September 24, 2011

TV: Charlie's Angels (ABC, Thu 8)

The 70s version of Charlie's Angels was trash, but it knew that it was trash, and had no loftier ambition than to provide cheap, frothy entertainment. The new Charlie's Angels, lord help us, wants to be taken seriously.

To be sure, you couldn't simply remake the original; its jiggliciousness was already right on the edge of being too sexist to be tolerated 35 years ago, and would be scolded off the air in minutes today. But you can still do light entertainment, even without the bouncing bosoms and tight bikinis. Alas, the new Angels is a show of dark, shadowy alleyways; gloomy abandoned warehouses; and pretty girls being tortured by sex traffickers.

The cast? Oh, does it really matter? None of them are being asked to do any real acting; they're just there to look pretty and recite the clunky dialogue. It is an interesting change, I suppose, that Bosley is no longer a middle-aged schlump who spends all his time in the office, but an attractive man of roughly the same age as the Angels who gets involved in the action scenes himself. And Victor Garber is a nice last-minute choice to provide the voice of Charlie.

But the whole thing is so stiff and wooden, and above all joyless. As trashy as the original was, you at least felt that everyone involved was enjoying themselves and having a good time. No one here is doing anything more than collecting a paycheck.

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