I'm not really old enough to have seen "Charlie's Angels" during its original run, so perhaps that was why I wasn't so dismayed by Kate Jackson's departure. I thought I would miss Sabrina but I didn't. Not that Jackson didn't bring anything to the show - she was a huge part of it, but I like Shelley Hack (having seen her in "The Stepfather"), and I don't blame her for the demise of the show, like some do. I do think in a way Season 4 is an improvement over Season 3 in that the writing for the most part was better. Not that there weren't some misfires, but overall I think this season came off better. The mistake was made in the order that they aired - so that Hack's character Tiffany Welles had very little to do and little character development until the end of the seasons, but by that times the show's ratings had decreased rapidly. On top of that, I think the public was losing interest and some episodes started to feel repetitive, beginning in the previous season. Unfortunately, the powers-that-be gave Hack her walking papers and went looking for a new Angel for what turned out to be the show's final season.
Tiffany Welles hailed from Boston and like Kelly Garrett (Jaclyn Smith) and Kris Monroe (Cheryl Ladd) was a former police officer. The ladies sport a more feminine wardrobe than the previous season - which may have had to do with Jackson's leaving the show but may have also hinted at the dawn of the new 80s decade. When she was onscreen long enough to make an impression, Hack's Tiffany established a nice chemistry with her fellow Angels and the lovable Bosley (David Doyle). Once again, a wonderful array of guest stars make appearances - Farrah Fawcett, fufilling her last contractual guest spots, along with Tab Hunter, Joanna Pettit, Barbara Stanwyck, Patrick Duffy, Robert Reed, Beverly Garland, Caesar Romero, Ed Begley Jr., Robin Mattison, Kim Cattral, Sally Kirkland, Bo Hopkins, Bert Convy, Gary Collins, Dick Sargent, and my personal favorite - Timothy Dalton, who works alongside Farrah in "Fallen Angel".
"Fallen Angel" is a favorite of mine, but as I have a thing for Timothy Dalton, it's no shocker. I also loved especially "Caged Angel", "Angels On The Street", "Catch A Falling Angel", "Nips And Tucks", "Toni's Boys", "An Angel's Trail", "Angels On Campus", "Of Ghost And Angels", and "One Of Our Angels Is Missing". The only episode I didn't particularly care for was "The Prince And The Angel" - probably the weakest of Farrah's guest appearances. For some reason I found it very bland and uninteresting. I will say that this season has less duds than the previous one. Ladd does a great job in "Caged Angel" - some might call it a rehashing of Season 1's "Angels In Chains", but I found her work to be some of the best she did on the series - and she always gave good performances. And I loved Kelly and Tiffany's disguises as nuns! "Of Ghosts And Angels" I find very watchable and very haunting - if there was ever an episode I want to be a TV movie, that one would be it. I don't know why, but I kind of associated "Angels On Campus" with the film "The Deliberate Stranger" - I guess since the setting and premise is similar.
Season 4 was released sooner than I thought it would be, but perhaps that was intentional since it happened around the time of Farrah's passing in June 2009. It was a nice tribute to the Angel who first caught the public's imagination. I'm hoping that Season 5 will soon see the light of day.Read more ›
When Charlie's Angels returned for its fourth season in September 1979, fans were eager to see if the new Angel replacing Kate Jackson could inject some new life into the aging series. Though Cheryl Ladd had sustained the show after Farrah's sudden departure, the stories in the third season had started to become very repetitive and the writing rather weak. These factors may have even been part of the reason for Kate's departure.
Nevertheless, Season Four set a somewhat different tone for the show right from the premiere episode, "Love Boat Angels". Viewers had come to expect exotic locales and exciting action sequences in the season premieres. While the former certainly applied here, the latter unfortunately was lacking. We had a lame scuffle aboard the Pacific Princess that involved Cheryl Ladd pulling a gun on the thugs beating on Bo Hopkins and Bert Convy; later, a dull car chase and two routine kidnappings. Even the big set piece, the underwater scuba chase is not very exciting. New Angel Shelley Hack does not make much of a splash, (foreshadowing the minimal role she will have for about the next seven episodes) aside from firing shots from a speedboat during the climax.
Shelley Hack's modeling background had Aaron Spelling proudly proclaiming "We're bringing back the glamour". The clothing budget for this season was astronomical, with Nolan Miller working his magic on the three actresses. It should be noted that the wardrobes for Smith, Ladd and Hack became very sophisticated this year, with lots of designer skirts, blouses and suits replacing the more casual togs of the Kate Jackson era. The problem was that classing up the act made Kelly, Kris and Tiffany blend together like some Supermodel Task Force. The much-needed contrast of a more earthy/edgy Angel was missing and hurt the chemistry. (Tanya Roberts' character was initially created to spice up the mix next season).
And so lies the problem with Season Four: lack of interaction between Jaclyn, Cheryl and Shelley, unimaginative action/stunts and too many solo Angel stories. Even Farrah's return guest spots are uninspired, save for the first one "Fallen Angel", which is perhaps the best episode of the six she filmed after quitting the show as a regular.
Yet, "Charlie's Angels" proved it could still deliver the goods when the writing hit the mark. "Angel Hunt", "Angels on Campus" and "Angels on the Street" are among the seasons best, and some of the most memorable shows filmed, even including the Kate Jackson era. It seems this season had an Old-Hollywood vibe running through it, due to some of the guest stars such as Barbara Stanwyck, Cesar Romero, and Howard Duff, and many of the scripts could have been inspired by old movies: "Of Ghosts and Angels" from "Rebecca"; "Caged Angel" from "Caged"; "Angel Hunt" from "The Most Dangerous Game". Even the season-finale "One Love...Two Angels" plays more like an old Lana Turner "women's picture" than your typical episode of "Angels".
Shelley Hack was used as a scapegoat for the show's sagging ratings, when in truth, they probably would have dipped even lower had the interest generated by a new Angel not had viewers still tuning in. While her performances are somewhat stiff at times, Hack was in no way the kiss of death for this series, and could have easily made the transition to Season Five had the producers not axed her.
As far as the product itself, the episodes on this set look better than I've ever seen them on TV. They are all unedited, save for the season premiere, which is edited into two episodes from its original two-hour running time. The cover art is fantastic, the best so far for this series. Sony was wise to enlist the aid of fans to get the box art just right. Some of their other work on sets like "Bewitched" was just atrocious. Unfortunately, aside from the first release, "Charlie's Angels" has been treated poorly in the way of bonus features. A show with such a high pop-culture profile should have at least some cast commentaries in select episodes. Regardless, I was shocked when Sony announced this title, as I thought they had long-abandoned it. Now if we could only get them to finally give us the final season, or license it to Shout! Factory.
I recommend this set if you already own the previous three. You may be pleasantly surprised that the dirt thrown on this season back in 1979-80 was very unwarranted and it rightfully belongs in the collection of any Angels fan. Is it Award-winning Emmy-worthy TV? Not at all. But it IS definitely an entertaining time capsule of the end of the disco era when satin hot pants, feathered hairdos and big luxury cars ruled.Read more ›