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! 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, though her hair is a mess and she's wearing way too much eyeliner. A Formula One racer now, Jill must admit her her fiancee Mark Carmony (Stephen Collins) is suspiciously suspect in the sabotage surrounding some prototype model car created by an ambiguous but handsome character named Paul Farino (Horst Bucholtz) who lures Jill to LA (or did he?) and then talks her into driving his experimental baby in the local race.

Like all the Angels, Jill seems to have terrible judgment in men. Mark tries to get all bossy and argue her out of racing for Paul Farino. Why was he at this 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), her failed marriage to Lee Majors,  or all of the above.

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. What Angel could resist, though by now the Angels have lost so many would-be pilots they should know their kisses are always of death. 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 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 hot and good.

Pros: "William Freeman brings the touch of warm nostalgia" to aviation history in his trusty bi-plane, so does--with its analog charm and measured pace, it's 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 working information out of a mobbed up chairman of the board in NYC (and takes in stride a stray potshot or two). Jaclyn Smith does some fine acting when presented with the possibility to just fly away with a cute guy and leave her life behind --seriously! 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 they'd 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 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-Bway hoofer presiding over the evil and very posh spa where murder's afoot (the victim: an ex-Bway hoofer or something 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 entire sex appeal in a cute pink bathing suit as the exercise coordinator, almost getting into a tussle with the evil Zora (Nancy Parsons); 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 with the doctor, the butch masseuse, and Ingrid the "Amazonian directress."

Cons: Bosley never mentions the fee unless Charlie is comping, this time because he was once onstage with the victim. Considering the amount of people Charlie knows, it's a wonder they make any money at all. After a spell the pink and white color scheme is wearying, like being trapped in my mom's house over Xmas. Mercedes' old broad sass gets wearying too ("as I was saying, about sex," ugh okay we get it lady, you think you were the last of red hot Auntie Mames).

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 dad in TWIN PEAKS, Ray Wise, is a loner vet of the Travis Bickle variety, stalking her while someone's taking potshots at her (but it's not him?), and I can't remember but 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 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 anymore is a sign of neglect.

Cons: Why wasn't this episode called "Angels in the Rough"?? Seems like the censors nixed the 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 in a 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

1978 was 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 episodes of stuff like 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. An empathic sweetheart played by a smokin' sharp actress who knows how to whirl warmth and cool together and fake it like the best of them. I personally believe there are real psychics but just because 90% of them are phony carny types doesn't invalidate the legit 10%, and yet I believe the two are connected - that ballyhoo is intrinsic to spiritual contact. It's the Pisces in me, in that I don't ever fully believe or disbelieve anything, and so live study in Schrodinger's cat class. 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 cares? "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--the narrator on my Joseph Campbell lectures on tape!) and he hosts a TV show, Infinity and Beyond, in a manner that clearly evokes Criswell! Can you prove he didn't happen? There's the stock footage lightning shot that Corman used in his Poe films, some glass shattering and ghost voices and all that other malarkey, 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, as I vaguely remember. So here's this dislikable mix of bullshit Christian-critique sleaziness and stock footage of football games and audience reactions. Cheerleaders are disappearing after games! 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 etc.?

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 rocks 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, people who know too much vanish overboard and the ship 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. He refers to himself as the sultan of slam. Oh, 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). This time there's a groovy pool climax. 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 rocks the sort of godawful cult Christian lavender frock, and then a gaudy white toreador ruffles number.

There's always going to be remote boiler room stalkings on a 70s detective thriller, especially should it be set 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. Even worse, there's a real ugly bowl of shrimp at the costume party, and Sabrina wears yet another unflattering clown disguise.

Pros: B ut Kris is fetching in a Bo Peep costume and almost leaves her crook out when the bad guys come back into the room she's searching --suspense! That engine room looks like a real engine room - I guess this was shot on an actual boat. Sabrina also rocks an awesome gum-cracking mob chick disguise, Kris has a groovy maroon velour thing going on and later sashays around as one of the singles cruisers (she owns every scene she's in); and there's a nice pulpy climax. Reasonable intelligence and consistency on the detective work. Janice Paige is 'young woman.'

