Angels in the Backfield


SUMMARY

Amy Jarvis, a standard Nancy Fox character, is a constant disappointment to her old-school dad - first she was born a girl, and now she's coaching a losing local-league-women's football team, The Ducks. After"Pokey", one of the star players on the team is driven at by two masked people on motorcycles, Amy and her dad hire the Angels to find out who's behind the motorcycle offense and threatening phone calls. Charlie recommends that *shocker* all three Angels join the team - they reluctantly agree to suit up.

Kris: "I wonder if this is how O.J. got started."

As the Angels keep an eye out for people who ride motorcycles, Bri is clearly in her element as she plays quarterback for the Ducks while Kelly and Kris begrudgingly make half-hearted plays and look cute in their too-large uniforms.

Julia Smyth (with a "y"), owner of the opposing team, the Panthers, repeatedly and disturbingly attempts to recruit Sabrina for her team. Whether she's referring to her football team here is ultimately unclear. The three Angels later spy the turtlenecked Smyth speeding away on a motorcycle.

Despite looking like a disheveled drunk post-practice, Bosley bumps into the terrorized player, Pokey, and the two become chummy after discussing her life back home in the sticks and her problems with dyslexia which sometimes cause her to mix up the plays on the field. She provides Bosley with more detailed descriptions of the villainous motorcycles and in exchange, Bos promises to get her help from a dyslexia doctor he knows.

Meanwhile in the ladies' locker room, a large, hostile teammate aptly named Grinelda picks a fight with tiny, precious Kris and Kelly comes to the rescue just in time, their chick wrestling match culminating with Kelly holding the groaning ogre's face under a running shower head.

Kelly begins to spend time with Ducks "fan" Joe Phillips, a limping, underdog ex-football player with a chip on his shoulder. They lunch together and afterwards, the two motorcycles show up in the parking lot and try to run them down. Kelly climbs aboard the hood of a parked vehicle to safety.

After having been terrorized by the masked cyclers herself, Kelly manages to sketch one of the vehicles so that it can be checked against Charlie's computer. Once the results are in, the Angels split into two teams and track down the list of people who purchased that type of motorcycle. On their last stop on the list, Kelly and Kris visit a garage where they discover the infamous motorcycle, and upon peeking through a window, spot Joe suspiciously leaving in a van with another man. Kris stumbles upon a blueprint of the Coliseum that was conveniently left out in the open, and thus deduces that the men are planning to steal the proceeds from a recent rock concert held at the venue.

It's game time at the Coliseum, and Joe and his accomplice rappel down the side of the building and into the room containing the Coliseum's safe. Two arena security guards notice the goings-on, and in their attempt to subdue the thieves, get knocked to the floor and held at gunpoint while the bad guys begin to crack the safe.

Having raced to the arena to catch up with them, Kelly sneaks in a side door as Bri and Kris shimmy down a rope and drop through the open window. When they catch Joe and friend in mid-burgle, Sabrina takes the accomplice out with a single shot, and Kelly talks a surprised Joe into dropping his gun and surrendering to the police.

After learning that Grinelda and Julia Smyth (with a "y") are old college friends, the Angels venture that Grinelda must be sabotaging the Ducks by telling Julia Smyth (with a "y") all of their plays. Now very seriously into the whole football thing, Sabrina insists to the others' dismay that they join the Ducks for their final game to beat Grinelda at her own game by making use of Pokey's dyslexia. Mid-scrimmage at the arena, Amy's dad sits on the sidelines sipping beer out of a paper bag, and when the Angels successfully foil Grinelda and win the game, he's guilted into feigning meager pride in his daughter.

BACKGROUND CHECK

Angels in the Backfield Episode #39 Season 2, Episode 17 Airdate: Jan 25, 1978 Writer: Ed Lakso Director: Georg Stanford Brown

WHAT'D YOU THINK?

Rate this episode:

CURIOSITIES

• Watch Sabrina trip on a thing on the ground as they come up the steps after practice.

