Disco Angels


SUMMARY

We open at Freddie's Disco, where a small crop of over-acting cool cats are jumpin' and jivin' amidst flashing strobe lights and smoke to a bland cover of Disco Inferno. Harry Owens, the creepy DJ groovin' in suspenders and Coke bottle glasses, wails unintelligible incitements to the crowd. A stern-looking older man observes the bustling disco with disapproval. Freddie, the mustachioed owner, throws an old hobo out of the club and onto the dark and wet streets of Los Angeles. A lonely bus ride later and the hobo gets strangled with a belt by an unseen person in a trenchcoat. At this moment, the viewer is able to correctly state, aloud, who the killer is.

Now - to live through the rest of the episode in hopes that the Angels will soon catch up with you.

The Townsend Agency is hired to figure out who's responsible for this third murder of its kind - someone is strangling older men who ride the bus. The girls don't look enthused - Kris even says so. We're with ya, Kris.

After some light investigating - Kris weilds a manila envelope to prove she's been working - it's determined that all three victims were near Freddie's Disco at the time of their deaths.

In his office at the disco, Freddie frowns at a newspaper headline about the recent murder and phones DJ Harry, who's tripping out in his booth, and asks him to back up an alibi that he drove Harry home the previous night.

Kris and Bosley arrive at the club and hold down the bar until Mario Monterro, the club's handsome young dance shill, invites Kris out for a spin on the parquet. Luckily Munroe genes guarantee disco prowess, and the two clear the dance floor performing a none-too-shabby routine. For the next dance she's passed along to Mario's young-at-heart (translation: old) father, whose hateful comments about senior citizens elevate Kris to Concern Level Orange.

Meanwhile, Sabrina Duncan of Disco Magazine slips into Freddie's office under the guise of wanting to do a story on the local scene. The boss' boozing, disheveled wife soon barges in and wants to talk to him - alone - about where he was last night! She knows he's having an affair with his secretary, who's loitering around the club giving everyone the stinkeye. Kris also has a turn in the back office, enthusiastically selling herself as a terrific disco instructor, and gets hired as Mario's partner.

Kelly and Harry are in the DJ booth listening to giant, unplugged prop headphones, sampling some blank-cover album she brought in. He agrees to play it in exchange for "fringe benefits" - Kelly (mentally running screaming from the building) replies that she'll quote, "give it some thought."

Back at the bar, Kris chats up Mario and gets him to mention that he and his father both ride the bus. Suspects?? Overt glances are exchanged with Bosley, whose only function thus far is to suck down multiple citrus themed highballs.

Reporter Sabrina asks Freddie about his run-in with the dead hobo. He spins her the yarn about having driven Harry home and threatens to sue if she prints otherwise.

Stinkeye girlfriend warns Freddie that she thinks all three Angels are in cahoots, even though this is one rare time they aren't all talking in a huddle. He suspects they're detectives hired by his wife.

Next, we come upon Harry in his apartment staring at a giant poster of himself when Kelly arrives at the door to give him another record. Just as he invites her in, he gets a call from boss Freddie warning that Kelly is a detective.  Psycho DJ advances on her in extra-creepy mode - Kelly ends up held by the neck in a very tense situation when there's a knock at the door. She threatens to holler if he doesn't open up.

Upon answering the door, a very irritated Harry finds his dad, who you'll recognize as the stern man from the beginning if you were paying attention, which you were not, because it was already boring. Anyway, dad just stopped by to berate his son for being a disappointment. Kelly takes advantage of his visit and slips out while Harry's busy vibrating with rage. The dad also storms out. "I'm gonna kill you againnnn," Harry growls, now alone in his apartment in a red-faced trance.

Can you guess who the killer is yet??

Next morning, the club's not yet open but Kris and Mario are still dancing in silence for some reason. Stinkeye calls Kris into the back office to accuse her of being a phony. Kris plays dumb, which aggravates Stinkeye into attacking; a disco catfight ensues until Freddie comes in to break it up. Stinkeye insists that the Angels are detectives; Kris explains that they are, but are investigating the bus strangler, not Freddie's marriage. He lets on that his alibi about Harry was false - he just didn't want anyone to know he was playing hanky panky with Stinky.

Kris: "Well, what can I say, I just love to dance!"

Harry insults Mario, causing the elder Mr. Monterro to stand in front of the DJ booth, waving his arms and banging on the glass while yelling at Harry that he's a worthless bum. Harry watches, hallucinating that it's his father yelling instead, and you know there is about to be trouble.

