SUMMARYRev up your engines for the series' maiden episode! The show gets off to a bang when Suzy Lemson, a dirt-circuit racecar driver, dies in a mysterious, fiery crash during a rough and tumble race. Suzy's kind-hearted mechanic, Jerry Adams, hires the Angels to investigate what he believes was most certainly NOT an accident. Despite Jill's later prowess as a champion Euro racer, it is announced that Sabrina has been in training to pose as a competing driver on Suzy's circuit. With Jerry's help, she intends to infiltrate the racing community. Once on location, Sabrina (boasting a spunky Texan accent) immediately butts heads with Bloody Mary, a rival driver with a "less than kosher" track record. Three guys - Ted Kale, Eddie Durko, and Gene Wells - sit in the stands discussing some sort of scheme they have going together. It seems the lady racers are drawing flies, so they've got other plans to make big money. Sabrina and Jerry learn that the wrecked car was sabotaged by Bloody Mary's mechanic, Ted Kale. After a victorious turn around the dirt track in her trademark #11 orange set of wheels, Sabrina joins the meager crowd that has gathered to welcome a ramshackle trailer, emblazoned with a banner advertising "Brother John's Race for the Lord". Brother John is played by a robed and bespectacled Bosley, and his sexy-but-pure Bible bearing daughter in Daisy Dukes is played by a flirtatious Jill.
Kale: "What's your denomination, little lady?" Jill: "35-24-35, brother."Meanwhile Kelly flies to North Carolina and, posing as a friend of Suzy's, visits the dead girl's parents as they lend clues about their daughter's probable murder. The old (well, brand new, at this time) "I wanna be your friend" routine doesn't fly at the Lemson house - the parents are grieving, but also seem spooked. She discovers a photograph of Suzy with Eddie Durko, an already familiar figure who has been loitering around the track. Sabrina and Jerry Adams poke around Suzy's impounded car and discover that it had been tampered with, thus causing the accident Jerry later digs up some gossip and finds witnesses who noticed Ted Kale messing with Suzy's car. Jill keeps up her cover as she engages in a flirtatious game of poker with several of the mechanics. Most of her game is spent batting eyelashes and asking overt questions about Suzy's death, which her googly-eyed opponents gladly answer - with the exception of Ted Kale, who's immune to her charms and irritated by her questions. As the Lord helps those who help themselves, Jill cleans up good by winning fistfuls of cash which daddy/Bosley helpfully confiscates. Back at his motel room, an angry Eddie Durko tells the rest of his crew that he's worried over seeing Jerry Adams and the Duncan chick checking out Suzy's impounded car. Ted Kale announces that he can't find any record of Sabrina ever having raced, and Bloody Mary intimates that if #11 gets too close, she'll bump her off. Kelly arrives and explains what she's learned about Suzy and Eddie Durko's relationship - she's convinced that the parents know more than they're telling. The Angels deem it necessary for one of them to get close to Eddie and dig around for more information - and since she's been the only unused character up until now, Kelly's it. Feigning car trouble on her rented VW bug, double-cam Kelly sets a trap for Eddie as Sabrina, Jill and Jerry surveil from a parked car in plain view. Kelly effortlessly lures Eddie into a little afternoon of flirtatious boozing. She concludes her scam on Durko by arranging for him to get pulled over and arrested for DUI. With the coast cleared, Jill picks the lock to Eddie's motel room and has a look around, armed with her trusty Minox camera. Inside, she finds various incriminating blueprints, schematics, and equipment. When Gene Welles unexpectedly arrives at the motel, Jill ducks into the closet. Unbenownst to her, one of daddy's religious pamphlets slips out of her pocket and flutters to the floor. When Gene goes into the shower, Jill makes a run for the door. The bad guys soon huddle, having found Jill's pamphlet and realized she'd been snooping around the motel room. Ringleader Wells suggests that Ted Kale get rid of the snooping preacher's daughter for good - and after Ted leaves the room, Eddie's instructed to get rid of him, too. Jill drops the nosy-Bible-thumper bit when Ted drives her out to a remote desert location to confront her. Just as he's about to ice her, Eddie snipes him from afar. A startled Jill hops into the car and speeds away from the scene, spinning circles in the clouds of dirt left in her wake, and the pursuing Durko and Wells take a nasty flip in their vehicle. Now it's the day of the big race! As it turns out, the only way to keep an eye on Bloody Mary and her gang is for Sabrina to compete for real. She is not pleased, holding out until the last minute to climb into her car and get to the starting line. While the race starts, Wells and Durko are busy breaking into a warehouse and snatching some diamonds. When Kelly, Jill and Bosley somehow realize that the bad guys are planning to smuggle diamonds across the border into Mexico via the race, they take off in Brother John's rickety pickup and follow along. Just as the bad guys toss their diamonds into Bloody Mary's car, the Angels skid onto the scene, disrupting their escape and capturing all three. Once under arrest, Bloody Mary tells the police that they killed the Suzy because she refused to take part in the theft. Back at the office, an impressed Charlie has sent over a trophy he's had made especially for Sabrina, who, he says, put forth a championship effort in the race.
