[07/06/11 - 11:18 PM]
The Futon's First Look: "Charlie's Angels" (ABC)
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

Please note: As a courtesy, please do not reproduce these comments to newsgroups, forums or other online places. Links only please.

Welcome once again to our annual "first look" at the broadcast networks' offerings for the 2011-2012 season, now in its sixth year! Each day we'll walk you through one of the new series set to premiere next season (or one that didn't make the cut) and go over our initial impressions after viewing the pilot. Keep in mind that a lot can change from what's being screened right now - recasting, reshooting, etc. - but we still want to give you a heads up on what you should (and shouldn't) keep on your radar in the coming months. So enough of our rambling, on with the show!

[IMPORTANT NOTE: The following is based on the original sales presentation which was screened to us privately or supplied by a third party NOT an informational, not-for-review screener provided by the network in question.]

(written by Miles Millar & Alfred Gough; directed by Marcos Siega; TRT: 41:35)

The network's description: "Everyone deserves a second chance -- even a thief, a street racer and a cop who got in a little too deep. After all, the three women who solve cases for their elusive boss, Charlie Townsend, are no saints. They're angels... Charlie's Angels. Set in Miami, this fun, glamorous, action-packed take on the 1970s smash hit series introduces us to three new angels, all fearless detectives, head-turning beauties and close friends. There's Abby (Rachael Taylor), a Park Avenue princess who became a world-class thief. Then there's Kate (Annie Ilonzeh), a Miami cop who fell from grace, losing both her career and her fiancé. Finally there's Gloria, a disgraced army lieutenant who has a way with explosives. When one of the angels' missions ends in Gloria's tragic death, Charlie persuades them to partner with Gloria's childhood friend, Eve (Minka Kelly), a street racer with a mysterious past.

They may not know each other yet, but one thing's for sure -- Abby, Kate and Eve will always have each others' backs. "Charlie's Angels" stars Annie Ilonzeh ("General Hospital") as Kate Prince, Minka Kelly ("Parenthood," "Friday Night Lights") as Eve, Rachael Taylor ("Grey's Anatomy") as Abby Sampson and Ramon Rodriguez ("The Wire," "Daybreak") as Bosley. Written and executive-produced by Alfred Gough & Miles Millar ("Smallville"), "Charlie's Angels" is also executive-produced by Drew Barrymore ("Charlie's Angels" movies), Leonard Goldberg (the original "Charlie's Angels") and Nancy Juvonen ("Charlie's Angels" movies). It's directed and executive-produced by Marcos Siega ("Vampire Diaries," "Dexter"). "Charlie's Angels" is produced by Millar/Gough Ink, Flower Films and Panda Productions in association with Sony Pictures Television."

What did they leave out? Robert Wagner was originally tagged as the voice of Charlie however it's not his voice on the temp track.

The plot in a nutshell: "Once upon a time there were three young women who got into very big trouble," Charlie Townsend explains in the opening narration: Park Avenue princess-turned-thief Abby (Rachael Taylor), decorated Marine-turned-court martialed outcast Gloria (Nadine Velazquez) and dedicated police detective-turned-dirty cop Kate (Annie Ilonzeh). "They each made mistakes but I gave them a second chance. And now they work for me. My name is Charlie." And with that we're dropped into the angels' - and their handler Bosley's (Ramon Rodriguez) - latest mission: rescuing a 16-year-old runaway being held by a child trafficker.

It's a task that surprisingly ends with Gloria's death, surveillance video of which captures a fellow statuesque woman (Minka Kelly) fleeing the scene on a motorcycle. She's ultimately revealed to be Eve, a career car thief just released from prison. Eve however isn't the responsible party, rather she was helping Gloria look into the true culprit: real estate mogul/smarmy nightlife fixture Nestor Rodrigo (Carlos Bernard) who has a history with them both. And so with Charlie's blessing, Abby, Kate and Bosley find themselves reluctant partners with wild card Eve. Taking down one of the biggest names in Miami however isn't without its challenges, the largest of which may be coming to terms with the fact they're angels of justice, not vengeance.

What works: Considering its unabashed view of itself, it's hard to work up any critical praise or bile for the show. Either you're up for pretty girls in tight outfits kicking down doors or you aren't as "Charlie's Angels" only concerns itself with preaching to the converted. Taylor, Kelly and Ilonzeh are likeable enough albeit relatively indistinguishable: they all talk the tough girl talk and walk the tough girl, giving those who have wronged the innocent their proper comeuppance. To its credit, "Angels" tries to give each of them their own unique drive and backstory but...

What doesn't: ...it comes across as white noise lost amongst a sea of heavy handed angel metaphors and eye-rolling dialogue. Nary an act passes without some kind of hamfisted reference to the show's title, from the heaven and hell party the girls have to crash to get close to Rodrigo (where the girls wear devil costumes to pass as caterers) to the literal "angel" that once saved Eve's life. Then there's the painfully trite dialogue - Bosley: "Ding! Ding! I love a cat fight but ladies, please, back to your corners."; Rodrigo, while torturing Eve: "Had enough?" Eve: "Just getting warmed up."; Kidnapped Girl: "You don't look like cops." Kate: "We're not." Abby: "We're angels."; Kate, observing Abby climbing a wall: "Abby put the cat in cat burglar."; Gloria, forcing a bad guy to play along: "You're going to make a phone call and you better be Oscar worthy." - that constantly takes the air out of the show's mechanizations. All in all though, it's hard to take umbrage with these things when the show clearly sees them as assets.

The bottom line: I unfortunately don't.

  [july 2011]  


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