Moments later, Kris and Kelly go to visit Harry, but find the DJ booth empty - his ongoing ramblings to the dancing crowd are only a tape recording. Guess who's also not around: Mr. Monterro. Uh oh! Kelly just now fills in the others about Harry's freaky outburst at his father, allowing Bosley and Kris to theorize that he's transferring his rage to other older men.

A trenchcoated Harry is stalking Mario's dad around Burton Chace park with Kelly and Kris in lukewarm pursuit. They eventually spot the two men and scream a warning just as Harry tries to strangle the old gentleman. The nut job books, the girls chase him down. He tries to whip them with his belt and gets shut down by a double Angel tackle. Kelly pulls out her gun - Harry's left writhing crazily on the grass and hissing threats intended for his dad.

After a commercial, Harry is wrestled into a squad car while the Angels look on solemnly.

BACKGROUND CHECK

Disco Angels Episode #61 Season 3, Episode 15 Airdate: Jan 31, 1979 Writer: George F. Slavin Director: Georg Stanford Brown

WHAT'D YOU THINK?

Rate this episode:

CURIOSITIES

• Kelly notes that the victims are "disadvantaged" men. Why so PC all of a sudden? And, why is poorness rather than oldness the initial criteria for targeting victims? Did all the victims just happen to be old and poor, or did someone forget their own plot halfway through?

• Notice how that brown/white tartan wallpaper behind the Angels' bar disappeared earlier this season? Well, it seems to have migrated to Freddie's Disco, where it's used liberally for decoration, or maybe the construction of the building itself.

• Aren't discotheques usually bigger than this? What if more than a dozen people want to dance?

• Again... do they get paychecks when they get hired for cover jobs?

• Sabrina's line about Hank Aaron was begging to be written for Jill instead.

• The pacing of the second day is hard to figure out. In the scene with Bosley, Kris, and Kelly listening to disco in the park, it appears to be sundown. Everything from here onward is supposed to take place within the same day - yet all subsequent scenes flip back and forth between afternoon or morning. From the stuff Harry's dad said, it seemed like early in the day - they're not going to go put flowers on the mom's grave at night. But he rushes off to work at the disco right after that. Wouldn't a disco open in the evening? Which erroneous time-of-day filming were we not supposed to notice?

• Too bad Kris and Mario's big dance number was filmed so awkwardly, because the actual dance wasn't bad. The music is drastically muted so that we can hear their dialogue, but what we mostly hear is the extras clomping their platformed hooves at the sidelines... not quite along with the beat.

• Harry and Kelly make shadows on the "sky" during the takedown scene.

• If Kelly had a gun all along, why did she and Kris have to bother chasing and fighting Harry before she whipped it out? This guy was so asking to get shot anyway.

BAD GUYS BEAT DOWN

CHICK FIGHTS

SHOTS FIRED AT ANGELS

SHOTS FIRED BY ANGELS

DAYS TO SOLVE CASE

DANCES

TURTLENECKS

CHARACTER DEATHS

RECYCLED PLOT ALERT

Wow, lookalike killings? Again with the displaced aggression theory? We're starting to think Aaron Spelling had a displaced aggression theory of his own, producing this lookalike plot over and over. But hey, at least it's not blue-eyed blondes this time, and Kris can take a week off from being targeted.

MISSED OPPORTUNITY

This was all about Harry displacing his aggression toward his father onto other older men, right? What seems like an obvious change to get the audience more interested is if Bosley were the recipient of that aggression, rather than Kris' dance partner's dad who we don't care about. Bosley doesn't bear a resemblance to Harry's dad, but he's roughly as old, and since he really served no purpose at Freddie's other than holding down the bar, it wouldn't be that much of a stretch to involve him in the plot.

FASHION

Sabrina's par for the course in the old standby red and gray look, and later bundled up in a big white turtleneck and dad jacket. It's been a while. Kris' painted-on red disco pants are a welcome change after she and Kelly begin the episode dressed in head-to-toe khaki and olive drab communist outfits featuring sweaters made of carpet samples.

Wardrobe Repeats An extra on the dance floor (Cis Rundle) is wearing the same purple sweater worn by Faux Kelly in the previous episode, Counterfeit Angels.

Kate Jackson Disco

Kate Jackson High

Kate Jackson Sammy Davis Jr.

Kate Jackson Disco

Kate JacksonCounterfeit

SCREEN TIME ANALYSIS

This is one of the emptier episodes; when 15 minutes are the most anybody gets (Kris), you know quality is going to be an issue. Sabrina's 8 minutes here are the fewest she ever got.

