetrack anyway? Andrea Lassiter (Mrs. Dean Martin-at-the-time Dolly Read) shows up as a race track groupie who still has the hots for Mark. Who's she working for, her own G-spot aside? She'd be right at home amidst the girls in Red Line 7000.

Pros: The plot's clever enough and makes good use of the racetrack milieu and Jill's presence --she gets to really act in some scenes. Kris gets to run around on the beach looking cute and the bouncing around and yelping during their sororal reunion has a very nice 70s sort of vibe.

Cons: But, One thing's for sure, after this episode nobody wanted to see Farrah come back and replace Cheryl Ladd -- not only is Ladd a more engaging nuanced actress, she can work her angles and smize and her body is slammin.' Though she does seem to know how to channel it all into some palpable grief, our poor Farrah--hair a mess, eyeliner covering up a smizeless hungover stare--looks awash in tiredness that's possibly the result of anorexia, her failed film career (Saturn 3 still a-stalled), her failed marriage to Lee Majors, some other ailment, or all of the above. Hang in there baby, we want to say, The Burning Bed cometh, ironically enough, to launch a whole second phase of your career as a cool, legitimately Emmy-worthy TV actress.

Angel on High

There's a great croaking-voiced hit man and once again the motive is refreshingly simple: greed. A dumb air show stunt pilot (Michael Goodwin) is possible heir to two different fortunes but doesn't want to be tied down. He only wants to fly! So noble. So dumb. What Angel could resist? By now the Angels have lost so many would-be pilot boyfriends to either jail or airplane sabotage they should know their kisses carry steep jinx tolls. They should also learn to read cues from people's faces, and not to talk really loud in public about their secret plans, especially when they already know folks are spying on them. Even this far into the series Kris never fails to be stunned when some cute guy pulls a gun on her, as if hotness equals goodness just because the Angels themselves are both hot and good. How hard can it be? Baby, don't even go there.

Pros: "William Freeman brings the touch of warm nostalgia" to aviation history in his trusty bi-plane, so does--with its analog charm, measured pace, and relative lack of traumatic violence--this old chestnut of a 70s TV show to this tired post-century. The romance between Paul Freeman and Kelly gets some weird cautionary implied-lesbian-jealousy from Sabrina! By contrast, the whole dour judgmental wife/mother thing paints a nicely unpleasant picture of heartland Christianity. There's a good bit with Sabrina goosing information out of a mobbed-up chairman of the board in NYC (and she even takes in stride a stray potshot or two). Smith does some fine acting when presented with the possibility to just fly away with a cute guy and leave her life behind --seriously --she's tempted! Her eyes soften and glisten a bit --she's really taken aback at the thought, all there in the eyes, showing that when she gets the chance, and the script treats her with some modicum of respect, Smith can bring it.

Angels in Springtime

You would think the Angels would be smart enough by now to not take an easily-locked steam bath in a ritzy spa wherein they already know someone's actively trying to kill them, but there's a great Rosa Krebbs-style gym coach dyke named Zora (Nancy Parsons) involved and Kelly makes a reference to a past episode wherein she was hypnotized. Whoa! Continuity?! That never happens! Kelly even wreaks some delayed payback for her past season exploitation. Mercedes McCambridge is the wheelchair-bound ex-Broadway hoofer presiding over the evil and very posh spa where murder's afoot (the first victim: a different ex-Broadway hoofer friend of Charlie's) and Charlie is identified as Bottom-cum-donkey, cradled in the Anita Louise's arms via a still from Max Reinhart's 1935 version of Midsummer Night's Dream (it's actually Jimmy Cagney but... are we sure? Was Charlie wearing the head while Cagney did the singing?).

cuz they may be lesbians
Pros: "It's a women's spa, Bosley. No men allowed." Once again Ladd effortlessly supplies the bulk of the sex appeal in a cute pink bathing suit as the exercise coordinator, almost getting into a tussle with the evil Zora; all the staff are super bitchy but since there are no men it's great to see, especially with the creepy lesbian vibe going on betwixt the doctor, the butch masseuse, and Ingrid the "Amazonian directress."

Cons: Bosley never mentions the fee unless Charlie is comping an old friend. Considering the amount of people Charlie knows, it's a wonder they make any money at all. Either way, it's annoying. By the end, the spa's flat pink and white color scheme has grown wearying, like being trapped in my mom's house over Xmas. Mercedes' old broad sass gets wearying too ("as I was saying, about sex." It's like ugh okay we get it lady, you think you're the last of the red hot Auntie Mames - but sex with Mercedes was the last thing we wanted to think about, even when she was young and all sewing circled up).

Winning is for Losers

Jamie Lee Curtis as a women's golf pro, back when she was still just Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis' daughter. And the future Leland Palmer in TWIN PEAKS, Ray Wise, is a loner vet of the Travis Bickle variety, stalking her while someone's also taking potshots at her (just a coincidence?), and there's probably a snake in her golf bag, or a bomb in the 18th hole, or a gator in the rough, or all three. Casey Casem does the commentary and woos a rival lady golfer whom he remembers crushing on a youth. She'll do anything to win this tournament before she retires! ANYTHING! As the Ultimate Fan Guide notes "Ladd is an expert golfer in real life. Though she doesn’t get a chance to demonstrate her prowess in this episode, Ladd participates in various pro-am tournaments to help raise money for charity, including her own Cheryl Ladd Pro AM. Good for her, but a bad sign for the series she doesn't get to play. That no one ever really get to demonstrate their prowess on this show by season three is a real sign of neglect.

Pros: Still, Leigh shows a real human warmth and accessibility that the camera picks up on like a lovesick puppy. Those huge eyes follow you around the room and her long toned arms make her a believable cool golf pro.

Cons: Why wasn't this episode called "Angels in the Rough"?? The censors nixed the implication of nudity? Also, they know a sniper's going to pop Jamie Lee, why the hell aren't they covering the high ground instead of just standing there like ducks in the proverbial row, applauding politely? The elaborate resolution involving a land grab doesn't make a heck of a lot of sense if you follow the links through. So don't.

Haunted Angels

The 1970s were a hot time for ESP, telekinesis, reincarnation, and psychics. We had The Exorcist, Audrey Rose, Carrie, The Fury, TV movies like The Initiation of Sarah and ESP episodes of Wonder Woman and The Six Million Dollar Man. Ever the sponge of their zeitgeist moment, here Sabrina gets to play psychic at a cool ESP institute, but she's really just a good detective (with deductive powers of observation) and an empathic sweetheart played by a sharp actress who knows how to whirl warmth and cool together and fake it like the best of them. But this is murder! It makes it more than just Bosley's bridge partner wondering if the people she's giving money to are for real or not, which is important because otherwise, who would care? Swindlers got to eat, too. "I was very fond of Kathy... but I don't think you are ever going to find her killer.... in this world." Eric is a psychic who touches Kris' arm and sees her in the Police Academy! It's a curse, really--he knows what it's like to die, and to die in Steve Gutenberg's presence.

The head spirit researcher's name is Peter Russell (Peter Donat!) and he hosts a TV show, Infinity and Beyond, in a manner that clearly evokes Criswell! Someone out in Hollywoodland USA surely saw his old TV broadcasts. Can you prove he didn't happen? Add the stock footage lightning shot that Corman used in his Poe films, glass shattering, ghost voices and all that other malarkey if you want (and we do), but a real psychic is on hand to dazzle Bosley at the end... only in California.

Pom-Pom Angels

The Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders were momentarily huge, part of the whole NFL crossover prime time phenomenon, so here's this dislikable mix of broad Christian-critique sleaziness and stock footage of football games and audience reactions. Cheerleaders are disappearing! Is it the old lady agent, her horn-dog son ("kicked out of three seminaries"), a monosyllabic linebacker who talks about how Marianne was nice to him, or some unseen stalker?

Pros: Ladd is especially fetching in her cheerleader outfit; I love the anti-Christian angle, as if religious zealotry and football are the entwined double helix heart of the flyover states.

Cons: There's a reason I never watched House of Whipcord. I hate to see women shorn of their hair and kept as captives, even if it's by crazed fundamentalists with no sexual agenda. In fact, I turn to Charlie's Angels to get away from the very same pit in my stomach such vile subjects instill. Even worse, Kelly affects a terrible posh accent and Ladd a terrible Atlanta one. In short, it's a very tired episode, poisoned by bad vibes and reflected in the weary and beleaguered eyes of the abducted 'sinners.'

Angels Ahoy

Angels: someone is running scams or something on this ship because people who know too much vanish overboard; the owner suspects drugs are being smuggled, via his cruises, past customs. There's not a lot of bathing suit action but Bosley plays pingpong with an 'older single's cruise' lady to snag the Love Boat connection; she finds pingpong 'exhilarating' like Ms. Sludge in You Can't Cheat an Honest Man. He refers to himself as the 'Sultan of slam.' Oh, Bos, Bos, Bos...

Like all the best episodes it's set somewhere that's exotic with some new and different settings other than that tired paneled Italian restaurant set that seems to double as nearly any public space in cheaper episodes. Kris gels her hair out and woos a louche lounge singer; Kelly takes the gaffe when a crane almost drops on her (it comes nowhere near her actually, but she runs towards it so she can run away from it - what a trouper!)

