Charlie’s Angels

Sabrina Duncan, Jill Munroe, Kelly Garrett, Kris Munroe, Tiffany Welles, Julie Rogers, Natalie Cook, Dylan Sanders, Alex Munday, Kate Prince, Eve French, Abby Sampson, Sabina Wilson, Elena Houghlan and Jane Kanos

Created by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts

“Once upon a time there were three beautiful 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.”
–spoken intro to each and every show.

CHARLIE’S ANGELS was either the greatest discrepancy between quality and popularity known to television, or simply good, clean, escapist entertainment, spray-painted with seventies-style female “empowerment.”

It did have a sort of style, I guess: the slick music and the sharp clothes of, say, Peter Gunn, replaced by the hairspray, the nipples and the crazed rapist-of-the-week. But this was, more than anything, the “archetypal jiggle show.” It was really awful, really.

Or awfully fun.

The premise was simple enough: three female police academy grads from Los Angeles, bored with the dull, non-challenging duties so many policewomen were saddled with at the time, are recruited by the mysterious but wealthy Charie Townshend of Townshend Investigations to be his operatives.

Dashiell Hammett this ain’t.

Me? I’m still not convinced it was any kind of real blow for sisterhood, or any kind of improvment on the image of women, as the cast and crew originally, laughingly contended. The Angels’ chief M.O. was to go undercover, which meant that over the course of the series they went incognito in such shockingly non-traditional female roles as fashion models, inmates in a women’s prison, playmate centerfolds, nurses, massage parlour workers, exotic dancers, figure skaters, beauty contestants, stewardesses (Oh, sorry. “Flight attendants”), cheerleaders and of course call girls. As Max Allan Collins quipped in The Best of Crime & Detective TV, they did “more damage to the cause of feminism than the Susan B. Anthony dollar.”

Sheesh, even Barbie was a better role model. And in some cases less plastic.

It didn’t take long for even the show’s own stars to deride its blatant sexism. As Farrah Fawcett-Majors noted at the time, “When the show was number three, I figured it was our acting. When it got to be number one, I decide it could only be because none of us wears a bra.”

Well, duh…

Originally, JILL MUNROE (played by Fawcett-Majors) was the “athletic” one, KELLY GARRETT (Jaclyn Smith) was the “tough” one (a former showgirl who had been around) and by default, SABRINA DUNCAN (Kate Jackson) was the “smart” one. But Farrah’s sudden emergence as some sort of sex symbol went right to her blow-dried head, and she left the show after just one season, to be replaced by Cheryl Ladd in the role of her younger, feisty sister, KRIS. Soon, introducing a new Angel got to be an almost-annual event. The off-screen hunt for new Angels, in fact, proved to be more entertaining and more interesting than the show itself, which was coming apart at the seams. Shelley Hack came on as TIFFANY WELLES in the fourth season to replace Sabina (Kate Jackson) but she was replaced a year later by  Tanya Roberts  as JULIE ROGERS in the fifth season.

Charlie was never seen, preferring to deliver his instructions through a speaker phone (his voice was actually that of actor John Forsythe), and through his go-between, the bumbling Bosley (David Doyle), who served as office manager and purported comic relief.

Only in the final episode, when Kelly is lying in a hospital bed, recovering from a shot in the head (by an embezzler, not a TV critic, as originally suspected), do we finally get a sneak peek at the elusive Charlie. After five seasons of jiggle, at the episode’s conclusion, he dissolves the agency. A grateful nation, tired of all the off-screen drama, heaved a huge sigh of relief…

* * * * *

And we’ve come so far. In 2000, Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu starred in a big bucks remake, Charlie’s Angels. Sheeesh! Some cheese should just be left in an airtight container.

Though, actually, the film is actually not bad. Okay, it’s not great art, not by a long shot, but on its own terms, it works. Or, at least it’s better than the original. Then again, how couldn’t it be? Once again the “girls” battle bad guys, while Bill Murray earns a few smiles as Bosley and the action scenes are choreographed well. It was directed by hotshot music video director “McG” (Joseph McGinty Nichol when he wasn’t quite so cool). Imagine the Spice Girls, but with Kung Fu. It even coughed up a so-so 2003 sequel (Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle), although it failed to keep the franchise going.

