Back in the late 1970s Charlie's Angels
was wildly popular television at its most self-consciously banal. The jiggly, joggly jolly first series' three (and best-remembered) belles--lioness Farrah Fawcett (then Farrah Fawcett-Majors), pin-up babe Jaclyn Smith and thinking man's beauty Kate Jackson--were something like primetime Spice Girls, gracing countless magazine covers and bestselling posters. The idea (even if a fan of the show didn't happen to be a straight male) was that one was compelled to choose a favourite angel as a kind of ink-blot window into one's subconscious life.
While the 2000 Angels feature film kept faith with the original show's self-mockingly sloppy storytelling, there's nothing like seeing the old episodes for a lesson in narrative hubris. Basically, the three leading characters were bored policewomen wooed away to a private firm owned and operated by the unseen sybarite, Charlie (voiced--over speakerphone--by an uncredited John Forsythe). After a long set-up each week, the girls' investigations typically saw them going undercover as fashion models--no great stretch--in "Night of the Strangler", nurses in "Terror on Ward One", roller-derby stars in "Angels on Wheels" and vulnerable convicts (of course) in "Angels in Chains". The exploitation factor is not as bad as it might have been. The cast was so glamorous, their chemistry so perfect, that Charlie's Angels never became a mere meat market. Despite such nods to modernity as Fawcett's no-bra look, the episodes were old-fashioned in their heroine-in-peril appeal, yet there was a difference: the Angels looked out for themselves and each other. --Tom Keogh
Two episodes from the classic 1970s TV show, both featuring the original line-up: Kate Jackson, Jaclyn Smith and Farrah Fawcett. 'Night of the Strangler' finds the glamorous crimebusting trio tracking down a murderer while also working as underwear models. 'To Kill an Angel' sees the girls investigate after Kelly (Smith) is injured while trying to protect a young child from a bunch of hired killers.