Cons: It never dawns on Kelly to pack a rod when going to a remote boiler room to meet an anonymous source; and in the office opener she sports a godawful lavender frock and then, later, a gaudy white toreador ruffles number. There's always going to be remote boiler room stalkings in 70s detective shows, especially on an ocean liner. It's pretty bad, though, if you're on a ship where the boiler room can have a massive fire and it takes five minutes for any one to notice it, and no bells go off... ever. At that rate of response they wouldn't even realize they were sinking until they were already drowned - it doesn't bode well for future faith in passenger ship travel. There's a really unflatteringly-photographed bowl of shrimp at the costume party, to which Sabrina wears yet another unflattering clown disguise.

Pros: Kris-- fetching in a Bo Peep costume--saves the day, sex appeal-wise,.... again. In the best scene she almost leaves her shepherd's crook out when the bad guys come back into the room she's searching --suspense! Later she has a groovy maroon velour thing going on as she sashays around the agog male in the lounge, owning every scene she's in. That engine room looks like a real engine room - I guess this was shot on an actual boat. Sabrina rocks an awesome gum-cracking mob chick disguise and there's a nice pulpy poolside climax. Reasonable intelligence and consistency on the detective work seems to be back in play. Janice Paige is 'young woman.'

Mother Angel

Precocious youngster Samantha witnesses a murder while feeding a neighbor's venus flytrap. Jill flies in to help; Samantha found Jill's # in her aunt's black book "sandwiched between about 25 men" and Jill gets all sexually excited, a sly adult innuendo it's easy to miss. "She's only dusting me with cookies to keep me out of the sherry" Sam says of her stern guardian. Gary Collins is the blonde bad guy up in the penthouse, whom Samantha had a crush on, and now he's the killer. He knows she broke in and witnessed the murder. Uh oh...

Pros: The climactic boat-to-dock escape and chase is a real keeper. The script's tight this time around, and Robert Davi (the chief villain in License to Kill) is one of the goons. Look fast for good old Mike Mazurki at an auto yard! Samantha is played by Olivia Barash (if she looks familiar, maybe you saw her a few years later as Emilio Estevez's girlfriend/CIA torturer in Repo Man!).

Cons: Sabrina and Jill both seem dangerously thin. Damn you, Hollywood!

Angel on my Mind

Uh-oh, another lazily recycled Ed Lakso special. On the other hand: Curtis Harrington directed, so there's a modicum more measured class than we'd normally (by this point) expect. From the start, though, we're in trouble --it's the amnesia scenario Lakso dumped on us in season one all over again (god knows where it's been since, or before). Once again it seems like an easy way to write one or more of the leads out of an episode so they can make a film, have a baby, or nervous breakdown. This time Kris does the honors. She wanders down the beach wondering who she is --so at least it's pretty, and rich with rolling surf, attractive volleyballers, a very sexy young Jonathan Frakes, and no kids or stock types doing their tired salt-of-the-neighborhood street vendor bits (at least not as many).

Pros:  Cheryl Ladd's outpacing even Kate Jackson in the acting department this season. Jackson's almost an extra and seems to just be coasting, one eye on the door. In the obligatory helpful vendor role (there had to be at least one), Billy Barty hawks papers like old Angelo Rossitto used to in downtown Hollywood; Tom Spratley plays an old hobo on the beach like a slightly dimwitted cross between Mr. Rogers and the old hermit in Bride of Frankenstein, "You and I," he tells Kris, "could be friends." Yikes! Kris believably fights off three young purse-snatcher beach bums in one of the better close quarters tussles of the season. But then she fights off the main bad guy with a tree branch--even jumps down on him from the rocks at one point--but

Cons: - she never tries to take his gun. The Police Academy must teach you never to disarm your opponent once you have him at your mercy.

Angels Belong in Heaven

It's another Lakso filler job, recycling yet another endangered-solo Angel chestnut-- the "one of us is due to be killed and we don't know when, why, or whom" plot the Spelling machinery had been dusting off every other year for at least two decades.  Not to give away the end, but I never understood the whole 'revenge against the cop who busted you' thing, it's not like it's a betrayal or something. You hunt down the guy who betrayed your team, the rat, not the guys on the other team. That's why you shake hands at the end, to remind yourself it's not personal. What do you do in Little League, hunt down the other team after the game and kill their families? Reprisal against cops who arrested you fair and square is like hunting down the enemy soldiers who killed your father in a big WW2 battle. It's just not done, Ed. Betrayal warrants revenge, not straightforward opposition.

Pros- Soap regular Tracy Brooks Swope is visiting Kelly; her hometown pal doesn't understand why she needs to move to a hotel. Nice detail with some lesbian rivalry implied between Tracy and Sabrina.

Cons- They Angels are smart about navigating their cop friends' assets to get info on their hitman, but are very dumb in seeing if they're being followed by some well-dressed middle-aged goomba in a rented red town car.

Angels in the Stretch

It's the old swapping the thoroughbred winner with its lame identical twin at the race track gambit, as seen in the Thin Man, Charlie Chan, Philo Vance, and god knows where else. Sabrina poses as a feminist trainer. She's a little moronic this time around, dropping tons of hints that she's no dumb jockey. No sireee.

Pros: Character actor Al Hopson is old Fred, a hotel manager who gives them the lowdown; Ladd looks awesome in cowboy duds. She's clearly going to do well in a few years performing duets with Waylon Jennings.

Cons: Sabrina is pretty stupid to confide in John David Carson (Empire of the Ants), rockin' a terrible Irish accent as the corrupt jockey; there's not too many people around by the track - I mean even for Spelling-Goldberg Productions, there's just no one around. You'd think there was only one horse, and only one jockey and one gambler in the whole damn world. Even some stock footage might have helped.

Angels on Vacation

Uh oh, it's never a good sign when the Angels go to the country, as it means uppity hillbilly stereotypes, cowardly townsfolk looking out into the dusty street from behind screen doors, and in this case, a chilling Phenix City Story vibe as the mob overruns a small Arizona community. The Angels' occasional brilliance comes out ably in a big solo turn by Sabrina who verbally spars with a mobbed-up chairman in a tight little scene that makes you wish it could all be that good, and then we're off watching Kelly fly into wild bluescreen yonder with some handsome stunt pilot, but the pot-shot taken at her reminds you why the Angels are so awesome. They're neither the hyper-competent airheads of the movies nor the sleaze-encrusted sex workers from the newer short-lived TV remake. Their guns are there because they need to ask tough questions and not back down from a shootout, but they're still going to be women second and themselves first and file cabinet snoops above all. Their mix of fearless brio and genuine sisterly warmth has seldom been tried, let alone duplicated, ever.

Pros: WB's pre-code go-to two-bit hood-cum-Ed Wood regular, Lyle Talbot, is the sheriff. "Those old ladies can be quite a formidable group when riled, Charlie." Ladd is again in top form as the one with the connection to the small Arizona town (her aunt [Jeanette "Welles' Lady Macbeth" Nolan is mayor; her uncle is the sheriff), and she looks great in slick lamé pants. And I generally dislike slick lamé, so that tells you something.

Cons: Alas, Kris also gives a terrible fake laugh at the end. I mean, really bad.

Counterfeit Angels

A trio of fake angels rob rich old lady Mrs. Hatter who's too blind to distinguish the real angels from the fake; it's because a sleazy strip club impresario can duplicate Charlie's voice really easily. "I remember him from that charity party," notes Charlie of his impression mastery. The details of their clever ruse are meticulously explained, and it's kind of creepy and off-putting to see just how much like the real Angels these girls are, especially Kelly --even more so since they have the exact same make-up.

Pros: It's nice to have a genuinely menacing villain for a change, Short, with a big schnoz and glasses, Mr. Big is somehow truly terrifying. The girls have to get pro-active and Sabrina goes undercover as the replacement for the imitation of herself, noting she's going to "have to continue my imitation... of me" -Brechtian existentialism in action, baby! Fenton is played by a guy called Johnny Seven! And they shoot two guards.

Cons: Why would Mr. Big abuse his thug bodyguard's trust by cheating him at video pong?  This is a guy who could put him away with a phone call (it's always wise to curry loyalty from those watching your back). Kelly's dumb to not follow the suspected agent of the crooks to where they're hiding out; instead she goes shopping. Ugh. Fenton delivers truly terrible Bogey, Hepburn, and Scarlett impressions (was Frank Gorshin maybe signed on but fell through - or was Rich Little just very 'in' at the moment?). Bosley's Sidney Greenstreet is actually the best of them all; as is Sabrina's line that she's already been doing herself for two days. I bet she has.

Disco Angels

Pretty sad that the special disco episode occurs in the same damn wood panelling and shag rug Italian restaurant-ish flatly-lighted basement bar everything else in the show happens in, though hey - they added some lights and a disco ball and a DJ shouting obscenities. As usual when a 'club' is involved, the denizens are a bunch of leisure-suited greaseballs in bad rugs and wide collars. The disco is called Freddie's! "Doing a disco feature without mentioning Freddie's is like writing about baseball without mentioning Babe Ruth," Freddie says (to an Angel posing as a journalist, but I bet you guessed that) "I think Hank Aaron holds that record."

Zalman tries to adjust Kelly's eyes so he can check his hair
Pros: It's not surprising future softcore Showtime impresario and perennial doe-eyed scowler Zalman (Blue Sunshine) King has a giant glossy of himself posted above his bar--he's always struck me as a major narcissist, but hey, he brings some damn funny zest to his strangling gestures as the DJ. His abusive father shows up "you want the truth, Harry? You make me sick!" I wish they would link his coke abuse to his schizophrenic rage displacement as they're so closely related. It's also obvious that, anytime there's a DJ suspect, he's left a tape of his voice playing in the DJ booth so he can sneak out undetected. 

