Farrah Fawcett on roller skates. Kate Jackson: insurance investigator. Jaclyn Smith, intrepid reporter for Today's Woman. Yes, a typical episode of Charlie's Angels, Season 1. "Angels on Wheels" to be exact. I came in late but here's the 411: The Angels are hired to investigate the death of a roller-derby gal who was somehow involved in an insurance scam. Pretending to be the late skater's sister, Jill (Farrah) lands a coveted spot on the team. Meanwhile, Sabrina (Kate Jackson (for some reason wearing an all white outfit with a hood) investigates the insurance investigators, looking for clues. And Kelly (Jaclyn Smith) stakes out the apartment of the dearly departed derbyist and puts the moves on the studly apartment manager who plays his entire scene shirtless.
Actually, I'd pay money to watch those two play patty-cake. My mind wanders. The actor is one Steve Sandor, who did tons of roles in all kinds of projects from the late 60's on. He was usually hired to play intimidating slabs of beef, as he was here. His hair doesn't match in some of the shots; but who's looking at his hair?
Kelly, despite the interference of Mr. Sandor (playing the roller-girl's apartment manager (he's also in on the scam); hits paydirt. She finds a baggage-claim ticket for a busline. Once she charms the metaphorical pants off of Steve (no need for the shirt); she heads to the bus station. The ticket pays out: a suitcase. Jackie heads back to her Mustang II and picks the lock. Bingo! Stacks and stacks of cash and handful of driver's licenses, all with the same picture.
Now this is where my theory has its genesis. When Kelly was getting the suitcase, one of the bad guys was busily planting a Napalm(!) bomb on the gas-tank of her car, in broad daylight, no less, in a crowded parking lot. On her drive to the bus station, she'd had a conversation with Bosley via carphone. He'd warned her not to go as someone (one of the suspects) had been found in the L.A. river wearing a pair of "cement Florsheims." Kelly insists she can handle it and gets the suitcase. Later, when she's driving back to the office (with the bomb attached to the car); she gets a call from Charlie. It has already been established that Charlie is out of town. He's always out of town. He informs Kelly that there is a bomb under her car that is going to go off at any moment. He tells her to find a vacant area and run for cover. She does this. When she's running from the vehicle, we (and she) hear Charlie yell, presumably over the car phone "The suitcase angel! The suitcase!" She runs back to the car, grabs the suitcase and narrowly escapes as her late model Ford explodes in a thunderous fireball.
I already posted these queries on a Facebook discussion page and was met with a lot of derision and disbelief. "Oh my God (eye roll); it's just a TV show!" or "The writers can't explain every little thing that happens!" or even "Charlie had an informant that informed him with information about the bomb." But there was NO WAY Charlie could've known about the bomb. Only two of the bad guys were privy to its planting. So unless Charlie happened to be at the bus station parking lot and witnessed the bomb planting first hand (and we know he wasn't; as far as the script unfolded); only then could this plot hole be explained. But how did Charlie know Kelly had left the suitcase in the car? There's no way he could've. Unless he was hovering above in a helicopter (which he wasn't) or that the car had an interior camera (which it didn't). So that leaves one conclusion. Charlie is omnipotent. Not just psychic; because that wouldn't explain how Kelly could've heard his voice when she was running from the car. He is all-seeing. He knows all. In the world of Charlie's Angels the TV show, he can only be one thing: God. I will herewith attempt to support my thesis with observations about the show, which, in retrospect seem very strange.
Let's start with the religious aspects. Charlie's Angels are not just "angels" as in angelic. His angels are literal angels. They even have wings. Both Jaclyn and Farrah's hairstyles feature feathered side wings, do they not? Even in this publicity shot, Kate Jackson has the hair "wings"!
The meaning of the gift, is, I think, attached to the meanings of the names of the characters. Jill Monroe, for example. "Jill" means "child of the god's." The name Kelly is understood to mean "one who frequents churches." Duncan means "brown haired man." "Townsend" is one who lives on the outskirts of the village and "Charles" means "free man."
So what can we make of all this?
Let's start with Jill Munroe, the Farrah character. So, she is the child of the gods. She has golden hair. Gold, in the form of the Magi's gift, represented Jesus' Kingship. So Jill is quite clearly the child of God. God, in this case is Charlie. He's a free man who lives as far on the far side of the village as he possibly can. And he's free to do whatever he wants.
