Thursday, May 26, 2016

Charlie’s Angels 1:8 “Lady Killer”

Airdate: 11/24/76

Someone is killing the great centerfolds of Feline magazine, and its empire, run by suave publisher Tony Mann, is on the verge of financial collapse as a result. Mann enlists the Angels to go undercover, and one Angel in particular to have no cover at all (they draw straws but of course it’s Farrah). Could it be Dave Erhard, Tony’s right hand man but also a devious backstabber who seems to be in cahoots with a rival publisher planning on buying Feline out? Or is it Victor Burrel, the club manager, once a head honcho but demoted several times by Tony? Further investigation reveals Dave to be the likely culprit; the Angels set him with blackmail and send him to the hospital, but despite his absence an attempted murder occurs. Without a single lead left the Angels discover their own chauvanism by failing to realize the killer… is a woman: Paula, Tony’s assistant, bitter that her disfigurement destroyed her own dreams of becoming a centerfold.

In 1976, nothing was hotter than the Playboy centerfold. In the comparatively chaste days long preceding Internet porn, and just before raunchier fare like Hustler upped the ante, if not exactly class, of published indelicacy, that everlovin’ foldout of glossy, full-frontal heaven satisfied the sexual appetite of many a prepubescent male, including myself. So of course Angels wasted no time in using it for a setting, even casting a dead ringer for Hugh Hefner as the Feline publisher (the actor is also named Hugh!). But despite all the lurid window dressing, this Angels installment is just a good ol’ fashioned murder mystery, and just like one I guessed the culprit eons before she was finally revealed (and you will too). Extra points for her MO – death by… chloroform? Isn’t that usually what they give you so you can pass out… and then they try to kill you? 

There’s also a sweet romance between Tony and Sabrina, a relationship accented by his “boys club” attitude and proclivity for young women and her tsk-tsking feminism. In the end they complement each other warmly; their dialogue is sharp and sensible, and it stages the best scene in the episode: Tony explaining to Sabrina how he built his magazine from scratch. Probably pretty close to Hefner’s beginnings too.
Tennis, anyone?

And it wouldn’t be Angels without the kitch, and this one has a doozy. Jill warms up on the tennis courts before doing a article, completely oblivious that she’s about to be served an explosive ball. When it happens, it’s quite a pyrotechnic, but it’s also completely ineffective as she lives and gets up as if nothing happened. The villains in these shows need to sue their weapons suppliers.

Third episode in a row to use the word “kill” in its title. Don’t mind the mortality but can we be a bit more original?

Client: Tony Mann 

Plot Difficulty Level: 5 (twists and turns but fun to follow)

Rating: ***

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