Pros: Uncle Harry is the coked up DJ (we never seem him do coke or sniffle but he sure seems trying to do a burlesque of someone on it--allllll riiiggght); gotta love sexy Shera Danese as the requisite kinda-like Suzanne Sommers/ Susan Anton every disco episode demands (such a hot look at the moment - healthy, vaguely Nordic, stacked, tall, kind of blank but super sweet); the larger than usual amount of black dancers and schemers and shlemiels in ruffled shirts make it all work like muddy clock pieces, thanks to heated exchanges like: "Marianne, will you please keep your voice down! I have a business to run!" / "Is that what you were doing at two o'clock in the morning?" He can't tell her the truth - he's out strangling! Mwahaaha! 

Cons: The faded disco music is strictly on the bogus, jackson, whipped-up by the resident hacks to avoid royalties, not that the shit don't all sound the same anyway in this more enlightened day and age. It's pretty jarring when the killer has already bailed on the dance party and it's still daytime out -- I mean what the hell kind of disco is even open that early? Were all the soundstage's night-time kliegs taken? Spared all expense, this one. Alll-riiigghhht!

65-66 Terror on Skis

Part 1 - European intrigue and professional skiing have always paired well, so why not actually go to the slopes for a wintry on-location two-parter? Soon the Angels are applauding in their cute ski clothes from the side during Alpine jump competitions. The bad guys are way more perceptive of the Angels than vice versa, even sizing up the girls as armed. "I've learned that any woman who carries a gun is a matter of concern" intones the deep-voiced foreigner villain (Cesare Danova - who else?). A lot of great masculine voices here (this being back when everyone smoked) and some very pretty Vail Colorado scenery.

"One way or the other, they're gonna get you," says CIA guy Christopher George, his jaw set tight, romancing Kris while guarding a Kennedy-esque VIP and avid skier (Dennis Cole) who won't be cowed by threats. There's a pretty thrilling ski chase climax and some great solar flare snow level Steadicam ski chases. At least the actors seem to be actually on skis and actually in the snow instead of standing in front of a rear projection... most of the time anyway. If the chemistry between Smith and Cole seems real, know that they married the year before (they met on the set of the "Dancer in the Dark" episode the previous season, where he played a honeytrap dance instructor).

Cons: The girls don't even occasionally look behind them to see if someone is following them... The way a mysterious picture of Paolo the freestyle skier is fought over you'd think it was the roll of film in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.  If he's trying to be anonymous why the hell is he skiing professionally?

Part 2- Considering the amount of pointless snow shoot outs (snub pistols from a very long range, why even bother?) and stupidity (no one in the Angels posse even thinks to look around for the bad guys- who are literally right behind them the whole way), the 'sort of a companion' / 'you mean like girlfriend?' stuff seems pretty shoddy and underwritten. The two main bad guys are in these dull green ski suits as if they brought them over from Minsk, they stick out like sore thumbs, the only ones who seem old and/or menacing and/or foreign. They're the ones who stand with the main suspect at every event and no one thinks to take their picture or suspect them? Man, how does poor Dennis Cole stand a chance? But that's to be expected by this point. As usual the flashbacks to the previous week go on for like five minutes. But if you were a kid in the 70s, you're now old enough that this kind of leisurely slow and steady intrigue is very relaxing.

So once the smoke clears, what do we got? Three Eastern Europeans outfoxing four detectives and an FBI guy. That doesn't make me feel safe. So why didn't the Angels think to follow Sabrina on the picnic? It's so dumb as to defy description except as foofaraw leading up to an exciting ski chase and to get Sabrina and Paolo alone in a cabin while she talks him out of the gun.

Pros; But the climax is pretty thrilling, even with all the incompetence of the good guys, and in the end the slow pace pays off with a bunch of almost--and/or maybe-happened on the sly--relationships: Bosley and the secretary, Paolo and Sabrina, the Dennis Cole and Kelly, the FBI guy and Kris. The last two are the only ones who kiss goodbye on the lips, which is a nice touch and Ladd once again nails it.  Bosley gets to teach the secretary to enjoy being a woman and not an "automated adding machine." Wait, Bos said that? It's redundant but still....

Cons; Sometimes that shit's endearing. Not here, really. We're too busy getting mad at how sheerly dumb the Angels and FBI guy are -- "except for Paolo, we don't know who they are and what they look like!" Jeezis, they've been wearing the same sad ski suits and Paolo's been talking to them in public the whole time. In the words of Eros in Plan Nine from Outer Space "how can anyone be so stupid?" I can forgive this show just about anything, but sometimes, man oh man...at any rate, if you can overlook the total imbecility of the plot, there's some nice incorporation of the snowmobiles, skiing and stunning alpine scenery. For some of us, that's enough. Sometimes.

Angel in a Box

Once again Kris Munroe is kidnapped and doesn't even try to stop the guy who whips out a gun, slowly, right by her karate hand. Once again some quirky patriarch (regular Klingon John Collins) snips at her for some imagined or real offense. He's mistaken her for sister Jill, but Kris is just way too dense to quite pick up on that 'til at least two more commercial breaks. Meanwhile the Angels follow a false clue and end up snooping around some Malibu resort; Jill flies in from Canada to help get them exactly nowhere.

If you watch this show a lot you end up feeling a little sorry for Charlie by this point, late in season three, as his Angels seem to get stupider all the time, retaining zero accumulated experiential knowledge of the criminal mind. They started out really on top of things - remember how rich and high tech they were in the pilot? (Maybe there was just more oxygen in LA back then?) but here their first reaction to an attacker isn't self defense, it's confusion. Why are you doing that, like they're eloi passively letting themselves get carried off by any morlock that happens by. They even get knocked over by the old cleaning lady pushcart flying down the hallway trick.

Pros: Eventually Sabrina remembers she's the 'smart' Angel. While the rest of them work on dotty accents and putter around the tennis courts, she sets up a thug for the old 'hood comes down on the head' trick, but ends up just clocking him instead. Great climax, though

Cons; It's always a little too tense for me when one of the girls gets kidnapped, and then to watch them repeatedly blowing chances to escape all just so the generic plot points can click forward, the ka-ching of commercials can accumulate, and the suspense ratchet to no real end beyond preventing your getting up out of your chair to turn the dial.

Teen Angels

A trio of bitchy cool girls led by the evil pouty-lipped Donna (Audrey Landers) sling drugs at ritzy Blackmoor 'college.' A girl gets strangled for having 'stupid Victorian morality.' Man, I hear that. "I see you're a tea drinker, too!" says the sleazy handyman. Yo, these rich hottie girls be slangin' rock, yo, and a strangler freak conveniently offs anyone who threatens to rat them out. Mostly, to all our delight, the co-eds walk around in those hot white trimmed red 70s gym shorts. I'd do what they say... we don't want no troubles. Besides, our kind of tea will knock you on your ass.

Kelly goes undercover and teaches an English class; Sabrina teaches art; and Bosley becomes a groom at the stable. What kind of college is this? "Cheer up, Bosley, maybe the strangler will turn out to be a dark horse." Kill. Me. Now.

Pros: "My god, Brie. Krissy's a kleptomaniac!" - we had one my freshman year too (in real life) - her parents had to come and get her--put it all in the doll and everything.

Cons: Donna's boorish behavior is more akin to high school bitchiness, hassling Kris about what she saw at the bus depot. Yawn, this ain't college, more like boarding school trying to pass as public. Then again, it's a pretty dimwitted troupe this go-round; the missing box gives Bosley the genius idea that the box might be important. Of course they didn't think to look in it. The drugs shipment inventory is awfully stupid: "Two bottles of booze, one bottle of happy pills, one bottle of downers." / what is this, Amazon? No dealer sells all that at once. Booze is separate. Booze is easy. Lame dialogue lets you know not one writer knows a single thing about the topic: "It's your share, it's your commitment to me." - "We're in this together, Bo -- the three of us, all the way."

One thing any dealer knows: don't be a prick--it's very easy for someone to drop a dime and screw your life up. Besides, these girls sure go through a lot of drugs and booze. How much do they take in a given day? One box should be enough to put the whole campus into a coma. Also, a bucket brigade to put out a burning barn? Doesn't the firetruck come out this far? Haven't the writers met a fireman either? Have they ever even seen a lighter? Kelly accuses a killer then lets herself get followed by him (or her) moments later. That would be fine if it was a trap to get the killer to play their hand, but it's just lazy writing and character incompetence. Can you hear it, children, the show's slow circling down down down the drain!?

69 -Marathon Angels

You would think marathon runners would be able to outrun or fight back against a pair of slovenly dudes with a snub nose .38 which as we all know has shit aim at a range farther than a few hundred feet. The Angels are pretty stupid too this time A girl about to run a marathon is abducted in a van and then another runner is added, and all the Angels can think of to find them is running a marathon. Why not look in the parking lot? The fucking van with the girls is right outside! But all four are hanging around indoors instead, slack-jawed at the calisthenics bar. Yep, it's one of those. I don't like the episodes where we know way more of what's going down than the Angels do and they're too dense to notice even the most obvious clues, all just so they can hit all the marks we expect from the theme, aping whatever craze or trend was in the wind at the time.

