Charlie's Angels
Sabrina Duncan, Jill Munroe, Kelly Garrett, Kris Munroe, Tiffany Welles, Julie Rogers, Natalie Cook, Dylan Sanders, Alex Munday, Kate Prince, Eve French and Abby Sampson

Created by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts

"Once upon a time there were three beautiful girls who went to the police academy, and they were each assigned very hazardous duties. But I took them away from all that and now they work for me. My name is Charlie."
--spoken intro to each and every show.

It was either the greatest discrepancy between quality and popularity known to television or good, clean, escapist entertainment, seventies-style. It did have a sort of style, I guess: the slick music, the sharp clothes and the full-blooded characterizations of Peter Gunn replaced by the hairspray, the nipples and the crazed rapist of the week. But this was, more than anything, the "archetypal jiggle show." It was really awful, really.

The premise was that three female police academy grads are recruited by the mysterious but wealthy Charie Townshend of Townshend Investigations to be his operatives.

Dashiell Hammett this ain't. And it sure wasn't any kind of blow for sisterhood, or any kind of improvment on the image of women, as the cast and crew originally, laughingly contended. The Angels' chief M.O. was to go undercover. Over the course of the series they went incognito in such shockingly non-traditional female roles as fashion models, inmates in a women's prison, playmate centerfolds, nurses, massage parlour workers, exotic dancers, figure skaters, beauty contestants, stewardesses, cheerleaders and of course call girls. As Max Allan Collins quipped in The Best of Crime & Detective TV, they did "more damage to the cause of feminism than the Susan B. Anthony dollar."

I mean, sheesh, even Barbie was a better role model. And less plastic.

It didn't take long for even the show's own stars to deride its blatant sexism. As Farrah Fawcett-Majors noted at the time, "When the show was number three, I figured it was our acting. When it got to be number one, I decide it could only be because none of us wears a bra."

Well, duh...

Originally, JILL MUNROE (played by Fawcett-Majors) was the athletic one, KELLY GARRETT (Jaclyn Smith) was the tough one (a former showgirl who had been around) and by default, SABRINA DUNCAN (Kate Jackson) was the "smart one." But Farrah's sudden emergence as some sort of sex symbol went right to her blow-dried head, and she left the show after one season, to be replaced by Cheryl Ladd in the role of her younger, feisty sister, Kris. Soon, introducing a new Angels got to be an almost-annual event. The off-screen hunt for new Angels, in fact, proved to be more entertaining and certainly more interesting than the show itself.

Charlie was never seen, preferring to deliver his instructions through a speaker phone (his voice was actually that of actor John Forsythe), and through his go-between, the bumbling Bosley (David Doyle), who served as office manager and purported comic relief.

Only in the final episode, when Kelly is lying in a hospital bed, recovering from a shot in the head (by an embezzler, not a TV critic, as originally suspected), do we finally get a sneak peek at the elusive Charlie. At the episode's conclusion, he dissolves the agency. A grateful nation heaved a huge sigh of relief...

And we've come so far. In 2000, Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu starred in a big bucks remake. Sheeesh! Some cheese should just be left in an airtight container.

Though, actually, the film is actually not bad. Okay, it's not great art, not by a long shot, but on its own terms, it works. Or, at least it's better than the original. Then again, how couldn't it be? Once again the "girls" battle bad guys, while Bill Murray earns a few smiles as Bosley and the action scenes are choreographed well. It was directed by hotshot music video director "McG" (Joseph McGinty Nichol when he wasn't quite so cool). Imagine the Spice Girls, but with Kung Fu. It even coughed up a 2003 sequel (Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle), although it was failed to keep the franchise going.

But some ideas, no matter how much they make you cringe, you just can't kill with a stick. In 2011, a new television series was unleashed, promising "edgier" Angels.

Yeah. Edgier.

Smallville creators Al Gough and Miles Millar said they wanted to make the show more grounded and real, but the Angels are more interchangeable than ever.

At least the original -- and the movies -- had a sense of Barbie doll sisterhood/empowerment going for it. You might not have believed they were private eyes, but at least you believed they were friends. The new show doesn't even have that going for it.

It's fluff on the order of recycled dryer lint. Making it "grounded and real" just highlights how forced and lightweight the show really is -- and how poorly the writers understood the appeal of the original show.

And did the world really need a hunky Bosley? I suggest you hurry up and watch it before they.. WHAT?

Nevermind. It's been cancelled.

More topping on that popcorn, sir?

