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This episode of Aaron Spelling's "Charlie's Angels", only the tenth show of the program's first season, already knew how to exploit Farrah Fawcett-Majors' appeal to budding male (and female) teenagers: put her on a skateboard and have her roll for her life! The Angels are assigned to the case of a missing man, an antiques dealer and sometime-mama's boy, who was also the unwitting victim of a prostitution/robbery racket. All three of our girls get a chance to shine here: Jaclyn Smith gently shakes down a bartender for vital info (just after ordering tequila with lime salt!); Kate Jackson climbs over a barbed-wire fence and into an industrial yard, only to be taken hostage by the two goons who pull off the robbery schemes; and Farrah, well, she aids in the nabbing of a prized racehorse and then outruns the nutcracker-wielding villain on her trusty skateboard. Sure, it's '70s kitsch, and not without flaws (the biggest lapse comes when Jill and Sabrina pick up the racehorse, with the horse's maniacal owner apparently nowhere in sight; they return to the office and call him, and he's right there on the property!). Still, the dialogue is sometimes fun (Farrah to prostie Laurette Spang: "Your name isn't Tracy. It rhymes with Stacy and Macy and all those other JIVE names hookers pick up!"). The repartee between the Angels ultimately holds this episode (and dozens of others) together, and when Bosley gets involved it's usually a hoot.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Angels always deliver an entertaining hour, and this episode is
another strong entry in the canon. The plot initially involves a
missing antiques dealer, but upon investigation the plot mushrooms to
include a prostitution and robbery racket, a prize race horse,
smuggling and syndicate-style cold-blooded murder.
Two especially enjoyable characters introduced early on were Cooley and Mumford as the burglars. They had an enjoyable repartee and I hoped to see more of them throughout the episode, but when they did reappear it was only to be viciously murdered gangland style by Mafia hit-man Ernesto. He even states the only reason he didn't murder Sabtrina was because he wasn't paid to kill her.
Sabrina is usually considered the "smart one," but in this episode she is "dumb and sloppy," the very words she used to describe Cooley and Mumford. Outside the warehouse, she radios Bosley, Jill and Kelly to give her location. She states the road she's on, but the transmission cracks up before she can give the cross street, and instead of waiting for a "roger" or some response from the others, she puts her radio away and rushes into the burglars' warehouse, where she is soon captured, bound and blindfolded. What was especially frustrating about her blunder was that it cost Cooley and Mumford their lives and prevented the capture of Ernesto and resolution of the case. Even more chilling, Sabrina shows absolutely no remorse or regret over the deaths that happened right behind her.
An iconic event from this episode is the infamous pursuit of Jill on a skateboard by a killer in an ice cream truck. For absolute ridiculousness, it ranks right up there with Lynda Carter's similar skateboard ride on WONDER WOMAN a couple years later. Actually, the same stuntman seems to have done the heavy lifting in both scenes, as is much more obvious on DVD than it was when first broadcast.
There wasn't even a compelling reason for the chase--Ernesto played fair and gave Jill the diamonds, and she supposedly gave him the whereabouts of the kidnapped racehorse Khaki. He wasn't making any hostile moves, so why did she kick over the trash can and run?
Upon the safe return of Clifton, Bosley asks him what his mother would think, but Clifton's mother Maggie is an old eccentric I doubt anyone would want for a mother. First, she shows very little real concern for her son's safety when the Angels interview her, preferring to tell tall tales of her time with Harry S. Truman. Then she takes a very cavalier attitude when Sabrina's breaks it to her that Clifton is a client of prostitutes (maybe whatever two consenting adults do is okay by Maggie, but the law states otherwise when one is soliciting hookers, high-priced or otherwise). And when at the end it looks like Clifton will be going to the clink for diamond smuggling, she is nonplussed, drinking her champagne and flippantly saying he'll learn a lesson. Ma Barker had more compassion for her boys than Maggie does for Clifton.
One especially despicable character who never got her comeuppance is Tracy the prostitute who stole the heart of the hapless and lonely antiques dealer (he keeps her picture on his nightstand and lavishes expensive gifts upon her). She heartlessly kept Clifton occupied while Cooley and Mumford robbed his shop, taking the ceramic frog on a nostalgic whim for Andy Devine's 1950s television show. Had they left that frog, none of this would have even happened. I liked that touch, how one small, seemingly insignificant thing sparks an avalanche of events.
Tracy was played by Laurette Spang, just a couple years before landing her best-known role as Cassiopeia on BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. She's beautiful, but lacking the heart of gold an amoral Hollywood likes to give its bad girls (though Bosley does note she's a UCLA Art History student with a 3.4 GPA). I liked the scene where she and Jill dish on the prostitution business in the powder room, Jill showing her own savvy with the street smarts so often attributed to Kelly. Less believable was Tracy's going along with Jill's scheme so quickly after discovering Jill in her apartment rifling through what seemed to be her LP collection (in search of what clues, besides her musical tastes?).
A fun episode all around, especially closing as it does with the recurring gag of Charlie having been nearby and the Angels eager to know what he looks like, here interrogating a poor cocktail waitress. Only 10 episodes in and it is clear why the series was a huge hit--well-written stories that are well told and enacted by a talented cast and welcome guest stars. The feeling that everyone was enjoying themselves making the series is contagious, as is the camaraderie among the four principal players.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In Consenting Adults,an antique dealer is burglarized of priceless art
objects. One of the stolen items is a ceramic frog that is stuffed with
Clifton Cunningham arrives at his gallery to discover that it has been robbed. His business associate Mr. Bialy (a former racketeer who now owns horses) is convinced that he staged the burglary; he kidnaps him and presses him for information. Cunningham's mother hires the Angels to locate him. They discover that his "girlfriend," Tracy Martell, is a longtime prostitute who arranges robberies for an alleged dating service. Jill tells Tracy of Cunningham's disappearance, and promises to help her deal with her legal woes if she aids them with a sting on her boss. After his captors convince him that Tracy is to blame for the robbery, Cunningham tells them her whereabouts. Bialy kidnaps Tracy, but agrees to release her if she tells them where her boss has taken the loot. Tracy's boss and friend catch Sabrina snooping outside their warehouse. Bialy's henchman soon arrives and shoots both men, but leaves Sabrina alone because she has been blindfolded and cannot identify him. He smashes an antique frog and removes a bag of diamonds, which Cunningham had smuggled back from a buying trip to South Africa. The Angels nab Bialy's prized racehorse and promise to return it in exchange for Cunningham and the diamonds. Jill double-crosses Bialy's henchman and eludes him on her new skateboard. The police catch up to Bialy, while Tracy skips town. Cunningham's mother is philosophical about her son's legal woes, reasoning that the time in prison might straighten him out.
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