Sabrina (Kate Jackson) is the "brown haired man." Her hair is a medium brown that she usually wore in a pageboy style; almost medieval: think Joan of Arc. She's clearly the "tomboy" of the group, usually wearing pants and hooded garments and tunics; very much like a monk. Her relationship with Bosley is almost a co-managerial one. We might also note that Bosley's initials are "J.B." as in John the Baptist. So his relationship with the angels, particularly Sabrina is a mentorship. A fraternity if you will. Bosley and Sabrina are two prophets who are "baptizing" new angels. Giving them their wings, as it were. Sabrina is very much the masculine element of the angels.
Kelly (Jaclyn Smith) is the frequenter of churches. Could the Charles Townsend Investigations office be a kind of chapel or church for finding out the truth about sinning people and righting those sins?
Kelly, it seemed to me, was always the Angel who was most in the line of jeopardy. Why? I can recall her being shot in the head, shot up with drugs, behind the wheels of out of control cars at least once a month. Her encounter with Mr. Sandor is a kind of recreation of Theseus and the Minotaur. He's built like a bull and the apartment complex resembles a maze. He physically threatens her.
But why Kelly? Why is Kelly the one always on the verge of death?
Now hear me out on this...I think Kelly is the lone mortal of the Angels. The other characters at Charles Townsend Investigations are working together (under the direction of Charlie) to claim Kelly as an angel. That requires her to die; which would explain why she was so often clutches of death adjacent (and who the myrrh in Bosley's present is meant for). But Charlie--though not an angry God--is a fickle one. He can't make up his mind. Does he need Kelly on Earth or does he need her in heaven? Thus; Kelly is in a kind of purgatory. It's interesting to note that (in my recollection anyways) Kelly was the only Angel who ever had a love interest. Perhaps even a sex life. I mean, as "sexy" as the show was supposed to be; you couldn't find a more chaste group of women outside of a nunnery:
It's fascinating. I've been working on this piece for a couple of days. Initially it wasn't supposed to be a serious examination of the theosophological underpinnings of Charlie's Angels. It was supposed to be a joke. But the more I look at it; the less a joke it seems.
Back to Jill (Farrah Fawcett). She famously left after the first season to pursue "other projects." Usually that meant: "I want to be a movie star." How Farrah managed to get out of what I assume was a seven-year contract without burning any bridges is anyone's guess. But then, she was the golden child, wasn't she? America's Sweetheart. Could do no wrong. So the producers of the show brought in another golden haired child. And yet another sister. Jill's "little sister" Kris Munroe (Cheryl Ladd). It was literally a second coming. The ratings for the night that Kris appeared were off the charts. She shortly appeared in a bikini and passed her cheese-cake test with flying colors. Notice she's wet; having emerged from the surf, a sort of Boticellian Venus (yet another goddess), freshly baptized as the Angel heiress apparent. Ladd was perhaps the sexiest of the angels; showing more skin then the Angels usually did. But she passed initiation and settled in for the remainder of the show's five seasons.
Socrates (who seems to magically appear and disappear from Bosley's desk at will) was of course the great Greek philosopher who advocated caring for one's soul. The soul at stake here, of course, is Kelly's.
So did the creators and writers of Charlie's Angels purposely layer in these religious elements? I doubt it. I do think, however, that in writing a show about a group of women deemed "Angels" who have a disembodied boss who seems to know all; the show couldn't help but absorb these elements. It seems to me that the collective consciousness about God and religiosity seeped into the show.
Which brings us to the final episode of the series. One I didn't see when it was originally aired (I liked the show enough; but it wasn't like it was "must see" TV for me). In fact, I wasn't even aware of the subject matter of this particular episode until I started researching this article. And I gotta say, it kind of supports everything I've been postulating (and remember, this was all in jest...at first). The title of the episode is "Let Our Angel Live."
Did the producers and writers of the show know that this was going to be the last episode? Most shows back then weren't given the luxury of a "finale." They simply were cancelled or not renewed.
The question remains: was all of this intended on the part of the people who created the show? Again, I doubt it. But if the answer to that is "yes"; then we can only see the entire enterprise of Charlie's Angels as some kind of poetic genius. What else could explain its longevity? What else could explain its resonance in popular culture? Why are we still talking today about this dumb little show that invented "jiggle TV"? Why does this show that's almost a half century old still work? It really shouldn't. It wasn't that good. And yet, here it remains.
Charlie's Angels: a religious experience?*