Angels in the Wings


SUMMARY

Singer Ellen Jason rehearses a song while some mysterious guy watches from the studio catwalk above, acting suspicious and having flashbacks. Moments later, Ellen is nearly crushed by a falling stage light!

She hires the Angels to investigate a rumor that the stage is jinxed in connection with the death of a musical star named Norma Friedrick 15 years ago. The only possible suspect Ellen can name is her bitter ex-husband, Frank, with whom she starred years ago in a broadway hit called Sweet Misery.

Kris, as a big fan of Frank and Sweet Misery (she starred in a production of it in junior college), takes the lead on the investigation. She finds him at the race track, where he expresses disappointment that the attempt on Ellen's life failed. It seems he's refusing to star in a film remake of Sweet Misery with his hated ex-wife, but the studio won't finance the film without him. Kris eludes two goons that are tailing them by causing a traffic accident wherein a tree falls off a delivery truck and onto the goons' car.

Next, the Angels gather in a projection room to watch a Norma Friedrick dance number, which conveniently includes coverage of her fatal fall from a set balcony, complete with close-ups and reaction shots. A mute stage hand (the guy from the beginning, but the Angels don't know that) rushes to melodramatically cradle her corpse. Kelly reports a number of accidents that have occurred on the same "jinxed" stage in the years since Norma's death.

Frank shows up when Ellen is rehearsing and they exchange generic bickering-divorced-couple dialogue. Their Ellen Degeneres-lookalike son Larry, who's also standing in this scene for some reason, can't stand to see them fight any more and storms out. Deciding he needs a once-over as a potential suspect, Sabrina follows him for a chat. He seems okay, but wants to see his parents "as far apart as possible".

Kris furthers the investigation by singing a song with Frank. Afterward, Sabrina just happens to be strolling through the studio backlot and observes Frank being followed by the goons again. Upon being sighted and shot at, she gives chase, but gets caught in a crowd of people dressed as... uh, giant green cones... just standing around in the street (if you think this is a strange or unclear explanation of events, please watch the scene or consult the action section below; there is no sense to be made). Hindered by the stupid cones, Sabrina loses her prey, committing their license plate to memory as they speed away.

Charlie says the bad guy's license plate is connected to some bookie guy the Angels seem to recognize by name, however they (and we!) are confused what this has to do with the rest of the episode.

Kris later "reluctantly" agrees to Frank's insistence that she join the cast of Sweet Misery. Frank and Ellen argue some more.

Next, we're treated to Kris' singing and dancing duet with Frank, and that guy watches from the catwalk again. Yet another stage light falls at the end of the performance, nearly hitting Kris - but when the other Angels race up to the catwalk, the culprit is nowhere to be found. We, however, see that guy climb from the roof of the studio over to the house next door.

Another lengthy Ellen Jason performance and more bickering. Larry's standing there to announce he's fed up and going to run away, again.

Kelly learns about the mute guy somehow (whose name is Metzger), so the whole gang breaks into his house (why not?) and discovers that it's sort of a shrine to Norma. Apparently he's become sort of a Phantom of the Sound Stage for some reason related to Norma Friedrick's death.

Kris and Kelly's logical next step is to dress up and re-create the moment of Norma's death. After recreating the set and costumes, Kelly steals the show with an impersonation of Norma's fast-forwardable dance amongst tables of mannequins. This succeeds in flushing out Metzger as well as kinda destroying him psychologically. Sabrina appears from nowhere to stand by as the confused guy starts sobbing; Kris and Kelly also just watch from a distance until the scene ends. Case solved!....?

After a commercial break, the Angels are in a recording booth watching Frank and Ellen fight and sing some boring song together. Bosley tries to explain part of the plot, but it involves characters that you don't even remember and quite frankly it doesn't matter. Larry sulks back into the studio and the Jasons resolve their family squabbles via song, sharing a tearful family hug. The Angels seem very touched.

BACKGROUND CHECK

Angels in the Wings Episode #42 Season 2, Episode 10 Airdate: Nov 23, 1977 Writer: Ed Lakso Director: Dennis Donnelly Guest stars: Gene Barry, Shani Wallis  

WHAT'D YOU THINK?

Rate this episode:

CURIOSITIES

• In the opening office scene, Charlie's speaker is on top of a box, but in close-ups, it's sitting right on the desk.

• Why does Kris keep thinking Frank Jason is so terrific throughout this episode? He's a jerk.

• When Kris and Frank Jason are walking in the parking lot, you can see the cameraman's shadow on the ground.

• Kris looks in her rearview mirror and reads the license plate on the car that's tailing her, even though there is no license plate on the front.

• Inside the sound stage, Sabrina takes off her earrings and hands them to Kris. When she's outside running around, she's wearing them again.

• How in the world did Sweet Misery win 4 Tony awards?

• At the races, Kris bet on a winning horse named Reverential because she liked the jockey's colors, which were pink and white. The sweater she's wearing while she says this is also pink and white. Brilliant betting system, or stock footage coincidence? You decide! (Definitely the latter.)

• Kris continues the family tradition of almost getting killed by falling stage lights - Jill survived a similar attempt in I Will Be Remembered.

• How is this guy just lurking up there in the catwalk all day every day for 30 years? Isn't there ever legitimate crew up there? Don't they ever run out of stage lights, or start securing them better considering how many have "accidentally" fallen? Those things aren't free.

• Did the intact set of that Norma Friedrick scene happen to still exist at the studio 15 years later, or did the Angels have to rebuild it in a pinch? If so, they did an amazingly accurate job. Why, you could almost swear it was filmed the same day.

