Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Charlie’s Angels 1:12 “Angels on Wheels”

Airdate: 12/22/76

At a womens’ roller derby, Karen, one of the contestants is shoved over the railing and then evidently assaulted by a mysterious spectator. Charlie later informs the Angels of her tragic death, and that this week’s client is her sister, Barbara, who wants answers. Undercover as Barbara, Jill infiltrates the world of roller derby, and discusses her potential with the derby owner, a used car salesman named Hugh Morris. Morris also owns a life insurance company - headed by a woman named Jessica Farmer – the same company covering his players.

"Does your chest come here often?"

Meanwhile Kelly sneaks into Karen’s apartment, and steals a baggage claim ticket before getting caught by the perpetually shirtless Red Loomis, the apartment manager. The ticket is the key to a suitcase, owned by Karen’s now deceased boyfriend; Kelly barely gets possession of it before her car explodes, and its contents of $150.000 and fake drivers’ licenses are the clues to solving the mystery. Farmer’s shady insurance coverage is a profiteering scheme, with nearly the entire aforementioned cast in on it, along with derby toughie Betty, who handles the dirty work.

Potentially thrilling idea – who doesn’t love the roller derby, which was hot back then? – is smothered by tedious overplotting; the above synopsis skims over about a half-dozen twists and pop-up characters. (The show credits no fewer than four writers; never a good sign.) Actually things don’t get really hairy until the halfway point, at which point you’d better get out your steno pad. I mean, the last thing you want to see, with the promise of Farrah on roller skates, is a lot of mumbo jumbo about insurance claims. 

Nevertheless, it’s always great to see Bewitched’s Dick Sergeant hamming it up, no matter the reason; here he plays the derby owner, Hugh Morris, the sole innocent guest starring character, and his quirky Southern drawl is just as disarming as the aw-shucks charm that made his performance as Samantha’s hubby so legendary. There’s also fun to be found in not one but two – count ‘em, two – perilous car situations involving Kelly, who in the last episode found herself in a self-destructive car incident while under hypnosis. She seems to be the go-to Angel where vehicular danger is required.

But still, how could they drop the ball like this? Roller derby? Farrah? A no-brainer! Well, at least we finally got to see the source of her opening credit footage. (I think this was the last show in the can before the series premiere aired, since all those opening credit shots are now accounted for.)

Client: Barbara Jason (Jill assumes her identity for her cover).

Plot difficulty level: 6 

Rating: **1/2

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