Angel Blues


SUMMARY

Former drug addict/country singer Amy Waters rides around town in a cab after suffering a breakdown at her concert. She calls her father and says she’s coming home, but when she arrives, she’s grabbed by two men and fatally injected with heroin. Her death is reported as an accidental overdose, but since she’s one of Charlie’s favorite singers, he wants to find out what really happened. The Angels find it strange that Amy was beaten on the night of her death, and died of a heroin overdose when her history of drug abuse involved only cocaine. They go to visit her father, who insists that she was off the drugs, and that she must have been murdered.

To find out what happened, the gang rolls on down to the Tower Taxi garage and Kris talks to Lenny, the twitchy cabbie who drove Amy on the night she was killed. Claiming to be a reporter for Country Music Quarterly, she convinces Lenny to duplicate the fateful cab ride so she can write an article about Amy’s death. Bosley, her editor, stands by in a cowboy hat and bolo tie to assure Lenny of their credentials. While he clocks in, the entire team gathers and converses loudly about how Kris is secretly wearing a microphone and that Kelly and Sabrina will be following in separate cars to investigate each stop on the tour.

Kelly volunteers to check out the first stop: Amy’s boyfriend’s apartment, from which she had emerged “slapped around and minus her cash”. When the already-angry man opens his door, Kelly is posed on his doorstep and offers a cryptically insulting opening line about Amy’s taste in men. She then saunters into the apartment uninvited, and, without ever identifying herself, begins demanding questions with an attitude of open disdain. She learns that he’d been supplying Amy with coke and using her for her money. After a final volley of haughty insults, Kelly exits the apartment, all the while observed from across the street by the two men who killed Amy. One begins tailing her while the other goes up and shoots the boyfriend.

Lenny then drives Kris to Cooperman’s Restaurant, where Amy had stopped to talk to the owner. After phoning Bosley for a computer rundown, Sabrina barges into Cooperman’s office and, also refusing to identify herself, ultra-irritatingly accuses him of taking over Amy’s music publishing company. He denies everything and orders his henchman to tail her when she leaves.

Sabrina follows Kris’s taxi to another apartment building where Amy's manager lives. As she’s examining her notes in the parking lot, Cooperman’s henchman shows up to shoot her; fortunately she senses this somehow and dives for cover just in time. After he screeches away, she goes up to the manager's apartment and screams at him until he admits to coercing Amy into selling her company.

Meanwhile, Kelly has finally noticed she’s being followed by the bad guy’s huge, bright red car. With some fancy maneuvers, she manages to lose the tail and have Sabrina follow him instead, which he somehow doesn’t notice. During a conference call with the others, Sabrina observes both bad guys coming out of a Laundromat and loading a soap machine into their truck. A puzzled Kris wisely parrots these key words from her phone booth loud enough for Lenny to overhear. When she hangs up, Lenny pulls out a gun, orders her to drive, and demands to hear what she knows about the Laundromat.

Eventually the gang starts to realize this business with the laundromat may be part of a strange drug operation and has nothing to do with Amy’s music career. Bosley calls and reports troublesome news of a discrepancy in the cab log, and that the dispatcher has lost contact with Lenny’s taxi. Upon hearing this news, Kelly simply hangs up without a word and tries to look concerned.

Lenny and Kris arrive at his run-down house, where she stands outside making hostage-jazz hands while he rambles semi-coherently. The other guys show up and unload their soap machine, unaware that Kelly and Sabrina are sneaking right behind for a surprise attack. After a little shooting and wrestling, all three of the cutthroat drug-pushers are cowering face-down in the dirt, and Kelly goes to call the police. Sabrina stands guard while a muddy and heavy-breathing Kris sets to figuring out the soap machine. The bad guys, now looking ashamed, cooperatively surrender a special coin that causes the machine to produce a packet of cocaine, which Kris insists on pinkie-tasting in order to sell her tough cop routine.

The Angels return to the office were Kelly explains, apparently just for the sake of exposition, that Amy was murdered so that she couldn't tell the cops about the soap machine. While looking either somber or bored, they all listen again to Amy’s sad song to mourn her short drug-filled life.

BACKGROUND CHECK

Angel Blues Episode #41 Season 2, Episode 19 Airdate: Feb 8, 1978 Writer: Ed Lakso Director: Georg Stanford Brown

WHAT'D YOU THINK?

Rate this episode:

CURIOSITIES

• When they start up their cars to follow Kris’s taxi, Kelly and Sabrina’s cars are parked in different places than they were in the establishing shot of the parking lot.

• Punchbuggy red! At the apartment building, Sabrina parks across the lot from a bizarro red Pinto.

• The TAXI light on the roof of Kris and Lenny's taxi disappears in some shots.

• Kris employs the common cop-drama method of tasting cocaine on her pinkie finger; in actuality, nothing at all can be determined by this process.

• Watch Kelly after the fight, when she leaves the scene with a gun in each hand, leaving Kris unarmed and walking through Sabrina's line of fire, to go get the real police.

