Angel in a Box


SUMMARY

Kris is contacted by a very urgent new client who arranges to meet with her at a restaurant. Without much ado, the "client" pulls out a gun, forcing her into his station wagon, where a second swarthy henchman is waiting at the wheel. Bosley arrives just in time to witness her capture - he tries to block their exit, but they open fire and squeal out of the parking lot.

Shaken, Bosley heads straight to the office with a witness named Mr. Jackson, who explains that he saw a logo for something called "Georgian Acres" on the station wagon. A telegram then arrives concerning "the cost of returning Jill Munroe." Mix-up?!?

The originals reunite on the airport runway later the same day. Jill seems annoyed that, in the 7+ hours it took her to fly over from Montreal, all they've found out is that Georgian Acres is the name of a nearby resort. They all pile into the Bosmobile and head out to the resort by night. As they drive through the Acres' parking lot, Bosley spots the two kidnappers conveniently loitering outside. Jill's eager to go grab them, but Smart One advises they return at first light and check into the resort.

Meanwhile, Kris and Mr. Jackson, the witness, are sharing a couch at a private residence somewhere, observed by a stoic bad guy and his henchmen. We get the idea that Jackson was actually a hired actor - he's complaining about "wanting his money" for "doing just what he was asked." Annoyed, the head bad guy has the mouthy Mr. Jackson taken out of the room and paid in lead instead of cash. He then introduces himself as Anton Karazna and announces ominously that, for the moment, he "wants Kris". Kris looks concerned.

Next morning, the originals check into the Georgian Acres, followed by a not-at-all conspicuous Briton - a mutton-chopped chap named Johnson Wintergreen. He learns that the swarthy henchman is the resort's resident tennis instructor. Jill (Jill Johnson) gets ol' Swarthy on the court in no time, claiming to need help straightening out her backhand. (Sundies Undies, anyone?)

Back at the hostage zone, Kris sits sullenly ignoring a tray of sandwiches. Karazna threatens to have her beaten for failing to delight in his hospitality, and informs her that she's worth more dead than alive. She looks concerned. In the next moment, Karazna's staring at the portrait of a young man hanging above his mantle and asking Kris questions about whether she's ever lost a loved one. He commands her to look through a photo album that's sitting on the coffee table. It's filled with pictures of Jill and a young man sitting atop a race car. Kris looks from the photos to the painting. At this point, even the densest of viewers will have finished realizing it's the same man. She looks back to the photos...thinking... back to the painting... could it be...? The painting - wait, no, photos some more...  (the scene ends, but we don't know how long this continues.)

Jill, Sabrina and Bosley (still in full Wintergreen regalia) gather in her hotel room and locate A Clue - a key to room 209 dropped on the floor. Strolling the Acres after her tennis match, Jill and Sabrina spy a strange red-haired man staring out from the window of Jill's hotel room. They sprint to the building  just in time to catch Red in the same cheap hallway set they use in every episode. When Sabrina pulls a gun, he takes off running and pushes a maid's cart into their path. Both Angels crash into it and watch dejectedly from the floor as Red exits through a doorway 10 feet away. The chase is OVER.

Sabrina dresses as a maid and crashes room 209, where she spots a photo of Kris along with an address. Red emerges towel-clad from the shower, and a startled Sabrina launches into a French-accented monologue about how she's come to clean his room extra because he's clearly a gentleman. While speaking, she snaps his picture with a loud Minox camera concealed in her feather duster.

As soon as she leaves, Red calls Karazna to tell him that "Duncan" just found the key he planted, and that she may have gotten a picture of him. Karazna advises him to dispose of Miss Duncan and Miss Garrett rather than just misdirecting them. Kris looks concerned.

Misses Duncan and Garrett hop in the Pinto to visit that address, oblivious to Red tailing them from 5 feet away (Bosley has to call to tip them off). Sabrina worries that the entire case has been stupidly easy and that maybe all the clues have been planted. After having to explain this theory to Kelly via a play-by-play of the entire case up to this scene, she wills the Pinto to begin sputtering and backfiring, and Red follows them as they pull into a parking lot. When he comes to take a look under the hood, Sabrina clubs him on the back with her fists, and he's out cold.

Back at Georgian Acres, Jill meets up with Swarthy for a lunch date, only by "lunch" he meant "kidnap," and he's actually been wise to her whole time.  Bosley witnesses and, again, has to call and report this to Kelly.