UNDER OATH

  • "Seven boobs, including Bosley...not just a crime show, but a crime."
    -- Max Allan Collins and John Javna, The Best of Crime & Detective TV
    .
  • "We're intelligent, we're sexy, and we're setting fashion trends."
    -- then-new, big screen Angel Lucy Liu talks about herself and her cast mates in the big bucks movie remake, sounding like she's Fah-Fah in training

  • "I've just seen the new Charlie's Angels movie. This is a confession. It is a stupid movie that only a blithering idiot would like. But I liked it. The plot[?] is as thin as one-ply toilet paper. You know who the real villains are in the first twenty minutes. It takes the Angels 'til the end of the movie to figure it out. But the special effects are very good, the fight scenes are spectacular, and of course, the three stars are gorgeous."
    -- John Nolan

TELEVISION

.........

........

  • CHARLIE'S ANGELS...Buy the complete series on DVD
    (1976-1981, ABC)
    Created by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts
    Writers: Ivan Goff, Ben Roberts, Rick Husky
    Directors: John Llewellyn Moxey, Bernard McEveety
    A Spelling-Goldberg Production
    Theme by Jack Elliot & Allyn Ferguson
    Starring Kate Jackson as SABRINA DUNCAN
    Farrah Fawcett-Majors as JILL MUNROE
    Jaclyn Smith as KELLY GARRETT
    Cheryl Ladd as KRIS MUNROE (second season)
    Shelley Hack as TIFFANY WELLES (fourth season)
    Tanya Roberts as JULIE ROGERS (fifth season)
    David Doyle as Bosley
    and the voice of John Forsythe as Charlie
    Guest stars:
    Kim Basinger, Ida Lupino, Richard Mulligan, Tom Selleck, Robert Loggia, Fernandol Lamas, Dennis Cole, Dirk Benedict, Don Ho, Phil Silvers, Sammy Davis Jr., Barry Bostwick, Dean Martin, Robert Urich, Scatman Crothers, Vic Morrow, Jamie Lee Curtis, Casey Kasem, Anne Francis, Billy Barty, Christopher George, Bo Hopkins, Bert Convy, the Cast of The Love Boat, Dick Sargent, Kim Cattrall, Timothy Dalton, Sally Kirkland, Rene Auberjonois, Ed Begley Jr., Beverly Garland, Cesar Romero, Barbara Stanwyck, Patrick Duffy, Robert Reed, Jack Albertson, Barbi Benton, Don Knight, Carol Lynley, Lyle Waggoner, Dan Haggerty, Richard Anderson, Gene Barry, Dr. Joyce Brothers, David Hedison, Frank Gorshin.
  • Season One....Buy this season on DVD.
    Also available:
    The Best of Charlie's Angels, Season 1
  • "Hellrider" (September 22, 1976)
  • "The Mexican Connection" (September 29, 1976)
  • "Night of the Strangler" (October 13, 1976)....Buy this DVD....Buy this video
  • "Angels in Chains" (October 20, 1976)....Buy this video
  • "Target: Angels" (October 27, 1976)
  • "The Killing Kind" (November 3, 1976)
  • "To Kill an Angel" (November 10, 1976)....Buy this DVD....Buy this video
  • "Lady Killer" (November 24, 1976)
  • "Bullseye" (December 1, 1976)
  • "Consenting Adults" (December 8, 1976)
  • "The Seance" (December 15, 1976)
  • "Angels on Wheels" (December 22, 1976)
  • "Angel Trap" (January 5, 1977)
  • "The Big Tap Out" (January 12, 1977)
  • "Angels on a String" (January 19, 1977)
  • "Dirty Business" (February 2, 1977)
  • "The Vegas Connection" (February 9, 1977)
  • "Terror on Ward One" (February 16, 1977)
  • "Dancing in the Dark" (February 23, 1977)
  • "I Will Be Remembered" (March 9, 1977)
  • "Angels at Sea" (March 23, 1977)
  • "The Blue Angels" (May 4, 1977)....Buy this video
    .
  • Season Two... Buy this season on DVD
    Cheryl Ladd as Kris Munroe (Jill's little sister) replaces Fah-Fah
  • "Angels in Paradise" (September 14, 1977; 120 minute episode)
  • "Angels on Ice" (September 21, 1977; 120 minute episode)
  • "Pretty Angels All in a Row" (September 28, 1977)
  • "Angel Flight" (October 5, 1977)
  • "Circus of Terror" (October 19, 1977)
  • "Angel in Love" (October 26, 1977)
  • "Unidentified Flying Angels" (November 2, 1977)
  • "Angels on the Air" (November 9, 1977)
  • "Angel Baby" (November 16, 1977)
  • "Angels in the Wings" (November 23, 1977)
  • "Magic Fire" (November 30, 1977)
  • "Sammy Davis Jr. Kidnap Caper" (December 7, 1977)
  • "Angels on Horseback" (December 21, 1977)
  • "Game, Set, Death" (January 4, 1978)
  • "Hours of Desperation" (January 11, 1978)