Pros: The hot running outfits (I have a thing for 70s-style girls' gym shorts, being of a certain age at the time, my 12 year-old hormones carbonizing in the gym class heat) and an endless stream of babes running the race (it's an all-girl objectifying type of marathon), telling us that this was the year of the Olympics, the jogging craze and the at-the-time much-hyped (but then bombed) Susan Anton vehicle Goldengirl. 

Cons: One of those terrible royalty-free Dixieland silent film rags plays over and over and over every time we cut to the race in progress. Kelly sees the guy in the van put on a mask but Kris is like "what kind of a mask?" and is all doubting her so they don't check it out. I guess you don't want the chase to end too soon, unless you're me of course.

Seriously, by the end you want to track down the idiot who decided to use that infuriating ragtime riff over and over and slap the shit out of him (or her, let's not be sexist). Luckily it's almost redeemed by an awesome spin out driver-brake slam car whiparound gun whip from Sabrina at the end. Almost. If not for that, and the sexy shorts, this would be an F.

70 - Angels in Waiting
Bosley is having a tantrum. He feels they Angels take him for granted, so they play a game to see if they can find him, to test his hiding and their finding skills. Right off the bat we're on a very dumb ill-conceived terrain. It's all a big to-do over who will have to do all the paperwork over a weekend. Paperwork? Seriously, isn't that the accountant's job? James B. Sikking is a giallo-type hitman... again! It's one of those slow moving episodes where you can sneak over to your desk and write about how lame it is and not miss a thing. All hands off deck - Lakso at the helm!
Pros: it's awesome the way Sabrina whips out a gun under the boardwalk and shields herself behind a beam all in one fluid motion. No one does cop like Kate, when she's finally allowed.

71 - Rosemary for Remembrance
In a riff on Legend of Lylah Care (1968), Kris is a dead ringer for Rosemary, a dead starlet loved by two once-warring bootleggers, both now old, haunted, and 'not prepared' for just how much Kris resembles her (the painting the old gangster stares at is obviously just a painted over photo of Ladd in a 30s gown). The flashback lets Cheryl Ladd adopt a nasal city knowingness to her voice, just a dash, as Rosemary. At least they don't dub her voice with some crazy European Italian Dietrich elan, though I loved that in Lylah! The flashbacks are even shot with the same fog employed by Aldrich. There's a diamond necklace involved, and 'the Syndicate' is mentioned.

All that makes it worthwhile is Cheryl Ladd looks amazing, and actually thinks on her feet... for once.

72. Angels Remembered
A clip show.... in all senses of the word. These things might not have been so bad in the era before VCRs, but now they just seem like money-savers for a show that should have been rolling in green. But that's the flaw in the genius of Spelling - the more money the show makes, the less he spends.

And that's it, basically. I can't bear the Shelly Hack season, though the arrival of Tanya Roberts in the final two-parter is pretty great. And the first few episodes of the fifth season show Roberts could have elevated the show back up to a cool realm if Smith and Ladd weren't so visibly worn out and bored, and the fashions not turned so vulgar with tons of 80s chintz. Roberts looked so slamming in a bathing suit, they smartly moved the show to Hawaii, but even so, the show died after only a half a season. Alas, but Roberts has done well for herself with a bunch of B-movies, Sheena, a Bond girl gig and eventually That 70s Show, so hey...

Go back? ack? ack? ck? c k ? ?


Thursday, September 10, 2015

CHARLIE'S ANGELS Season TWO: Episode Guide (1977-1978)

Why am I still--for a month or so, every few years-- into Charlie's Angels? Maybe part of it is that my dad wouldn't let me stay up late to watch it during the first season, though most of my classmates always got to see it (and this was long before videotape), leaving me to consider each episode like some magic out-of-reach Tiffany's gold ring. But by Season Two the time slot changed and my parents realized all they were doing with their draconian bedtimes was making me obsessed, as only an 9-12 year-old green-blooded American boy could be. Once I could see the show every week, however, my obsession petered out to only vague interest; and when Kate Jackson left after season three, so did my last remnant of interest.

But now, all these years later, CA is like a Rosebud just waiting for the right amount of sled-ready snow... for the first seasons still can grant me--and maybe you-- a warm prepubescent jouissance echo deep in a sacred place beyond the tediously conventional realm of post-pubescent genital phase sexuality and more towards a pre-differentiated self zone where romantic or courtly chaste devotion collides with a spiritual state of grace (1). Arron Spelling knew that the trick with 'the Angels' was to never ruin the spell for us by bringing some dumbass love interest, as they did in the movies (and the reboot), which totally missed that key point. Charlie = God; Angels = nuns; we the viewers = the holy ghost. Sex kicks the nuns out of their state of grace the way sunlight robs vampires of their shadow safety.

"Jousse" is for jouissance!

Moving on, let me take you back to 1977 - I was ten years-old and still awash in love for the Angels. I was very much looking forward to this new time and season opener. And, this once, my obsessive desire and riveted attention was rewarded. This is the two-parter that still holds up best, suffused with an easy breezy feeling so 70s I can taste my parent's Tom Collins mix, the gin like a lime sting that busts my saliva glands --and all others -- to electric life.

(special thanks to Charlie'sAngels76-81.com, from whom I've borrowed many of these images - hey at least I'm not ripping them out of Teen Beat while the 7-11 camera is looking the other way, but man I used to)

Eps. 23-24: Angels in Paradise
Grade: A

Every so often Charlie/Spelling rewarded the girls/actresses by bringing them outside the dingy studios of LA. and off to a place like Hawaii (a great excuse for tans, toned limbs, and lithe swimwear). Most of the time they don't end up much of the footage they shot there, and once again half the scenes occur on the same dingy wood paneled sets with the same mingling wide-collared scattering of extras. But sometimes they get it right. And this time, having perhaps the whole summer to make the season open right, they really delivered. Lots of white beaches, surfing, Don Ho, a full-on luau, a yacht hijacking, a sassy massage parlor receptionist, and lots of surf-length running.

More importantly we get our first introduction to Farrah's replacement, Cheryl Ladd as Kris Munroe (Jill's sister). Looking adorably like she's going to her first day at my elementary school in the same 'windbreaker' (then a new term) I had at the time, she was sweet and accessible, yet sexy and sure of her skills. Completely 'getting' the weird mix of approachable innocence and hormone-triggering sexuality needed to keep multiple generations happy, she won us with her first warm, inclusive smile and aw-shucks shoulder hang. When we see her in a brown two piece bathing suit, all wet from sneaking aboard the mafia guy's yacht and hijacking it back out of international waters, we're so thoroughly agog we've forgotten all about Farrah. So hey bro! Spray some cocoanut oil under your nose, angle the couch by the window so you catch some late afternoon rays and let "Angels in Paradise" lift you to them.

Pros: A complex plot that finds Charlie kidnapped and then kidnapped from the kidnappers! First he's snatched mid-morning conference by the ice-cool surfer queen bee of a band of outlaws in Hawaii who wants the Angels to bust her easy-going surfer husband out of jail as the ransom. But then he's stolen from her by a disgraced Italian mobster trying to take over the Honolulu rackets from his yacht out on international waters. So now the Angels break out the easygoing surfer husband as a hostage, and so forth. Kelly and Kris are quite in alluring bikinis and Sabrina looks tan and relaxed. They all do.

Cons: Sabrina refuses one of Don Ho's specially made frozen Pina Coladas, even though they're virgin. Rude!

Ep. 25-26 Angels on Ice
Grade: B-

Kris was pretty impressive in the previous 2-parter, but that was in Hawaii in a cute brown bathing suit. This shit's on ice, and she's buried inside clown make-up and a goofball red nose. Not only that, she can't figure out how an assassination of a McGuffin bunch of high profile Arabs is about to go down... at the ice show celebrating the Bicentennial. The answer stares her in the face for far too many minutes for us to remain impressed, but that's show biz. Now that Aaron knows Kris is going to be a hit, why bother making her look good?

But hey, know this: Arabs love ice shows. That's what's important. Maybe it's because they're from the desert and have never seen so much ice before. The rest of the "crowd" for this big Bicentennial celebration fits comfortably into a few bleachers in typical Spelling "spare all expense" approach. To compensate, some vaguely familiar old character actor drinks in the bushes and eats up the screen time with shameless mugging until you wonder if he's a friend of the producer, calling in a special favor.

Pros: There's a great stretch where we follow Kelly, by herself, as first she hitches a ride on the back of Carlos Santana's chopper, then disguises herself in a lime green bedlah and does a coy belly dance for some power lunching evil Arabs (one of whom is Timothy Carey!) at the local Middle Eastern eatery. If that's not enough, she performs an awesome acrobatic escape, reminding us that a lot of the show's appeal secretly comes from Jaclyn Smith--the only Angel who lasted all five seasons--whose curves make one's head spin, even at ten years-old. This is her two-parter --showing off her action skills, quick wit and lovely form-- as "Angels in Paradise" was Kris's. Now we see how all their skill sets and personas divide: Farrah's Jill was perky, athletic, fearless and quick-thinking; Kris is brave but ever cognizant of danger, warm and innocent, but no pushover; Sabrina is brainy, crafty, and a good shot; but it's Kelly, time and again, who rocks the show's demure sexual backbone. She can't convincigly belly dance but oh! Oh, that midriff.