• Watch as Kelly is trying to lose the guy following behind her in the car. As she is telling Bri where she is, she passes a suspiciously familiar orange Pinto parked on the street.

• The distance between the Pinto and the fence changes after Sabrina parks in the alley.

• While the Angels seem to do most of their own fighting, two middle aged male stuntmen were required to drive Sabrina’s Pinto a mere three feet.

• Jaclyn Smith mincing her way from a muddy crime scene in a fur coat with guns in both hands is truly a sight, and you'll probably rarely see anyone who looks less like a real detective (bless her heart). Why did she have to take two of their three guns with her, leaving her cohorts only half-armed guarding three ruthless murderers? She's going to have to put at least one of them down in order to use a telephone.

• Originally titled "Angel in the Night", this script was written with the intention of Jill starring instead of Kris. The title was likely changed due to its similarity to "Little Angels of the Night" which would air episode-after-next.

BAD GUYS BEAT DOWN

BAD GUYS SHOT

SHOTS FIRED AT ANGELS

SHOTS FIRED BY ANGELS

DAYS TO SOLVE CASE

COCAINE GRADE

TURTLENECKS

CHARACTER DEATHS

FASHION

This is one where the Angels wear the same clothes from the briefing in the office until the takedown at the end, so we hope you like them! Allegedly this is the episode that caused producer Aaron Spelling to phone fashion designer Nolan Miller in a rage - “What’s Jaclyn Smith doing in a fur coat in an alley?!” Good point.

Wardrobe Repeat Kelly wears her fur coat again in Angels on Horseback (thankfully sans turtleneck).

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ANGEL SHOOTING

Kelly shoots one of the bad guys during the takedown, marking the 5th Angel shooting.

Shooting trifecta! A bad guy also got shot in the two previous episodes (Angels in the Backfield and The Sandcastle Murders, by Sabrina and Bosley respectively), making this part of the only time in Charlie’s Angels history that the bad guy got shot 3 episodes in a row. Furthermore, all three of these were their first times shooting anybody.

Read more on Angel shootings

DRIVING ACE

Kelly tends to get the most acknowledgement on the show as the best combat driver of the team, but that usually comes after scenes where the bad guy's car just sorta gives up for little or no reason. In this episode, she actually sorta earns the title with some fancy driving, managing not only to shake the car that's tailing her, but then to switch places so she's tailing them instead! As usual it had a lot to do with good traffic luck for the Angel and bad traffic luck for the bad guy, but it was still cool. See Angel's Child, Waikiki Angels, and Taxi Angels for more Kelly vehicular combat.

ACCENTS

Sabrina breaks out the Brooklynese to interrogate Cooperman, though the accent lingers long afterwards, including when she's alone in her car talking to Bosley on the phone. Guess it just gets in ya blood.

SCREEN TIME ANALYSIS

Surprisingly balanced, considering how much this formula could've lent Kris the chance to steal the spotlight if this were a later season.

  • KELLY
  • KRIS
  • SABRINA
  • BOSLEY
  • HOW MUCH OF THE EPISODE HAS AT LEAST ONE ANGEL/BOSLEY IN IT 70%

ACTION

Everybody but Bos gets to kick a little bad guy booty in possibly one of the series' best takedown scenes. Kelly once again throws caution to the winds, not to mention public safety as she closes her eyes first, shoots second and asks questions never. She  proves again she is the most reckless Angel by walking right in the way of Sabrina’s line of fire to call 911.

Sabrina proves to be not only a bit psychic but also faster than a speeding bullet in dodging a hail of gunfire. In the final takedown, she actually puts her gun down in middle of a fight so she can hold a bad guy by the hair and kick him in the stomach.

Lenny tries to strangle Kris but she is having none of it, after a foot stomp and an Angel chop he is down for the count (and she might also kick him when he's down? Please see below).

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UNUSUALLY DARK FOR CHARLIE'S ANGELS

Angel Blues starts with one of the most disturbing, if not the most disturbing, murder scenes on Charlie's Angels. Not necessarily in its methods or heinousness, but the way you see the victim sad, scared and suffering, and watch the entire murder/death, as opposed to the usual sugar-coated treatment. In any other, the victim would have just looked over her shoulder, gone "Who's there?", cue stock scream, cue Angel chime, and we'd dissolve to the Angels pouring drinks in the office. In fact, that's exactly what aired two weeks later - an episode about the serial strangling of prostitutes - and yet this one's more uncomfortable to watch due to the way they handle it.

REPEAT OFFENDERS

Gary Bisig: Lenny the cabbie also plays Bill Montclair in next season's Winning is for Losers.

Herb Braha: Miscellaneous thug Hank later plays a crooked bodyguard in The Prince and the Angel.

Tim Rossovich: Another miscellaneous thug role repeated in Avenging Angel.

Lynne Marta: The woman who provided Amy's singing voice appeared as Linda in Love Boat Angels.

