Charlie’s Angels – Pilot Review

This could either be viewed as either relaunching the 1970s television show, or as bringing the 2000 film to the small screen. There’s a lot of potential in the idea – the new version of Hawaii Five-0 has been a big hit, everyone’s crying out for strong female characters on television and pretty girls driving fast cars, kicking bad guys and playing with guns is a safe bet with the demographics.

Unfortunately what you need is the same thing that you need for anything – good writing. The dialogue on this is truly some of the worst I’ve ever heard. In addition to the awfulness in the above trailer, here’s a couple of choice soundbites:

  • “Please tell me she’s not really gone, and that I’m just gonna wake up and see her again”
  • “You know I never knew my heart could hurt this much.”
  • “Abby put the cat into cat burglar”

On top of the dialogue we have some pretty crappy character design – it’s hard to relate to these women who get through half a dozen designer outfits in a single episode, drive sports cars and sip champagne on an obscenely large yacht. C. Orlando at TV Fanatic makes the excellent point that it’s extremely difficult to like these characters given they’re all introduced as various types of criminal, who now seem to be living the life of luxury entirely because of their criminal pasts. It doesn’t really work. It’s a shame, because I think the cast is probably pretty good (Minka Kelly and Rachael Taylor certainly did better work on Friday Night Lights and Grey’s Anatomy respectively) when not saddled with trying to emote their way through this stilted mess.

The plot of the episode itself was equally painful. A supposed international mastermind was outwitted by flirting and cheap threats. Not that it was explained what happened to the bad guy at the end, it’s not like there was anything that could be taken to the police – that was just left hanging. Meanwhile we’re using an ipad to hack phone networks, a satellite camera to look into hotel rooms, cracking biometric scanners in ten seconds flat and for some reason the one that irritated me most – instantly drying, perfectly styled hair after a swim in the ocean.

I was hoping this was going to be cheesy fun like the film, but instead it’s just mindless stupidity. If I were in the mood to get on my high-horse about things I might even make a case for it being offensively gratuitous in the amount of wealth that’s on display and patronisingly sexist in the fact that the ‘strong’ women all have to be beautiful and wear skimpy outfits. Frankly I think that level of analysis is unnecessary though when it’s terribleness as a piece of enjoyable television is already clearly displayed.

Other reviews:
CliqueClack – I’m not saying that Charlie’s Angels is going to be a great show. Neither the original nor the movies were Shakespeare, and only a fool would imply that this incarnation is going to be anything better. It has had a rough start, but it is going to get better … I promise.

TV Fanatic – I’m torn because I want to like this remake. Yes, it is cheesy and predictable, but so was the original and I have fond memories. Unfortunately, I just don’t have the love for these characters and I’m not feeling enough of the fun. Maybe that will come with time. We’ll see. We’ll hope.

AOL TV didn’t review it, but listed it as one ofThe 10 Least Promising Shows – Was the clunky script for ‘Charlie’s Angels’ also dug up from some ’70s vault? It contains more than a few leaden lines, and any show that asks me to accept Minka Kelly (Lyla from ‘Friday Night Lights’) as an orphan who grew up to be a tough car thief is asking too much.

Charlie’s Angels will broadcast on E4 in November

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The Upfronts: ABC

What’s out
Biggest loss as far as I’m concerned is Brothers & Sisters, it’s cheesy, melodramatic and basically a well polished soap opera, but I loved it. Apparently the large cast made it too expensive and time was called after five seasons.

V also bit the dust. I gave up on this very early on in because in the battle between all these characters, I found myself rooting for the third option of ‘kill them all and leave me in peace’. With its cancellation unless I’m missing something, there isn’t a sniff of a spaceship anywhere on US television.

More freshman deaths – Detroit 187 (nothing special, but solidly ok from the pilot, not enough to drag me in for more), The Whole Truth (awful), No Ordinary Family (tolerable pilot, but seemed doomed from early on) and Off the Map (showing that even the creator of Grey’s Anatomy is finding it tough to make the next Grey’s Anatomy). I’d forgotten ABC was also responsible for the hideous My Generation which never aired more than 2 episodes. Oh and Matthew Perry still can’t catch a break, Mr Sunshine was cancelled, he’s back in rehab and I never even got round to watching the pilot.

What’s back
Surprisingly – Body of Proof made the cut, personally I thought it wasn’t great, but apparently desperation set in and they had to actually renew something! Less surprising are renewals for Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice and Castle. Desperate Housewives was also eventually renewed after some kerfuffle about salaries, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was its last season. Various comedies that I don’t watch but hear good things about will also be back – The Middle, Modern Family, Cougar Town (although not until January) and Happy Endings.

What’s new
Charlie’s Angels – it’s exactly what you’d think it would be, so long as it doesn’t take itself too seriously, I see no reason why this shouldn’t be stupid, entertaining and successful.

Once Upon A Time – I so want this to be good! It’s got a great cast and the back and forth between fairy tale looks great in the trailer. Please don’t suck. Please don’t suck.

Apartment 23 – not really what I’d call funny, but it was considerably less offensive than most of the other ‘comedy’ trailers ABC brings us this year.

Last Man Standing – I like Tim Allen, he can pull off the stuff that in the other shows is offensive and contrived, not sure the writing or supporting cast of this can manage it though.

Scandal – lawyers doing ‘crisis management’ i.e. (it would seem) solving problems by threatening people. It sounds sort of horrific, but actually I rather liked the trailer (if they dilute the melodrama a bit). It’s Shonda Rhimes which gives it an extra couple of points as well. But it’s not arriving until midseason.

The River – This was not the kind of trailer I expected to see for a television show, certainly not one on ABC, but it’s got me hooked already.

Revenge – ah, this was more what I expected from ABC, more melodrama than you can shake a stick at.

Good Christian Belles – ee! So much blonde! So much wooden acting… Kristin Chenoweth deserves better.

Missing – I have no idea what’s going on with this, the show looks like the Bourne Identity all exploding and espionage, for some reason though ABC decided to have the lead actress do the voiceover as herself, not the character. Worst trailer evah!

Suburgatory – from the school of ‘think of a title the rest will follow’. The central out-of-place character I kind of love, the problem is that she’s out of place because she’s surrounded by the most annoying and ridiculous collection of characters I’ve seen since… well last pilot season.

Man Up! – It’s a very very sorry state of affairs when this is not the worst trailer I’ve seen today.

Work It – Oh. My. God.

Links: The Futon Critic, The TV Addict (with some different video clips and first impressions).