* * * * *

No matter how much they make you cringe, you just can’t kill some ideas with a stick. In 2011, a new television series was unleashed, promising new, “edgier” Angels.

Yeah. Edgier. Because that’s what we all want.

Smallville creators Al Gough and Miles Millar said they wanted to make the show more grounded in reality, but the newest Angels were more interchangeable than ever. KATE PRINCE (played by Annie Ilonzeh), EVE FRENCH (Minka Kelly) and ABBY SAMPSON (Rachael Taylor) were all, of course, drop-dead beautiful. I think, this being 2011 and not 1976, that one of them even had tattoos, and one of them was black (how au courant!), but I’ll be damned if I can remember which one.

At least the original series — and the movies — had a sense of Barbie doll sisterhood/empowerment going for it. You might not have believed they were private eyes, but at least you believed they were friends. The new show didn’t even have that going for it.

It’s fluff on the order of recycled dryer lint, no matter how much sand they dumped in the Vaseline. Making it “grounded and real” just highlighted how forced and lightweight the show really was — and how poorly the writers understood the appeal of the original show.

And did the world really need a hunky new Bosley? I suggest you hurry up and watch it before they… WHAT?

Nevermind. It was quickly cancelled. After only seven episodes.

* * * * *

But, like I said, some ideas just won’t die. In 2018, Dynamite Comics spewed out a monthly comic, featuring the original Angels in a short-run mini-series set in the 1970s. But don’t get your hopes up too high — whether it’s due to the artists (or more likely assorted lawyers), these Angels only bear a passing resemblance to the original line-up of Fawcett, Smith and Jackson. As for the writing? Well, how good would it really have to be?

Suffice it to say that Jill, Sabrina and Kelly are back in the game, delivering justice and saving the good ol’ U.S.A. one jiggle at a time. There’s enough nudge-nudge wink-wink and skimpy costumes to make old fans feel at home — but possibly not enough to attract “woke” ones.

* * * * *

And that’s not all. Sony is also currently promising/threatening yet another Charlie’s Angels reboot in 2019, this one to be directed by Elizabeth Banks and, presumably, all-new Angels, played by Ella Balinska, Kristen Stewart and Naomi Scott. Banks herself will be playing one of the Bosleys. Because that’s what the various reboots and follow-ups have suffered from: not enough Bosleys. The Townshend Agency is now a global security conglomerate with offices (and Bosley’s) all over the world, but the thongs remain the same. Or something. Not as good As I’d hoped; not as bad as I feared.


  • “Seven boobs, including Bosley…not just a crime show, but a crime.”
    — Max Allan Collins and John Javna,The Best of Crime & Detective TV
  • “We’re intelligent, we’re sexy, and we’re setting fashion trends.”
    — Lucy Liu talks about herself and her cast mates in the big bucks movie remake, sounding like she’s a Fah-Fah in training
  • “I’ve just seen the new Charlie’s Angels movie. This is a confession. It is a stupid movie that only a blithering idiot would like. But I liked it. The plot [?] is as thin as one-ply toilet paper. You know who the real villains are in the first twenty minutes. It takes the Angels ’til the end of the movie to figure it out. But the special effects are very good, the fight scenes are spectacular, and of course, the three stars are gorgeous.”
    John Nolan