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

ACTION

Kris wins the Action Angel title for this episode. The instant you saw the Stinkeye girl you KNEW there was gonna be a catfight, and of course she had it in for Kris. Even though the fight was technically a draw, it really didn't disappoint, as Kris basically kicked her ass playing only defense and made her look crazy. This may have been the most catty brawl of the series, complete with the squealing and mutual hair-pulling you ain't gonna find with Bad Betty or Grinelda.

disco-angels-kris disco-angels-kelly-kris

Later our dynamic duo (face it, Sabrina isn't too dynamic anymore) take down their quarry with the series' only double Angel tackle! Kelly knocks Harry's legs out from under him, Kris hits him with her signature full body Angel Tackle from above, and the two take a wrestling, spandexxy tumble down the hill. Kelly eventually remembers she has a gun.

More Angel fight stats

NO FAITH IN HIS EMPLOYEES

Before heading off to the disco, Charlie tells the girls: "Bosley will work out covers for you before you check in." Gee, what gold he came up with: a dancer (Kris dances anyway), a magazine reporter (Sabrina can do the reporter schtick in her sleep) and a... completely unaltered Kelly. Bra-vo. It's safe to just let them wing it at this point, Charlie.

REPEAT OFFENDERS

Bonnie Keith makes her first appearance here as the sandwich lady. She returned twice - first as Coley, one of Big Aggie's prison lackeys in Caged Angel, then as Selena in Mr. Galaxy.

Peter MacLean (Freddie) previously played Frank Ross in I Will Be Remembered.

Diane McBain (Mrs. Freddie) later played the apathetic waitress in Angel on the Line.

Cis Rundle, Cheryl Ladd's old friend and stunt double, appeared many other times on the show as an extra, including Charlie's bimbo in Circus of Terror, 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 Angels Trail. This time she can be seen as Mario's partner on the dance floor.

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.

OUR TAKE

Anna's Rating: 2 stars Older men getting murdered on the bus? Really, Spelling/Goldberg, sure there weren't any murders at a strip club or centerfold photoshoot this week? Just checking.

Anyway. In order to get through this one, you really need to be an advanced fan. And by that I mean you would be able to garner some level of entertainment from an hour of surveillance footage of your favorite Angel staring at a wall. If you're a Cheryl fan, she'll get you through this one with dancing and her default level of cuteness/coolness. If Cheryl isn't your favorite... well, sorry. Jaclyn fans have less to look forward to, and Kate fans will be even more bored than she looks throughout.

The killer is so instantly obvious you're almost hoping it's reverse psychology, but no. It's just the thrill of waiting 54 more minutes for the Angels to figure out, at a glacial pace, what you already know. Transitions between every scene are stuffed with filler footage of the same handful of extras dancing, maybe to distract you from the fact that the whole episode is happening in a 20x20 room. If you hated this episode, get ready for Dancin Angels!

Greg's Rating: 2.5 stars This is another one of those episodes that has a strangeness to it. Strange bad guys, strange dialogue and strange action - especially the belt weilding blue screen Kelly / Kris fight at the end. Sabrina seemed to be working a separate case the whole time. 2.5 stars and one is for Kris' dancing and the other is for her catfight. The .5 is for her hat she wore during the take down.

Brolly's Rating: 1.5 stars This episode is on the tedious side and every time DJ Creep is on, it's getting worse. His babbling irritated me no end, without succeeding in making him a bad guy worth fearing (unless you are afraid to lose your last nerve confronted with the babblefest that is him). Taking down the yapping lunacy a notch would have made for a better character and episode.

Guess what? Watching this one isn't likely to trigger Saturday Night Fever in you.

Holly's Rating: 2 stars Just a couple of comments here. 1) Was Kelly carting around a muff or a fuzzy hat during the latter half of this? She seems to operate it as though it's a muff, regardless of what it is. Kind of seems like that one odd accessory that comes with your Barbie that you never really make her wear. It just stays taped inside her carton because no kid wants to play with doll socks.

2) It's interesting to note that of the 8 words Kate Jackson gets to speak in this episode, 7 are pretty funny, so that's a plus. And she got to go on a location field trip to the commissary on wheels where she had a kind of funny scene with that weird prisoner from Caged Angel and a gaggle of unpaid extras stomping through the shot. The rest of the time, it looks like she was confined to a chair slid in front of a sheet of gold wrapping paper that had been stapled to a cardboard panel doubling as a wall. No wonder Kramer vs. Kramer was looking so sweet.