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", as well as a 2011 series with the same theme.Also spawned two feature films in the early 2000's.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).
Berserk Button: The normally calm and docile Bosley completely loses it when he witnesses Kelly being shot in the head in the final episode of the series.
Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: This was what they originally intended; however, Jaclyn Smith was able to change their minds during her audition. They finally got there when Tanya Roberts joined in the last season.
Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: In the pilot movie, Bosley has an assistant 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.
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.
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.
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.)
The Seventies: The series is quite a period pieces, with lots of 70's fashions, designs and sets that may seem either cool or cheesy today.
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.
Vapor Wear: The Angels' trademark. Sometimes averted by Sabrina, who not only tended to wear less Stripperific clothing than her colleagues, but occasionally actually seemed to be wearing a bra.
What Could Have Been: Reportedly it was Ayn Rand's favourite show and Farrah Fawcett was her top choice for the role of Dagny Taggart if Atlas Shrugged was ever turned into a movie.note Unfortunately the movie version arrived two years after Miss Fawcett passed away.
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.
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.
Mythology Gag: The Townsend Agency's signage notes that it was founded in 1976.
Same thing with the safe deposit box as it had the same numbers too.
The Pete Best or The Other Marty: Robert Wagner was set to be the voice of Charlie (replacing the late John Forsythe) but was prevented by scheduling conflicts; ultimately Victor Garber supplied Charlie's voice.
Shout-Out: In the episode "Angel with a Broken Wing", the Angels mention Call of Duty after they find a disassembled sniper rifle.
Why We Can't Have Nice Things: In "Bon Voyage, Angels", the Angels meet with Scott Foster. They all "like him", until Bosley tells them that he's engaged.