Sunday, April 24, 2016

Charlie’s Angels 1:4 “Angels in Chains”

Airdate: 10/20/76

A woman hires Charlie to locate her sister, Elizabeth, who disappeared from the Pike County prison where she had been incarcerated and presumably been granted parole. The Angels go undercover at the Big House by inviting arrest (easy to do in the corrupt Pike County), and begin to snoop around to discover any clues regarding the missing woman. As they discover that Elizabeth was ultimately shot and killed after an attempted escape (following her assault by a loathsome guard), they also reveal a secret brothel within which many of the comelier inmates were impressed for service, including a woman, Linda, who gets a job as Charlie’s secretary once the corrupt goings-on at the prison are revealed. 

Fabulous send-up of the Girls-Behind-Bars exploitation subgenre, abetted nicely with plenty of campy Angels cheesecake and equally campy supporting characters, from the portly redneck sheriff to the sketchy, smarmy guard. Every staple of the genre is covered too – the stripping down scene (the hands-down highlight), the cafeteria riot, the field labor, the lights-out at night, and, of course, the escape through the bayou in chains (isn’t this just outside of L.A.?). If you’ve seen Chained Heat or Cell Block Sisters, you’re already on the right wavelength, and the casting  of cult star Mary Woronov as the ornery and ambiguously Sapphic warden Maxine clearly indicates that the producers are in on the joke.  
The brothel subplot is part of this genre too, but I was expecting it to be linked to he main storyline of the missing girl; I thought for sure she’d be the key to he Angels’ discovery of this prostitution ring. But no matter – to complain about incongruity on this episode is like rebuking Big Bad Mama for lack of character development. Ya gets what ya pays for; enjoy and eat your popcorn.

In addition to Woronov, there are plenty of other guest stars here, some who would go on to even brighter lights. Kim Basinger is Linda, one of the
inmate/hookers, and even this early she’s playing the swollen-eyed girl in trouble, desperately pleading for succor to escape her dreadful condition. Prolific actress Christina Hart is another prisoner; classic TV fans would know her best as Roper’s niece on an early episode of Three’s Company. And Lauren Tewes is Christine, the client; the following year she would land her most famous role as Vicki, the cruise director on The Love Boat, another Aaron Spelling production. (The two shows would cross over in 1979 on a special ep of Angels.) 

The trivia section of imdb reveals that exterior shots of “the house” (bordello) are of the homestead on The Waltons. Random usage of stock footage or inside joke? You decide. 

Overall, great fun! Hoping the show lets its hair down like this again.

Client: Christine Hunter

Plot Difficulty Level (scale of 10): 3 (piece of cake)

Rating: ***1/2

Stretching the boundaries of 10PM permisiveness


Anonymous said...

Lauren Tewes's character on "The Love Boat" was Julie, not Vicki. And yes, I am embarrassed I didn't have to look that up. said...

The missing girl DOES tie into the brothel subplot. The reason she broke out of the prison is because she couldn't stand being a hooker any longer...and the reason the sheriff shoots her (rather than re-arrest her) is because she knew too much. And much like the previous commentator, I, too, an pm embarrassed to know this....

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