Friday, July 1, 2016

Charlie’s Angels 1:19 “Dancing in the Dark”

Airdate: 2/23/77

The client: Laura Clusak, widower of a famous baseball player now considered for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. But Ms. Clusak is the victim of a professional blackmailer named Alexander Cruz, who set her up in an uncompromising position with a sleazy dance instructor named Tony Bordinay, and hired a P.I. to take pictures of the indiscretion, along with incriminating drugs. It cost her 10 grand to keep the pictures down low and assure her deceased hubby’s legacy, but now the Angels are on the case.

Kelly goes undercover as Cruz’s new PI, while Jill poses as Tony’s new employee, a disco instructor. Sabrina, meanwhile, takes on the role as Sabrina Walker, a rich but shy, insecure heiress looking to try the two-step, and Tony immediately takes the bait. An indiscretion is set up, and Cruz blackmails Sabrina’s “father,” Bosley, for twenty grand. Ah, but the Angels stage a twist: Sabrina informs her blackmailer that Bosley is an imposter, planning to sell the pix to the real Walker Sr.; so the pictures are bought back with interest. Now they take the shots to the real Walker – Charlie himself – but he refutes the woman’s identity as his daughter. Bad news all around for the baddies; their goose is ultimately cooked when they go after Kelly in a bowling alley.

Genuinely strange episode has blackmail once again used as the crime of the week, only this time the perps are an erudite Englishman and a talented but sleazy dance instructor, a man so talented I could never really understand why he’d be mixed up in such an odd plot, prone to so much potential error. (With his 70s looks at ‘tude he could easily be an employee at Tony Manero’s Brooklyn dance studio.)

But yet, the Angels, and their actresses, look like they’re having a grand ol’ time playing dress up (especially Sabrna, who gets to don a pair of nutty glasses by playing Mrs. Wilson). Even Charlie himself gets in on the action this time, playing the real Wilson father – look sharp to see the back of his head and mostly obscured face, easily the most we’ve seen of him this season. Plus I do have to admit that the complex scheme they devise to entrap Cruz and Tony is mostly pretty clever, although once again things do have a way of working out a little to easily and cleanly.

Again, modern-era sensitivity to rape makes the scenes where Tony attempts to strip an “unconscious” Sabrina unintentionally troubling (even though he has intentions to go any further). However, the disco references don’t date one bit – we even hear Jill mention the Hustle in the epilogue. Groovy!

I’d say this one benefits from taut, clockwork writing, even if the general concept is sort of loopy.

Charlie sightings: Bosley’s “chauffer”; obscured view of face rejecting photos

Client: Laura Clusak

Plot difficulty level: 6

Rating: **1/2

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