Circus of Terror


SUMMARY

When a series of near-fatal "accidents" plague the family owned Barzak Circus, the Angels are hired to go undercover in the circus to find out who is trying to cut down on the competition from the big time big tops.

Right off the bat, Sabrina gets in tight with young and handsome David Barzak, who's into liberated women but likes to wear dresses. Kelly and Bosley pull up in a van labeled 'Go Go' and loudmouthed Kelly starts trouble. Posing as a motorcycle stunt woman called GoGo Garrett, Kelly is made to audition to prove her mettle. A pair of shifty carnies set up her stunt ramp but rig it so that it collapses when she rides over it and wipes out. Despite her failure, Barzak agrees to give her a job.

Kelly: "How'd you like a swift kick in the shin?"

Meanwhile, Sabrina's dreams of becoming a clown come true when she apprentices under a skeletal Euro mime. Never seen her so excited. Kris shows up looking pretty, and that's her job pitch, too - she's looking for a gig as a pretty showgirl. Barzak tells her she can take a stab at being a pretty knife-thrower's target - no resume required.

Bosley loiters around the circus encountering nonsensical human oddities, including an elder love interest in the form of a flirtatious and hard drinking little person named Tinkle Bell. He treats her rudely. Later that night, Sabrina and David have a slow and slinky candlelit dinner with full star filters on as they discuss chicken and womens' equality. The creepy skeleton mime plays Peeping Tom as he voyeuristically spies Bri making out with David.

When she returns to her circus tent, Sabrina finds an angry rattlesnake curled up in her cot, ready to strike. After her screams(?) attract the attention of the rest of the camp, the snake is carried away and David, while wearing a kaftan, suggests that she stay in his room - on the couch.

Afterwards, Kelly (still in her GoGo Garrett jumpsuit) and Kris skulk around the darkened camp spying and eavesdropping on various gypsy conversations that are unintelligible to them. Kris very cleverly swipes a drinking glass riddled with one suspect's fingerprints. When she brings it back to the tent to share with roommate Kelly, someone ties their flap shut and sets them on fire. They helplessly scream and flail at their canvas walls until someone slices the flap open with a knife and sets them free.

Next day, Bri trains with her creepy mime mentor, learning the tricks of the trade, and is allowed to play with clownman's many prop fencing swords. Kris gets caught snooping in the wardrobe tent and her Bladed Boss forces her to dress up and practice their knife throwing act. But are the knives real? Bosley shows up just in time to rescue her.

As we peek in on a hushed conversation, we find that the two carnies are in cahoots with the creepy skeletonman who's intuitive enough to realize the girls have been hired to investigate the goings-on, and through their discussion we learn that it is his desire to ruin the Barzak Circus as an act of revenge for the death of his performing niece. Worse yet - he intends to accidentally-on-purpose kill Sabrina with a real sword during their upcoming dress rehearsal.

Bosley discovers the knife thrower collapsed on the floor of his tent - he'd been knocked over the head by one of the carnies, who stole his performing outfit and is about to kill Kris by splitting her skull with REAL knives.

We are forced to watch the full rehearsal of Sabrina / Skeletor's unfunny mime act, and Bosley and Kris rush to the scene just at the moment when Bri is about to be stabbed in the heart with a sword - thankfully, Skeletor has reconsidered and stabs her with a trick sword instead.

Meanwhile, Carnie #2 has taken all afternoon to set his sniper rifle's sights on GoGo Garrett's track, and when she makes her final run on wheels, it's Kris who comes to the rescue, slamming the sniper and his rifle to the ground, and saving Kelly to ride again another day.

Mystery solved, the Angels join the rest of the gypsies in a cafeteria tent to enjoy dinner and dancing as Bosley is hit on again by the midget lady.

BACKGROUND CHECK

Circus Of Terror Episode #27 Season 2, Episode 5 Airdate: Oct 19, 1977 Writer: Robert Janes Director: Allen Baron Guest stars: James Darren

WHAT'D YOU THINK?

Rate this episode:

CURIOSITIES

• Why does Charlie's train conductor bimbo act like she's blind?

• This episode includes one of the few lines the girls ever utter acknowledging that they have parents - Kris makes a vague, passing reference to her mother.

• Bosley's rudeness to Tinklebell is pretty uncharacteristic. Be nice, Bos!

• TWO Angels, including the famed escape artist Kelly, are hopelessly trapped a canvas tent when somebody ties the little flaps shut? Please.