  • CHARLIE’S ANGELS | Buy the complete series on DVD
    (1976-1981, ABC)
    Created by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts
    Writers: Ivan Goff, Ben Roberts, Rick Husky
    Directors: John Llewellyn Moxey, Bernard McEveety
    A Spelling-Goldberg Production
    Theme by Jack Elliot & Allyn Ferguson
    Starring Kate Jackson as SABRINA DUNCAN
    Farrah Fawcett-Majors as JILL MUNROE
    Jaclyn Smith as KELLY GARRETT
    Cheryl Ladd as KRIS MUNROE (second season)
    Shelley Hack as TIFFANY WELLES (fourth season)
    Tanya Roberts as JULIE ROGERS (fifth season)
    David Doyle as Bosley
    and the voice of John Forsythe as Charlie
    Guest stars: Kim Basinger, Ida Lupino, Richard Mulligan, Tom Selleck, Robert Loggia, Fernandol Lamas, Dennis Cole, Dirk Benedict, Don Ho, Phil Silvers, Sammy Davis Jr., Barry Bostwick, Dean Martin, Robert Urich, Scatman Crothers, Vic Morrow, Jamie Lee Curtis, Casey Kasem, Anne Francis, Billy Barty, Christopher George, Bo Hopkins, Bert Convy, the Cast of The Love Boat, Dick Sargent, Kim Cattrall, Timothy Dalton, Sally Kirkland, Rene Auberjonois, Ed Begley Jr., Beverly Garland, Cesar Romero, Barbara Stanwyck, Patrick Duffy, Robert Reed, Jack Albertson, Barbi Benton, Don Knight, Carol Lynley, Lyle Waggoner, Dan Haggerty, Richard Anderson, Gene Barry, Dr. Joyce Brothers, David Hedison, Frank Gorshin