• Reflections of the camera crew can be seen in Sabrina's racing helmet.
• When shots are fired at Jill, she drops to the ground. A close up of the shooter shows her way off in the distance, getting up and running around the car, but when we go back to Jill, she's still on the ground.
• The sign reading "LADIE'S INVITATIONAL" proves this show was not educational in the traditional sense.
• Kelly drives a rented blue Volkswagen Beetle in this episode.
• Since Jill later left the Townsend Agency to be a racecar driver, it's strange that she wasn't the driver in this episode. (Until you consider that Sabrina wouldn't want to play the sexy daughter.)
• Though Kate Jackson supposedly wasn't thrilled about having an orange car, Sabrina apparently refuses to drive any car that isn't orange.
• Jill is really good at poker, or else just really lucky. She plays cards again in The Big Tap-Out and The Vegas Connection.
• Right off the bat, Sabrina lets us know that not every one of the Angels' cases made it to TV. She references a previous case, even though this is the first episode, and she clearly wasn't talking about the pilot episode's investigation.
SHOTS FIRED AT JILL
SHOTS FIRED BY ANGELS
DAYS TO SOLVE CASE
This episode bears a lot of midriff - Kelly's twice, and surprisingly, Sabrina's. You will never see this much of her again, not even in saunas, showers or hot tubs. Sabrina seems really intent on letting us know her name - she wears a shirt with her name on it, and her 'SABRINA' necklace is prominent, as it tends to be in early Season 1.
Kelly wears two of the same shirts again in Angels in Chains, and Jill also revisits her blue outfit in To Kill an Angel.
Angels in Chains
Angels in Chains
To Kill an Angel
This is an excellent example of each Angel contributing to the case according to her own strengths, as defined by their initial character outlines.
Original Kelly is defined as slick yet sensitive, and she performs very well here using both sides of the coin - Sensitive Kelly is the best representative to go talk to the victim's grieving parents, and later Slick Kelly proves proficient at seduction and deception when she cons that bad guy into getting arrested.
Though they're all attractive, Jill's character profile is the one that really hammers home the "sexy" thing, and darned if she doesn't use pure sexiness as a cover in this episode the best any Angel ever did.
Despite not being the one to crack the case, as the intended "lead Angel," Sabrina does get the starring cover as a racecar driver, and also assumes the authority to confer directly with Charlie on the phone. Although they all can do that, she'll remain the Angel most likely to do so throughout her tenure. Her trusty notepad is another symbol of her intelligence - another Early Season 1 Sabrina trait that will disappear mid-season along with her necklace.
SCREEN TIME ANALYSIS
Maybe because it's the classic first episode, this one has a well-balanced and high-quality feeling that sorta belies its actual time breakdown - Jill gets a lot more focus than the others, and a third of the episode is allotted to bad guy scenes.
- HOW MUCH OF THE EPISODE ACTUALLY HAS ANGELS/BOSLEY IN IT 69%
Action in this one is pretty much only behind wheels, with some fancy driving from Sabrina and Jill. Though car chases are a Charlie's Angels staple, it's the first episode, so it's still fairly exciting. We hoped Sabrina would give Bloody Mary more than a passive-aggressive slap on the helmet, but alas, that's all.
UNUSUAL FIRST EPISODE
Hellride is an episode we can all agree is somewhere between good and great, but upon close inspection, isn't really the episode you might have expected them to start off the series.