• Helmut pours clear liquid out of a Jaegermeister bottle (which is brown).

• When Kris spins that wheel and says "Pick a number," there aren't any numbers on it.

• How does Kris automatically know which one of those swords is the real one?

• The "you never would've had to diet again, babe" line was odd. Like... technically, no, you wouldn't have to diet if you were dead, but why are we equating dieting to getting stabbed to death?

• Extra, Extra! In the scene where the two henchmen sabotage Kelly's ramp, please watch the shirtless guy in the background who must've been instructed to act like he's swinging a sledgehammer but without really hitting anything or making noise. Also, in the final scene, watch for a girl in blue dancing her heart out.

BAD GUYS BEAT DOWN (SORTA)

BIMBOS

SHOTS FIRED AT KELLY

SHOTS FIRED BY ANGELS

DAYS TO SOLVE CASE

SNAKES

TURTLENECKS

CHARACTER DEATHS

ROMANCE

Handsome gypsy James Darren has got to objectively be Sabrina's best beau. He's handsome, age-appropriate (actually he's 12 years her senior, but that's practically cradle-robbing by her standards) and most crucially, isn't the bad guy. The two seem to be at least semi-serious, but she'll be in love with somebody else by the next episode. It might have been the caftan.

FASHION

Kelly spends most of the episode in an army-green GoGo Garrett jumpsuit, but manages to make it look sexy. She later changes into a glittering space age version of the jumpsuit for her dress rehearsal stunt. Kris makes an appearance in a midriff-baring shirt and jeans, but this episode is best remembered for her fiery red showgirl number worn when she's playing knife-thrower's assistant. Sabrina's decked out in a bright orange, belted, sleeveless, dentist-on-safari jumpsuit.

Wardrobe Repeats Though probably best remembered on Kris, that famous red dress (or its identical twin) was first worn by Jill in Lady Killer. Sabrina dug up the orange monstrosity from last season's The Blue Angels (although it does look better here without the turtleneck) and Kelly wears her brown dress again in Diamond in the Rough.

Cheryl Ladd Circus of Terror

Farrah Fawcett Lady Killer

Kate Jackson Circus of Terror

Kate Jackson The Blue Angels

Jaclyn Smith Circus of Terror

Jaclyn Smith Diamond in the Rough

BIMBO REPORT

This week’s toy-train-conducting bimbo is one of few to get an actual name (Casey Bakaleinikoff ?). She’s played by Cheryl Ladd’s friend Cis Rundle, who returned later in numerous episodes (most notably Pom Pom Angels), thus becoming the only actress ever to graduate from Charlie bimbo to an actual supporting role. This may honestly be the weirdestly-themed one, though. It’d still be weird if the case were going to involve trains, which it doesn’t. We’re uh… we’re just gonna back away quietly and forget what we saw here today.

Read our article on Charlie's Bimbos

SCREEN TIME ANALYSIS

Kris and Sabrina get a few minutes more attention than Kelly, but it's pretty even.

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

ACTION

Kris gets the closest thing to action an moment by running from an axe-wielding villain in high heels (she's in the heels, we mean.. otherwise that sentence sounded like something out of Angel On The Line). Still in her showgirl costume, Kris('s stunt double) tackles a carnie-sniper, stopping him from killing Kelly('s stunt double), who perfectly executes a kinda cool motorcycle jump. Whether you'd classify Sabrina's encounter with the rattlesnake, or Kris and Kelly being freed from a burning tent by supporting characters, as 'action' is up to you.

THANKS FOR YOUR HELP

Kris and Bosley rush to prevent Sabrina from being murdered, but upon arrival, they make no effort to intervene; they just stand 10 feet back looking concerned while watching Sabrina get faux-stabbed. When she's not murdered after all (no thanks to them) Kris and Bosley come flouncing over, laughing, hand in hand, and acting like they were in on everything all along. What?

BACKSTORIES!

This is one of very few episodes where Jill is mentioned but not seen; her existence is only acknowledged in Angels in Paradise, Angels on Ice, and The Sandcastle Murders (always by Kris, to play up the sister angle).

Rarer still: though not by name, Sabrina acknowledges the existence of her ex-husband for the last time ever. Bill Duncan appeared in Target: Angels and The Blue Angels; this was the only other time he was ever mentioned.