  • "Diamond in the Rough" (January 18, 1978)
  • "Angels in the Backfield" (January 25, 1978)
  • "The Sand Castle Murders" (February 1, 1978)
  • "Angels Blues" (February 8, 1978)
  • "Mother Goose Is Running For His Life" (February 15, 1978)
  • "Little Angels of the Night" (February 22, 1978)
  • "The Jade Trap" (March 1, 1978)
  • "Angels on the Run" (May 3, 1978)
  • "Antique Angels" (May 10, 1978)
    .
  • Season Three... Buy this season on DVD
  • "Angels in Vegas" (September 13, 1978; 120 minute episode)
  • "Angel Come Home" (September 20, 1978)
  • "Angel on High" (September 27, 1978)
  • "Angels in Spring Time" (October 11, 1978)
  • "Winning is for Losers" (October 18, 1978)
  • "Haunted Angels" (October 25, 1978)
  • "Pom Pom Angels" (November 1, 1978)
  • "Angels Ahoy" (November 8, 1978)
  • "Mother Angel" (November 15, 1978)
  • "Angel on My Mind" (November 22, 1978)
  • "Angels Belong in Heaven" (December 6, 1978)
  • "Angels in the Stretch" (December 20, 1978)
  • "Angels on Vacation" (January 10, 1979)
  • "Counterfeit Angels" (January 24, 1979)
  • "Disco Angels" (January 31, 1979)
  • "Terror on Skis" (February 7, 1979; 120 minute episode)
  • "Angels in a Box" (February 14, 1979)
  • "Teen Angels" (February 28, 1979)
  • "Marathon Angels" (March 7, 1979)
  • "Angels in Waiting" (March 21, 1979)
  • "Rosemary For Remembrance" (May 2, 1979)
  • "Angels Remembered" (May 16, 1979)
    .
  • Season Four
    Kate Jackson leaves, to be replaced by Shelley Hack as Tiffany Welles
  • "Love Boat Angels" (September 12, 1979; 120 minute episode)
  • "Angels Go Trucking" (September 19, 1979)
  • "Avenging Angel" (September 26, 1979)
  • "Angels at the Altar" (October 3, 1979)
  • "Fallen Angel" (October 24, 1979)
  • "Caged Angel" (October 31, 1979)
  • "Angels on the Street" (November 7, 1979)
  • "The Prince and the Angel" (November 14, 1979)
  • "Angels on Skates" (November 21, 1979)
  • "Angels on Campus" (November 28, 1979)
  • "Angel Hunt" (December 5, 1979)
  • "Cruising Angels" (December 12, 1979)
  • "Of Ghost and Angels" (January 2, 1980)
  • "Angels Child" (January 9, 1980)
  • "One of Our Angels is Missing" (January 16, 1980)
  • "Catch a Falling Angel" (January 23, 1980)
  • "Homes $weet Homes" (January 30, 1980)
  • "Dancin' Angels" (February 6, 1980)
  • "Harrigan's Angels" (February 20, 1980)
  • "An Angel's Trail" (February 27, 1980)
  • "Nips & Tucks" (March 5, 1980)
  • "Three for the Money" (March 12, 1980)
  • "Toni's Boys" (April 2, 1980)
  • "One Love...Two Angels, Part One" (April 30, 1980)
  • "One Love...Two Angels, Part Two" (May 7, 1980)
    .
  • Season Five
    Shelley Hack is gone, replaced by Tanya Roberts as Julie Rogers.
  • "Street Models to Hawaiian Angel" (November 30,1980; shown together as three hour season premiere; later aired as separate episodes "Angel in Hiding" and "To See An Angel Die)
  • "Angels of the Deep" (December 7, 1980)
  • "Island Angels" (December 14, 1980)
  • "Waikiki Angels" (January 4, 1981)
  • "Hula Angels" (January 11, 1981)
  • "Moonshinin' Angels" (January 24, 1981)
  • "He Married an Angel" (January 31, 1981)
  • "Taxi Angels" (February 7, 1981)
  • "Angel on the Line" (February 14, 1981)
  • "Chorus Line Angels" (February 21, 1981)
  • "Stuntwomen Angels" (February 28, 1981)
  • "Attack Angels" (June 3, 1981)
  • "Angel on a Roll" (June 10, 1981)
  • "Mr. Galaxy" (June 17, 1981)
  • "Let Our Angel Live" (June 24, 1981)
  • CHARLIE'S ANGELS...Buy the complete series on DVD
    (2011, ABC)
    Created by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts
    Re-developed for television by Al Gough and Miles Millar
    Starring Annie Ilonzeh as KATE PRINCE
    Minka Kelly as
    EVE FRENCH
    and Rachael Taylor as
    ABBY SAMPSON
    with Ramon Rodriguez as
    John Bosley
  • Season One
  • "Angel with a Broken Wing" (September 22, 2011)
  • "Runway Angels" (September 29, 2011)
  • "Bon Voyage, Angels" (October 6, 2011)
  • "Angels in Chains" (October 13, 2011)
  • "Angels in Paradise" (October 20, 2011)
  • "Black Hat Angels" (November 3, 2011)
  • "Royal Angels" (November 10, 2011)
  • "They're Not Angels" (unaired)

