Charlie is Dead, Long Live Charly!

I have recently been watching the first TV series of Charlie’s Angels from 1976 downloaded an episode at a time to my Apple TV – how would they live it up to my adolescent memory of them?

Those motives for watching Charlie’s Angels were not sophisticated!  – three beautiful women and I loved the blond ones the most – first Farrah Fawcett then Cheryl Ladd – because they were blond – shame on me! My other program of choice was The Bionic Woman which I had been introduced too via The Six Million Dollar Man such were my eleven year old tastes in television!

Watching them again was as much then a nostalgia exercise and I enjoy watching television from past decades as much for what is being revealed ‘off-camera’ – the styles of the time in cars, clothes, music, its home interiors and technology – as much as the on screen action.

I have not been disappointed with the on-screen action so far – I am only three episodes in so it could become formulaic and I will update this post again if so – but so far the plots are good and acted well.

The writing is good too but the dialogue is bedevilled by male-chauvinism – that was reflective of its time – all four decades ago! – so the dialogue is going to reflect that I think if unintentionally. The BBC crime drama Ashes to Ashes better relived this a few years back with its more knowing ironic revamp with the compelling Keeley Hawes at the helm as Alex Drake coming face to face with the Seventies in the guise of Gene Hunt played with zest by Philip Glenister as the unreconstructed male chauvinist.

Kate Jackson as Sabrina

Kate Jackson as Sabrina

Time has also changed my impressions of the Angels themselves – I no longer judge a woman by the colour of her hair!   My favourite angels now are Sabrina Duncan and Kelly Garrett – not a blond hair in sight!

Charlie’s Angels I believe was quite a progressive program for its time – Cagney & Lacey was still not upon our screens and not one, not two but three female crime fighting agents was of precedent – though they were still overseen by men – their boss Charlie and his public face Bosley – the opening sequence opines with a wink in its voice ‘once upon a time there were three little girls that went to the police academy’…much of the dialogue between them and Charlie proceeds along those lines – what a loveable rogue middle-aged Charlie is with his extra-marital activities!

Jaclyn Smith as Kelly Garrett

Then there is the way the Angels and other female cast members are sometimes treated – the episode I most recently watched – The Mexican Connection – they were expected to infiltrate the male drug gang it seemed by making themselves available to be kissed, groped and if required bedded – clearly not a progressive message there.

A new series is being made in the US and I am looking forward to seeing how it will be updated for this decade. The Bionic Woman was itself remodelled a few years back with the excellent Michelle Ryan in the shoes of bionic Jamie Sommers – that series alas did not get beyond one series of eight episodes.  I hope this remake proves more enduring.

And that Charlie too is better served – perhaps it would be better if he were retired and that Charlie became Charly – perhaps played by Kate Jackson or Jaclyn Smith! – with no need for the angels to run it by the boys first before they put the world to right!

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