ACTUAL DETECTIVE WORK

Kris snatches a glass with Helmut's fingerprints on it, making this a rare time when the Angels attempted working with actual physical evidence. Kris's glass-fingerprints idea was later done by Sabrina in Mother Angel, Jill in The Prince and the Angel, and even Dylan in the first Charlie's Angels movie.

wardrobe-farrah-fawcett-cheryl-ladd-charlies-angels
Who wore it better?
  • 65.33%
  • 26.67%
  • 8%

REPEAT OFFENDERS

Ramon Bieri: Yanos Barzak later played Jake Garfield in Rosemary, for Remembrance.

Read Morgan: Bad guy Otis appeared as another miscellaneous goon in Love Boat Angels.

Cis Rundle, Cheryl Ladd's friend, appeared many other times on the show as an extra, including the tai chi chick in Angel in Love, waitress in Angels in the Backfield, random crowd extra in Game, Set, Death, camera chick in Antique Angels, football chick in The Sandcastle Murders, random casino extra in Angels in Vegas, waitress in Angel Come Home, cheerleader in Pom Pom Angels, random dock extra in Love Boat Angels, and the librarian in An Angel's Trail. This time she played Charlie's train-themed bimbo.

Robert Janes also wrote Angels Go Truckin', Fallen Angel, Angels on Skates, Angels on Campus, Cruising Angels, Of Ghosts and Angels, Toni's Boys, Angels of the Deep, Waikiki Angels, and Hula Angels.

OUR TAKE

Joshua's Rating: 5 Stars This gets five stars from me simply because this is the first episode Cheryl filmed. Merit wise the plot is traditional of a 70s detective series. Angels are hired to uncover who is creating threatening incidents to shut down a family circus. This episode is brought to life by Garrett who is still the tough motorbike chick and not the emotional Garrett of the later seasons. The reaction when Bri realizes the clown wasn’t clowning around about killing her is a testament to the acting range of Kate Jackson. Kris is flawless in her knife-throwing assistant outfit and still very much the “rookie” I adore.

 

Greg Rating: 4 stars  Oh for fun! Would never have guessed this was Ladd's first filmed episode. All the Angels had interesting things to do, nice setting and an actual, age-appropriate, and cute love interest for Bri! All this and a rattlesnake?

Holly's Rating: Rating  This one is definitely fun - can't beat GoGo Garrett and inane clown routines. The most disturbing part for me is when Kris and Bosley learn that the creepy mime is going to kill Sabrina with a sword. They rush to see the act's finale and just stand there as Bri is run through with a sword and collapses to the ground. When it turns out Bri is only clowning around, Kris whispers "....ah, he didn't go through with it."

Brolly's Rating: 5 Stars Very entertaining episode. Bike-stunts, knife-throwing, clowning, fake German accents, snakes, a guy in a dress and Bosley, John Bosley getting wooed by Tinklebell.

 

Joann's Rating: 4 stars Circus of Terror was the first episode filmed with Farrah's replacement Cheryl Ladd and you can see and feel the producers pushing her into the spotlight. Her positive approach is completely infectious and armed with being Jill's kid sister firmly in viewers minds, along with a killer smile all her own, she quickly won over their hearts as well.

Even wearing Jill's sparkling red cocktail outfit from Lady Killer, Kris shines as the young member of the team, who while coquettishly posing for circus owner, Barzak, answers when asked what her talent is, "I’m doing it!."

Crisp writing and some great stunt-related suspense really hold the audience. Knives tossed at Kris, Kelly Evel Knievel act, Sabrina’s unexpected turn as a clown, and Bosley's 3-foot ball of dynamite, Tinklebell.

Kenny's Rating: 5 Stars  This is one of my favorites from Season 2 of the series. This was the first episode they filmed with Cheryl Ladd but you would of thought Kris had always been there they way she fits in so perfectly. Someone is terrorizing the circus and it's up to the Angels to find out who. I love Kelly's Go Go Garrett and Sabrina playing a clown. Kris getting knives thrown at her makes for great Angel action. The first poster featuring Charlie's second set of Angels was taken from this episode.

Anna's Rating: 4.5 Stars Lots of fun, and more classic than the Kleinhardt gambit. My half-star is for the fact that outside help was needed for the takedown, and for Kris and Kelly's escape from their tent, instead of the Angels handling it themselves. Still, this is the second lineup's Angels in Chains and one of those episodes that everybody remembers.