Magic Fire


SUMMARY

Boring magician Wendell Muse performs minor pyro tricks on stage at the Magic Castle, where his over-acting audience enthusiastically pretends to see overlayed video effects of fire. Meanwhile, an oblivious night guard at the Fashion City warehouse manages to realize his building is ablaze after noticing prolonged orange flickering emanating from the store's warehouse.

Since this is not the first incidence of a mysterious fire in a city where Wendell Muse has worked, police suspect he is a legendary arsonist, "The Magic Man", who was once a magician, and now sets elaborate fires to gather insurance money. Muse hires the Angels to help clear his name and to prove that "The Magic Man" is someone else.

Sabrina: "Merci beaucoup!"

Fashion City owner Joseph Watson hires Sabrina as a designer, apparently convinced of her skill wholly based on her cartoonish French accent and portfolio of nondescript costume sketches. Later that night, Sabrina manages to stay behind after closing, slip into her black mime suit, and sneak into the warehouse to have a peek around. When a telephone in the office rings, a huge fire is sparked, trapping Bri in the blazing warehouse until she manages to get a fork lift running and busts her way out of the wooden garage door.

During Sabrina's harrowing experience, the others are taking in a performance onstage at the Magic Castle where they learn that another failing magician, the Great Danzini, could be a second suspect. Kelly chats up Danzini pretending to be the daughter of a famous Houdini-esque magician whose trick he's dying to learn, and he tries to convince her of his worthiness by performing cheap parlor tricks.

Undercover as performers, Bosley and Kris (AKA Zolton the Sorcerer and sexy apprentice) put on a lamely funny mind-reading act. As a volunteer from the audience, Sabrina slips Kris a note to check out two goons who've been trailing her all day. She approaches them and requests a wallet as her next clue for Bosley; put on the spot, one of the scowling men is forced to relinquish his drivers license, which Kris reads aloud in thanks.

After the show, Kris is nearly killed by a shower backstage rigged to spray fire. Sabrina somehow figures out that the fires are being set by telephone, and another phone already rigged at Fashion City indicates that yet another fire has been planned.

As Sabrina literally waits by the phone over at Fashion City, Kris catches Danzini's assistant, Mary Ann, making the intended arson call from backstage during her disappearing act. A chick fight ensues and Mary Ann pushes various magic props at Cheryl Ladd's stuntman until Kelly appears, and the two Angels take her down in an embarrassing onstage spectacle which ruins Danzini's act.

In the Angels' custody, an emotional Mary Ann gives a long, dramatic speech about wanting to destroy Watson because he caused her husband (The Magic Man) to die in a fire. The Angels struggle to look forlorn and sympathetic instead of bored.

Meanwhile, Watson has caught a suspicious looking Sabrina (garbed in a Members Only jacket and a French accent) skulking around Fashion City after hours. Convinced that she's the arsonist, he has her bound and gagged, and rigs his office phone to spark another fire upon its next call.

With their end of the case wrapped up, the rest of the gang cheerfully attempts to call Sabrina only to hear the line go dead. "That's weird!" All three stand around frowning and discussing this at length until it finally dawns on Kelly that something may be wrong. As the horse tied Bri kicks and flails about the room amidst the flames, the other Angels rush to Fashion City and upon spotting the building ablaze, the very observant Kelly none-too-excitedly remarks, "The building's on fire." Bos, Kris and Kelly break into the smoking store to pull a frantically coughing Sabrina from the fire they just caused.

Back at the office, Charlie assures us that Joseph Watson was picked up by the police; then Kelly and Sabrina harass Kris when they realize that Charlie actually participated in her mind-reading act, but she can't remember what he looked like despite having interacted with him.

BACKGROUND CHECK

Magic Fire Episode #33 Season 2, Episode 11 Airdate: Nov 30, 1977 Writer: Lee Sheldon Director: Leon Carrere

FILMING LOCATIONS

The Townsend Agency Office • The Magic Castle

WHAT'D YOU THINK?

Rate this episode:

CURIOSITIES

• How dumb is the Fashion City night guard? He sees smoke and violently flickering orange coming from behind that door, and has to go open it to make sure it's fire?

