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"Charlie's Angels" Review: Welcome to ABC's Thursday Night Slack-Jawed TV!

By Dustin Rowles | TV | September 23, 2011 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | September 23, 2011 |

The 1970’s version of “Charlie Angels” was a bad show. But it was bad in a watchable way: There was a campy, tongue-in-cheek value to it. It was Jiggle TV; audiences tuned in each week to see how many narrative justifications the Angels could find to wear bikinis. It was also ground-breaking in a way because it was one of the first television shows to feature women in roles generally reserved for men. I wasn’t around then, so I’m not sure how the original Angels (Kate Jackson, Jaclyn Smith, Farah Fawcett) felt about the fact that millions tuned in to see them run around without bras, but at least in my headspace, I like to believe that they felt some ownership over that.

This new incarnation of the Angels? These actresses barely have ownership over their ability to speak. Minka Kelly was always the weak link on “Friday Night Lights,” but the naturalistic style of filmmaking on that show obscured the lack of talent (the same goes, to a lesser extent for Taylor Kitsch and Aimee Teegarden). There’s nothing naturalistic about 2011’s “Charlie’s Angels”: It’s glossy, overproduced, terribly written, and boring. So boring.

This “Charlie Angels” feels very much like a Skinimax film with high-production values and no sex, no sex appeal, and no titillation. It’s pizza-delivery boy territory, but it’s on at 8 p.m. (the family hour), so obviously, there’s very little the show can reveal. The pizza-delivery boy just stands at the door jiggling his change and leaves, frustrated, and without a tip. And since there’s no longer any groundbreaking justification for the new “Charlie’s Angels,” the only allure left for a show like this is the sex appeal, and yet episodes of “Burn Notice” are practically R-rated by comparison. At the very least, the men behind “Charlie’s Angels” — Alfred Gough and Miles Millar (“Smallville”) — should’ve taken a cue from Yvonne Strahovski’s character in”Chuck” instead of stealing the show’s tone from a big dirt hole in the ground.

Minka Kelly stars as the brunette one, Rachel Taylor as the blonde one, and Annie Ilonzeh as the black one. All three are former criminals (as opposed to the original Angels, who were relegated to menial jobs because of their gender). The brunette gets involved with the Angels when her childhood friend — already an Angel — dies in a car explosion, and she reluctantly joins forces with the blond one and the black one to find the murderer — a sex-slave trafficker — and bring him to justice. Once she does so, the blonde one and the black one welcome the brunette into the Angels, who are private detectives bankrolled by Charlie (Victor Garber), a cajillionaire who is never actually seen, only heard. The in-between is Bosley, who is now a studly bland dude (Ramon Rodriguez) who uses his big strong muscles to assists in solving the “mysteries” instead of staying out of the fisticuffs. Because it’s 2011, and obviously, three ass-kicking women need a strapping fella to assist because shove it up your butt.

The new “Charlie’s Angels” is neither silly, nor campy, nor sexy. It’s not even interesting enough to be dumb. It’s vacant and listless, and lacks even a modest flirtatious vibe. It’s no goddamn fun. I also doubt, even on ABC, that the show will even make it to November.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.