Sony // 1979 // 1273 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // July 27th, 2009
"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!"
Being popular can be a heavy cross, and nobody knew this better than the women who wore the halos on Aaron Spelling's popular pretty-girl crime drama. After a tumultuous year with Kate Jackson acting like a tantrum-throwing diva, it was time for Charlie's Angels to go back to being glamorous. Ms. Jackson decided to move on to films, and why not? She had given up the lead role in Kramer Vs. Kramer during the third season, but was now free to chase her dreams since she had grown bitter and weary of starring in "jiggle TV." Producers agreed to let her go, and her character was written off rather lamely as leaving the detective agency to "get married and raise kids." The production team was tired of dressing the girls in jeans to appease Kate's tomboy image and feminist mindset, so they sought a more elegant person to allow the "Angels" to wear matching evening gowns. Enter Revlon model and "Charlie Girl" Shelly Hack for the 1979 season. Shelly was told she would be given a personality test to see if she would work well with the other girls, and she immediately quipped "Oh damn it, I didn't rehearse my personality this morning!" She was hired. And so we were left with only one original Angel (Jaclyn Smith), and Kate Jackson, whom the show was created for, was out the door. A new girl was in town, and the show was going to have to see if it could sustain itself.
Tiffany Welles was the name the producers gave to the Shelly Hack character, and she wasn't your typical angel. She came from Boston, and was reared in an upper class family. The hook for the new girl was she was sophisticated, glamorous, and could speak Latin. She looked good in pantsuits and ball gowns, so she fit right in with Kelly Garrett (Smith) and Kris Munroe (Cheryl Ladd). During the fourth season it was business as usual for Charlie's Angels. They boarded The Love Boat for a two part season opener, but soon settled in to weekly crime dramas of the sort you'd expect from the show. The girls pose as truckers, nuns, roller derby team members, opera fans, and street walkers. None of it takes itself too seriously, and the show remains escapist fun. Everything feels candy-coated and ready for prime time.
The fourth year may have shaken the cast list up, but Charlie's Angels stayed true to form with pretty women taking on handsome criminals. The highlights of the collection include the chance to see Shelley Hack, and to witness the final episodes of Farrah Fawcett who was fulfilling her contract by making guest appearances. The first time Farrah's Jill Munroe character shows up, she is on the arm of a jewel thief played by James Bond alum Timothy Dalton (The Living Daylights). It's a blast to see Farrah and Tim kung fu fight it out on a rooftop in the climax of the episode. Fans of Sex and the City can see a young Kim Cattrall as a sorority sister, and Dallas viewers will recognize Patrick Duffy when he makes an appearance.
Though the show didn't seem to deviate far from it's fantasy girl-power roots the ratings didn't hold up. Charlie's Angels went from being a top ten phenomenon to barely staying in the twenties in ratings. Producers blamed the Tiffany Welles character, and so Shelley Hack was fired at the end of this run. It was theorized the character was too cold and removed, just a clothing model with a pistol. Looking back, the problem was more likely that the show could only last so long before audiences lost interest in the formula being played out over and over. The Angels were a '70s icon, and America was drifting into the '80s.
Where fans may feel let down is in the simple presentation that doesn't do much to enhance this set. Sony's release of Charlie's Angels: Complete Fourth Season mirrors the first seasons even though this is almost three years after the third year was issued. You get a trio of slim line cases in a cardboard sleeve with six discs packed in there. There are episode summaries and nice photos throughout. The big disappointment is there are no extras, and the transfers are just passable. Colors look good, but it's certainly still got a '70s look with scratches and dirt to remain vintage. Sound is the basic tinny mono that seems to be a hallmark of the era. Nothing has really been done other than some minor tweaks here and there to bring this to DVD. All the episodes appear unedited and in their full form except for the two part Love Boat season premiere. It is divided into two episodes, and thus appears to be the syndication cut.
Charlie's Angels: Complete Fourth Season gives fans a look at the Shelley Hack year and the last Farrah Fawcett episodes. With the passing of Farrah near the release date, it seems a loving tribute to finally have all of her work for the show on DVD. Too bad Sony left it at that with only the shows and no extras. It would be great to hear what Shelley Hack thought of her season, but alas we'll have to rely on vintage magazine interviews to get that story. The girls all still look great, and it's fun to see the more glamorous outfits and bigger hair styles.
Guilty of giving tons of schoolboys a crush on ass-kicking upper-crust Boston
socialites, the Shellley Hack year was fun while it lasted.
Review content copyright © 2009 Brett Cullum; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 1273 Minutes
Release Year: 1979
MPAA Rating: Not Rated