Dancin’ Angels


SUMMARY

Partner up to win $5,000 at the DanceTown marathon! Located on the deserted New York Street back-lot ghetto, the marathon is headed up by orchestra leader Elton Mills (Cesar Romero) - a forgotten bit player in Hollywood movies who's desperately trying to re-establish his musical career in a world that doesn't want him anymore.

During the dance competition, hoofer Sally Fairgate goes out back of the ballroom and is confronted with a gloved slow-walker who approaches her brandishing a rope while she does nothing to escape.

Sally's brother/dance partner, Joe Fairgate, hires the Angels to track down his now-missing sister. But how will they proceed with the investigation? You'll never guess: They'll have to put on their dancin' shoes and enter the contest themselves!!

Decked out in floor-length 1940's ball gowns and jewels, the Angels are escorted to the competition by a slicked-back Bosley. At the door, the group meets one of the DanceTown owners, who latches onto Kris and starts spouting Bogart movie lines, much to her chagrin.

Tiffany and Bosley take to the floor for a humorous (but pretty decent) tango as bandleader Cesar Romero takes a shine to Kelly, forcing her to dance with him because she reminds him of actress Frances Farmer. Kelly asks him to alert her if he spots Sally Fairgate.

The entire team converges to speak with their distraught client in full view of all onlookers - Joe announces that the police have found sister Sally dead on the beach. The Angels adjourn to a table where Bosley talks boringly for a long time and decides to get close to couple #6 - Steve and Jenny - who seem hostile and a little too focused on winning that $5,000 prize.

Ceasar Romero is aimlessly conducting as the couples are getting sleepy. He becomes silently enraged when he overhears Steve and Billy, the band's singer, talking about how corny his music is. Tempers are lost; Bosley jumps into the scene to break up a fight between the two young men. When the drama has passed, Bosley talks to couple #6 claiming to be a theatrical agent, and their tune quickly changes. They appear oblivious to Sally's disappearance.

Kelly takes on P.J. Wilkes, Dancetown's other owner, in his office hastily decorated with B-Movie posters and 8x10 glossies. Kelly convinces him that Joe and Sally Fairgate are mega-rich and therefore it would look bad if they were to win the contest in such a poor neighborhood. She says Sally told her to relay this explanation for her withdrawl from the contest; Wilkes takes the bait and appears visibly suspicious of her claim. It takes a group conference with Tiff and Kris to deduce that he must already know Sally is dead.

Billy the singer steps out back into the alley, or backstage, or whatever the alternate set is supposed to be, and gets bludgeoned with a 2x4 by some unseen person.

A Charlie Computer Check reveals that Steve has a lengthy police record, and Jenny is a 17-year-old runaway. This information doesn't really change anything.

Wilkes confers with BogieMan who are trying to figure out why the girls have been talking about, and ostensibly TO, Sally Fairgate so much. Kris becomes a staple at the bar, sipping a goblet of cherry Kool-Aid until she is unwillingly whisked away by a hostile BogieMan.

Betty, another singer, appears to tell Kelly that she's found Billy probably dead out back. The two go outside to investigate and Kelly's expert pulse-checking skills confirm the unthinkable. Cesar Romero peeks around the wall to observe them, witnessing Kelly whip out her Townsend Agency card. Kelly instructs her to go back inside and not say a word to anyone. When she's gone, Romero steps out from the shadows, opens Kelly's purse and pulls her own revolver on her. Miss Garrett is quietly taken hostage in a fakely-cob-webbed room with a single hanging light bulb and a few old movie posters.

Meanwhile, Wilkes and BogieMan are giving an unfazed Kris the third degree in the back office. As Tiffany does the Charlie-Glide across the ballroom floor she and Bosley concur that Kelly must be missing, especially when they discover Kelly's purse - minus its gun - and Billy's corpse lying out back. Instead of searching for Kelly, they decide to locate Kris to tell her about the dead guy.

Tiff and Bos find Kris in the office, the tables turn, and now it's Wilkes and BogieMan being interrogated. They explain that they didn't kill Sally, but they DID move her body to the beach so as not to spoil the contest.

Cesar Romero: "I will have to kill you, you know."

The Angels all just leave the room and decide to go find Kelly, who under any other circumstances would be long dead by now. Bosley shakes up Couple #6 but gets nothing. Cesar Romero explains that he'll walk Kelly out to the beach so no one will hear the shot - instead she makes her escape and pushes balsa wood set pieces over. Kris, Tiffany and Bosley suddenly appear to take Romero into custody as he keeps going on about how there isn't a place for him in this world anymore. (Yes there is - it's called the prison asylum.)

