Pretty Angels All in a Row


SUMMARY

Somebody doesn't want the Miss Chrysanthemum Festival Pageant to go off with out a hitch! The setting is Freebairn, Iowa, that hotbed of unknown cheesy beauty pageants where pretty Miss Sierra Leone and sorta pretty Miss Texas are turning in for the night after a long day of swimsuit competing. No sooner has our caramel delight Miss Leone gotten back to her room when a masked ne'er-do-well sneaks in through the window and places a deadly tarantula on her pillow!

The pageant's likeable emcee/promoter/owner Ben Pawl implores the Angels and Bosley to help him stop whomever is trying to sabotage this sacred American institution. Girls are dropping out of his pageant right and left - seemingly after the tarantula incident alone - and it's going to be up to the Angels to salvage the “greatest beauty pageant the world has ever seen." After flipping coins to determine which Angels are doomed to compete, fate elects Kris and Kelly to model swimsuits while Sabrina goes undercover in the equally alluring role of a TV producer covering the event with Bosley as her cameraman.

Sabrina: "From now on, you'll be known as Big X."

Kelly wows the pageant interviewers with her aspirations of pursuing dance and brain surgery (little knowing she'll kinda get her wish in a couple of years), Kris paints on a bikini and joins the other contestants at the piano, poolside, for a chorus of the incredibly cheesy Miss Chrysanthemum anthem, (which at this point hasn't yet begun to grate on your nerves) joined at the bridge by a surprisingly baritone Mr. Pawl. The contestants are introduced to Boss Lady Bri and her CameraBos including naive little Kris from Macon, Georgia, who utilizes one of the best bad-faux southern accents ever to hit ABC. In a truly comical moment, Sabrina and Bosley are forced to humor the overeager Ben Pawl, giving him a bogus top secret assignment plus functionless code word ("Beau Geste") to keep him out of their hair.

Two good ol' boys (we know they are good ol' boys because they wear cowboy hats) observe these goings-on through carefully parted shrubbery and manage to snap Kris' picture. Later, when she checks into her hotel room, Kris is shot at through the window! After an armed and very dramatic Frank Drebin-style roll over her bed - which takes longer than simply walking to the window - Kris glimpses her would-be assassins fleeing the adjacent rooftop. Unhurt, Kris then meets with the rest of the gang and theorizes that the bullet was meant to scare her, not kill her.

During another on-stage rehearsal of "Hi There, Hello", the cowboys return and execute the old cut-a-rope-drop-a-sandbag-on-the-stage-almost-killing-someone routine. Sabrina and Bosley give chase but are incapacitated when they run into the room housing trained pigeons to be used in Kris' forthcoming magic act. Oh, Bosley.

In addition to scaring contestants it seems the good ol' boys are also bribing the judges, giving judge Dearborn some dough to "not let them down”. Backstage in the dressing room, coarse contestant Grace gets catty with Kris over wardrobe, and her agent offers Sabrina and Bosley $50 bucks to train their cameras on his client during the pageant.

The good ol' boys attempt to bribe judge Millicent Farmer, who not only refuses but starts a hilarious scuffle with them inside a sealed elevator. Despite her stunt double's best efforts, Millicent is duly apprehended, taken to an abandoned warehouse and tied up.

With judge Millicent missing, Sabrina decides to keep an eye on the new judge who will be replacing her. At this point, it also becomes apparent to Bri and Bos that both Kelly and Kris really want to win the crown!

Meanwhile, the barrel-bound Millicent Farmer is not having any of it and refuses to sell her vote or be intimidated by her country kidnappers. Baffled - Ul' and Hubes intercept her replacement judge at the airport (played by a whitewashed studio building with a cardboard sign reading 'Airport'), both bribing and blackmailing her within eyeshot of an onlooking Sabrina, hiding in a phone booth just feet away. Bri then stows away in the Texans' trunk to hitch a free ride back to their hideout.

At the theater, the pageant is underway and we finally get to see “Hi There, Hello” again, this time on stage under the colored lights in all its kitschy glory. Kris is asked a standard beauty pageant question, her favorite color (red, white and blue, natch). At this point it's revealed to us that the mastermind behind the kidnapping and bribing is none other than ... Miss Texas' tycoon daddy, who needs his daughter to be a beauty pageant winner in order to be the spokesperson for his pink grapefruit commercials. (We couldn't make this up.) Daddy's not pleased to learn about the kidnapping of judge Millicent and orders his boys to release her and flee the country.

Unfortunately for Sabrina, the cow pokes are so at one with their vehicle that they notice her extra weight in the trunk and she's tossed into the hostage zone with Millicent. All the while, Kelly is onstage at the pageant bullshitting a speech about “for whom the bell tolls" in response to a question about a friend's ski accident.

