TV series about a wealthy mystery-man who runs a detective agency via a speaker-phone and his personal assistant, Bosley. His detectives are three beautiful women, who end up in a variety of difficult situations. The cast changed substantially over the life of this show, as actresses left for various movie, TV, and modeling deals. Written by
Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
Once upon a time, three little girls went to the police academy. and they were each assigned very hazardous duties, but I took them all away from all that and now they work for me. My name is Charlie. Those famous words started the all time greatest TV show in history Charlie's Angels. When the pilot aired in March of 1976, it starred Farrah Fawcett Majors as Jill who was the athletic angel, Jaclyn Smith as Kelly who was the streetwise angel, Kate Jackson as Sabrina who was the cool smart, multilingual leader, David Doyle as John Bosley, David Ogden Stiers as Scott Woodville and John Forsythe as the voice of Charlie. Kate Jackson was aboard from the beginning of the project, and was set to play the lead angel. Farrah Fawcett was the next to join; filling the blonde role, but then the producers dropped the hair color concept and brought in Jaclyn Smith to complete the trio. Many of the scenes used in the opening credits of the show are from this pilot episode. Then in the fall of September of 1976 ABC introduce the three stunning, sexy and young former police officers, private detectives working for the Charles Townsend Detective Agency with the entire crew back except David Ogden Stiers. In the opening sequence of the first season no one knew where the Angels went to the police academy. The wealthy Charlie Townsend, their never-seen boss, relayed assignments via a speaker telephone. The Angels worked with their trusty male counter-part, John Bosley. After only 23 episodes, Farrah left the show at the end of the first season. When Farrah Fawcett left the series, her absence was explained by having her character Jill become a professional racing driver on the NASCAR circuit. Along with a new Angel, the show received a new time slot. The Angels remained on Wednesday nights, but moved from 10pm to 9pm. This change in time opened up a whole world of new viewers who wanted to know what the big fuss was all about and kept the "Angels" right where they belong - on top of the ratings! The 1977-1978 season ended with high ratings, proved that Kris, Cheryl Ladd, was every bit as popular with the viewers as Farrah. In the 1979-1980 season, the answer came with Shelley Hack, a model who had been prominent in Revlon's "Charlie" Perfume ads and commercials. Shelley entered The Townsend Office as Tiffany Welles, an Ivy League scholar who also was a graduate from the Boston Police Academy. Spelling and Goldberg had the idea that with this new Angel/model at the helm, she could bring an elegant and classy touch to Charlie's trio! Kate Jackson's absence was explained by having Sabrina getting married and starting a family. The writers treaded lightly as they tried to figure out how to make Tiffany Welles the new "Sabrina Duncan". The 1979-1980 seasons' problem was the sudden decline in ratings. The series found itself in the top 20's instead of the top 10 were it had been for the last three years. The ratings drop was directed at the new Angel and at the end of the season, Shelley was let go of her detective duties. Thus, beginning, for another hunt for a new Angel! By 1980, Charlie's Angels was beginning to feel its age and was declining fast. Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg wanted to go with a fresh new image. After careful consideration, they decided to hire virtually unknown actress, Tanya Roberts. This time around, the character would be a model-turned-detective, street-smart Julie Rogers. The new Angel showed her face in the three-hour 1980-1981 season premiere on November 30, 1980. High hopes were placed on Charlie's newest Angel to pull the series out its failing ratings. To help give it an added boost, the Angels were sent to Hawaii for the first six episodes. Hawaii wasn't only chosen to intrigue the audience but to keep the Angels scantily clad in swimsuits! Charlie's opening monologue has now undergone a complete overhaul. It begins, "Once upon a time, there were three beautiful girls. Two of them graduated from the police academy. The other graduated from a top school for models. And they each reaped the rewards of their exciting careers Bosley looks over brochures of Hawaii in anticipation of the Angels' possible assignment there. Charlie arranges for Julie to receive a probationary investigator's license and begin working with Kris and Kelly. Unfortunately, at this point, the audience was no longer keeping up with the Angels antics. In February 1981, the show went on hiatus and wasn't shown again until June of 1981. Charlie's Angels was not winning any viewers in the summer of '81 with its remaining episodes. The show that had made women crime fighters popular during the 1970's was taken off the air. Charlie's Angels was a huge success the moment it hit the airwaves in 1976. The Angels were on gum cards, doll boxes, T-shirts, board games, puzzles and posters. If you wanted to hire the Angels you had to call the office phone number was 555-0267. Kelly Garrett (Jaclyn Smith) was the only Angel to last the entire series. Kelly was an orphan. John Forsythe' was never on the set - his voice was recorded, and dubbed in later. The Angels all drove Ford automobiles. Jill (and later Kris) drove a Cobra, Kelly drove a Mustang, and Sabrina drove a Pinto. For the record, Bosley drove a Ford L.T.D. Although Charlie was never heard, he did actually appear in a couple of episodes, but his face was never shown. Kelly is the only Angel to have been shot throughout the run of the show. Sabrina was the only Angel that was previously married. She was married to a fellow officer when she was still a cop but the marriage ended in divorce.
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