The real police cart him away, and the Angels return to see Jenny ditch her hot-tempered and controlling partner even though they have (probably?) won the contest, which is now cancelled. Steve continues to be a jerk; the Angels turn and leave in stinging silence.

BACKGROUND CHECK

Dancin' Angels Episode #86 Season 4, Episode 18 Airdate: Feb 6, 1980 Writer: Ed Lakso Director: Dennis Donnelly Guest stars: Cesar Romero

WHAT'D YOU THINK?

Rate this episode:

CURIOSITIES

• Is this indeed a dance marathon or just a contest? People are practically sleeping on the dance floor, yet at other times evidently allowed to stop and sit for long conversations, bathroom/murder breaks and ballroom brawls. The number of couples dancing in the background varies a lot from scene to scene. What exactly is the judging process, one wonders?

• Do they open with a shot of the Santa Monica Pier to establish exactly which beach they're near, and therefore dumping bodies on? Or are we supposed to think that dark backlot city street is literally ON the pier?

• Killing one lady really makes a visible dent in the ballroom where there are only half a dozen or so couples jitterbugging. Cesar Romero didn't really think this through...

• Being the last to start dancing, Kelly's stuck holding everyone's purses. In the next shot, she wanders over to the bandstand holding only her own purse, and in the next shot, Cesar Romero grabs her for a dance and her hands are totally empty.

• Why is Kris so openly condescending to BogieMan right from the beginning? Sure, he's spouting annoying cliches, but he's not the worst she's dealt with, and she usually does a better job of humoring people for work reasons.

• Why does the gun seem to convince Betty that Kelly is really a detective, rather than her Townsend Agency ID card?

• Wow, they actually bothered to put a picture of Kelly on her ID card despite it not being glimpsed on screen more than incidentally! But why is it signed "Charlie Townsend" next to her picture - wouldn't it be Kelly's signature?

• Why doesn't Kelly make the slightest move to stop Cesar Romero from taking away her purse? Kelly, how many years have you been on the job now - what do you think is about to happen when a potential suspect grabs your purse with the gun in it?

• Tiffany basically calls off the entire dance competition (despite her lack of involvement or authority) privately to Steve and Jenny. Is anyone going to inform the rest of the dancers, or... ?

• Seriously, ANOTHER dance-related kidnapping/murder episode? Seems like they could have really lowered crime rates in the 70's-80's if they simply outlawed all these dance contests.

BAD GUYS BEAT DOWN

DANCES (?)

SHOTS FIRED AT KELLY

SHOTS FIRED BY ANGELS

DAYS TO SOLVE CASE

COVER BLOWN

TURTLENECKS

CHARACTER DEATHS

FASHION

During the opening office scene (after passing a stunning Veronica Lake-like Shelley Hack in a smart skirt suit) we recommend donning sunglasses to avoid the glare of seeing Bosley wearing no pants and revealing veiny, bruised white legs. Somewhere in the distance, you hear a dog barking and Halverson's voice whispering "Whitey". Bos should have swapped outfits with the adjacent Kris modeling a hot pink turtlenecked dress. Boo.

Sometimes it's irritating when a themed episode is just an excuse to play dress-up, but the girls' glamorous gowns are actually the best thing about the episode. Maybe it's just refreshing after the unfortunate shots of Bos in those knee socks and short-shorts.

Once glamour-time hits, Kris slips into a slinky silver gown with a big white fur and elaborately unattractive bowl-shaped hair. Kelly also sports a similarly ugly bun complimented by a beautiful flaming red dress. Sleek Tiffany struts her stuff in a curve-hugging champagne gown and a flattering hairstyle, easily securing the title of Best Dressed Angel. Bosley makes up for his earlier fashion faux pas with a handsome brown pinstripe suit and slicked gangster hair.

Minor characters don't fare quite as well decked out in the unfortunate trappings of low-budget 80's-40's attire - worst of all Jenny, who looks like a bedazzled Princess Leia festooned with cheap paper flowers and tinfoil.

FRANCES FARMER

Cesar Romero takes a shine to Kelly because her elegance and beauty remind him of troubled Hollywood star Frances Farmer. Yeah, we know Jaclyn Smith is the 'classic beauty' of the group, and Frances Farmer also ranks as a gorgeous movie star - but you be the judge on how much of a resemblance there is.

jaclyn-smith-dance-contestJaclyn Smith frances-farmer-hollywood-actressFrances Farmer

SCREEN TIME ANALYSIS

Cesar Romero's interest in Kelly earns her several more minutes of attention than the others.