Ouch. At least the original had a sort of sleazy semi-charming wish-fulfillment Barbie vibe to it, but I can't imagine anyone wanting to be these miserable twits. Here's a clue, ABC -- nobody ever tuned in to the original series for "grit." The short run wasn't so much a cancellation as a mercy killing.

NOVELIZATIONS

  • Charlie's Angels (1977, by Max Franklin*)
  • Charlie's Angels #2: The Killing Kind (1977, by Max Franklin)
  • Charlie's Angels #3: Angels in Chains (1977, by Max Franklin)
  • Charlie's Angels #4: Angels on a String (1977, by Max Franklin)
  • Charlie's Angels #5: Angels on Ice (1978, by Max Franklin)

* Max Franklin was a pseudonym of Richard Deming, the creator of P.I.s Manville Moon and Barney Calhoun.

FILMS

  • CHARLIE'S ANGELS...Buy this video...Buy this DVD
    (2000, Columbia)
    Based on characters created by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts
    Written by Ryan Rowe & Ed Solomon and John August
    Directed by McG
    Executive producer: Betty Thomas and Jenno Topping
    Produced by Leonard Goldberg, Drew Barrymore and Nancy Jovonen
    Starring Cameron Diaz as NATALIE COOK
    Drew Barrymore as DYLAN SANDERS
    and Lucy Liu as ALEX MUNDAY
    and Bill Murray as Bosley
    with the voice of John Forsythe as Charlie
    Also starring
    Sam Rockwell, Tim Curry, Kelly Lynch

  • CHARLIE'S ANGELS: FULL THROTTLE...Buy this video...Buy this DVD
    (2003, Columbia)
    Based on characters created by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts
    Story by John August
    Screenplay by John August, Cormac Wibberley and Marianne Wibberley
    Directed by McG
    Original Music by William Orbit
    Produced by Drew Barrymore, Leonard Goldberg and Nancy Juvonen
    Associate producers: Amanda Goldberg, Stephanie Savage
    Executive producers: Patrick Crowley, Betty Thomas, Jenno Topping
    Starring Cameron Diaz as NATALIE COOK
    Drew Barrymore as DYLAN SANDERS
    and Lucy Liu as ALEX MUNDAY
    and Bernie Mac as Bosley
    with the voice of John Forsythe as Charlie
    Also starring
    Demi Moore, Justin Theroux, Robert Patrick, Luke Wilson, Matt LeBlanc, Crispin Glover, John Cleese
    Yep, they're back. The producers have apparently decided they didn't attract enough men to the last one, so we've got some light bondage and Demi Moore (as a "fallen angel") licking Cameron Diaz. All in the name of female empowerment, of course.

RELATED LINKS

  • Angelic Heaven
    Mike Pingel's impressive, frequently updated Cyber-Shrine to Charlie's girls is well worth a visit, with episode guides, cast biographies, info on collectibles and everything else you need to keep abreast of our gals.

  • Charlie's Angels 2: Full Throttle
    The Thrilling Detective Web Site Review by D.L. Browne.

  • Get Yer Motor Runnin'...
    Some Hot Wheels of Some Hot Eyes

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. The red graphic was swiped from Angelic Heaven, Mike Pingel's impressive tribute to the girls.


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