Mother Angel

Precocious 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. The script's tight this time around, and Robert Davi (the Bond villain in License to Kill) is one of the goons. Look fast for Mike Mazurki at an auto yard!  Samantha is played by Olivia Barash (if she seems familiar, she'd grow up to date Emilio Estevez in Repo Man).

Cons: Sabrina and Jill both seem anorexic.

Angel on my Mind

Uh-oh, another lazily recycled script by Ed Lakso. 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, this time with Kris instead of Kelly. Kris wanders down the beach wondering who she is, instead of some sleazy downtown arcade district like Kelly did, otherwise, sheeehs. Luckily there's bunch of attractive volleyballers, and thankfully no kids. A very sexy young Jonathan Frakes is a volleyballer.

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 is Billy Barty, selling papers like old Angelo Rossitto used to. Tom Spratley is an old hobo on the beach: "You and I could be friends," he says, like a slightly dimwitted cross between Mr. Rogers and the old hermit in Bride of Frankenstein. 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 and jumps down on him, among other things... but then she keeps leaving him with 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-Angel chestnut-- the hit man-spurred "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. 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.

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, 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 named Perdition and its lame identical twin at the race track gambit, as seen in the Thin Man, Charlie Chan, and god knows where else. Sabrina poses as a feminist trainer, a little moronic this time around, dropping tons of hints that she's no dumb jockey.

Pros: Character actor Al Hopson is old Fred, a hotel manager who gives them the lowdown; Kris looks awesome in cowboy duds. She's clearly going to do well in a few years doing 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 --just a handful --ever. 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 menfolk looking out into the dusty street from behind screen doors, and in this case, a chilling Phenix City Story vibe. 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 Don Duffy-type 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 cash-entrusted kids from the newer short-lived TV remake. Their guns are there because they need to ask tough questions and not back down, but they're still going to be women second and themselves first and file cabinet snoops above all. The mix of fearless brio and genuine sisterly warmth has seldom been duplicated.

Pros: WB's go-to two-bit hood, 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 these slick lame pants at the end. And I generally dislike slick lame, so that tells you something.

Cons: She also gives a terrible fake laugh at the end.

Counterfeit Angels

A trio of fake angels rob rich old lady Mrs. Hatter who's too blind not to recognize the real angels from the fake; it's because a sleazy strip club impresario can duplicate Charlie's voice really easily, though god knows how he gets this show on TV in its own hermetically sealed world. "I remember him from that charity party," notes Charlie. 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. Sabrina is just going to have to "continue my imitation... of me" by posing as an actress posing as herself.  Fenton is played by a guy called Johnny Seven! And they shoot two guard!

Cons: Why would he abuse his thug bodyguard's trust by cheating him at video pong?  Kelly's dumb to not follow the suspected agent of the crooks to where they're hiding out, instead she's going shopping. Ugh. Terrible Bogey, Hepburn, and Scarlett impressions. Bosley's Sidney Greenstreet is actually the best; 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 basement bar everything else in the show happens in. What are ya gonna do? The show has the thick aura of those terrible Italian restaurants you find in midwestern towns, though they added some lights and a disco ball and a DJ shouting obscenities. As usual, the cast is 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. "I think Hank Aaron holds that record."

Pros: It's not surprising future softcore Showtime impresario Zalman (Blue Sunshine) King has a giant glossy of himself posted above his bar--he's always struck me as a Cruise-level narcissist, but hey, he brings some damn funny zest to his strangling gestures. His abusive father shows up "you want the truth, Harry? You make me sick!" No wait, now I'm not sure what the motive is! I wish they could link his coke abuse to his schizophrenic rage displacement. It's also obvious that, anytime there's a DJ suspect, the good guys bust in and find he's left a tape of his voice playing in the DJ booth and bailed on them. So old it has whiskers, that one. Freddie thinks his wife hired the angels, and it's no problem to imagine the eventual plot twist (you won't either if you've seen as many mysteries as I have) but it works just fine. 

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); sexy Shera Danese (the requisite kinda-like Suzanne Sommers/ Susan Anton one needed in this era); the larger than usual amount of black dancers, Jewish shlemiels and schemers with ruffled shirts. "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, 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 bailed on the dance party and it's daytime out -- I mean what the hell kind of disco is even open that early? Were all the soundstage's night-time kliegs taken?