Ulmer and Hubie ask Sabrina who they should contact for her ransom - she explains to them that if they give Bosley the code word "Beau Geste", he'll make the payoff.

As Ben Pawl begins to announce the winners live on-stage, Ol' and Hubes approach Bosley, who hollers out the password, bringing the pageant to a screeching halt.

The band improvises a slapstick instrumental version of the Miss Chrysanthemum theme while Kelly and Kris dive off the stage to help Bosley take down the struggling cowboys. After a gentle strike with a prop footstool and a patented Angel Chop to the neck, the buckaroos are belly up and the Angels return to the final lineup to pose with their bouquets as if nothing happened.

An evidently unhurried Kelly, Kris and Bosley eventually get around to locating and busting into the hostage warehouse to untie Sabrina and Millicent, who've been lunching on bologna sandwiches in between feeble escape attempts. They report to Bri that Miss Texas did indeed win the pageant, but was disqualified - the runner-up was some girl who twirled a baton and recited Shakespeare (you don't remember her either, because you fast forwarded it).

Back at the office, Kelly and Kris are not pleased when Charlie reveals that the judges were not allowed to vote for either of them, and Kelly doubly so after having dropped a wad on white shoes.

BACKGROUND CHECK

Pretty Angels All In A Row Episode #25 Season 2, Episode 3 Airdate: Sep 28, 1977 Writer: John D.F. Black Director: John D.F. Black

WHAT'D YOU THINK?

Rate this episode:

CURIOSITIES

• Some footage of the tarantula is played backwards.

• Has there ever been less of a buildup of dramatic tension than waiting to find out which two Angels will be competing in the pageant? Whenever it's time for two Angels to get cheesecake covers, we all know before they draw fake straws that there's a better chance we'll see Bosley twirling a baton on stage reciting Shakespeare than Sabrina slipping into a swimsuit.

• Why is Kris blushing after spotting that heifer suntanning in a bikini? Kris, um, you're also wearing a bikini. A flesh colored one, we might add.

• The footage of Kris' picture being taken is both flipped backwards and run backwards. While we're on the subject, why do they have to take her picture, anyway?

• Why do Kris and Grace fight over that ugly apricot swimsuit? Aren't all the contestants different sizes and thus have their own wardrobes already lined up? The way Kris acts, wandering in and choosing one off the rack at her whim, you'd think they toss the girls ten of the same suit in different colors and let them fight it out the day before the pageant. (Come the big night though, Kris IS wearing that apricot suit, but it looks like Grace didn't make good on her threats.)

• Sabrina could have accepted that guy's $50 offer to key the film on Grace Cooley, since their film was never going to be used by a TV network (if they even had film in that camera). Maybe she had her heart set on filming the other Angels for fun or blackmail.

• When the bad guys cut the rope holding the sandbag and it drops five feet onto to the stage, notice how low it is hanging and how slowly it falls. Doesn't really look like it would kill or seriously injure anyone it hit. For another example of a not-so-death-trap see the cage drop from Hula Angels. Ouch?

• Why does Kris need that entire room full of loose pigeons? She only used one in her act. Unless messing up that hat trick kills the pigeon and she needs like 39 spares, it seemed kind of unnecessary.

• Did they really need to practice the Miss Chrysanthemum song THAT many times? It's a one-chorus no-verse song with like 10 different words.

• Why didn't The Smart One just nudge her stool over behind Mrs. Farmer so she could sit down while trying to untie their hands?

• The excitable Miss Chrysanthemum Festival Pageant crowd was seen in the previous episode, Angels On Ice, and would return years later to be bored by the Mr. Galaxy bodybuilding festival pageant.

• If Grace Cooley was so embarrassed that they put the spotlight on her and caught her hitching up her boobs, why did she keep doing it for like two more seconds?

• Why did they give Kris an 8-year-old child's magic act and let Miss Texas sing ALL of "The Streets of Laredo", when this pageant was the perfect opportunity to let Cheryl Ladd sing?

• Most of the girls were Miss (State) yet there were also contestants such as "Miss Sierra Leone" and "Miss Great Plains". Do beauty pageants do this? Is the Miss Chrysanthemum Pageant really an "American institution" if there are non-American contestants?

• Why did Bosley shout "Beau Geste" to stop the pageant if its effect was not to have Ben Pawl help them fight the bad guys? Kris and Kelly weren't in on the code word and jumped into the fight just because they saw a fight going on.

• Final Girl Alert! Dana Kimmel, Miss New York, wins the Miss Chrysanthemum Pageant and five years later would win a nasty fight with Jason Vorhees as the only survivor from Friday the 13th Part 3.

• Why does Kelly complain about having to pay $37 for shoes? Isn't that an expense that'll be covered in the case fee?

