September 30, 2011

THE SKED’S PILOT + 1 REVIEW: “Charlie’s Angels”

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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A lot can happen between the creation of a TV pilot in the spring and production of episodes for the regular season:  a writing/producing team is hired, audience focus groups weigh in, networks and studios (which may have had their own turnover in the off-season) give plenty of notes, both helpful and otherwise, and critics begin to rear their ugly heads.  The results can include changes to tone, pace, casting and even story.  Here at THE SKED, we’re going to look past the pilots and present reviews of the first regular episodes of this year’s new series as well.
Previously… on CHARLIE’S ANGELS:  Stop me if you’ve heard this before:  3 gorgeous women–disgraced ex-cop Kate (Annie Ilonzeh), ex-jewel thief Abby (Rachael Taylor) and ex-car thief Eve (Minka Kelly)–have all reformed and gone to work as private detectives for the unseen Charlie Townsend (voice of Victor Garber), working along with Bosley (Ramon Rodriguez).  

Episode 2:  Here are 2 fun factoids about the first regular episode of Charlie’s Angels.  First, the episode was actually written (by Executive Producer/re-developers Alfred Gough & Miles Millar and Producer Sony Staglione) to be the third episode of the series, but ABC moved it up to air immediately after the pilot on the theory that it was markedly better than the second episode that was shot (which will air next week)–so this is the network’s idea of the show putting its best foot forward.  Second, the episode was directed by Angela Robinson, whose credits include the 2004 Sapphic action-comedy D.E.B.S., a movie one might easily see as having been influenced in interesting ways by prior incarnations of the Angels story.

Unfortunately, those are the sum total of worthwhile or fun aspects to the episode, which is almost entirely dull and routine.  A Charlie’s Angels that isn’t an escapist fantasy isn’t much, and having a storyline set among aspiring fashion models, with a couple of the leads donning what are supposed to be designer outfits for a few scenes, doesn’t get it done.  The dialogue is so uninspired it practically feels phonetic (when Eve leaps on a suspect and pulls him off a dock into the water because she thought he had a gun, someone says “She certainly knows how to make a splash!”), and the plotting is truly woeful.  In order for the story to move forward, characters have to act like idiots (cops don’t even look at an air vent that’s hanging partly open, no one notices a “security guard” making his rounds while carrying a military-style metal briefcase), all in service of something about an Eastern European hit man who has to fake a green card marriage to a model just so he can be in place to kill the Russian president’s wife.  I think.  
There’s also a mild and ineffective attempt at characterization, as the episode introduces Kate’s ex, who was also her police partner before he dumped her both as colleague and fiance after her scandal, and who’s now moved to Miami so they can have awkward encounters all through the episode, culminating in her realizing that what they had wasn’t really love after all.    

The stars, at least two of whom have proven to be talented in the past (the jury is still out on Ilonzeh, based on her try at being “serious” toward the end of this episode), aren’t even called upon to be sexy–just pretty, in an almost antiseptic way.  There’s no fun to any of it, and even as a dumb cop show, the action here would be considered unimpressive on basic cable. 

Charlie’s Angels could work for people who want something attractive playing on the TV screen while they surf online or have a conversation, paying attention for a few seconds every five minutes or so.  But for people who are actually watching the set, it offers little in the way of entertainment value.

Original Verdict:  If Nothing Else Is On…

Pilot + 1:  Community and Parks & Recreation Are Only a Button Away

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."