Swarthy makes Jill drive, explaining the plot en route: Karazna blames her for his son Dino's fatal racing crash, believing he deliberately killed himself over her. Jill is  deposited into the hostage zone for a lukewarm reunion with Kris, and then arguments commence. Karazna wanted his son to be a racing, sailing macho jock he could be proud of, and blames Jill for making him weak. Jill counters with the interesting strategy of explaining that the son wrote poetry and was not very good at any of that stuff. Yatta yatta yatta, Karazna still intends to kill them. Or maybe just Kris, to make it "ironic." It's difficult to tell. Henchmen drag them both out of the room, to be transported toward some vague doom.

The rest of the gang has accumulated out at the gate and observes the blondes being stuffed into the kidnap wagon. Sabrina crashes the gate and the chase is on! A henchman opens fire on the Pinto, and after six shots, he's predictably befuddled that his gun has somehow stopped working. The sisters take this opportunity to each do some Angel pseudo kung fu on their nearest captor and bail out of the speeding car.

Taking cover behind their respective cars, the Angels and bad guys hail bullets at each other from across a dirt runway. Looks like maybe the Angels could have spent a bit more time on the police academy's target range, because Karazna manages to climb into his own private plane without being shot. Kelly compensates by shooting at the plane's engine, causing an oil leak and entreating Karazna to what is possibly the longest and most boring plane crash ever filmed. The team watches silently as he eventually explodes in a fireball on the side of a mountain. Kris looks concerned.

Drinks at the office! Jill demeaningly asks the others to "take care of her little friend" and explains that she has to go race cars some more instead of visiting, now that the mutual near-death experience has been resolved.

BACKGROUND CHECK

Angel in a Box Episode #63 Season 3, Episode 17 Airdate: Feb 14, 1979 Writer: Ed Lakso Director: Curtis Harrington

FILMING LOCATIONS

The Townsend Agency Office • Georgian Acres

WHAT'D YOU THINK?

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CURIOSITIES

• Bosley tells Kris that he's at 7th and Grand, while the stock footage of his car is right next to a very prominent Vanowen St. sign.

• Jaclyn, Kate and Farrah appear to be wearing wedding rings in some scenes.

• The apparent last-minute addition of Mr. Jackson's gunshot sound effect lent the odd impression that Kris either didn't hear it, or didn't care at all.

• What's with the weird slow-motion piece of film on Swarthy looking at Jill?

• Why does Karazna bother feeding Kris if he intends to kill her soon? Guess he was pretty hospitable, like he said.

• Kris' kidnapping spanned two days. Did she sleep on that same sofa, or...?

• The film is sometimes flipped on the portrait of Dino Karazna.

• After knocking Red out in the parking lot, why do Sabrina and Kelly have to stand right there and continue discussing the case? Leeeeave.

• Why does Karazna compliment Kris on her courage when all she did was ask - once - why he's making her look at that photo album?

• You can see pictures of other stuff in that photo album besides Jill - cats, for one. Now we have to wonder if there were even more than a few pictures involving Jill. Was she still forced to look through the whole album, or did Karazna kinda direct her to the pertinent parts?

• A shot of the Pinto driving toward Karazna's place is borrowed footage from Angels in Chains. Soon after, a shot of Sabrina's foot on the accelerator is taken from The Killing Kind.

• A few times during the shootout, you can see muzzle flashes without any accompanying gunshot sounds.

• Why does Jill seem to think the others won't understand her desire to visit Dino Karazna's grave?

BAD GUYS BEAT DOWN

ANGELS KIDNAPPED

SHOTS FIRED AT ANGELS

SHOTS FIRED BY ANGELS

DAYS TO SOLVE CASE

BAD GUYS KILLED BY ANGELS

TURTLENECKS

CHARACTER DEATHS

FASHION

Kris spends nearly the entire hour in a bland pantsuit. Kelly's dressed like half of a horse costume. Jill goes between sporty and country fringe. Sabrina's standard fare aside from the maid outfit, which somehow isn't the same one from Mother Angel.

Wardrobe Repeat Nothing much to report except that Sabrina's back with her ID-badge-looking necklace thing again, and seems to be aiming for the same whole overall look as Teen Angels.