Angel focus isn't very balanced. Doesn't it seem like the logical move would be to premiere an ensemble show with an episode that features each star equally? They sure didn't do that in the pilot, and they didn't do it here, either. Kelly, Sabrina get equal attention, but Jill gets ten extra minutes to herself, which is quite a focus for a 1-hour show. She actually owns this episode even more than Kelly did the pilot.
Bosley gets attention. Although he does get a good share of time in a few other episodes, the usual MO in the first season is to leave Bosley somewhat in the background, stuck at the office performing boring logistical work as the Angels' secretary/factotum. Here, he gets just as much time as Sabrina and Kelly.
Sabrina doesn't crack the case. The actual manifestation of Sabrina being "The Smart One" usually is that she's the one to figure out the case and explain it to the other Angels (as she'll do in many other episodes this season). Although she makes contributions along the way, it's Kelly, Jill and Bosley who fully figure out this heist with the help of Charlie's inside info.
Sorta low Angel content. This episode devotes a lot of time to its not-particularly-interesting bad guys instead of the Angels. It's actually the second-emptiest episode of the season, which is an... interesting.. choice for a premiere (although here we are dedicating a website to it 40 years later, so we guess it worked out!).
Charlie hurt his sacroiliac and some girl with nasty feet is standing on his back. Later, he seems to have recovered and is hanging out in his Jacuzzi with five bimbos splashing water on him. One of them is Charlie's favorite bimbo, the one from Angels on Wheels and Night of the Strangler (evidently this was filmed at the same time as Strangler, as she's wearing the same bikini). This is the most bimbos Charlie is ever seen entertaining at one time.
John Dennis Johnston (Jerry Adams) later played Harley in An Angel's Trail.
Roseanne Covy (Suzy Lemson) later played Annie, one of the truckers in Angels Go Truckin'.
Russ Grieve (Suzy Lemson's dad) played the sheriff in the Pilot episode.
Richard Lang also directed Night of the Strangler and Target: 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, 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.
Greg's Rating: Good start! Not much of a mystery here since the bad guys tell on themselves 5 minutes in. There is nothing about this episode that indicates it's the first episode but it's a fun ride.
All three Angels get in on the fun and a chance to shine. Sabrina shows she is the leader early on by being the only Angel jotting down notes during Charlie's debriefing. Jill uses her blonde hair and sexy Texas preacher daughter role to great advantage, although she also shows some signs of the ditzy blonde by dropping a leaflet in the bad guys apartment. Kelly's set up of a bad guy to get pulled over for DUI is perfect.
The Angels show perfect chemistry in this episode, each with an important role to play. The bad guys actually have a kinda-sophisticated scheme and get a lot of screen time. My only gripe with this episode is the Angels need the police to help take down the thieves at the end, something that happened a lot at the beginning of the first season. Sabrina was set up to kick Bloody Mary's ass and at the end, and all we got was a smack on the helmet.
Anna's Rating: I give every Angel an A+ in this episode. There's a balance between them here that I think is weakened or sometimes lost entirely later in the show. I don't mean balance in terms of attention/time given, but in terms of what each character brings to the table. Everybody looks great, they're smart, there's good interaction, camaraderie, some actual character development, and everyone is useful (none of that stuff where one Angel does everything while the others sit around). To me, this is classic Sabrina, classic Jill and classic Kelly, and rarely do you get all three perfect in one episode. The first season may not be my favorite in every regard, but you gotta admit this chemistry can't be topped.
Jo's Rating: This is a timeless episode that placed the Angels in adventure filled, daring do or die situations that came to be a landmark of the show. This was the first episode to air after the Pilot, and all three girls shine. Sabrina drives a stock car, Kelly cons a bad guy into police custody, and Jill, in between shuffling a deck of cards that would make a Las Vegas croupier's mouth water, strikes the now famous clasped praying hands pose, and utters the famous line, "35-24-35."
The case gets solved almost too quickly at the end, making the adrenalin buildup just slightly anti climactic, but overall this is a classic. After seeing it, a young generation of boys and girls were hooked, having found their idols of the decade.
MORE SEASON 1 EPISODE REVIEWS