Sunday, April 17, 2016

Charlie’s Angels 1:2 “The Mexican Connection”

Airdate: 9/29/76

The Angels get the skinny on a plane crash – an airline possibly hijacked by drug smugglers. Charlie’s client is the pilot, who thinks it was all part of a heroin smuggling ring. His buddy, Jim, becomes a liaison (and smoochie) for Sabrina, while the owner of the plane company, Frank Barton, might be the smuggling culprit as he is a rival of Mexican drug kingpin Escobar. Charlie notes that Baron’s daughter, Maria, loves swimming, so he sends Jill to get friendly on this count for more info there.  And bikini-clad Kelly goes undercover as a teacher to get the dirt on Barone at poolside champagne, which, as we all know, is the best way to get information from anyone.

Sabrina’s initial meeting with Jim confirms that Frank is in on the smuggling, but that due to a weird contract, the pilots/stewardesses (Dan, Laurie) are powerless to press charges or investigate.  But
Sabrina’s sixth sense alerts her that something’s “not right” about Jim – perhaps confirmed by his odd nonchalance to Bartone’s ire over Escobar’s admittance to the crash that started the whole thing. Jill goes even deeper; her friendship with Maria turns up distrust and resentment. Bartone later reveals further complicity: he refuses to shut down a heroin lab to make up for loss. (Sabrina and Jim Taylor go to the lab, which apparently is covered as a wine producer, and shuts them down.) 
Now, apparently, Escobar is upping the ante on the smuggling/crashing thing – the Angels think the crash was meant to feign incapacity on Bartone’s part, and to move in on them with Barone’s own druglords. (I think.) Jill gets caught in the wine cellar; she reveals herself to be Escobar’s agent, and sets up a meeting for both druglords to meet at a marina in L.A. Escobar turns out to be Bosley, and a shootout ensures that Bartone gets his just desserts. But who really is Escobar? Turns out to be Jim, the pilot, but don’t worry – the Angels git him with their handbags. Phew! 
Dude, some 70s pornstar wants his mustache back
Good Lord, you’re gonna have to take some fast friggin; notes during the Angels’ debriefing scene on this one. Take the most complicated Bond dossier and toss in a John LeCarre plot, and you have a general idea of what I had to go through to figure this one out. (My summary above is what I think happens, but I’m definitely not 100% sure.)  I actually had to see this one twice, to catch all the rapid-fire plot info, and I’m not entirely convinced all of it fit together, either. It makes me wonder – did 1976 audiences get it all, with no rewind capabilities, at 10:00 on a late summer midweek night? Doubtful – probably just eye candy in most households.

But having said that, it’s better than the other extreme: stupid simple-minded fare, the likes of which are in no short supply on today’s TV/cable
/Internet landscape. And also, is it any great sin to put the viewer to work?  As crazily complex as this storyline is, it certainly didn’t bore me, owing to the usual assortment of teeth-gnashing villains and piquant supporting characters of dubious motive. And speaking of, ya gotta love that twist ending (I didn’t cal it), which plays up the “Whom can you trust?” theme in the great, grand Agatha Christie tradition. Too aggrandizing a comparison? C’mon, isn’t that what we’re looking at here: old time murder mysteries, replacing British mansions and teacups with L.A. streets and sun tan lotion?

Let’s start a new feature, a plot comprehension difficulty rating, only because I’m curious how the other episodes compare to this one in that regard. I’m calling this one a…
PCDR: 10 (easily)

I hope they get easier. Don’t have time for multiple viewings.

Rating: **

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