Of Ghosts and Angels


SUMMARY

Tiffany's been having a recurring nightmare about a spooky old mansion and a wheelchair bound lady falling to her death from a dark staircase. She wakes up screaming, her hair all in a frizz. The clock reads 2:30 am.

She flies out to visit her old college friend Erica, who lives in an impressive historical castle - and is chilled to find that it's the very house from her nightmare. Erica's elation at seeing Tiff, but terrified to be in the house at nighttime - there's a certain evil presence. Her stern husband Cliff takes Tiffany upstairs to her guest bedroom, and on the tour, they pass a towering grandfather clock - whose hands are stuck at 2:30.

That night, Tiffany definitely starts to feel a certain presence, too; her bedroom windows mysteriously unlatch themselves and blow open in the storm. She hears the sounds of a party going on downstairs, and upon heading down to investigate, finds a bizarre masquerade party underway - and none of the guests seem to know Tiffany is even there. (She should be used to that.) Looking upwards, she spies the lady from her dreams rolling on the landing in her wheelchair again - and just as she screams - reality hits and Tiffany finds herself completely alone downstairs. She's then spooked to discover the face of a man dressed as the Gorton's Fisherman glowering outside the window; Cliff then conveniently appears, treating Tiffany like she's crazy and explaining that the man at the window is only the gardener.

Next day, Kris and Kelly arrive per Tiffany's invitation. They immediately think Tiffany and Erica are nuts and attempt to explain away the many curious occurrences. Erica tells the girls that the supernaturally-sensitive Tiffany was once heavily into the occult and ghost hunting in her college days. Tiff is continuing to get strong impressions from the house, but the other Angels remain skeptical, blatantly humoring Tiffany, and making a placating offer to phone Charlie to learn more about the home's previous owners.

More windows blows open; Tiff announces that "some kind of force is building up that's affecting everyone in this house and it may be using all of us to make some tragic event from the past happen all over again." Later, when she and Erica are romantically strolling arm in arm on the grounds, a ghost-driven car puts itself into gear and drives at them, causing Erica to hurt her leg somehow.

That evening during another thunderstorm, the housekeeper acts sinister while washing celery in the kitchen as Tiffany asks questions of her husband, the groundskeeper; he tells her of Cliff's previous marriage to a wheelchair-bound woman named Madeline who was killed over 20 years ago. Seemingly a random act of violence, her valuable wedding ring was also stolen that night. But more curiously, the groundskeeper describes precisely the woman from Tiffany's dreams. The housekeeper claims she sees the ghost of Madeline, too. Until the new Mrs. Burke appeared in the house, the spirit had been peaceful - but now, she warns, something terrible may happen to Erica.

"There was a party that night... just like tonight!" Apparently Erica's injury from falling onto the front lawn was so extensive that it was necessary she be confined to a wheelchair (!!) but  is still determined to attend the party.

At party time, Kris dresses up as a pirate, Kelly a Southern belle (surprise!) and Tiffany some sort of minstrel princess. Tiff somehow causes the back wall of their closet to open up, revealing a dark secret passage, lit only by sparsely strung light bulbs covered in cobwebs. She slips inside with a flickering candle - and the door closes after her. The others eventually manage to get the door open, whereupon Kelly decides to go back to the party while Kris climbs into the scary hole to find Tiffany.

Tiffany: "Lead the way, Madeline!"

Light bulbs flicker on and off, guiding Tiffany's path through dark, mazelike corridors. The passageway leads into a basement cluttered with junk, and inside a creaky trunk, Tiff discovers a time capsule of information about the dead Madeline - most alarmingly, her wedding ring, sans diamond, which was " stolen" all those years ago on the night of her death.

Downstairs amidst the mime-like guests and drowsy, cool jazz muzak, a blank faced Kelly blends into the lifeless party, conversing with the now lame Erica dressed as a Victorian invalid, and a scowling Mr. Burke who makes her dance with some guy, and then parks Erica's wheelchair at the top of the staircase.

Meanwhile Kris finally meets up with Tiff somewhere underground, and they find a dumbwaiter in which to ride back up to the kitchen. Tiff is supernaturally drawn to the stairs just as a man in a skeleton costume is rolling Erica towards the edge; she pulls a wheelie on the chair, forcing the skeleton to tumble down the stairs and die. When Kris pulls his mask off, it's (not) shockingly revealed to be Cliff, red paint trickling out his mouth. At that moment, the old grandfather clock starts ticking again.