27 -Pretty Angels all in a Row

Some good old boys from Texas are scaring away the strongest competitors at the "Miss Hyacinth Pageant" so that a rich oilman's little baton-twirlin' darlin' can win. Contestant Marki Bey gets a tarantula in her bed and freaks out (she's a long way from Sugar Hill). Now no one wants to compete, and the host's worried someone is out to attack this "national institution." The Angels flip coins to see who will have to be contestants, but it's already in Ms. Jackson's contract to be excused from bathing suit duty, so Kelly and Jill get the honors. As you remember from the past two two-parters, there's going to need to be some serious Texas-style skullduggery for one of them not to win, 'cuz they got charisma, uniqueness, nerves and talent to spare, honey.

Pros: On the podium for the 'personality' portion, Kelly says she wants to go into brain surgery, but "keep up my dancing, no matter what." The climactic televised public event is packed--as in all these episodes--with a woefully small audience of under-directed extras scattered around in front of tacky 70s wallpaper and wood panelling, i.e. the shoddy LA Italian restaurant decor and shag carpet basement porn shoot ambience so beloved of this show's fans and Spelling's wallet.  I always like it when the stakes are low since I watch these shows to calm down, to sink into the orange shag carpet womb of the 70s and not worry about unpleasant sexual assaults, general ugliness, or high stakes vivid intensity, and this here's a pretty good example of low-risk narrative immersion as far as that goes. The bad guys aren't so bad that they'd actually harm a woman; they just lock the frontrunner Hyacinth girls (and un-bribable judges, if any) in an auto garage 'til their little Texas petunia takes the prize. But of course the Angels know how to escape. As do I, it seems.

28- Angel Flight

Angela--Sabrina's college roommate--works as an instructor at a stewardess school where she's being terrorized via some black roses and mysterious phone calls. She's such a major cowerer you may root for whomever's forcing her to commit sabotage. Stop your cringing, Angela! A black rose is still a rose! Angela prefers to be a cowering mess about it, despite the Angels' support. A combative Asian-American stewardess student named Mai Ling (!) and a perverted building super are prime suspects but the real enemy is Angela herself. She ends up trying to freeze out the Angels when the killer starts making threats, and assures everyone it will all be over soon, even though the mysterious tape orders her to kill the pilot. You really just want Sabrina to slap the shit out of both Angela and--while she's at it--Angela's super snide sexist boyfriend. In short, not nearly enough slapping.

Pros: Sabrina finally gets some spotlight time, chilling out on the couch while mooning over Burt Reynolds in a (fake) Hollywood gossip magazine (there's some allusions to his then infamous bear skin 'spread' in Playgirl). Burt's not who we'd imagine Sabrina would go for, but as an Angel fan, you take what downtime moments you can get, since it's here especially where Jackson takes off, demonstrating her acting chops with neat termite art margin doodles.

Cons: Alas she undoes the good will by wearing an unflattering 80s-heralding cream colored blouse which prohibits me from posting a pic.

29. Circus of Terror

Terror? We should be so lucky. The first totally lame episode of the season, this is set at a typically threadbare backlot circus: no animals or even sawdust just suspiciously untrampled grass and some tents. Such a half-assed attempt to conjure a circus wouldn't be bad in itself (animals in cages are so sad these days) but the one element they do keep? Clowns and, worse, mimes. I'm not pathologically afraid of clowns or enraged by mimes like some people, but I am also no fan - I avoid Chaplin movies and that French farce Children of Paradise, though I'm not adverse to silents or French romances. Why? The very thought of mimes bores me inconsolably.

Even more odd: a weirdly half-assed attempt to counter TV critics' sexism charges: the Angels accuse Charlie of having a one-track mind in a bad train reference (he's learning engineering from a female engine driver). You can call it sexism, but it's interesting that Charlie keeps hiring women to do all these professional jobs and services and he doesn't mind learning from them.

Cons: Sabrina says she's wanted to be a clown since she was a little girl! Skeevy! Why didn't she say anything about it when poor Kris had to put on that dumb nose for the ice show a few weeks ago? Thanks to a variety show then very big (my whole family loved it) called Shields and Yarnell, mime was having a slight resurgence in the US. Naturally Sabrina learns the ropes from a "master" mime, who exhibits enough grandiose sentimentality to nauseate a dozen Chaplins.

Pros.  Kelly poses as an uppity motorcycle daredevil and looks smashing in a sexy olive green jumpsuit (above); Kris has knives thrown at her by a mad gypsy (used in the credit montage)Sabrina does end up looking kind of CBGBs cool in her mime finery, which is a shock to her, I'm sure, as well as everyone else.

30. Angel in Love

Sabrina! How could you fall in love with a D.B. Cooper clone? Well, it gives Jackson a chance to do some real acting for a change as she struggles to not let her newfound gooey feelings cloud her detective judgement. By now you've guessed this one goes down at a remote woodsy ranch, the kind of place Doug (the Cooper clone) might stash his stolen millions.  The Angels are investigating why so many of the suspects are dying to get in and rummage around this one cabin at "Utopia West" - a very California encounter group-style sanctuary. Hmmm! The Angels need to blend, so Kris goes undercover teaching tai chi; Kelly drives the shuttle bus; Sabrina does her investigating journalist bit. Touching Doug's hand in a meditation exercise leads her to unexpected and unprofessional feelings!

Lucky for smitten 11 year-olds like myself, all Angel romances inevitably end in arrest. That's one of the key things Spelling does right (but the films and reboot do wrong): our Angels may love no man but Charlie, at least not for more than a single episode (or two-parter). They are the nuns of His holy order, inured and open to all suffering but delivered of it also. For us boys terrified of sex's mystery yet drawn to it like an irresistible magnet, this chastity comes as a sweet stay of execution.

Pros: It's fitting and right that Sabrina would be the one to lose her head in love and resist the sketchy truth; the brainy are often neophytes when it comes to love. It's clear she is making a concerted effort to maintain her objectivity in the case, though, and Jackson relishes the chance to work on her 'antithetical interiority'; It's always fun seeing the Angels also get into some then-relatively unknown California trends like meditation and yoga; the 70s encounter group stuff isn't presented in too much of a satiric context ("It's all right to touch, after all, isn't it?" notes the teacher rather sweetly. It might be the mantra of the entire decade).

Cons: Bosely gets stuck at fat camp, and ends up sneaking in all sorts of meats and other gross things; the Angels try to fight a masked creep hiding in their closet, but they fight him like kids would playfight with their dad on a Saturday morning. Kris jumps on his back and Kelly swings like a chump. All that police academy training out the window! Two minutes later Kris is teaching tai chi! So, Kris, you know tai chi--you've had extensive self defense training--and you couldn't have at least stomped on his foot or kicked out his kneecap or used his own force against him in an off-the-hip flip?

31. Unidentified Flying Angels

Ross "The Fake Oscar Levant" Martin (Wild Wild West) is Dr. Perine, a bunco UFO cult leader who's supposed to have spirited a rich old lady away to Venus. He really killed her because she dared point out it's too hot on Venus for a saucer to land. Jeeze, are all rich people so dumb that it's a killable offense to mention facts straight off the back of Quisp box? The UFOs (they show up out the window) seem like projected outtakes from Forbidden Planet. I bet you someone found the old animation cells and quietly stole them. TV guest shot mainstay Dennis Cole is a corrupted astronaut with a checkered past. Dr. Perine uses him as a paid spokesperson and sometimes henchman. Kelly falls for him - in real life they ended up getting married! Here, of course, he ends up arrested.

Pros: Kelly gets a real chance to shine, literally, as a silver-suited Venusian, in order to play havoc with a jittery ectomorph cult member. The tense, interesting, weird finale wraps the culprits up in many overlapping ways. The mundanity of detective work gets a work-out with flipping a coin to see who tails who. Bosley does two cons in one day. "Am I still in banking?" No, Kris answers with a kiss, "sugar-daddy." I always like it when the Angels use their seductive beauty to throw men off their game (guys naturally want to impress them, so talk big, and let slip shit they shouldn't), why else do they need to be so hot?

Cons: Some of the above, but not all, helps compensate for the Angels' inability to fight well, or ever think to shoot a perp in the leg if said perp lunges for their gun. Like her sister, Kris has a soft spot for dweeby guys. Kelly gets to fly in a Red Baron-type biplane with the astronaut, and be dined over cocktails... until he realizes who she is and tries to drop her out of her seat in a mid-flight loop-de-loop (the old cut seat belt trick). If it all seems like a lot of work and expense when a simple dog walk could have solved the case in five minutes, well, that's show biz. And to reiterate: the idea of killing a wealthy member for having Astronomy 101 facts at her fingertips is also really stupid... even for this show.

32. Angels on the Air

Someone's trying to kill a lady reporter on an all-news radio station. The Angels take over a variety of jobs, including her (since she's leads to a nice variety of suspects, so the Angels go off on their own a lot, and it leads to a pretty solid climax.

Pros: Kelly gets ready to give a nice slapdown to "that wife-beater Quinlan"--who threatened the reporter in the past-- but he's already dead; she should slap down the hulking priest who all but breaks up their sisterly support staring contest instead. There are two unusually interesting dudes as suspects: Dwayne Hansen, a rabbit-huntin' hippie commune leader ("it's cosmic!"); and old Buck (Taylor Latcher), the Vietnam vet chopper pilot who used to do the weather and is jealous they gave the job to Sabrina, and now he just flies the plane while she talks (he drives crazily and tries to make her throw up - a less fatal version of a similar ride taken by Kelly last episode). Whatever happened to shit-heels like ole Buck? There used to be so many. Now the street poles look like Stretch Armstrong crucifixions.