    • Season OneBuy this season on DVD
    • Also available | The Best of Charlie’s Angels, Season 1
    • “Hellrider” (September 22, 1976)
    • “The Mexican Connection” (September 29, 1976)
    • “Night of the Strangler” (October 13, 1976)Buy this DVD | Buy this video
    • “Angels in Chains” (October 20, 1976) | Buy this video
    • “Target: Angels” (October 27, 1976)
    • “The Killing Kind” (November 3, 1976)
    • “To Kill an Angel” (November 10, 1976) | Buy this DVD | Buy this video
    • “Lady Killer” (November 24, 1976)
    • “Bullseye” (December 1, 1976)
    • “Consenting Adults” (December 8, 1976)
    • “The Seance” (December 15, 1976)
    • “Angels on Wheels” (December 22, 1976)
    • “Angel Trap” (January 5, 1977)
    • “The Big Tap Out” (January 12, 1977)
    • “Angels on a String” (January 19, 1977)
    • “Dirty Business” (February 2, 1977)
    • “The Vegas Connection” (February 9, 1977)
    • “Terror on Ward One” (February 16, 1977)
    • “Dancing in the Dark” (February 23, 1977)
    • “I Will Be Remembered” (March 9, 1977)
    • “Angels at Sea” (March 23, 1977)
    • “The Blue Angels” (May 4, 1977)Buy this video
    • Season TwoBuy this season on DVD
      Cheryl Ladd as Kris Munroe (Jill’s little sister) replaces Fah-Fah
    • “Angels in Paradise” (September 14, 1977; 120 minute episode)
    • “Angels on Ice” (September 21, 1977; 120 minute episode)
    • “Pretty Angels All in a Row” (September 28, 1977)
    • “Angel Flight” (October 5, 1977)
    • “Circus of Terror” (October 19, 1977)
    • “Angel in Love” (October 26, 1977)
    • “Unidentified Flying Angels” (November 2, 1977)
    • “Angels on the Air” (November 9, 1977)
    • “Angel Baby” (November 16, 1977)
    • “Angels in the Wings” (November 23, 1977)
    • “Magic Fire” (November 30, 1977)
    • “Sammy Davis Jr. Kidnap Caper” (December 7, 1977)
    • “Angels on Horseback” (December 21, 1977)
    • “Game, Set, Death” (January 4, 1978)
    • “Hours of Desperation” (January 11, 1978)
    • “Diamond in the Rough” (January 18, 1978)
    • “Angels in the Backfield” (January 25, 1978)
    • “The Sand Castle Murders” (February 1, 1978)
    • “Angels Blues” (February 8, 1978)
    • “Mother Goose Is Running For His Life” (February 15, 1978)
    • “Little Angels of the Night” (February 22, 1978)
    • “The Jade Trap” (March 1, 1978)
    • “Angels on the Run” (May 3, 1978)
    • “Antique Angels” (May 10, 1978)
    • Season ThreeBuy this season on DVD
    • “Angels in Vegas” (September 13, 1978; 120 minute episode)
    • “Angel Come Home” (September 20, 1978)
    • “Angel on High” (September 27, 1978)
    • “Angels in Spring Time” (October 11, 1978)
    • “Winning is for Losers” (October 18, 1978)
    • “Haunted Angels” (October 25, 1978)
    • “Pom Pom Angels” (November 1, 1978)
    • “Angels Ahoy” (November 8, 1978)
    • “Mother Angel” (November 15, 1978)
    • “Angel on My Mind” (November 22, 1978)
    • “Angels Belong in Heaven” (December 6, 1978)
    • “Angels in the Stretch” (December 20, 1978)
    • “Angels on Vacation” (January 10, 1979)
    • “Counterfeit Angels” (January 24, 1979)
    • “Disco Angels” (January 31, 1979)
    • “Terror on Skis” (February 7, 1979; 120 minute episode)
    • “Angels in a Box” (February 14, 1979)
    • “Teen Angels” (February 28, 1979)
    • “Marathon Angels” (March 7, 1979)
    • “Angels in Waiting” (March 21, 1979)
    • “Rosemary For Remembrance” (May 2, 1979)
    • “Angels Remembered” (May 16, 1979)
    • Season Four Buy this season on DVD
    • “Love Boat Angels” (September 12, 1979; 120 minute episode)
    • “Angels Go Trucking” (September 19, 1979)
    • “Avenging Angel” (September 26, 1979)
    • “Angels at the Altar” (October 3, 1979)
    • “Fallen Angel” (October 24, 1979)
    • “Caged Angel” (October 31, 1979)
    • “Angels on the Street” (November 7, 1979)
    • “The Prince and the Angel” (November 14, 1979)
    • “Angels on Skates” (November 21, 1979)
    • “Angels on Campus” (November 28, 1979)
    • “Angel Hunt” (December 5, 1979)
    • “Cruising Angels” (December 12, 1979)
    • “Of Ghost and Angels” (January 2, 1980)
    • “Angels Child” (January 9, 1980)
    • “One of Our Angels is Missing” (January 16, 1980)
    • “Catch a Falling Angel” (January 23, 1980)
    • “Homes $weet Homes” (January 30, 1980)
    • “Dancin’ Angels” (February 6, 1980)
    • “Harrigan’s Angels” (February 20, 1980)
    • “An Angel’s Trail” (February 27, 1980)
    • “Nips & Tucks” (March 5, 1980)
    • “Three for the Money” (March 12, 1980)
    • “Toni’s Boys” (April 2, 1980)
    • “One Love…Two Angels, Part One” (April 30, 1980)
    • “One Love…Two Angels, Part Two” (May 7, 1980)
    • Season Five Buy this season on DVD
    • “Street Models to Hawaiian Angel” (November 30,1980; shown together as three-hour season premiere; later aired as separate episodes “Angel in Hiding” and “To See An Angel Die)
    • “Angels of the Deep” (December 7, 1980)
    • “Island Angels” (December 14, 1980)
    • “Waikiki Angels” (January 4, 1981)
    • “Hula Angels” (January 11, 1981)
    • “Moonshinin’ Angels” (January 24, 1981)
    • “He Married an Angel” (January 31, 1981)
    • “Taxi Angels” (February 7, 1981)
    • “Angel on the Line” (February 14, 1981)
    • “Chorus Line Angels” (February 21, 1981)
    • “Stuntwomen Angels” (February 28, 1981)
    • “Attack Angels” (June 3, 1981)
    • “Angel on a Roll” (June 10, 1981)
    • “Mr. Galaxy” (June 17, 1981)
    • “Let Our Angel Live” (June 24, 1981)
  • CHARLIE’S ANGELSBuy the complete series on DVD
    (2011, ABC)
    Based on characters created by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts
    Re-developed for television by Al Gough and Miles Millar
    Starring Annie Ilonzeh as KATE PRINCE
    Minka Kelly as EVE FRENCH
    and Rachael Taylor as ABBY SAMPSON
    with Ramon Rodriguez as John Bosley

    • Season One
    • “Angel with a Broken Wing” (September 22, 2011)
    • “Runway Angels” (September 29, 2011)
    • “Bon Voyage, Angels” (October 6, 2011)
    • “Angels in Chains” (October 13, 2011)
    • “Angels in Paradise” (October 20, 2011)
    • “Black Hat Angels” (November 3, 2011)
    • “Royal Angels” (November 10, 2011)
    • “They’re Not Angels” (unaired)
      Ouch. At least the original had a sort of semi-charming wish-fulfillment Barbie vibe to it, but I can’t imagine anyone wanting to be these miserable twits. Here’s a clue, ABC — nobody ever tuned in to the original series for the “grit.” The short run wasn’t so much a cancellation as a mercy killing.