Back at the office, Charlie explains to everyone that Cliff had a habit of marrying and killing wealthy women. Despite going through this supernatural experience, Kris and Kelly poo poo Tiffany again, and she is also ridiculed by Bosley - who is given quite a start when his desk rattles and papers fly about the room. Thanks, Madeline!

BACKGROUND CHECK

Of Ghosts and Angels Episode #81 Season 4, Episode 13 Airdate: Jan 2, 1980 Writer: Katharyn Powers Director: Cliff Bole Guest stars: Robin Mattson

WHAT'D YOU THINK?

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CURIOSITIES

• Does Tiffany always go to bed wearing full makeup, necklaces and rings?

• Why does Bosley suggest that it's mere excitement over seeing an old friend that's fueling Tiffany's oddly specific recurring murder nightmares?

• If this mansion is far enough away that the Angels have to fly there, why didn't they bother saying where it's supposed to be?

• What are Kelly and Kris doing all day while Tiff and Erica hang out alone? Why did they have to come here at all? Does this mansion have any other bedrooms, or are they sharing that single haunted twin bed?

• How is there eternally a thunderstorm going on outside?

• Why are Kelly and Kris all moaning and out of breath after closing that window?

• The shaking chandelier looks like the same one from Haunted Angels that performed the identical trick. Since the ghost in that episode turned out to be a scam, Kelly really ought to be less afraid of it this time.

• Tiffany is only about 5 feet down that passageway when Kris starts hollering her name, why doesn't she just answer?

• Why does Erica wait at the top of the stairs in a wheelchair while Cliff fixes her room or whatever? She could simply wheel herself down the hall.

• How did the grandfather clock manage to chime at 2:29?

• Good thing Bosley glued all important items to his desk before the ghost started shaking it. And since when do they have an inbox tray?

LIVES TAKEN BY ANGELS

GHOSTLY INTERVENTIONS

SHOTS FIRED AT ANGELS

SHOTS FIRED BY ANGELS

DAYS AT THE MANSION

WINDOWS BLOWN OPEN

TURTLENECKS

CHARACTER DEATHS

FASHION

The unpaid extra guests at the costume party are just an excuse to dust off some gems laying around the wardrobe department - things people would never really dress as. We can't even tell what half of them are. The Angels' costumes are more fun, though - Kris was the obvious candidate for the sexy pirate costume; Tiffany's look actually suits her well, even if we aren't sure what exactly she's supposed to be (comment if you know); and even if no GWTW references were made in the script, Jaclyn Smith must've been happy as a clam for any excuse to even vaguely dress up as Scarlett O'Hara.

Regular wardrobe, however, is moving steadily away from groovy jock-chic and toward a perennial Dynasty audition as we transition from the 70's to 80's.

Wardrobe Repeat How did Erica get Kris's sweater from Angels on Vacation?

Of Ghosts and Angels Ghosts

Angels on Vacation Vacation

ANGEL OF DEATH

This is the only time Tiffany ever killed anybody, and of course they made it a momentary, confusing and anticlimactic action sequence. Just to be clear, it’s not like she pushed Cliff down the stairs; she was turning the wheelchair around to save Erica, and his fall was just sorta collateral. But a kill is a kill – welcome to the club, Tiffany!

Read more Angel kill stats

CANNED GOODS

Here's another episode where somebody remembered the stock recordings and was inspired to use them all. Multiple stock gasps can be heard throughout, but best of all, Tiffany and Erica each get to scream the famous canned scream within a 20 minute span.

SCREEN TIME ANALYSIS

This is the 7th most solo episode of the series, and is proportionally Tiffany's biggest spotlight after Angels On Campus. Also, it's one of the fuller episodes in terms of Angel content, having only a couple of scenes without any main cast.

  • KELLY
  • KRIS
  • TIFFANY
  • BOSLEY
  • HOW MUCH OF THE EPISODE HAS AT LEAST ONE ANGEL/BOSLEY IN IT 87%

ACTION

Spooky, yes (kind of); action-packed, no. The highlights are various supporting characters falling down the stairs, and maybe Tiff and Erica's stunt doubles stumbling over a 1-foot picket fence.