Cons: Kelly's so dumb she keeps saying "do you read me!" into her car phone halfway through a Highway 17 South tunnel. Luckily the cop show funk score bails her out and the car chase even has some off-road K-turns. Kelly does some really lame defensive driving though, she's so passive, it's disconcerting - is she an armed detective or a simpering victim? Why take the place of an endangered reporter if you're not even going defend yourself from attack? Even though she does chase down the perp in the end via a cross-track field race, she lets him get away in the car chase.

Here's a question for any Police Academy quiz: A perp is chasing you in his car. Your car smashes up in the middle of a field. His car is still coming at you. Do you a) lean out the window and shoot at him? b) stay in the car and phone for back-up? c) get out of the car and run, gun still in your purse or wherever, across the open field? Guess what Kelly does? It's as if the writers don't know how to write scenes where women rescue themselves instead of praying for Starsky or Kojack. Sabrina should have taken some massive revenge against the macho shit-heel (with his fake Burt Reynolds laugh). On the other hand, he'll tell you this, lady, "after what I saw in 'Nam, I live and I let live."

Overall, strong stuff, especially with two of the male suspects being such male chauvinist shitheels. As the pilot, Latcher's pretty good, like he's angling for the TV B-version of Burt Reynolds and Paul Newman (about 50/50). And Kris has got a recipe for rabbit stew that would curl Dwayne Hansen's toes ("I'm a blood-boilin' man and yer settin' my karma on fire!") After one of his jealous main babes unmasks her, though, he shouts: "you're a big disappointment, Matilda, or whatever your name is! That hog yer ridin' is rented! RENTED!"

33. Angel Baby

A juvenile delinquent turned soldier--whom Kelly rehabilitated while working a beat as a rookie-- gets in hot water when he goes AWOL to find out what happened to his missing girlfriend. He calls Kelly for help and so she goes undercover as an unwed mother, though that would be an easy thing, presumably, to check out with a simple physical. Kris Munroe gets a few big, great scenes at a home for unwed mothers / illegal adoption service. She shoots her very first suspect! It's one of the show's truest, best moments! As the Ultimate Charlie's Angels Guide notes:
Rookie Kris faces her first “line of fire” situation: a dramatic shootout with a cold-blooded killer. Though Kris wins the showdown, the shock of realizing she had to shoot someone to do her job overwhelms her, to the point where she has to be comforted by Sabrina. It’s a sensitive moment very well done, and made all the more effective by the element of surprise. “Instead of making it a light, Angel moment, they made it a real moment” said Cheryl Ladd. 
I also like the line where she's meant to breed with a stud Nordic swinger (to produce blonde babies, which have a higher resale value), and he asks 'it's not like I should feel cheap. If I just met you, I'd be up here for free, right?" and Kris gives him a very confident look and says, "Don't you believe it." It's beautifully said, a line that could mean many things but with Ladd's unyielding stare it's obvious she's sized this guy up as a good guy easily confused by the need for money and the impetus of 70s 'swinging'. Oh if I'd have only understood what she meant, or seen this episode, before I went on my own unpaid one-night stand rampage back in 90 (and then again in '09). Even Tommy (Edward Winter) gives a nice performance, and Jean Allison is subtly devastating as a previous pregnant victim's grieving mom.

34. Angels in the Wings

A 'jinxed' musical with a fake Julie Andrews reviving a never-finished film version of a musical she wrote with her ex-husband, a chronic gambler, who calls the idea of a musical about a married couple who are fighting starring a married couple who are fighting, "juvenile." Don't you mean "meta," chump? It's always about 'puttin' on a show' in a life imitates art kinda way, isn't it, Lylah Clare? Something about this one song sung on this one staircase seems to trigger a half-baked Phantom of the Opera composite to strike again and, man, does he take his time on the psychotic break. Suspects include the bickering couple's long-suffering son who worries they'll kill each other if they get back together; and a loan shark out to get paid or break legs. 

Pros: two hilarious thugs know the correct tone to play amusing thug duos in shows like this, i.e. "it was a Ribbicinosa" an echo of "We was with you, boss, at Rigoletto's!" from Some Like it Hot mixed with the cool deadpan of Lee Marvin and Clu Gallagher in The Killers. Cheryl Ladd can actually sing (yet I'd wager she had to fight to not be dubbed, like The Monkees before her).

Cons: One of those where the Angels don't do much, as vast stretches of time are eaten up with tacky songs and interminable stretches of what we in the Vaudeville trade (and this is before your time, sweetheart), what we in the Vaudeville trade (and we've been in the trade such a very long time, you and I, haven't we, sweetheart?), what you--or even I, on some rainy night if I couldn't find a hat or rubbers--what we might call "patter," you know what that is, baby? It's slowing down, repeating and stretching out your tiny moment for as much screen time as you can, a way to pad running times and hog spotlights the world over.

Con-Cons: Showing how dumb she can be about the screen trade, especially for someone who supposedly lives and works in LA--Kelly thinks it's genuinely macabre that the cinematographer kept filming the scene after the accident (what do you call a cameraman who would stop filming during and right after an accident? An accomplice); no matter what happens or doesn't happen, the torch ballads they keep singing ("you plus me/ now one's a lonely number / must we be?") are truly terrible --maybe the worst ever written. The Angels all dance around in 20s-30s costumes and the yawns come like rain upon anyone not enamored of slow-tempo show biz 'standards' scraped out of the bottom of old file cabinets by Brill Building hacks. 

35. Magic Fire

A freakin' firebug is traveling the same theatrical circuit as a couple of magicians, one of whom uses fire tricks in his act. What are the odds? Kris is menaced (as above) with a fiery shower to put her off the case. Soo scary! She was almost nowhere near it, but I can imagine the effect would go over big when discussed at fourth grade recess (a lot of us weren't sold on the shower yet as a viable replacement for baths).

Pros: Kris is pretty on the ball eyeballing a thug's driver's license as part of an intentionally lame mind-reading act; Sabrina snoops effectively (but then lets herself get tied up too easy just so she can have a hair-raising Peril of Pauline rescue); Kelly uses her wiles to solicit trade secrets from a terrible magician with an even worse toupee. There's some footage shot at LA's premiere conjuring spot, The Magic Castle.

Cons: The rest of the action occurs on the same lame half-finished wood paneled sets as usual. Sabrina uses a terrible French accent in her fashion designer disguise --a new low; Bosley becomes a magician and he, too, mugs without pity; Kelly pretends to know some mystical pressure chamber secret and people buy into it way too easily. And the concept underlying the big crime trick relies on a lot of wild assumptions, like that you could break in and swap someone's phone out of their office and they wouldn't notice, and then all you'd need is for no one calls their number for weeks or days until you're safely away with an alibi, and that no fireman would come ever to investigate any strange blaze after it happened, because if he did he'd notice within seconds where the fire originated and how it was triggered. The funny thing is, it's not dissimilar to how Iraq insurgents use cell phones to activate bombs today (as in Hurt Locker) only reverse direction. They just didn't deign to think it through, as usual.

36. Sammy Davis Jr. Kidnap Caper

A kidnapper pretends to be drunk to spill water on Sammy. Sammy splits to the men's room and into a trap. A drunk from the scene thinks Sammy's Flip Wilson. The drunk doesn't notice the kidnappers but shoos them away anyway. Sammy's there for the 'hospital fund" because they "need all the help they can get." He thinks having Kris as a bodyguard is "groovy, man." Yeah, but she's barely taller than you are, Sammy!

Naturally the Angels prove ineffectual against gigantic black men. Why not try some mace or something, ladies? It's either guns --which they don't use-- or dumb luck. What confidence they must instill!

Pros: "98 pounds of police-trained dynamite," notes Sammy of Kelly, though she doesn't exactly earn that description. There's no real need for anything. "No one in their right mind would expect anyone to bungle a kidnapping so bad and then try again," says the ringleader. And adds "if they're security people, waste 'em." Tough talk, so it's worrisome the Angels are so incompetent. Meanwhile Brubaker, a Sammy lookalike way more interesting than the original, comes to drive one of Sammy's cars: "I don't need no Irish person to help me drive this car!" - Oh we know.

Cons: Sammy Davis Jr. has a drawn-out, weird style that seems to play up his natural confusion. There's about a minute of dead air in the amount of empty beats between his sentences. His 'cocoa-brown beauty' of a wife seems almost Yoko-ish compared to that Swedish white wife (?) of his, like he has to emphasize her non-whiteness constantly, like he's trying to get Ray Cohn off his ass. Bosley is a certified idiot here as the chauffeur, completely unaware there's a Sammy imitator around (at a lookalike contest no less). As I say, it's a lot of contrivance to make a dopey idea work. Why not start with a good idea and make that work? Hmmm. Don't say it's never been done neither!

37. Angels on Horseback

Bosley on horseback is the comedy aspect (he mugs horrendously - a major low in the series) and we learn how far the Angels have fallen when Charlie gives Bosley shit for expensing an $85 rolfing session after getting rider's cramps ("I told you to get a soft horse!" declares Charlie). Not only that but Charlie stops them from being about to go on a beach vacation--they're in their bathing suits and everything--to send them to some middle-of-nowhere dude ranch. How you get to this swanky tourist spot? First you fly in to a dinky airport and then its an all-night drive to the ranch. What the hell? Where is this place, Patagonia?

