Thursday, June 23, 2016

Charlie’s Angels 1:17 “The Vegas Connection”

Airdate: 2/9/77

Business George Mallin has been robbed… by his wife, Tina. Her peculiar way of disposing of the loot, by gradually, intentionally losing it at a poker game once a month, is explained when she confesses to the Angels that she is being blackmailed by someone with pictures of her doing the nasty for money. That “someone” is a sleazebucket named Cass Harper, a Vegas chorus girl director who lures young ladies in with the promise of a job, then pulls the rug out, leaving them with no choice but to sell themselves to the high-rollers he pimps them out to. Stage two: photograph the indiscretion, blackmail the client. One girl who almost falls for the ploy, Elisabeth, confesses to the Angels her plight; she helps them with a setup where Bosley is a client, and undercover Kelly is one of the “girls.” Sabrina poses as a tax auditor, alerting the casino owner, Max, that Cass is stealing – enough to draw attention to a loathsome creep out to ruin the lives of innocent people for cash.

Las Vegas in the 70s was huge – just about every major TV drama from that decade had an episode set there – and Angels was no exception. Sin City gets utilized quite nicely here, and don’t miss all that introductory B-roll of the city’s main stretch, with one marquis after another of the big-name entertainers of the era. My only quibble s that it takes too long to get there; we have to slog through the twenty-minute setup-story about Mrs. Mallin and how she connects to the prostitution ring. Just another case of byzantine for byzantine’s sake. Keep it simple, stupid.

But once things get rolling, it’s a rollicking good time, with plenty of gambling action on the floor, and a great, campy backstage drama, involving Kelly and the “elder” showgirl Avril, behind the curtain (no doubt inspired by All About Eve, it’s an unknowing precursor to Showgirls; we even get a classic catfight!). Jill has a good car chase fighting off sleazy dude who’s on to her, and Bosley finally gets a chance at romance, playing the nurturing father figure who gives Elisabeth the good night kiss she always wanted but never got – awwww. (Wait a second, isn’t he supposed to be married?) If that’s
not enough, we even get a truly satisfying final scene in which the Angels, and all the done-wrong women, get their comeuppance on a body-casted Cass (they write obscenities on his plaster – you go girls!).

So what’s not to like? Have patience and you’ll be rewarded with a delightful combo of sharp writing, engaging supporting characters and daffy fun. Angels has finally hit its groove.

Client: Mr. Mallin

Plot difficulty level: 7

Rating: ***1/2

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