I AIN'T AFRAID OF NO GHOST

None of these people can seem to decide whether they believe in ghosts. Bosley's considered all parapsychology stuff to be hogwash since Haunted Angels, although back in The Seance, he suggested that Kelly really was being used to communicate with the dead. His stance seemed to revert pretty quickly when Madeline picked up his desk, though.

Kris continues her Haunted Angels pattern of being totally dismissive of someone else's belief, then gullible once she herself gets scared of the ghost, and then dismissive again once the case is wrapped. Kelly likewise is frightened of unexplained phenomena but doesn't speculate as much. Both Angels clearly are afraid of Madeline when things get weird, and also thank the ghost for her help "just in case",  yet in the same breath also write off all the paranormal stuff as luck/instinct/good detective work (haha, no) because God forbid we recognize one of Tiffany's accomplishments. Hopefully Madeline followed Kris home and Poltergeisted the beach house for all eternity.

MEDIUM AT LARGE

So as far as we're led to believe in this episode, Tiffany really is a "sensitive" or whatever, and really can communicate with this dead lady... yet everyone sort of laughs it off. Isn't that kind of a big deal? Tiffany's new ghost friend has followed her to work and is doing her bidding by performing ghost pranks on Bosley, and they're just giggling, "Oh, Madeline!" Um, nobody's concerned that Tiffany can sic a GHOST on them? Nobody's ever going to mention Tiff's ability to commune with the dead during any subsequent murder investigations? Nobody's going to go call Hans Kempler or anything?

REPEAT OFFENDERS

The only recycled actor in this episode is the uncredited Cis Rundle, Cheryl Ladd's friend who appeared many times on the show as Charlie's babe in Circus of Terror, 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 the pirate girl who Kelly mistook for Kris.

Cliff Bole also directed Dancing in the Dark, Hours of Desperation, Winning is for Losers, Pom Pom Angels, The Prince and the Angel, and Let Our Angel Live.

Kathryn Michaelian Powers also wrote Fallen Angel and Toni's Boys.

OUR TAKE

Holly's Rating: 4 stars  What a fun Tiffany outing! I loved getting to know Tiff a little better here, plus you can't go wrong with the spooky ghost theme - and this time it turned out to be legit. Kelly and Kris are disappointing again in their treatment of the new Angel.

Greg's Rating: 2.5 stars This ep reminds me of Angels At the Altar with Tiffany and Kelly swapping roles. Not a bad Tiffany episode although it seemed a bit of a stretch to make Tiffany the Psychic Angel. Still the adventure manages to scare up a little tension and is probably Tiffany's second best solo outing following Angels On Campus. Like the other 2 episodes where Tiffany is front and center Kelly and Kris are reduced to almost cameos with Tiffany spending most of the episode with guest stars and ghosts.

As supernatural themed eps go this one is not quite as suspenseful or entertaining as season three's Haunted Angels but it still manages to provide a few much needed Tiffany moments (she gets to accidentally kill someone) so that's worth something.

Anna's Rating: 4.5 Stars  I love this one - a highlight for Tiff as the bravest, smartest, nicest and most resourceful Angel. It's just the sort of low-key spookiness that's right up my alley, making it one of my go-to things to watch around Halloween. This and Angel Hunt are my favorites of Season 4; they always get paired in my mind due to their uniqueness and their one major drawback: the Tiffany disrespect really subtracts from an otherwise delightful experience. Kris and Kelly's presence did make this episode more fun than the extreme Tiff solo it easily could've been (even if they served absolutely no purpose socially or investigatively), however, they spent the hour acting kinda rude and cliquish.

How close were Tiff and Erica in college? I don't remember a sorta romantic musical cue while any other Angel's "old friend" ran to embrace them from across a field... just sayin'. Actually, maybe I won't blame Kelly and Kris that much for forming their own clique, in light of Tiff and Erica's inseparability.

Anyway, Haunted Angels felt like a cop-out to me for explaining away its ghost, but it actually felt funnier to make this ghost real if they weren't going to address any of its implications. It's sort of pointless to criticize though, all things considered... on a show held to zero continuity, logic, or consequences for any of its actions, why not just make the ghost real. Whatever. I love it.