• Mary Ann's statement that working for Danzini "beats topless dancing and coal mining" must be one of the most classic weird lines of dialogue on this show. Kris doesn't miss a beat, either.

• Good thing Sabrina knows how to operate a forklift, besides being fortunate that the keys were already in there.

• It's interesting that Sabrina seems to be very anti-smoking in this episode, considering she's the only Angel who ever smokes for covers.

• Microphone boom shadows can be seen behind Kris and Bosley in the middle office scene, and there is a fly buzzing around in Sabrina's shot.

• Where does Sabrina's dog Coco come from/go?

• Why does Kris have to shower after the Zolton act? Also, why does she take off her dress and put on a towel to walk two feet to the shower where she'll just have to take the towel off again?

• Why does Watson have to rip the cord off a lamp to tie Sabrina up when he apparently had duct tape to cover her mouth with?

• Why does Sabrina make a point of kicking over the fish bowl as soon as the office catches fire? That was cruel and accomplished nothing. She's usually the Angel acting concerned about the welfare of dogs (Unidentified Flying Angels and Diamond in the Rough) but is apparently not a fan of birds (Pretty Angels) or the fish that she seemed to like earlier in this episode.

• Cheryl Ladd and Jaclyn Smith turn into two bearded stand-ins when leaving the Magic Castle in Kelly's car. An apt illusion or serious faux pas? Check it out!

• Could Jaclyn Smith have read "The building's on fire" any more casually? It was downright cheerful.

• Kelly is uncharacteristically jerkish to Danzini who turned out not to be the bad guy.

• The door Bosley kicks down actually opens in between kicks.

BAD GUYS BEAT DOWN

BIMBOS

SHOTS FIRED AT ANGELS

SHOTS FIRED BY ANGELS

DAYS TO SOLVE CASE

MINDS READ

TURTLENECKS

CHARACTER DEATHS

SET DESIGN

Due to incredibly lazy set decoration, it's unclear whether Fashion City is supposed to be upscale, or if it really is supposed to be the cheap dump it appears to be. The whole store apparently only sells the 3 or 4 ugly dresses on display, yet there is a night watchman to guard them? There's more merchandise out by the fire charred dumpster than in the store. What are the enormous warehouse and forklift for? Furthermore, some dialogue early on mentions Fashion City warehouse(s) PLURAL - how could there be more than one of these places?

FASHION

Aside from her flamboyant French ensembles, Sabrina puts more mileage on her trusty black turtleneck burglar outfit and then spends the rest of the episode in an ultra-sexy taupe colored Members Only jacket. The others are mostly unremarkable, save for Kris' sparkly, one-sleeved magician's assistant getup. In a rare twist, the office wrap-up features Sabrina as the only Angel not wearing a turtleneck.

ANNOYING ACCENTS

Sabrina's French designer cover in this episode is perhaps her most irritating and conspicuous one ever - having to pretend to consult a French/English dictionary in mid-conversation was the cherry on top.

HARRY HOUDINI, EAT YOUR HEART OUT

Considering the whole episode was about magic, couldn't they have found someone who could do one decent magic trick? The tricks shown were not only lame, but performed pretty badly. Jaclyn's trick of producing a dove from beneath her napkin (after a great deal of rustling, wincing, and peeking underneath) was actually far better than any of the cheap tricks Muse or Danzini had to offer, which were all the kind you learned during that one week when you were into magic at 11 years old. One of Danzini's tricks is literally a match taped to a flower.

GOOD BOY, ALBERT

Jaclyn Smith's real dog, Albert, snoozes on her lap in the middle office scene - he's so chill, you might mistake him for a pillow. He also appeared in Consenting Adults, The Big Tap-Out, and Homes $weet Homes.

SCREEN TIME ANALYSIS

This is one of only 6 episodes where Bosley has more screen time than any Angel, and it's his second-biggest solo story after Angels In Waiting.