Box

Teen

 Jade

WHAT A SCHEME

This was a needlessly elaborate scheme. Even if they planned this all out and fed the Angels clues, there were still too many factors they couldn't control. Did they count on Bosley arriving at the restaurant in time to see Kris get kidnapped? Did they count on Bosley IDing them immediately at Georgian Acres? How could they risk the hired witness blabbing? Why didn't they boil it waaaay down and just wait until Kris and Jill were together, and kidnap them both?

ANGEL OF DEATH

It's Kelly who suggests aiming at the plane's gas tank and succeeds in hitting it, claiming Anton Karazna as her 5th, and the series' 9th, life taken.

Of course they didn't want Karazna to escape, but was the lethal force justifiable? He wasn't even posing a threat to them (anymore), simply trying to get away, and that's when a self-defense kill turns more into plain old revenge-murder. Private detectives don't have the same rights as actual law enforcement folk to kill escaping criminals. Their priority target should have been the henchmen who were still shooting at them. Kidnapping with intent to kill will earn plenty of prison time, but Kelly prefers to play judge, jury and executioner when her Munroes are threatened - Charlie will probably have to pull some strings on this one.

Read more Angel kill stats

SCREEN TIME ANALYSIS

This is the only Guest Star Farrah episode where she doesn't get the most screen time - this week, Kris wins (but only by a minute). Content level is pretty good, although it could've been higher considering there's an extra Angel in play.

  • KELLY
  • KRIS
  • JILL
  • SABRINA
  • BOSLEY
  • HOW MUCH OF THE EPISODE HAS AT LEAST ONE ANGEL/BOSLEY IN IT 85%

ACTION

At this point, lots of bad guys know you do not kidnap a Munroe, but these guys learn that hard way that you certainly don't kidnap two. Jill fires an Angel Elbow at the henchman's neck, while Kris improvises a feisty twist on the same move by bopping Karazna in the face (while he was still pointing a gun at her). They both bail out of the speeding car, performing what is, in our scientific opinion, the series' only tandem self-rescue.

The chase scene was mostly just long shots of the two cars driving (individually) across vast stretches of dirt road in real time, but it still felt like action. You can't go wrong with a good-old-fashioned shootout.

WORLD'S LONGEST PLANE CRASH

From bullet hole to fireball, the plane crash took just about two full minutes, but felt like ten thanks to repeated shots of the plane and its instruments. This guy's altitude is all over the place. At one point he looks about to crash, and in the next shot he's thousands of feet up in the clouds again. Oil pressure gauge falling, falling, empty!.... Rising? Falling, falling....  Aaand then let's have it finally disappear behind a mountain because we don't wanna spend the money to blow up an actual plane.

SWEET SWEET MUSIC

Turn up the bass! This episode has a funktastic score that should make the other 108 jealous. Seeing "Special Guest Star FARRAH FAWCETT-MAJORS" on the screen along with amazing, unexplained bass funk keeps you groovin' hard enough not to notice that you're watching nearly a whole minute of city stock footage. Why aren't they all like this?

COVER SHMOVER

These covers are so much more attention-grabbing than if they just acted normally. Red was able to recognize Sabrina by sight even when she was in disguise (term used very loosely) but Bosley's costume seemed to grant him complete invisibility from the bad guys. These guys are really dedicated to their vendetta, and are apparently aware that they should be on the lookout for Bosley's involvement - you'd think they would give a second look to this conspicuous guy who's constantly hanging around with the Angels.

VACANT STARE ALERT

Two years early, and it's already starting to happen. When Bos calls to report various happenings to Kelly, she looks more annoyed than concerned that she and/or her cohorts are in danger. After she hangs up, it doesn't sound like she's even gonna relay the news to Sabrina. And actually, where was she through most of the middle of the episode? Oh well, at least she perked up in time to kill someone at the end.

REPEAT OFFENDERS

This is a rare episode with no recycled actors.

Curtis Harrington also directed Angel On My Mind.

OUR TAKE

Joann's Rating:  Someone wants to seek revenge on Jill by taking Kris hostage. Seems race car driver Jill dated a young man; he idolized her; she dumped him; his race car crashed. At least that’s the version his overbearing Bela Lugosi lookalike father insists on. So what could Jill possibly have that, losing, would make her suffer enough to satisfy Bela/Karazna’s thirst for vengeance? A sister!

