Thursday, March 28, 2013

TV on DVD Review: Charlie's Angels - Season 1

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Fun if cheesy stories
Cons: Some slow episodes and bad acting
The Bottom Line:
A few are sub par
But 70's fun makes up
For any weak parts




"I Took Them Away from All That, and Now They Work for Me."

There is great television that captures the imagination with its complicated characters and plots. Then there are shows like the first season of Charlie's Angels that are mindless, fluff entertainment but completely fun in their own cheesy way.

The show focuses on three female police officers who quit their boring police jobs to work for mysterious millionaire Charlie Townsend (voiced by the never really seen John Forsyth). Sabrina (Kate Jackson), Jill (Farrah Fawcett), and Kelly (Jaclyn Smith) now work as private detectives handling cases for people who turn to Charlie for help. That usually requires the three of them to go undercover to gather the clues needed. Assisting them in any way needed is Bosley (David Doyle).

So what kind of cases do they take on in this season? Well, there's the aging film starlet who keeps seeing scenes from her old movies. There's the case of the rag doll strangler. The centerfolds at Feline Magazine keep dying. Jill goes undercover at a roller derby. And in the most famous episode of the season, the three ladies get themselves arrested to discover the fate of a woman arrested and never heard from again.

While the series will never be mistaken for great television, it is fun. Despite the cheese, the leads all give great performances. David Doyle is perfect as the comic relief character. This is the only season to feature all three of the original angels. The ladies are not only beautiful, but talented. They give their characters real personality that shines through every second they are on screen. And the chemistry between the three of them is perfect. You really believe they are friends. And there's an impressive display of guest stars including a young Tommy Lee Jones, Kim Basinger, and Tom Selleck. Also appearing are a pre-M*A*S*H David Ogden Stiers and a post-Bewitched David Sargent. Not all of the guest stars are good, however. Some are so over the top they make their episodes almost painful to watch. This is especially true of Ida Lupino in "I Will Be Remembered."

Unfortunately, the stories sometimes leave a little something to be desired at least for this mystery fan. Many of the cases are solved by coincidence with the details being explained to us in the last few minutes. Or, even worse, the villain attempts to kill one or more angel, giving themselves away in the process. Additionally, a couple of the episodes are clunkers, like "The Big Tap-Out" which is boring the entire way through.

Now that's not to say all of them are bad. "Dancing in the Dark" is highly entertaining with a couple twists and really made things interesting. Even though I knew the outcome, "Angels at Sea" had me on the edge of the seat for the last quarter. And watching the angels try to get any clue about Charlie is always fun.

Fans will enjoy watching this set, which contains the original two hour long pilot plus all 22 first season episodes. The only extra, a documentary on the popularity of the series, isn't that special. The set itself is a little weird. Each of the six discs is in its own sleeve, but none of them are labeled on the outside, meaning you have to slip each one out to find the disc you are looking for. The set also contains a booklet with a description of each episode. Read at your own risk, however, since the booklet spoils the majority of the episode.

The first season of Charlie's Angels is not great television. It was popular because it was fun. And, if you can ignore some of the flaws, it really still is.

Season 1 Episodes:
Pilot
1. Hellride
2. The Mexican Connection
3. Night of the Strangler
4. Angels in Chains
5. Target: Angels
6. The Killing Kind
7. To Kill an Angel
8. Lady Killer
9. Bullseye
10. Consenting Adults
11. The Seance
12. Angels on Wheels
13. Angel Trap
14. The Big Tap-Out
15. Angels on a String
16. Dirty Business
17. The Vegas Connection
18. Terror on Ward One
19. Dancing in the Dark
20. I Will Be Remembered
21. Angels at Sea
22. The Blue Angels

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