  • KELLY
  • KRIS
  • TIFFANY
  • BOSLEY
  • HOW MUCH OF THE EPISODE HAS AT LEAST ONE ANGEL/BOSLEY IN IT 72%

ACTION

Uh.. Kelly knocks over a canvas stage backdrop in the general vicinity of Cesar Romero. Not much to work with here. Even the murders are dull.

FAIL

Seeking cover from Cesar Romero's gunfire, Kelly elects to duck behind - (drumroll) - a sheet of canvas scenery. And the bullet fired at her face is somehow deflected, or absorbed. Wow. This might even be worse than Angels on Vacation when Kris took cover behind a clear glass door. We hope the police academy has since started educating about what materials are and are not impenetrable by bullets. Next they'll be taking cover behind umbrellas and steam.

UNPOSITIVE DETECTIVE WORK

Once again all the Angels spend most of the hour huddled together discussing the case in plain view, and then are mystified when anyone sees through their cover. Also once again, the culprit is only discovered via confession and failed kidnapping. If people didn't just take them aside and confess all the time, the Angels would never solve any cases.

REPEAT OFFENDERS

Norman Alden: You'll recognize PJ Wilkes as Fluellen from The Sammy Davis, Jr. Kidnap Caper and Jake Barnett from Taxi Angels.

Lee Delano: Al Norman doubled as bad guys in Angels on Ice and Angels on Vacation.

Pamela Peadon: Betty the singer later played Marcia the choreographer in Chorus Line Angels.

Brad Maule: Joe Fairgate will return next year as the bartender in Angel on the Line.

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

Holly's Rating: 5 stars This is a dreary one. The duo of Tiffany and Bosley is the best thing about this episode, followed by the big secret behind all of these ballroom murders - in a nutshell: Cesar Romero is killing people because they aren't listening to his music. Inventive.

Brolly's Rating: 2 Stars It's quite tedious. They dance their little hearts out, bless them, but making an episode out of a smidgen of a sliver of an idea? Get out of here! Although, trying to figure out the rules of this somewhat strange Dancing-Marathon managed to tide me over the tedium of it all. Not that I ever made full sense of it. Blame it on my lamentable lack of hoofer-genes. Highlight? Bosley and Tiffany dancing! If it weren't for their dancing, I probably would have awarded one star less.

Greg's Rating: 2 Stars Yawn...Dancin' Angels was sorta like Tylenol PM with a chaser of valuim. What was the point? Tiffany and Bosley made an awkward odd couple, a seriously stupid motive, no action just an excuse for Nolan Miller to queen out with all the dresses. The term "it's like putting lipstick on a pig" comes to mind. One of the worst episodes of the entire 5 years and yes, I have seen Angels On Skates.

Anna's Rating: 0.5 Stars I know I've said this on at least 4 other episodes, but this really might be the worst episode. This is so bad that at the 30 minute mark, I made a mental note to give Mr. Galaxy an extra star, just because. Y'know how Kate Jackson complained that the scripts were so light, if you dropped one it'd take a week to get to the floor? This one would float up into the stratosphere like a sad child's balloon. (I hope Kate never saw this episode.) The cast did their best with weak material, though. Okay, maybe not everyone.. Kris sorta phoned in the whole case, and I'm not sure if it was written that way or if Cheryl Ladd left her mortal body for most of this episode as a defense mechanism. No judgment, though. I would, too.

Tiffany looked great, and she and Bosley made an okay couple, but this is really one of those episodes that has too many main characters for how little is going on. It really could have just been Kelly solo. And if there has to be a second Angel, Tiff could stake out that back room and try to contact that dead girl's ghost. "Lead the way, Sally!" Actually I doubt that girl would be able to make contact, if she was too stupid to escape from a feeble Cesar Romero taking 1 step every 3 minutes. Just walk away at a casual speed and you'll be fine.

I remember the first time I saw this one, I really didn't expect Cesar Romero to be the bad guy, although I didn't care one bit when I found out, either. The script is so thin and the plot so stupid, you have to double-check to make sure that was really it (and tragically, this isn't the only episode featuring nostalgia-based murders). I actually died of boredom twice while writing this review. If you're considering watching this, I implore you to watch our minisode instead and use the 40-something saved minutes of your life to watch Angels In Chains or clean your microwave or something

Final thought: there just aren't words to express how much this would not fly in Season 1. I mean, can you imagine? Sabrina would go in there (plainclothes), shoot a couple people, and have this nonsense wrapped up in time for the first commercial break.  Oops, now I'm just mentally improving the episode and this commentary is no longer pertinent. Kenny?