• What's with the Asian flavor of the music when Grinelda taunts Kris on the field, and again right after their practice is over? Why did they still have the Chinese grandmother and grandfather cue from Angels in Paradise hooked up to some button for the sound guy to accidentally push?

• The gold van has Kelly's traditional 356 CFX license plate, and Kelly has a different one.

• How long does it take Grinelda to stabilize her towel before attacking Kris?

• Why does the suddenly-helpless Grinelda wail like her skin is being burned off when Kelly has simply turned the shower on over her head? Is water her kryptonite?

• When Kris and Kelly are driving toward the Coliseum, look at the cars parked alongside the street: is that AN orange Pinto, or THE orange Pinto?

• Kris steals a large blueprint from Joe's garage, but in the car, she's looking at a standard-sized piece of paper. Once at the coliseum, the blueprint has grown back to its full size.

• When Sabrina shoots one of the thieves, he acts like he's been hit in the stomach, but when the cops take him away, it's his arm that's bandaged.

%

SABRINA'S SHOOTING ACCURACY

BAD GUYS BEAT DOWN

BAD GUYS SHOT

SHOTS FIRED AT ANGELS

SHOTS FIRED BY ANGELS

TURTLENECKS

DAYS TO SOLVE CASE (?)

FASHION

Neither the actresses nor viewers liked the bulky and very un-sexy football uniforms (in part causing Cheryl Ladd to name this as her least favorite episode).

The blue jacket Kris wears looks the same as the one on the cover of Cheryl Ladd's self-titled first album. It's also notable that this is one of the few times Cheryl ever wore jeans on the show.

Angels in the BackfieldAngels in the Backfield

Cheryl Ladd"Cheryl Ladd"

CANNED GOODS

The stock grunting noise is sprinkled liberally through the entire Kelly v. Grinelda fight, mostly at moments where it doesn't belong. The "Ulgh! Ugh!" noise basically plays in a loop while Kelly is just standing there not exerting herself at all.

While we're at it, the actual football scenes have weird lines dubbed all over them, like Kris mumbling "Thanks a lot, Charlie," when you can see that her mouth's not moving. All the other players are spouting weird and badly dubbed comments in uninspired loud-whisper tones. "Get her, get her." "Block that pass, block that pass, yeah baby."

ROMANCE

Kinda undercover but not really, Kelly shares some mildly romantic undertones with the injured ex-football guy/crook. Her main objective was getting close to him to see if he had any useful information, although it gets a little blurry about whether she becomes at least partially genuinely interested. He asks her if she's "thinking about turning in her football cleats for a cookbook," and she replies, "If I were, are you saying you're interested?" Whoa, that seems fast, cover or not. Maybe she'll grab him a pamphlet about Gloria Steinem while she's down at the Gender Role Emporium making that swap.

Actually, she gets points for dumping him before she found out he was the bad guy, because he was getting all weird about his knee injury making him less than a man. "You are a cripple - in your head. If you ever shake it out, give me a call." That's the best play in this episode. (But seriously, if he ever does call her like three years later, is she actually into this or not?)

SCREEN TIME ANALYSIS

Pretty good Angel content. In fact, an Angel getting 30+ minutes of screen time in a 1-hour show is something that only happened a handful of times (and most of the others are solo episodes). That honor goes to Kelly here. Nice!

  • KELLY
  • KRIS
  • SABRINA
  • BOSLEY
  • HOW MUCH OF THE EPISODE HAS AT LEAST ONE ANGEL/BOSLEY IN IT 79%

ACTION

backfield-kelly-grineldaThe fight between Kelly and Grinelda is a classic as far as we're concerned. Gotta love that Kelly is able to subdue a huge furious football player by holding her face in the shower spray. Disappointing to see that Kris still needs rescuing when things get rough, since her later awesome fighting skills have not yet developed. Also, Sabrina gets to shoot a bad guy in the arm.

Oh, and let's not forget the amazing plays all three Angels make. They're so amazing that the game's commentator constantly mentions each of them by name as their stunt doubles strut across the field.