  • Charlie’s Angels (1977, by Max Franklin)
  • Charlie’s Angels #2: The Killing Kind (1977, by Max Franklin)
  • Charlie’s Angels #3: Angels in Chains (1977, by Max Franklin)
  • Charlie’s Angels #4: Angels on a String (1977, by Max Franklin)
  • Charlie’s Angels #5: Angels on Ice (1978, by Max Franklin)
    Max Franklin was a pseudonym of Richard Deming, the creator of P.I.s Manville Moon and Barney Calhoun.


  • CHARLIE’S ANGELS | Buy this video | Buy this DVD
    (2000, Columbia)
    Based on characters created by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts
    Written by Ryan Rowe & Ed Solomon and John August
    Directed by McG
    Executive producer: Betty Thomas and Jenno Topping
    Produced by Leonard Goldberg, Drew Barrymore and Nancy Jovonen
    Starring Cameron Diaz as NATALIE COOK
    Drew Barrymore as DYLAN SANDERS
    and Lucy Liu as ALEX MUNDAY
    and Bill Murray as Bosley
    with the voice of John Forsythe as Charlie
    Also starring Sam Rockwell, Tim Curry, Kelly Lynch
  • CHARLIE’S ANGELS: FULL THROTTLE | Buy this video | Buy this DVD
    (2003, Columbia)
    Based on characters created by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts
    Story by John August
    Screenplay by John August, Cormac Wibberley and Marianne Wibberley
    Directed by McG
    Original Music by William Orbit
    Produced by Drew Barrymore, Leonard Goldberg and Nancy Juvonen
    Associate producers: Amanda Goldberg, Stephanie Savage
    Executive producers: Patrick Crowley, Betty Thomas, Jenno Topping
    Starring Cameron Diaz as NATALIE COOK
    Drew Barrymore as DYLAN SANDERS
    and Lucy Liu as ALEX MUNDAY
    and Bernie Mac as Bosley
    with the voice of John Forsythe as Charlie
    Also starring Demi Moore, Justin Theroux, Robert Patrick, Luke Wilson, Matt LeBlanc, Crispin Glover, John Cleese
    Yep, they’re back. The producers have apparently decided they didn’t attract enough men to the last one, so we’ve got some light bondage and Demi Moore (as a “fallen angel”) licking Cameron Diaz. All in the name of female empowerment, of course.
  • CHARLIE’S ANGELS Watch it now!
    (2019, Columbia)
    118 minutes
    Story by 
    Evan Spiliotopoulos and David Auburn
    Screenplay by Elizabeth Banks
    Directed by Elizabeth Banks
    Starring Kristen Stewart as SABINA WILSON
    Naomi Scott as ELENA HOUGHLAN
    Ella Balinska and JANE KANOS
    With Elizabeth Banks as Bosley
    Also starring Patrick Stewart, Djimon Hounsou, 
    Sam Claflin, Jonathan Tucker


    (2018, Dynamite Comics)
    5-issue mini-series
    Based on characters created by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts
    Written by John Layman
    Art by Joe Eisma
    This one definitely puts the cheese back in chesesecake. Original Angels, Jill, Sabrina and Kelly, back in the game, delivering justice and saving the good ol’ U.S.A. one jiggle at a time.
    (2019, Dynamite Comics)
    5-issue mini-series
    Based on characters created by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts
    Writer: Cameron Deordio
    Artists: Soo Lee, Cat Staggs
    Just in case the upcoming Charlie’s Angels movie doesn’t seem ridiculous enough.


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. |


Leave a Reply