Saturday, February 11, 2017

Charlie’s Angels 2:3 “Pretty Angels All in a Row”

Airdate: 9/28/77 

A mysterious intruder plants a tarantula in the hotel room of one of the “Miss Chrysanthemum” beauty pageant contestants, who reacts with a scream that could wake the dead. The Iowan pageant’s organizer, Ben Prawl, is now losing spooked girls right and left, so he enlists Charlie’s services, with Kris and Kelly losing a coin toss to go undercover as contestants (gee, what are the chances?), while Sabrina and Bosley use documentary filmmakers as their cover.

It’s not long before we meet the ostensible culprits: a couple of sinister Southern boys, who proceed to use Kris for target practice, drop a 40-lb. sandbag during a dance rehearsal, accost and kidnap one of the judges, and bribe and blackmail the replacement judge. The thugs turn out to be working for a Texas tycoon, whose daughter absolutely has to win the pageant at all costs (mainly so she can be used as the company’s sexy spokesperson), All seems to go according to plan until the thugs, relieved of their dastardly duties when their boss disapproves of the kidnapping, figures to take their own ransom for the job, and abducts Sabrina for some extra loot on the side. But thanks to a clever code phrase (“Beau Geste”), the Angels thwart the plot, albeit more than a bit disappointed for not even making the finals!

Less plot, more T&A seems to be the order of the season thus far, and certainly for this episode, where you see more skin than you did in any handful of last year’s shows. Certainly not complaining, mind you, but I’m struck by the fact that this season you have no real mysteries; in “Pretty Angels,” you know who the dastardly evil-doers are by the second reel, and all that’s left to be revealed is their motive. Once that’s found out by the 2/3rd mark, we sort of get a tack-on subplot, the sole purpose of which is to set up a physical encounter during which they can be apprehended. Agatha Christie it sure ain’t.

But maybe I’m quibbling. The episode is still engaging, and it is a heck of a lot of fun to see the Angels at a beauty pageant. Cheryl Ladd as Kris gets to show off her magic skills (and they’re definitely not bad), while Jaclyn does a supremely sexy routine in a skintight black leotard. They’re so good that it’s hard to believe they don’t win, let alone place, but it’s all explained in the end: Charlie reveals that their covers were blown before the final decision, effectively disqualifying them from the competition. Whew, all egos remain unbruised!

Red herring alert: Cutthroat competitor Grace Cooley is not the real antagonist (that would be Miss Texas, whose dad is playing foul to ensure her victory). But she’s still a nasty b**ch, and well played by 70’s TV star Bobbie Mitchell (a semi-regular on the early days of M*A*S*H). I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of her, perhaps less of the kidnapping story.

Another character actor alert: Burton Gilliam as one of the thugs, who specializes in playing “Yee-haw” good-ol’ boys. You definitely know him, if for nothing else than as the racist cowboy in Blazing Saddles. And don’t forget extremely prolific TV star of the 50s and 60s Patricia Barry. She plays Millicent, the kidnapped judge, with plenty of spunk and verve.

A lightweight but spicy entry, with fresh-faced Ladd settling nicely in.

Client: Ben Prawl

Plot difficulty level: Around a 4. 

Rating:  ***

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