Pros: Cheryl Ladd is on her A-game, and seems alive to the limitless potential of her face: gazing at Bosley with a beaming motherly glow; gazing at her quarry with the unstoppable momentum of an Atlantic City call girl coming onto a sloshed high roller; and gazing at the bad guys with an inflexible 'hear-no-bullshit' kind of tough love. Perennial sniper James B. Sikking is a mysterious figure around whom much intrigue goeth; Kelly rocks a sexually liberated woman schtick but no one's buying it---not this time--and we learn why when her inner prude comes out, making sure a key mob moll witness knows she's "no lady," Most of all, the Angels get to ride, boldly ride....

Cons: It's disheartening that bad guys get the drop on Sabrina again, and she doesn't exactly seize any of her chances to escape. As my dad never tired of telling me while watching westerns, it's nearly impossible to hit your target from atop a galloping horse, so just ride off in a different direction and be free. Bosley's mugging (it's like he's trying to do bad so they don't use the footage) is terrifyingly broad --cross-eyed, tongue-out, the works.

...  Otherwise, it's a diverting mix of fad (country and western must have been 'in' at the moment) and sleuthing,  where they cut through acres of potential crap dialogue by just leveling with their suspects early on, and where even a remote dude ranch looks identical to everywhere else the Angels visit in their 'travels' -- a divine fusion of LA desert scrub, stables, wood-paneled bungalows, and a parking lot. Who wouldn't fly to a remote airport and then drive all night to be at a place like this?

I would not change it.

38. Game, Set, Death

The game: women's tennis. The death: caused maybe by a Bobby Riggs-type mad at a Billie Jean King type (thanks to the at-the-time notorious battle of the sexes tennis match - this show kept its finger on the pop culture pulse!). In high California style, the crowds at the prestigious 'Hermosa Cup' tournament range anywhere from five to seven extras milling around in collapsable bleachers. For the #1 show in America, Spelling spared no expense... as in none of the expenses associated with a real show -- sparing Spelling's wallet. And the same goes for Bosley, who's too cheap with the Angels' budget to even buy Kelly a decent tennis racket, even going on and on about how everything has to be returned. Oh Bos, that's sooo fun. Still, she and Kris both look damn good in those high-riding lame gym shorts, the type all the girls wore at the time at the gym in the 70s, accentuating their pubic crest and turning boys into men with every jump shot.

Pros: The celestial Tiffany Bolling shows up as a spiritual yogi/feminist on the circuit (she'd have made a dynamite Angel! If only...) who advises Kelly about being 'off-pose' and that the key to promoting your inner self is 'the asanas' (it may be a lesbian come on). She's a suspect until she gets a rattlesnake in her bag, but still blames the Angels for the bad vibes. It's funny that meditation and yoga were still 'fringe' and 'eccentric' back then, especially in LA. But at least it's being mentioned and shown to have effective medical value. It illuminates the way that most new things are first held up to open ridicule, then as signs of flakiness, then healthy holistic alternative, then medical fact, and finally enforced by law. That last part is still decades away, until yoga and meditation are mandatory class subjects in high school, and mushrooms ubiquitous in hospices. I can't wait. Good tense final talk down work from Sabrina. Gotta love there's finally a balding suspects who doesn't wear a toupee (he's got that long fringe), a sign of things to come. The 'female jock' motif is always welcome, showing a real reason for the Angels to exist in the first place and to examine changes in the country and its media as women's lib runs headlong into the craze for cheerleaders and 'Monday Night Football.' There's also some extempore banter re: Bosley's date with an ugly-sexy singles suspect, jettisoned during the initial investigation but not forgotten!

39. Hours of Desperation

Sabrina wears a high explosive belt that a sleazy guy will set off if Kris and Kelly don't recover his stolen loot. Wait, why? Suspenseful in a tradition I don't particularly care for, I still respect it as an interesting 'one-off' in a kind of Suddenly key.

Pros - some nicly twisty synthesizer suspense music in addition to the usual echo-driven flutes and oboe sustains. An interesting climax with Sabrina diving into a cold pond and then--as she has in the past--getting lots of attention from the other Angels as she sit with her feet in a hot tub by the office fireplace. I must wonder if it's her tendency towards this kind of covert lesbian attention-mongering that made me so enamored of sick days?

Cons- The home invasion thing is pretty cliche and the opposite of what I come to the show for, i.e. to calm down and rest my jets with groovy clothes, childhood '70s babysitter fixation' crushes, and a complete absence of real tension or sexual abuse; the idea that a hospital would just admit a guy who was shot in the back and not alert the police, then allow him to escape without even seeing his I.D. is offensive.

40 - Diamond in the Rough

Dan O'Herlihy (the druid mask designer in Halloween III) is Freddy the Fox, a dapper jewel thief trying to go straight ala Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief but, instead of Monte Carlo, the Angels go to 'the Caribbean' to steal a big gem from a rich Arab. I hear "'the Caribbean' is great this time of year." The blackjack dealer and hot water cop from "The Big Tap-Out" are after Freddy (they think he has the gem--he doesn't).

Pros: Sid Haig! There's actually a black character, a maid; Bosley (posing as a butler) dines with her to share recipes and slyly solicit gossip.

Cons: Sabrina wears a terrible satin bow-tie blouse and her horribly fake posh accent comes and goes and is way too broad even at its most subtle. Bosley too seems like he's just hamming it up hoping to wear us down so we change the channel and he can trundle off to bed; his posh accent is amongst the worst in small screen herstory. They all seem like bad actors playing characters who think they're able to assume all sorts of disguises but can't even play themselves with anything but cocktail conviction. O'Herlihy is up for the challenge but his Freddy the Fox makes lame jokes like "they didn't call me Freddy the Fox because of my fox-trot." Kill me, please.

The angels make some dumb, dumb, dumb blunders like giving up their real identity because Kris likes some boy (in a plot twist as regular on ABC as could be, having been used on the Bionic Woman over and over), and wearing all black when stealing a jewel in broad daylight! You might as well wear striped pajamas and a black eye mask. Once again there's the idea that not only does real life experience suffer in the writer's pool, but so does art direction. It was a hit show but none of the money is onscreen, except in the Ferrari dept, which I suspect is the kind of thing Spelling and Goldberg were buying for themselves with advertising revenue, and then ordering the writers to factor them into the show so they could get a tax deduction. The rest of the time, as in the supposedly rich Arab's pad, everything is just the same backyard LA smog, so perfect for consistent shooting of sickly grey-ish white light.

These rich Arabs don't even have a fucking pool. "He's not exactly handsome," notes Kris of their Arab suspect "you can even say he's ugly." She doesn't mention she knows about race cars cuzza her sister Jill which would be good writing (did the writers even see earlier seasons?).

41-Angels in the Backfield

This is the one with the female football teams. The 'Ducks' hire the Angels and totally suck, so why is the better team cheating eight ways to Sunday anyway? Is there gambling going on? Heaven forfend.

Pros - Kelly busts "judo" on some opposing dyke fullback named Grinelda. "Julia Smith, with a Y" (Patch Mackenzie) is a hot lesbian rival captain (and in the "same sorority" as Grinelda) who makes a thinly veiled come-on to Sabrina in the form of paying her triple price to switch to the Panthers. Sabrina may have 'switched' awhile ago, according to my favorite new piece on the subliminal lesbian relationship between Kelly and Sabrina but she's got integrity. "She's a tough lady," notes Gary Wood, the hobbled ex-player.

Cons - Some pretty stupid stuff going on, not least of which is Kelly letting herself get intimidated by two idiots trying to kick her by racing past on motorcycles with their legs sticking out.  It's about the easiest thing in the world to dodge a motorcycle, just turn around, and or kick the wheel out. Instead one of the players just rolls in front of it like a moron. The dad, Dan, thinks the Ducks don't have a prayer of winning. Dan's an ex pro-fullback. "These girls ought to be spending their time in the kitchen," Dan declares. He seems like he could be a suspect, driven by sheer embarrassment. And the idea of an exhibition game for female football played at 'the Coliseum' is kind of dopey, especially since once inside said coliseum it's just that same high school track field. Kelly jumps up on a car and shakes back her tresses like she's ready to drop kick, but then doesn't do shit. The women's football team is totally ridiculous - why do they bother having a girl named Pokey, ultra clumsy and dyslexic as she is, as a halfback? Is this second string junior varsity or what? It's a disgrace to women's football everywhere!

L.Q. Jones is the older ex-NFL guy with ever-present beer as token of his masculinity who treats his team-captain daughter with sighs of embarrassment, playing the same character he played in "Bullseye" last season. It's groaningly cliche, even for Spelling. That said, at least the Angels seem to have things under control. "Mr. Jarvis you don't need any help making a fool of yourself," Sabrina tells him. There's a shred too much tough love, spoon feeding obvious psychological answers to damaged macho types but that was the 70s, after all. People were in touch with their feelings for the first time, maybe ever.

42 - Sandcastle Murders

A beachside strangler stalks women around the beach where Kris lives (Jill's old apartment). Our old friend Steve "Col. Kane smashed my hand at the bar in Ninth Configuration" Sandor is a muscled guy with binoculars who peeps at hotties on the beach. "I thought you were gonna come by and sell me those cosmetics," says Kris to Betsy (Melody Thomas Scott), a shaky ex-junkie Kris helped go straight when she used to be on the force. A cross-eyed towhead lifeguard sends Kris and Kelly up the beach to a swanky high rise. The victims, all pretty blondes, show up on the beach in the morning buried, as you may guess, under castles made of sand. Dave, the beat cop (Alan Feinstein) is back from playing a corrupt D.A. last season. His boss, the condescending sheriff, hates Charlie Townsend for his success (they used to work a beat together) but there's a catch with him seducing Kris; he can't stop lamenting how little cash he earns being a beach security officer. He has to live above a merry-go-round, for god's sake! The indignity! The cosmetic's line the woman suspect runs is a success, but the inventor's boyfriend, Larry Fallon (Jason Ever) is a sleazy suspect. Call it "angel instinct," Charlie, but he's not the guy. Oh No? Angels, The clock is ticking.

