Is being hot a crime? Judge Brett Cullum watched this set all the way through, just to make sure.
Our reviews of Charlie's Angels (published March 27th, 2001), Charlie's Angels: Superbit Deluxe Edition (published July 24th, 2003), Charlie's Angels: The Complete First Season (published June 23rd, 2003), Charlie's Angels: The Complete Second Season (published May 28th, 2004), and Charlie's Angels: The Complete Fourth Season (published July 27th, 2009) are also available.
"Once upon a time, there were three little girls who went the Police Academy, and they were each assigned very hazardous duties. Two in Los Angeles, and one in San Diego. But I took them away from all that, and now they work for me. My name is Charlie."
From September 1978 through May 1979, the third season of Charlie's Angels aired to spectacular ratings. It was bolstered by the return of all three Angels from the second season (the only time in the history of the series this would happen) and the contractual three episode return of Farrah Fawcett from the first year's cast. The Angels were flying high on great ratings, the second best cast in the show's history (I'm a first season man myself), and an eager audience who couldn't get enough of the crime fighting chicks. Yet writers and stars feuded behind the scenes in a war that would ultimately spill out on to the small screen, making the best of times also the worst. Welcome to the Dickensian world of Charlie's Angels.
Facts of the Case
There are three lovely leading ladies here including Kate Jackson (Making Love) as the brainy Sabrina, Jaclyn Smith (queen of TV movies like Sidney Sheldon's Rage of Angels) appearing as the sweet but observant Kelly, and Cheryl Ladd (lately a recurring character on Las Vegas) as the alluring blonde Kris. Of course David Doyle (General Hospital) returns as Bosley, and the voice of John Forsythe (Dynasty) remains in that infamous speaker box which delivers all the assignments. And the real excitement for the third season included a three episode guest starring stint from Farrah Fawcett (Logan's Run) playing ex-Angel Jill Munroe.
Charlie's Angels—The Complete Third Season includes the
The fantasy is this: the Angels always go undercover and assume "typical" female roles, and then whip out the cans of whup ass when they break the case. The idea is secretly three beautiful women are strong crime fighters who can take down anybody. Imagine that soccer mom in the SUV suddenly whipping out a piece and screaming "Freeze!" (how hot would that be?). The show was saying that women can be anything; they're dangerous and sexy. It's still a revolutionary idea, and has yet to be exploited to its full extent (though Luc Besson's La Femme Nikita comes close to perfectly realizing the concept with an ex-junkie who learns to take out an entire restaurant in heels). Feminists found the show degrading in its insistence on the use of the good looks of the leads more than the brains, but they could hardly stop the pop culture force of the show. Little girls clamored for the dolls, or simply played out roles on a playground in groups of three pointing their fingers like guns when they had to. Little boys lapped the show up for its cheesecake factor, and never once thought about anything deeper. Farrah Fawcett once stated in an interview, "When the show was number three, I figured it was our acting. When it got to be number one, I decided it could only be because none of us wears a bra."
There's a palpable excitement when you lock and load Charlie's Angels:The Complete Third Season into your DVD player. The set starts off with the fantastic two hour "Angels in Vegas" episode which features the series in all its stunning '70s glamour on location with tons of guest stars. Then comes the episode where Farrah Fawcett returns, "Angel Come Home." There's a whole lot here that is trademark Charlie's Angels cheesy goodness. The season unfolds with crazy plots spinning out until the finale where the girls celebrate three years together with a clip show. The girls look great, the crooks always try to get them, and they always end up winning. The show is episodic, and that means you can cruise your way through these shows with no rhyme or reason. Just whip out a disc when you feel like a little fun action.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
This third season of Charlie's Angels should have been the sterling moment and the peak of the series. It was the last time we'd see the original Angels together, the final season for Kate Jackson, and a time when the writers should have been comfortably grooving on the characters and the formula of the show. Oddly enough familiarity bred contempt rather than a celebratory call to arms. The three leads noticed that the scripts were declining in quality, and the costumes were getting skimpier. They'd had enough of the label "jiggle TV" and all thatthe term insinuated, and were constantly complaining about it behind the scenes to no avail. The writers were coasting, and directors were resting on the established formula without showing any willingness to experiment. The show was still fun, but it was starting to show signs of wear and cliché. Kate Jackson would get so fed up she asked to be let go early to chase another dream. She planned on a movie career, and had been offered the female lead in Kramer Versus Kramer. Her contract made her finish the season, and her role in that film would go to Meryl Streep. Kate was bitter, and outright quit the show at the wrap of the finale. The end of the year would signal the last time the original trio would ever be glimpsed together.
Charlie's Angels: The Complete Third Season offers no extras to elaborate on the backstage struggle, the return of Farrah, the toy phenomenon, or anything else for that matter. There are no commentaries, no features, nothing to support the twenty-four episodes found here. Top that off with the lazy transfer the show is given, and you've got a lackluster experience. The picture is soft, grainy; patches of dirt and debris where master tapes have degraded crop up now and then. It's only better than a syndication airing of the show for the colors—hardly an enticing digital experience. The sound reflects the show's original flat, tinny, monaural that sounded fine coming out of one speaker televisions in the '70s, but rather dull pouring out of nice surround systems. I half expected static to barge in as if I was receiving all of this from some antiquated rabbit ears with tin foil on the ends. Fox has waited a long time to get this third season out; the second season was released in April of 2004. I had hoped we would get extras celebrating the show's thirtieth anniversary and improved transfers.
Charlie's Angels: The Complete Third Season has been a long time coming, but it's finally released. Kate Jackson fans now have her entire run, and Farrah Fawcett completists have all but the three shows she did for season four in their hands. It's a great set for fans of the show, but I feel cheated on the transfers and the lack of extras. Still, this is one set that you can pop in your DVD player anytime and be reminded of an innocent time when female crime fighters were scandalous just for wearing a bikini now and then. Feminists have taken issue with the series since it debuted in 1976 for objectifying women, but it still retains the promise of equality with a trio of female detectives who could be anything and outsmart any man. If only it had been just a touch smarter, perhaps the show would have been more than simply a guilty pleasure.
Guilty of spawning jiggle tv, Charlie's Angels will always have a soft place in my heart. Charlie's Angels:The Complete Third Season gives us the year that stalled Kate Jackson's big break in movies, and the season where Farrah came back to what she did best.
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