Kenny's Rating: 2 Stars The beginning of this episode kills me. We see the first victim just standing there asking all of these questions when she could at least try and run. "What are you doing here?" "What are you doing with that?". Then she just stands there as the killer does his thing. Geez lady could you fight for your life any less? This is not a season four favorite but the Angels look gorgeous in it. The Joker is in this one too but be careful, if you don't like his music he will kill you. Lots of big band music and Bosley's dance with Tiff is cute. Just an ok episode for me.

Joann's Rating: 1 Star This is one of those episodes wherein I am left with so little to say that I just point stuff out. So here goes. With the first few strains of generic big band arrangement, you know you're in for it. Hand-held camera? Really? Okay. It’s a different look. But where does it go for the rest of the episode? And was this another low budget week? The costumes look like Rosemary for Remembrance first conceptions. Severe black and gold zebra striped ballroom gown? She'd of gotten kicked out of a Steelers game. Oops, it’s the victim. Whoa, someone’s got on a metallic blue fish gill silk robe from planet ‘wtf?’. I think they may have raided the Star Trek alien wardrobe trailer. And there’s a couple dancing in matching rust tones. And the entire episode takes place in one room.

When Sally Fairgate sees her killer approach, noticing it's not who she's waiting for, she chooses to say, hand-held camera rapidly, raggedly approaching, "I was expecting someone else," even though he's got a rope in his gloved hands. When did they stop requiring anyone to act? "What are you doing with that?" No exclamation. Nope. Dead girl said it like you just read it. "Stay away!" (I put that exclamation in.) Hand-held's right in her face. Closer. Closer. (Very New Wave.) Can a sigh turn into a yawn before we even get back to the office?

Why is Bosley wearing shorts? If everyone else had time to get to work dressed in office attire, why now, after four years, do we get to see Bosley's legs, and why wouldn’t there be a joke or sight gag attached to it? Why has Kris fallen in love with ugly dresses? Varicose veins! Oy, my eyes. Why isn't Tiffany speaking? She utters not one single solitary word. Bupkis.

At Dancetown Revisited, Kris and Kelly show up (how do they know to dress up), in dueling Princess Leia hairdos, but Kelly wins with an accompanying Xena-esque breastplate pattern ensemble. Seriously bad Bogarted one-liners, blasphemous name dropping of Cagney and Astaire, outfits making this mise-en-scene look like a Guy Lombardo New Year's Eve, make Bosley’s twirling Kris, then Tiffany ’round the dance floor a highlight. David Doyle has panache. Sort of on a par with Gomez Adams, but panache nonetheless, and he and Tiffany make a handsome pair.

Holy Benny Goodman, it’s The Joker! I have never watched a minute of this episode and been able to separate Cesar Romero from his most famous alter ego. It’s actually cool that Kelly gets courted and accosted by THE JOKER! Kelly does not look like Frances Farmer. Jessica Lange looks like Frances Farmer. Lots of talking ensues. The bad guys stand around talking while staring at the Angels. The Angels stand around talking and staring at the bad guys. Contestants Steve (a Sal Mineo wanna be) and Jessica (wishing she could channel Natalie Wood) stand around talking way too long considering I’ve seen this before and know they didn’t do it.

The Joker, The Bogie, and almost everyone else are slightly off or close to crazy and the script isn’t helping. The melodies from the era are bastardized and whored out to dancing background extras from a warped Happy Days episode. I feel trapped on a ship of fools dancing obliviously in the ballroom from The Shining. It’d be creepy, if it weren’t executed so poorly. Just around the corner, there’s a rainbow in the sky, so let’s have another – episode, please!

Kris is gone a really long time (boring the other guys [and me] who aren’t the killer) and ignored by Tiffany and Bosley, who urgently need to dance some more and then go look for Kelly. Kelly (I’m a private detective and here is my card even though the killer is listening) is in a jam. Why is her scarf protruding from her bag? Why does she let The Joker take her bag and take the gun out of her bag? Oh hey, Tiffany’s in this episode! I just realized she does nothing as much as says nothing. That’s really too bad. Because of her dancing moments and non galactic hairdo, I think of this as a Tiffany-centric episode.

The Joker, thinking it’s Batman (the show, not Kelly), proceeds to talk her to death instead of shooting her. I wish it were me. I mean I wish he would shoot me. Yes, from the TV screen. Actually I wish The Penguin would show up. Really, don’t watch this episode. Grrr, the ending? Stunt Angel Kelly slams a door on Cesar Romero, the other Angels, guns drawn, solemnly somber, circle round yet another dejected crazy loser that doesn’t belong in society because it doesn’t get his genius/love him/is dead. Sal Mineo (Steve, who incidentally has more lines than Tiffany) yells something about James Dean and five dimes. The End.