• The script doesn't really make the intended age of Frank and Ellen's son very clear; he could pass for mid-20s, but you're left to assume he's supposed to be a kid by the way they treat him. (The actor, Nicolas Beauvy, was 19 at the time - TA interviewed him and you can read it here)

SUSPECTS MENTALLY DESTROYED

BIMBOS

SHOTS FIRED AT ANGELS

SHOTS FIRED BY ANGELS

DAYS TO SOLVE CASE

LOCKS PICKED

TURTLENECKS

CHARACTER DEATHS

FASHION

Kelly and Kris play dress-up in a couple of old-timey showgirl costumes in a weird tangential sequence for no other reason than this episode needed a little punching up (it didn't really help, honestly). As part of her musical number, Kris wears that same pair of huge glasses that they always use when they play secretary. Otherwise, nothing special to see here.

SERIOUSLY, WHAT WAS THE PLOT AGAIN?

As best we can understand, there are two totally unrelated and each half-baked (more like one-fifth-baked) ideas here. As for the goons-following-Frank plot, there are too many generic, hardly-introduced minor bad guy characters that, by the time Bosley re-explains the plot toward the end, it still doesn't even make sense because those guys never stuck in your mind in the first place (and certainly not by name).  That's understandable, just boring.

The starring plot of the jinxed stage, however, is one of the murkier ever produced by Charlie's Angels, in our opinion. The mute guy is dropping stage lights on people because an actress he liked died in an accident 15 years ago..? Apparently he feels guilty for failing to save Norma, we could understand that, but why is that making him drop lights on people? Is he trying to warn them, scare them away, or actually kill them - and regardless, how does that translate to "protecting the stage for her" as Sabrina put it?

The scene inside the mute guy's house felt like it was supposed to depict the Angels cracking the case, except it didn't really happen in a logical way that you could follow - everyone just simultaneously came up with the same random answer for no reason. Kelly put on that record, she and Kris seemed to get light bulbs over their heads at the same instant and said "Let's try it!" and then Bosley went "hey, if you're thinking of recreating the moment that traumatized that guy..." What? How did anybody arrive at that idea? Oh well, guess that's why the Angels are in the private eye business and we aren't.

SCREEN TIME ANALYSIS

No screen time surprises here - the spotlight goes to Kris both on the show and in the show. The many and long Angelless scenes of Frank and/or Ellen Jason add up to a little over a third of the episode, making it the emptiest of its season.

  • KELLY
  • KRIS
  • SABRINA
  • BOSLEY
  • HOW MUCH OF THE EPISODE HAS AT LEAST ONE ANGEL/BOSLEY IN IT 62%

ACTION

action-sabrina-angels-in-the-wingsNot much. This episode fumbles its only almost-action sequence when a bizarre asspull trope ends Sabrina's chase/shootout with a bad guy just as quickly as it begins. We have to show you here, not because it's cool, but because words just don't do it justice.

INTERVIEW

We talked to Nicolas Beauvy, who played Larry Jason (Ellen and Frank's son) about his experience on the show!
Read the interview

WHAT A CUTE MISDEMEANOR

Angels seem to be above the law in general, but this episode contains one of their more glaring (not to mention pointless) crimes.

Bosley complained about having to reimburse the owners of the tree that Kris made fall on the bad guys’ car, which means that either by her confession or their report, her role in the accident is known by all. Is she really not going to face any consequences for intentionally committing a hit and run accident? That’s either a misdemeanor or felony depending whether anybody was injured – today in California, this move could get you a $1,000 fine and six months in jail. (Maybe Caged Angel should've been the next episode.)

REPEAT OFFENDERS

Gene Barry later gets held hostage in a go-go cage in Hula Angels.

Tony Epper: Canty also plays Big Teddy in Stuntwomen Angels.

Hal Needham: Julio also played Spencer in The Killing Kind.

Dennis Donnelly directed Angel Flight, Angels in the Wings, Caged Angel, Angel's Child, Dancin' Angels, An Angel's Trail, One Love... Two Angels, To See an Angel Die, Angel in Hiding, Waikiki Angels, Stuntwomen Angels, and Angel on a Roll.

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, Dancin' 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

Anna's Rating: Rating I really struggled to write this summary because I still don't get it. Nothing personally against Shani Wallis (I've never even heard of her outside this episode) but her songs are a definite fast-forward for me. I just can't take it. The family issues were completely unrelated to the actual bad guy, and I could have done without one or the other (or both). This entire script was just a very transparent excuse to allow various characters to sing/dress up - not that I expect vastly better from an Ed Lakso episode, but I do wish it'd at least been Angels more than supporting characters! I can't honestly say that musical number is the best representation of Cheryl Ladd's singing/dancing talent I've ever seen, but it is memorable. (I didn't write out the lyrics here because I honestly can't understand half the words they're singing.) Still, there is some good inter-Angel banter, and of course this is required viewing if Kris is your favorite.

Holly's Rating: Rating I can't comment enough about the endless musical sequences NOT performed by the stars of the show. Thank goodness for the FWD button on my remote. Secondly, what are those Christmas tree things that Bri becomes entangled in on the studio back lot? Why are there men dressed like this wandering the premises? And finally, I don't understand why it is always necessary to force an emotionally unbalanced suspect into reliving the tragic events of years past in order to flush him out of the woodwork, and why elaborately staged and costumed musical numbers starring the Angels are also part of this scenario. Honestly, this can't be healthy for the one's psyche.

Oh wait. One more thing. "Where Is My Lady?", performed by Ellen Jason. What is that?!