Once upon a time, there were three little girls who went to the Police Academy; and they were each assigned very hazardous duties.
But I took them away from all that, and now they work for me. My name is Charlie.
1976-1981 ABC TV series about three female private eyes, who would receive their briefings from The Voice, "Charlie". It was later remade as a short-lived 2011 series with the same theme (there was also an aborted attempt at a remake in the early 1990s, but sans Charlie).Also spawned two feature films in the early 2000's which were implied to share some continuity with the original TV series (and with Jaclyn Smith from the original series making a cameo in one).The Original SeriesThree women, the Angels (originally Kate Jackson, the late Farrah Fawcett-Majors, and Jaclyn Smith), graduated from the Los Angeles police academy only to be assigned such duties as handling switchboards and directing traffic. They quit and were hired to work for the Charles Townsend Agency as private investigators. Their boss, Charlie (voiced by John Forsythe), is never seen full face (in some episodes the viewer gets to see the back of his head and his arms, talking through a phone while surrounded by beautiful women) assigning cases to the Angels and his liaison, Bosley (played by David Doyle), via a speaker phone.Charlie's Angels is episodic in nature, as opposed to serial, thus each episode shows the Angels finding themselves in new situations in which they would go undercover to investigate. The undercover aspect of the show creates much of the plot interest and tension. In the early seasons of the show, the Angels, under their assumed identities, use a combination of sexual wiles and knowledge learned for the situation in which they are being placed, but by the third and fourth seasons, the writing has a tendency to stray from the sex appeal and focus more on the case at hand. The fact that those women changed so often is purely irrelevant.The Revived SeriesBrought back to television in The New Tens, the series uses the same premise as the original, with Annie Ilonzeh, Minka Kelly, and Rachael Taylor as the Angels, and Ramón Rodriguez as Bosley. With the passing of John Forsythe (Charlie), executive producer Leonard Goldberg is the only constant across all three iterations of the franchise. Where the original Angels were all frustrated policewomen, the new Angels are all convicts getting a second chance from Charlie.Cancelled after four episodes (of eight produced).
A-Team Firing: Occasionally invoked. A variant - where people are shot, but rarely fatally - is also invoked frequently during the show's run (which in some respects may actually be closer to Truth in Television), which make the occasions where the trope is averted (often, surprisingly, by Kelly, the angel with the highest single body count) stand out.
Attempted Rape: In the early episode "Night of the Strangler", Sabrina comes surprisingly close to being "defiled" (as she calls it) until Kelly arrives and berates the guy for doing it. This is followed by some cringeworthy (by 2010's standards) joking around by Sabrina in which she states she might have let him go through with it if he was Robert Redford!
Bare Your Midriff: Virtually every regular cast member save for David Doyle got to do this at least once.
Beach Episode: "The Mexican Connection", "Angels in Paradise", "Angels of The Deep", "Hula Angels", "Island Angels" and "Waikiki Angels"
Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: In the pilot movie, Bosley has a superior named Woodville (played by David Ogden Stiers, who would wind up at the 4077th MASH a year later). The character was eliminated without explanation when the series proper began.
Early episodes featured a running gag in which Charlie would continually be shown in provocative circumstances with various women (usually accompanied by a Getting Crap Past the Radar quip or two). Soon, it was decided that Charlie too closely resembled Hugh Hefner and this aspect was downplayed considerably.
The pilot episode saw the Angels - and Bosley - taking their orders from a Jim Phelps-like character named Woodville. He was dropped without explanation and Bosley became the boss.
It goes without saying that it's a rare episode indeed where a male character is not seen oogling one or more of the angels.
Four-Temperament Ensemble: Although the cast of angels has changed drastically, the replacement characters still fit their respective temperaments for the most part despite their personality differences. Sabrina/Tiffany/Julie are choleric, Jill/Kris are sanguine, Kelly is melancholic, and Bosley is just about as phlegmatic as they come.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: Charlie himself sets a high bar in the first regular episode by working not one but two plain-as-day references to erections (while getting a massage from a sexy woman, yet!) into his initial mission briefing to the angels.
Girls Behind Bars: "Angels in Chains" and "Caged Angel". "Angels in Chains" also featured Chained Heat, with the three angels chained together while trying to escape from the prison warden.
Grilling the Newbie: New girl Tiffany is grilled by Kelly & Kris when they learn that she's actually met Charlie.
Knife-Throwing Act: "Circus of Terror" (with footage from this recycled for Cheryl Ladd's part of the opening credits thereafter)
Lingerie Scene: Although the Angels never wore lingerie under their clothes, they sometimes went undercover as underwear models, which resulted in many scenes with them wearing only lingerie.
Mood Whiplash: Two examples involving rare uses of deadly force by the heroines:
In "Angel Baby," Kris shoots a bad guy and there is an unexpected With These Hands moment afterwards. Unfortunately the writers or producers got cold feet about this because in the very next scene this dramatic moment is undermined when Charlie states that the guy Kris shot will recover.
"Angels on Vacation" plays out like a standard "city girls meet country bumpkins" storyline, rather lighthearted, until two men attempt to kill the Angels. In the ensuing gunbattle, Kelly shoots the two men to death (unlike Kris, she displays no remorse suggesting It Gets Easier is in play) and the episode takes a sharp turn from there.
Multiple Demographic Appeal: Depending on who you ask, the show was either a landmark step forward for feminism by showing smart, tough women defying the traditional roles of wife/secretary/housekeeper, or a slightly sexist Jiggle Show which consisted solely of hot women running around in bathing suits. They're kinda both right. (Even Farrah Fawcett once said that when the show reached #3 in the ratings, she thought it was because of their acting ability. When it reached #1, she admitted it was probably because they didn't wear bras.)
Sabrina Duncan leaves to get married after the third season.
Tiffany Welles leaves after the fourth season, said to have returned home to Boston.
The Seventies: The series is quite a period pieces, with lots of 70's fashions, designs, hairstyles and sets that may seem either cool or cheesy today.
Shirtless Scene: "Angels On Wheels", "Lady Killer", "Love Boat Angels", "Toni's Boys" and "Mr Galaxy".
Suspiciously Similar Substitute: All the "replacement" Angels on the original show, but Kris Munroe (Jill's kid sister) in particular (at least at first, but Kris soon developed her own unique personality).
Unique Pilot Title Sequence: The TV movie that served as a pilot has a different opening, as well as different bumpers showing the three Angels standing side by side. The closing credits also end with a still photo of the Angels (the same one used at the top of this article) as they say "Call us if you need us."
Vapor Wear: The Angels' trademark. Averted by Sabrina, who not only tended to wear less Stripperific clothing than her colleagues, but actually even wore a bra sometimes.
The revived series provides examples of:
Adaptational Attractiveness: Some reviewers wondered if this might not lead to a major plot hole. In the original series, where Bosley was older and out of shape, it made sense for him to stay at headquarters and let the Angels to the work, but when the new series made Bosley young, buff, and handsome, it would look odd. Eventually averted as Bosley did do a lot of work in the field this time around. (As it happens, this was a misplaced trope as the original Bosley was often in the field and even shot a few bad guys to save the Angels.)
The Alcatraz: The prison in "Angels in Chains". Oddly for this trope, the Angels don't actually manage to escape and are instead caught during their escape attempt.
Bilingual Dialogue: In "Angels in Chains" when Bosley in disguise talks in English to a Cuban National Revolutionary Police Force (Policía Nacional Revolucionaria) officer, who replied to the former in Spanish.
California Doubling: While the series is shot in Florida, there were some places (e.g. Cuba, some of the islands near Florida) that were shot in the state.