Pros: Sabrina disguises herself as a limping homeless lady to case the merry-go-round.

Cons: The sickeningly jovial merry-go-round coda. Why do the Angels feel slighted for not getting police protection for Kris? She's supposed to be a detective. She's got a gun, for god's sake! She needs a dog. Living on the LA beach is frickin' no day at the... frickin'... circus. 

43. Angel Blues 

I know right? So much crap this season. But then episodes like this come along which remind me why I started this episode guide in the first place. The angels move briskly in an elaborate taxi tail that leads them to all the shady cokeheads that an Amy Winehouse-Janet Joplin-but-country-rock type (or thereabouts) visited the night she was killed--just feet away from her waiting intervention--via the old 'hot shot'. The bad guys are sleazy--"any guy with some coke or smack who tells her what she wants to hear," and "she picked up tabs for a lot of guys like me, know what I mean?" There's wood panelling and lots of cool 70s cars (peep the 'Sambo's' sign!). And not only does Kelly notice her tail, a rarity in the lamer episodes, she does some aggressive driving and gets behind him, and changes cars and everything! Like real detectives! Damn! Why can't every episode be this badass?

The best aspect is the short time period: the whole thing goes down in one long afternoon of tailing, being tailed, getting shot at and pulling weird scams to get the truth out of sleazy cokeheads and Syndicate-connected music publishing rights stealers. Amy's song is called "Tripping to the Morning" and it's funny the Angels pretend to love it while condemning the drugs no doubt used to deliver it, but dig the hand-painted record cover her manager has. It looks like it's still wet! The script by Edward Lakso shows he could still deliver if he was in the mood. "What a waste," notes Kelly of Amy's death. They only have on real song of hers to listen to, but whatever: "she really only used cocaine, Charlie, not heroin." So 70s to think that's somehow better.

Cons: It's hard to believe Charlie would be that big of a fan of one lame ersatz country song that was "his favorite singer's" entire oeuvre. The grieving dad does some good acting but Bess Gatewood as Amy is almost too good, too raw. She brings so much teary, beat-up pain that you're like wait, this isn't fun! Then she's dead, though, so it's okay.

And to think the next week they might be running around dressed like Mother Goose characters when they could still be this adult, sophisticated, smart, cool, and able to best dudes in hand-to-hand combat--believably--then make them lie down face first in the mud while doing freezes of their stash to identify if its heroin, coke, or laundry detergent, is to want to weep.

44. Mother Goose is Running for His Life

The inside job 'crazy toy company sabotage' plot is an old hat trick of the British series The Avengers, and Spelling's old show Honey West but whatever, if it ain't broke, re-gift it to some new needy youngster. Shh - toyz-iss like ze peeple!!!1

Pros: I like that "Mother" Goose is a guy. That he's not called that because he's a den mother to a family of drag queens is too bad, but to forgive? Divine. As is a crazy toy designer who wants to make tiny guillotines and a game where kids run over pedestrians for points ("They actually get rid of their little aggressions this way."). Even so, a mobster and his 'fake Richard Harris' Brit wiretapper steal the show prettily handily and have a scene that looks like it was filmed in a real English pub as opposed to the usual wood panelling and tawdry chairs. "Don't bandy names around, Luv." Sabrina has a cute sweater poncho and a sexy slit-skirt silver silk dress. She's supposed to be a Hong Kong heiress. Kris gets to play mannequin as a Pippi Longstocking frozen in place at night to watch the goings-on. She rocks it!

In other words it's a relaxing go-round, the Angel's safety and competence are never in doubt.  It's a nice touch that they bug the bugger. That's Bobbie Jordan not Marg Helgenberger as the girl who makes trouble for Kelly, though you coulda fooled me.

45- Little Angels of the Night

About as far thematically from the Goose as you can get, this has the girls all move into a single women-only apartment complex occupied mostly by prostitutes; a little guido pizza guy, Freddie, harasses them when he makes deliveries (isn't there any place else they can call?) At the same time a strangler of prostitutes is loose in the area. He's already killed two in the same building. Coincidence? Someone in the writing department certainly was asleep, or awake on too much cocaine (but it's okay Charlie, it's not heroin), either way - it's pretty adult for a series that was by now veering all over the place as far as those themes were concerned (junkie country stars one week, Mother Goose the next, strangled hookers after that). Going undercover as hookers and moving into the building provides challenges, as the Angels are unduly sexy, they could drive down the prices of the merely human competition, and it's funny to hear the three of them come up with excuses why they can't service clients: "darn, it's a shame [they] have to miss it." The whole pizza guy thing is a little too porn movie on-the-nose to not cause a little R-ratings nervousness. "Relax, I ain't gonna bite you," Freddie says. Right.

Cons: So what gives? Ed Lakso coasting again? The pizza restaurant owner has a terrible toupee, and the whole goombah thing leaves a bad taste; pizza photographs terribly under 70s analog TV lighting. The Angels are supposed to be monitoring the building as security, but with Lakso's pen contriving situations, no woman is safe. Kelly's armed but holds her gun like it's a used condom she found on the beach. It's not hard to trip up a guy running past you on the stairs, but instead Kelly just cowers in the corner. A shrink comes to the pool and offers 'misplaced aggression' as a possible motive. "Is there any chance this killer might get tired of killing and quit?" they ask. I'm as feminist as they come but even I want to reach in an bitch slap the three of them with simpering lines like that.

And then they talk one of the girls, Bonnie, into staying in the building, as if she'd be safer under their protection. Why? Because no killer can survive all your cowering, Kelly? More idiocy: The flimsiest of excuses brings Kris--looking mad gorgeous in an orange bikini--out to a yacht bobbing around in the dock, alone... the best Sabrina can do is put two and two together. They don't even believe obvious clues because they just don't want to believe them. In short, unless you're a stone cold idiot you're way too stupid to have a clue why there seems to be only one restaurant in all of Los Angeles, so even an ex-lover of the owner has no choice but to bring her dates there. Or why these dopey girls keep ordering pizza from these schmucky little rapist delivery guy and then being surprised when he keeps bringing the rapey vibe. Or why the Angels keep letting him get away without lifting a finger to stop him. It's kind of embarrassing how helpless they've gotten, how paltry the budget - there's like three different sets in the whole thing not counting the pool.

Pros: Kris is very fond of those super sexy runner's shorts so popular in the 70s, which show off her dynamite tan; she's the first of the angels to be totally stacked, which helps compensate for her diminutive size and total inability to fight or think straight whenever a cute boy is in the room. Too bad the paltriness of the sets and ugliness of the pizza give it all a dime store porno vibe that makes the objectification of her nubile body almost aggressively tawdry.

46. The Jade Trap

Dirk Benedict (Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica) returns (he was a corrupt vice cop shaking down massage parlors in season one)! This time he's a gigolo romancing a rich middle-aged widow. When she tries to dump him, he shoots her (she promised him a boat!). A dapper jewel thief in the next room overhears the shot. Dirk frames him for the murder. His mom needs the Angels to clear him as he's no killer, just a harmless jewel thief who only targets rich, insured old ladies his mom scopes out in advance. It all goes down at the Seabreeze, a rich coast-side hotel, which--if you can't guess--looks a lot like all the other dumpy sets in the series, though this go round there are more flowers, wicker chairs, nautical accents.  and an older class of traipsing extras.

Pros:  Speaking of accents: Kris's Swedish one is pretty sterling at least on the first night at the Breeze; and the idea of a debauched mom pimping her eye candy son ("would you consider me too Freudian, dragging my son away?") really helps convey the Tennessee Williams rent boy decadence of it all.

Cons: Speaking of accents, Kelly's using a terrible southern one; Kris's Swedish the second night is even worse. Kris, what happened in between?

47. Angels on the Run
Ed Lasko and his wife wrote this, and by now you know I think of Lasko as uneven, overextended, but not always a hack. When his name's attached to something that's actually good, though, you have to wonder if he's just recycling some old Mod Squad script of his, you know, from when he gave a damn?  This time he's basing things off his wife's story about a diner waitress who sees shady guy throw a package into the back of a truck. The truck's driver is the husband of country singer, Laura Cantrell. They abduct him because I guess their package went missing. Lots of McGuffin nonsense--suspenseful enough but not memorable--as everyone scrambles after that box.

Cons; It can't be a good sign when the "Lasko Trio" is playing at the cocktail lounge. A lot of logic gets lost. Why would the cops let a guy step out of his car with a package under his arm if they're stopping everyone's car while looking for a package? Don't think twice, it's all right. I mean it's nowhere near as bad as this next one... the last in the season. God almighty... 

48. Antique Angels
Ugh... an excuse for a bunch of antique cars to get a good dusting, and to hear some lame royalty-free Dixieland. Include me out. They'd have been better wrapping up with a 'clips' episode.

Oh... why Tanya.. did they wait until season 5 to bring you in?

ONWARDS to SEASON 3 (1978-9)
BACKWARDS to SEASON 1 (1976-7)

PS - Rereading this years later I realized this descripton could match California itself (The CA initial threw me).