Monday, July 25, 2016

Charlie’s Angels 1:22 “The Blue Angels”

Airdate: 5/4/77

A police chief enlists the angels to get behind a blown vice squad raid at the Paradise “massage” parlor, in which an in-cahoots cop, Howard Fine, has just murdered its crooked manager, who in turn had murdered a rowdy customer who had beaten a hooker unconscious (don’t be late for this episode). Sabrina goes undercover as a visiting vice cop, assigned to assist a skeptical Klein; Kelly poses as a masseuse, attempting to get the skinny from the lades’ side of things; and Jill and Bosley are set up as managers of their own fake parlor. 

But when Sabrina nearly gets run down in a back alley, all eyes are on the cops, and in particular the leadfoot cadets John Barton and Ted Miller; Kelly “reenlists” at the academy to shadow them. The final straw – the unconscious hooker is on the verge of IDing “Doc,” the cop on the take, and they get the hard evidence they need when he extorts 200 dollars a week from Bosley’s new establishment. The Angels’ cover gets blown (thanks to Sabrina’s ex-hubby), and it all comes down to a showdown at a car junkyard, not ending so fine for Fine.

Season one of the series ends with a meh episode that promises a lot more spice than it delivers, Farrah’s twirly dance in a braless sundress notwithstanding. But of course, it was the 70s still, and standards and practices didn’t loosen up the reins a bit until the 80s, when Miami Vice introduced a more hardcore look at vice crime. But even without delving into the seedy underbelly of its subject matter, this one’s pretty much a snoozer, only generating a bit of suspense at the end when Fine learns of Sabrina’s true purpose and you can see the evil wheels turning inside his head.

It’s a bit of fun to see a pre-Starbuck Dirk Benedict on the show as one of the nefarious police cadets (still not 100% sure why they needed trainees to do their dirty work), and a pre-pre Growing Pains Joanna Kerns gets to show some of her own pains as the hospital-bed bound, roughed-up parlor girl. But the overall best performance comes from steely Ed Lauter as Fine himself, reminding me of a Craig T, Nelson everyman type. We may be seeing more of him in future Angels adventures. 

And, of course, it is with this episode that we bid a fond farewell to Farrah; she left the show as a regular cast member at the end of the first season, offering no actual reason but implying the stress of her separation from husband Lee Majors and the yearning to peruse other projects. As she broke a five-year contract, however, ABC offered her a deal to return to the show in six guest appearances, which she accepted, so Jill Monroe will return, don’t you worry.

Angels finished fifth in the ratings at the end of Season 1, with little or no competition from the other networks. So, according to network logic, ABC moved it ahead an hour, to 9PM, where it competed with some of Norman Lear’s megahits One Day at a Time and The Jerffersons. Would it still do well? Stay tuned, true believers.

But back to the ep: decent enough, but no fireworks.

Client: Captain Rogers (the police chief)

Plot difficulty level: 6 (just somewhat confusing in the beginning)

Rating: **1/2  (and too bad; they were on a roll about two-thirds into the season)

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