THEY CAN'T ALL BE THE SMART ONE

It's the final big game, already on the field, already huddled, about to scrimmage, seconds on the clock, and Sabrina is JUST NOW having to explain to Kelly the strategy about Pokey and dyslexia. Seriously? Where has Kelly been? Even if she didn't know about the dyslexia thing in the first place (she did), wouldn't she have maybe discussed the plan with Sabrina while suiting up? Even disinterested Kris, the only football-inexperienced Angel, seemed to get it already.

ANGEL OF DEATH (?)

Sabrina shooting the thief in the arm marks the series’ third shooting by an Angel, and the first time Sabrina got to shoot anyone at all.

Shooting trifecta! Bad guys will also get shot in the next two episodes (The Sandcastle Murders and Angel Blues, by Bosley and Kelly), 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 are their first times shooting anybody.

Read more on Angel shootings

REPEAT OFFENDERS

 Gary Wood was the only guest star to work with every Angel trio. He played the peanut-popping kidnapper Paul in Angels on a String, porn mogul Joe Willis in Catch a Falling Angel, and finally the guy who shot Kelly in the final episode, Let Our Angel Live.

Nancy Fox: Childhood friend of Jaclyn Smith's also plays a hooker in Angels on the Street, the maid in One Love...Two Angels and a dancer in Chorus Line 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

 Joshua's Rating: 3.5 Stars The plot is a simple one. The Angels are thrown onto the football field to uncover who is threatening a womens' football team.

Different factors help different episodes garner a ranking. Here’s the rundown on why “Backfield” receives three and a half stars: “Julia Smyth with a Y”. You’ll have to hear it to understand why it’s a factor. Girl power in the form of a football league and the anti-feminist Mr. Jarvis who says, “You know where I think these girls ought to be spending their time including my daughter?” To which Kelly mouths and Sabrina answers, “in the kitchen” gives it the endearing-sympathy sub-plot. Also be on the look out Sabrina is not standing behind the bar. She also wears something other than a turtleneck or pants suit as a matter a fact it’s a dress.

Holly's Rating: Rating Block that pass, yeah baby, yeah baby. Just witnessing Sabrina flit around the various fields as a free agent while Julia Smyth (with a Y) makes incessant non-football-related passes at her makes this a must-see episode. I love how at home Kate Jackson is in this episode - she's at her most cute and energetic. The very idea that all the Angels are forced to take part in the game(s) is ridiculous. Bri, maybe; but Kelly and Kris look like delicate, absent-minded junior models with dirt smudged on their cheeks - here's a suggestion - get back to the Bow Wows - they're mildly adept at cheerleading, even when it puts their hair at risk.

Brolly's Rating: 3.5 Stars Girl-Power! The Angels play football and on top of that Kelly valiantly mops the floor of the shower with big ole' meanie Grinelda. Not a nail-biter by any means but an okay episode.

Joann's Rating: 4 stars What could be better than Angels in prison? Angels playing all girl football! This episode impresses me more now than back then because the idea of an all girls football league during the 70s seems like a complete fabrication. However, according to Wikipedia, there was in fact a female league at the time, the National Women's Football League. But back to the show.

Girls are being threatened as they prepare to play an exhibition game and the Angels have to find out why. Sabrina and Kelly played football at the Academy (of course) and Kris, well she's gonna fake it. Whenever I set out to watch this I feel it's going to be a boring one, but it has some good moments including Sabrina's alpha female confrontations with Panthers (that's a team) honcho, Julia Smyth with a Y; motorcycle scare tactics, locker room intimidation; dumb jock with a heart of gold winning the day; Sabrina dragging Kelly and Kris through an actual game after the case is solved (because she spells Smith with a I) to pull off the last minute win for the lowly Ducks (that's the other team). As said, because of lines like, "How did a flower like you get mixed up in this garden of thorns?", I think of this episode as more of a 3. Nevertheless, I'm going 4 out of 5.