Charlie’s Angles was never a really good show. It was, as was the case with most of the entertainment that Aaron Spelling produced, easily digestible. The premise was simple— a creepy, middle aged dude named Bosley (David Doyle), with the voice of a gravel-chewing pug and the looks to match, manages the Townesend Detective Agency, which is staffed entirely by attractive women with distinctively excellent records in law enforcement. They work for a faceless man named Charley, who gives his “Angels” assignments via speakerphone.
Why is this relevant, right here and now? Is it the new Elizabeth Banks movie that was inspired by the “classic” series? Nah. It’s Bleeding Cool‘s Television Editor Ray Flook, and his desire to inflict endless pain on me for panning his beloved The Walking Dead. This year, I joked about writing up Charlie’s Angels, and the rest was history.
When Charlie’s Angels started in 1976, the series was immediately derided by critics as being “jiggle television”, and was written off as garbage. Once the show debuted, however, it was an immediate hit. It appears the American public likes a little joggle to their garbage, and the series enjoyed several seasons in the highlight.
When the fourth season of Charlie’s Angels kicked off, Spelling and his co-producer decided have the Angels pursue an antiquities thief on the high seas— via another Spelling production, The Love Boat. Hence, Love Boat Angels came to life, and the world has never been the same— at least I haven’t been the same, for reasons that will become clear in a moment. I set out to absorb the mediocre wonderment that is Love Boat Angels, but there is no way in hell I was paying for it. The first half was pretty easy to track down, but the second half was incredibly elusive. I was moments away from buying the episode on a streaming site, but I found a Cantonese dub that somehow made the whole experience incredible.
Love Boat Angels starts with an armored truck heist, with ’70s handsome Paul Hollister (Bert Convy) using a helicopter to steal said truck. This heist takes about 10 minutes to pull off, with lots of shots of Paul giving the thumbs up to his partner. It’s a real nail-biter. They drop their precious cargo from about 300 feet in the air, which busts up the armored truck but somehow leaves the precious artifacts within intact.
Cut to the Charley’s Angels clubhouse, and Kris Munroe (Cheryl Ladd) and Sabrina Duncan (Kate Jackson) are waiting to meet their new partner, Tiffany Welles (Shelley Hack). A buxom, bubble headed woman comes into the room, and hijinks ensue. The newcomer is not their new partner, just the linen service. It’s the ’70s, though, so the scene is an exercise in scripted, casual misogyny shot through a pastel lens and a too-small tee shirt. I am beginning to understand why the show was called jiggle television. My head is starting to hurt, too— we’re 14 minutes into the episode, and not a single kung-fu fight has broken out.
The Angles are assigned to retrieve the stolen antiquities, but have to board the Pacific Princess (that’s The Love Boat to you, doll) to do so. The crew of The Love Boat do some silly Love Boat stuff, and Chris falls in love with Paul so fast that Anakin and Padme’s courtship in Attack of the Clones seems downright stable.
Uh-oh, Paul is in trouble with his partners, and some cast-offs from a Smokey and the Bandit tribute show decide it’s time to show off how well the Love Boat set can handle a little stage tussle. If this fight goes on much longer, the set will break for sure. I’m really hopeful that a ninja shows up.
It’s about this point in the episode that I started drinking, hoping to dull the pain.
Bosley is back in Los Angeles, following up on another lead with a ridiculously small camera. Meanwhile, Tiffany and Sabrina check in with Charley, who mumbles some stuff about crime. Charley sounds an awful lot like Mr. Peabody from the Bullwinkle cartoons— maybe he can take me back in time so I can stop myself from watching this show.
Paul’s assailants show up again to ruin Chris’ casual bikini party, wearing short pastel shorts with striped knee socks. It’s a fashion miracle! Chris plays coy to figure out some background dirt on Paul, and finds out about his dead ex girlfriend. It’s played with all the gravitas and subtlety of a Uwe Boll movie.
One thing about in Charlie’s Angels, though— the lip gloss budget must have exceeded the GDP of most third world countries.
Bosley finally talks to Ms. Case (Lee Travis), who seriously has the line delivery of a palette of cinder blocks. The exchange is made all the better by Doyle’s rough, gravely voice, which gives the entire scene enough thrills for me to down several stiff drinks. Ms. Case’s lip gloss game is on point, though, even if her line delivery makes me want to inflict blunt trauma on my own head.
I’m starting to wonder how much of this show’s budget was spent on cocaine. My grandmother loved The Love Boat, and Charlie’s Angels, too— I’m starting to wonder if she did a lot of cocaine. That’s the only explanation I have for all of this.
Paul and Chris are getting downright cuddly, because it’s the ’70s and cocaine makes you fall in love quickly. Plus, Paul has his Seduction Polo on, and no-one can resist the power of brown and white stripes.
It’s beach time, that means it’s also pastel swimsuit time. Paul’s burly mustache buddies show up and haul him and Chris away for a meeting with Cowboy Carl, who wants to know where his antiquities are— and that’s the end of part one.
It’s early afternoon, I’m too drunk to focus on anything, and my dinner guests will be here in an hour. And there’s still another episode of this riveting entertainment to go?
Seriously, why do I do this to myself every year?
Part 2, though, is a treat unlike any other. The Cantonese dub is just about the greatest thing I have ever experienced, and I think I might go back and watch all the old ’70s shows this way. The line delivery is so excited and over the top, even Ms. Case is fun to watch! Kris and Paul’s sudden love affair makes perfect sense! Bosley doesn’t sound like an asthmatic bulldog anymore! I’m so freaking happy! It’s a Thanksgiving miracle!
Or I might be really drunk. Time will tell. Love Boat Angels is a classic example of how good modern television is, despite your racist uncle telling you otherwise. Pass on the version that aired in the U.S. and do yourself a favor and indulge in the foreign language dubs. You’ll feel better in the end!