65-66 Terror on Skis

Part 1 - A lot of European intrigue involved with some non-b-roll professional skiing with the angels applauding in their cute ski clothes. The bad guys are way more perceptive, 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). A lot of great masculine voices (this being back when everyone smoked) on the episode and some very pretty Vail Colorado scenery.

"One way or the other, they're gonna get you," says CIA guy "Chris" George, jaw set tight, romancing Kris while trying to find the murderer of his friend while trying to protect towhead 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, if you like that sort of thing. At least the actors seem to be actually on skis in the snow instead of standing in front of a rear projection... most of the time. 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... The way a mysterious picture of Paolo the freestyle skiier 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 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?' 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 in the long run.  The two old guys in the dull green ski suits, the only such guys, stand with the main suspect at every event and no one thinks to take their picture or suspect them? These people are dense, yo. But that's to be expected by this point. So there's three European guys 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 for an exciting ski chase and to get Sabrina and Paolo alone in a cabin while she talks him out of the gun. But the climax is pretty thrilling for all the incompetence of the good guys and in the end the slow pace pays off with a bunch of almost would have maybe happened relationships --- Bosley and the secretary, Paolo and Sabrina, the UN guy 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 a automated adding machine, or whatever, cementing his place as the fifth business. Sometimes it's endearing. Not here, really. We're too busy getting mad at how sheerly dumb they are -- "except for Paolo, we don't know who they are and what they look like!" Jeezis, they've been wearing the same 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.

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 the final act. Meanwhile the Angels follow a false clue and end up snooping around some Malibu resort, and 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, 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. Maybe it was all the 70s oxygen being sucked up. So 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. It almost seems like the bad guy here is Aaron Spelling, venting his rage against this cash cow of a formula he's perfected.

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

It's always a little too tense for me when one of the girls gets kidnapped; I hate to see the Angels on the losing end, repeatedly blowing chances any sensible villain would take and do, all just so the generic plot points can click forward and the suspense ratchet to no real end. Great climax, though

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. The Heathers in the crew are slinging rock, yo, and a strangler freak conveniently offs anyone who threatens to rat them out. Mostly, 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, and our kind of tea will knock you on your ass. Kelly teaches an English class; Sabrina teaches art; and Bosley 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."

Pros: "My god, Brie. Krissy's a kleptomaniac!" - we had one my freshman year - 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. Then again, it's a pretty dimwitted troupe working for old Townsend again, 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 whole drugs shipment thing is awfully trite. "Two bottles of booze, one bottle of happy pills, one bottle of downers." - "It's your share, it's your commitment to me." - "We're in this together, Bo -- the three of us, all the way." - Piece of advice to a dealer: don't be a prick--it's very easy to drop a dime and screw your life up. Besides, these girls sure get a lot of drugs and booze. How much do they take in a given day? There's only five people in the whole college or so it seems. One box should be enough to put the whole campuss into a coma. Also, a bucket brigade to put out a burning barn? Doesn't the firetruck come out this far? What planet are we fucking on. Kelly accuses a killer then lets herself get

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 30 feet. The Angels are pretty stupid too this time A girl is abducted in a van and then another, and all the Angels can think 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, 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 Angells do and they're too dense to notice even the most obvious clues.

Pros: The hot running outfits (I have a thing for 70s-style girls' gym shorts, being of a certain age) and endless stream of babes running the race (it's an all-girl objectifying type of marathon)

Cons: The hot girls almost makes up for the horrible repeating little cartoony jingle that repeats like it's one of those terrible royalty-free Dixieland silent film scores, the same refrain over and over every time we see the runners. 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. 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 flapper 20s 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. Almost. If not for that, and the sexy shorts, this would be an D.

70 - Angels in Waiting
Bosley is having a tantrum. He feels they Angels take him for granted and they play a game to see if they can find him, to test his 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, sounds like 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!

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 the painting the old gangster stares at and which 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. There's a diamond necklace involved, and 'the Syndicate' is mentioned. What 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 phrase. 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.

And that's it, basically. I can't get into the Shelly Hack season though her leaving and 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, a Bond girl gig and eventually That 70s Show, so hey...

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