I really liked this episode when I was a kid, but on viewing it now, I can see problems. First off, Kris isn’t with the other Angels. A no-no for me. I do like the Originals working the case together, even if it does seem a pale effort of their former selves. Scene upon scene of Kris, great hair, sharp light gray pantsuit that stands the test of time, should make me happy to no end. But in fact, Kris waiting to be rescued, trying to get Karazna and his psycho eyebrows to tell her what he's got against Jill gets a bit tedious. These scene(s) (multiples of the same conversation over and over) drag on way too long. Why can't he just tell her? Because they need to cut to Jill, Sabrina, and Kelly looking for her. This is equally anticlimactic because the goons working for Karazna spoon feed the Originals information needed to locate Kris, offering little real suspense. Btw, how does Sabrina get the Pinto to fake car trouble sounds? It go to the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car detective school?

Meanwhile back at the ranch, Kris is offered oversized tea sandwiches (with no beverage) while being made to flip through a cheap-ass photo album (the man’s got 9 houses) with dozens upon dozens of the same photos of bad driver/dead son and Jill sitting in a race car, and trying to explain that Jill wouldn't harm anyone. When Jill finally shows up (the payoff we’ve been fighting drowsiness for), Karazna makes his intentions known. Perhaps I always bought this Kris/Jill hurt/comfort moment because of his fiendishly laden voice stating that he must take what she loves. Dun dun dun!!! And how about those tassels on Jill’s banana hued western-style suede shirt? Great way to piss Karazna off at you more, Jill ‘I don’t do subtle,’ fashion plate.

The destined ending chase scene does pick things up a bit. Sabrina, Kelly, and Bosley bust Chitty Chitty Pinto through a gate; Jill and Kris clobber the bad guys and jump from a speeding car; and Karazna, in a bit of sophisticated cosmic irony I’m sure no one ever intended, crashes his bullet-riddled plane into the side of a hill. If you’ve read anything I’ve ever written on here, however, you’ll sense a familiar stream of wishing/whining. I wish Jill, Kelly and Sabrina had more dialogue together. I wish that while Karazna's plane takes many many minutes of screen time to crash someone had said something clever, or sentimental, or just said anything. Having narrowly escaped a firing squad south of the border, I wish Kris and Jill would have come together while watching Karazna sizzle. Family. Good times. Bottom line though, it's a Farrah returns episode. She could read the terms of her contract settlement in legalese and fans would be happy. Then there’s Kris and Jill’s matching swashbuckling outfits – plus them sitting side-by-side on the couch. Priceless. This makes me happy.

Anna's Rating:  It's the little things I'm here for. Sabrina yelling at Kelly in the middle of an action sequence.  Kelly's always trigger happy, and the chief's always there to shush, slap or scold her coworkers like children. Kelly drives Sabrina's car (3 feet). It's the only time an Angel drives another Angel's car outside The Seance. I liked how Kelly was legitimately comforting to Jill when she first arrived, because that's more direct sympathy than they usually give to the unkidnapped Munroe. I like that tiny stare-down between Kris and Hop Sing. She can't get a reading on whether he's evil, but still resents him and his little sandwiches. What else? Another needlessly foreign maid. Gate-crashing. Is it just me, or do Cheryl and Jaclyn look slightly like they're trying not to laugh after the plane crashes? Oh, and best. music. ever.

Kris, who's kinda the focus of the case but not really, does nothing all hour long except sit and fret. Only a couple times does she make any effort to speak up. I don't know what I expect her to do, but she seems quite meek and passive compared to her usual self. Not even one mad dash for the door, or trying to turn a weak-minded henchman against Karazna? Where's that Munroe spunk?  Where's that Munroe appetite?

It has good ingredients, but the story is stretched sooo thin, and I almost kind of resent it for all the potential Angel interaction it teased but never gave. Kris and Jill hug once and then act like they're not in the same room with each other (they probably weren't). They only even appear in the same frame a couple of times. Kris might as well not have been in this. Even though she's my favorite, I still love seeing Kelly, Sabrina and Jill work a case together one last time for nostalgia's sake, but their scenes left me coasting on the fumes of Season 1 rather than honestly enjoying something new. It's weird - I've seen these episodes 75,000 times apiece, yet I still get the desire to watch a guest-Farrah episode with this hope like one of them has the quadruple-Angel interaction I imagine happening, like maybe they all finally have that party from The Sandcastle Murders and I somehow forgot.

Was it just me, or is the "little friend" attitude toward Kris at the end a little insulting? I know it's just attempted sisterly banter, but she's kinda implying that Kris is inept and needs to have an eye kept on her, which is stupid considering this whole thing was Jill's fault.