I always thought that Charlie’s Angels was one of those TV concepts, much like Doctor Who, that was very hard to get wrong. Three, beautiful, incredible, talented women fighting crime and flirting with a speakerphone. That, and lots of lots of HAIR. But how wrong I was. If you’re truly a glutton for punishment, can I recommend the rebooted Charlie’s Angels, starting tonight on E4.
Get it while it’s lukewarm, kids, this dud was canned after only four episodes in the US, although the remaining three episodes were allowed to run, taking the full season to a miserable seven episodes.
The concept was the same as ever, but with some important changes. There are three beautiful women (this time Annie Illonzeh, Minka Kelly and Rachael Taylor), once more at the beck-and-call of an anonymous millionaire (voiced by Alias’ Victor Garber). They do solve crimes. But that’s where the similarity to the 1976 original series ends. This time, the girls are hugely unconvincing reformed criminals – albeit ones who do ‘nice’ crimes for the ‘greater good’. It’s all a big ‘fallen angels’ spin. Additional efforts have also been made to add angst and backstory to each Angel – perhaps taking a tip from ‘Nikita’ or ‘Buffy’.
So how come it doesn’t work? This is where it becomes clear. THE WRITING IS AWFUL. I’m writing full-time these days, so I think I’m allowed to say that. The flim-flam, ‘feisty’ dialogue is toe-curling and the exposition comes thick and fast. The actors themselves are so miscast, one US TV critic commented ‘I am unconvinced of their ability to change a tyre, let alone bring down a human-traficker’. He has a point. The chemistry is all wrong too, not helped by the decision to bring in a ‘sexy’ Bosley in the comely form of Ramon Rodriguez. He’s meant to be the lovable comic relief, you idiots!
Such a shame. The original Angels, Kate Jackson, Jaclyn Smith and the late, stunning Farah Fawcett had such easy, laid-back banter. All were gorgeous, but relatable. The new, over-preened, Roland Mouret wearing gloss-gang aren’t believable as human beings. I knew things were off to a bad start when former Smallville show-runners, Alfred Gough and Miles Millar expressed a desire to move away from the ‘camp’ of the 2000 revival movie starring Drew Barrymore (who also added her name to this turd as an exec producer). Don’t they get it? ‘Camp’ is definded as ‘something that is appealing because of it’s style, taste and irony’. Man, they succeeded in making something without style, taste or irony.
Could it have worked? Absolutely, yes. First…make Charlie a woman. Having three women work at the whim of an anonymous old perv is ridiculous in 2011. She would have been voiced by Jaclyn Smith OBV. Second. It either had to retain the fun factor of the movies, or go ‘Nikita’ dark. Trying to do both was never going to work. I personally, would have gone a little darker, more in line with the 70s series. I would have had the girls solving a mystery each week, but have them slowly realise a much bigger, more sinister crime was taking place. Having them bring down drug lords EVERY WEEK is silly. Bosley would have been in the Bernie Mac/Bill Murray mould. The fallen angels line was a load of old pap, kill it. What was wrong with girls who thought being in the police was boring?
Finally, and most importantly, my Angels would have been mates – something the movies got spot on. I am so sick of catty verbal sparing between female characters. In real life, women don’t fire sassy one-liners around like a nightmare dimension in which Desperate Housewives was real. It is a depressing universal truth that in American TV, two beautiful female characters must compete and fight, until they inevitably realise they are on the same side and should join forces. Funny, in real life, people just seem to get on most of the time.
Actually, now that I’ve ranted about it, you should absolutely watch it. It’s so bad, it’s awful. Needed much more HAIR.