  • KELLY
  • KRIS
  • SABRINA
  • BOSLEY
  • HOW MUCH OF THE EPISODE HAS AT LEAST ONE ANGEL/BOSLEY IN IT 83%

ACTION

As the title may lead you to expect, all this episode's action moments involve attempts to burn the Angels to death! Kris escapes the iconic (if ineffective) murder attempt of being burned to death in the shower (because who gets in the shower and THEN turns on the water?). Somebody torches a warehouse with Sabrina inside, leaving her no choice but to drive a forklift through a wall. Later comes a more intense remix of the same situation, when Sabrina's tied up inside a burning room, and the others must smash a glass door in order to rescue her. (Somehow it's not actually as exciting as I made it sound there.)

THE PRINCE AND THE ANGELS

It seems some of Charlie's Angels biggest fans lived across the pond during its original run. Britain's Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip were said to have set their Wednesday night schedules around the show, and Buckingham Palace aides even contacted ABC requesting a photo of the Angels for the Palace's TV room.

During four of its five seasons, the Angels set was generally closed to the press and outsiders, but a single royal exception was made when Prince Charles of Wales requested a visit in October, 1977 during the filming of this episode. The press had a field day snapping photos of him with Kate, Jaclyn and Cheryl.

prince-charles-kate-jackson-cheryl-ladd-jaclyn-smith-charlies-angels

The show's executive coordinator Brett Garwood recalls the special day: "I took him to Stage 8 and presented him to the girls. It was quite an occasion! He was very charming and gracious, and the girls were so enthralled. Back then, you'll remember, he was still an eligible bachelor."

Interestingly, it was during His Royal Highness' visit to Los Angeles that he also happened to meet Farrah Fawcett and then-husband Lee Majors at an exclusive Hollywood party attended by major screen stars including Cary Grant and Sophia Loren. Sounds like a real life Prince and the Angel!

farrah-fawcett-prince-charles-sophia-loren-cary-grant

Farrah met the Prince again in 1978, when she visited backstage at the London Palladium following the Royal Show Supernight.

REPEAT OFFENDERS

Lee Sheldon also wrote The Jade Trap, Haunted Angels, Angels Ahoy, Rosemary, for Remembrance, Angel Hunt, and Three for the Money.

Leon Carrere also directed Night of the Strangler, The Killing Kind, and The Sammy Davis Jr. Kidnap Caper.

This is a very rare case in which no credited actors are recycled from other episodes.

OUR TAKE

Holly Rating: 4.5 Stars Magic in general is fairly stale to begin with unless performed by Houdini, so this combined with sub-par video effects does not make for a terribly exciting episode. Not to be missed though are several classic Sabrina moments - the French designer, the fork-lift escape, and the bound and flailing amid flames scene - Kate Jackson really shines in this one. You might say she's on fire . . .

Joann's Rating: 3 StarsA corny magician – think David Copperfield – Wendell Muse, known for his fire tricks, is the prime suspect in a series of arsons (at fashion warehouses) thought to be the handiwork of infamous (and unknown) fire starter, Magic Man (think cat burglar, it will be more exciting).

Sabrina disguises herself as a French fashion designer, while Kris and Bosley go undercover at the Magic Castle in order to keep an eye on other magical suspects. Kelly courts the Great Danzini as the daughter of legendary magician, Malvolio (feel like I’m reading Shakespeare), whose great illusion, the collapsing pressure chamber, she wishes to pass onto a successor. Fast forward. The Angels find out that phones are the trigger setting the fires. The Magic Man’s widow (he died in a fire), seeking revenge for his murder, has been setting them. Sabrina, mistaken as the Magic Man (I’ll leave that alone) gets tied up. Kris and Kelly wondering where Sabrina is call her, setting the warehouse on fire with her in it. Why do the Angels use the phone when that is how the fires get started?

I used to think this was a funnier episode, but there are too many magic trick interludes, and the scenes with Kelly and Danzini are a snore, but despite Sabrina’s awful French accent, she gets points for bringing a poodle and calling it "Cocooo" (or is it Cocoa). The high point is Zolton (Bosley) and his lovely assistant, "Krrris" (their interactions are always spot on), performing the worst mind reading act ever (Why does Kris have to take a shower after the magic show? Would you take a shower after performing when all you did was be a magician's assistant?), and the final scene with Kelly and Sabrina grilling her after realizing Charlie was in the audience having handed her a pen.