Georg Stanford Brown: Kate Jackson's former Rookies co-star directed several episodes, including The Big Tap-Out, The Blue Angels, Game, Set, Death, Angels in the Backfield, Angel Blues, Little Angels of the Night, Counterfeit Angels, and Disco Angels.

Prolific writer Ed Lakso brought us roughly one third of the series, including Hellride, The Seance, Dirty Business, The Vegas Connection, I Will Be Remembered, The Blue Angels, Pretty Angels All in a Row, Angels in the Wings, Angels on Horseback, Angels in Vegas, Winning is for Losers, Pom Pom Angels, Counterfeit Angels, Disco Angels, Terror on Skis, Angel in a Box, Teen Angels, Marathon Angels, Angels in Waiting, Angels Remembered, Love Boat Angels, Avenging Angel, Angels on the Street, The Prince and the Angel, Angel's Child, One of Our Angels is Missing, Catch a Falling Angel, Dancing Angels, Harrigan's Angel, Three for the Money, To See an Angel Die, Angel in Hiding, He Married an Angel, Angel on the Line, Chorus Line Angels, Stuntwomen Angels, Angel on a Roll, and Let Our Angel Live.

OUR TAKE

Greg's Rating: 4 stars Even though the plot is simple and the characters' motivations and actions are broad to say the least, I enjoyed the darkness of this episode. The protagonist was dead before the Angels got the case so it was really just a matter of avenging her death as opposed to saving someone. I had creepy Lenny pegged as a bad guy the minute he appeared on screen and even though the story was just one long cab ride, it had enough action to not make it feel tedious. (For more tedious, please see Season 5.)

Holly's Rating: 5 stars Not my favorite, although the way the case is presented is definitely out of the ordinary in that we know the tragic facts of the case before the Angels do. The ceaseless (and lame) country music deadens my soul, but the dramatic takedown makes for an eye-opener.

Or maybe that was the coke.

Joshua's Rating: 4.5 Stars Four and a half for this blue episode surrounding the death of a country singer—she was shot up with cocaine and of course the Angels are hired to find out why. One negative thing about this dark episode is the country tune on repeat. The melody always gets stuck in my head. I really feel this should have taken place in Nashville—I don’t just say that because I’m Tennessee born and bred; it would have been a great outing for the angels.

Oddities in this episode ... I’m beginning to think Kelly is cold all the time. A fur coat on the beach in Sandcastle Murders and now Kelly has on this fur coat in the office when no one else seems to be cold. I love moments when Sabrina shows she’s not just book smart. She’s also “industrial-street” smart which is evident when she says to Mr. Cooper: “Yeah, but you and I both know when you work for those people (The Syndicate) you can never walk away from them.” This is a great episode had it been filmed in the '90s one would think he were watching Law & Order.

Another note - since the network was just going out with a regular episode for the season, Angel Blues absolutely should have been the Season 2 finale instead of Antique Angels.

Joann's Rating: 3 Stars This is probably one of the more serious episodes Charlie's Angels did in terms of content taking on celebrity downfall and drug addiction. Amy Waters, a small town girl who became a well known recording artist is found dead of an apparent overdose. Her father wants to know what happened to his daughter. As Kris (playing a reporter) retraces her steps on the fatal night by riding around with the cabbie who drove Amy around (this bit is boring even for Kris fans), Kelly and Sabrina soon discover a drug selling conspiracy involving almost everyone.

The biggest misstep is the Ed Lakso penned country song Amy warbles and the Angels listen to at various moments for inspiration, or for the writers to drive home to the audience that this is very sad. I honestly also feel I would like it a whole lot better if Kris hadn't worn that eyesore cowgirl shirt all episode long and maybe checked in with the hair department in between scenes. It does get points back though for the campy OK Corral rumble at the end.

Brolly's Rating: 4 Stars One of the more serious Angel-sodes about the downfall of a country-singer. I definitely appreciated the slight change of tone and Kris' coke tasting skills never cease to amaze.

Anna's Rating: 5 stars I don't really like this one. It's a downer, the murder might be the only one that's truly uncomfortable to watch, and it's oddly boring to me overall despite being interspersed with a few driving/action moments that are incidentally some of the series' best. On one hand I give them credit for trying a serious episode back when they weren't doing Serious Issue solo episodes yet (see Avenging Angel for that treatment of the same issue); on the other hand, I don't know that Charlie's Angels is really the place for it even if it were really well-executed.

Objectively, I think this would've worked better as the Season 1 episode it was written to be. It's not that I think Farrah/Jill would do it better than Cheryl/Kris (although I'm mentally editing somber end-of-Dirty-Business-Farrah into this episode and she's doing well), it's  just more fitting of the first year's darker 10-pm-timeslot tone, whereas it sticks out like a sore thumb in this more cartoonish year. Maybe I also feel weird seeing Baby Season 2 Kris acting like Solemn Adult Season 4 Kris. It's not that her acting isn't convincing, it just seems precocious.