BAD GUYS BEAT DOWN

BIMBOS

SHOTS FIRED AT ANGELS

SHOTS FIRED BY ANGELS

DAYS TO SOLVE CASE*

KIDNAPPINGS

TURTLENECKS

CHARACTER DEATHS

ACTION

Middle-aged firecracker judge Millicent Farmer's stunt double (necessary because?) gets into an awesomely cheesy fight with her kidnappers in the confines of an elevator. Kris gets shot at. Sabrina takes a ride in a trunk and chases bad guys backstage. The main action is in the takedown at the end when Kelly and Kris take out two armed country boys using a prop stool and an Angel Chop and then return to the pageant without missing a beat.

FASHION

Kris' bikini leaves little to the imagination next to Sabrina's three-piece powder blue pantsuit. Kris' midriff-bearing top is cute, but her white keyhole pants look like when you feel fat after Thanksgiving dinner and have to unbutton your sansabelts. Kris puts the same (unwashed?) white and blue shirt back on to come rescue Sabrina, while Kelly changes into a fresh, plaid maternity top.

Wardrobe Repeats Kelly's beauty competitor is wearing her white bikini from the Pilot, Night of the Strangler, and The Killing Kind. Kris wears the same midriff top in Diamond in the Rough. Kelly's good old red waitress outfit from I Will Be Remembered makes another appearance on a waitress in the background. Bri's red top and slacks outfit is the same one featured in the opening credits of Seasons 2-3. Kris rehearses in the same navy blue top from Little Angels of the Night and her mystery intro clip, later stolen by Gert in Angels on Skates.

As if that isn't enough, take our word for it that Bosley wears that same plaid-jacket-orange-shirt-leather-vest number seen at least in part from The Big Tap-Out, The Blue Angels, etc., and Kelly's red one-shoulder top has a black doppelganger in Angels in Paradise.

Jaclyn SmithPretty

Jaclyn SmithPilot

Jaclyn SmithStrangler

Jaclyn SmithKilling Kind

Kate jacksonPretty

Kate JacksonIce

Kate JacksonPretty

Kate Jackson 2 & 3 Intro

Pretty

Kate Jackson Little

Cheryl Ladd Pretty

Cheryl LaddDiamond

NEITHER BIONIC NOR WONDERFUL

Kinda seems unfair that The Bionic Woman and Wonder Woman both actually came in first at the climax of their respective beauty pageant episodes, yet Kris and Kelly never even had a chance thanks to Charlie rigging the contest against them. Didn't having two bogus entries put all the other contestants at an unfair advantage anyway?

BLONDISM

This pageant really, really favored Kris over Kelly. We'll leave analysis of the talent portions up to you, but the interviews? Kris gets the cute, easy "red, white, and blue" question while Kelly gets saddled with the three-minute long speech that sounds like the kind of essay you wrote in 6th grade when you didn't understand the question.

Even their placement in the pageant lineup is off kilter. Kris is front and center, right in the spotlight, while Kelly is way off at the end in the shadows, looking like she might get bumped off the edge of the stage by Miss Nevada at any moment. The camera framing even allows her to be cut out of the shot at moments during the final song. What gives?

LYRICS

Hi there, hello! We're glad that you could show For the Chrysanthemum Festival Pageant! From far and near, we girls came here To try to be queen of the pageant! Hi there, hello, we're glad that you could show For the Chrysanthemum Festival Pageant! Who will be queen, when we're all seen At the Chrysanthemum Festival Pageant? (This looks so much worse written down, wow.)

SCREEN TIME ANALYSIS

For how good this episode seems, it's surprising that over a third of it went to non-Angel scenes. Also surprising is that despite having what seems like the lesser roles, Sabrina and Bosley actually have a little more screen time than Kelly and Kris.

  • KELLY
  • KRIS
  • SABRINA
  • BOSLEY
  • HOW MUCH OF THE EPISODE HAS AT LEAST ONE ANGEL/BOSLEY IN IT 66%

WHO WILL BE QUEEN?

charlies-angels-chrysanthemum-festival
Who would you crown as Miss Chrysanthemum?
  • 54%
  • 46%

MAGIC BULLET

The good ol' boys fire a bullet that somehow manages to break the vase inside Kris' room BEFORE it breaks the window it came through. Amazing. It evidently then catches the flowers on fire as there is a puff of smoke swirling from the stems. Instead of shattering the vase, this bullet simply leaves a hole in the side, as if it was broken, glued back together, and a chunk fell off - in fact, you can plainly see long strips of Scotch tape holding the thing together, and the scattered ceramic pieces look like they belong to something else. Carol Brady always said - never play ball in the house.

TIMELINE

* What's shown suggests this case took two days to solve, but this is not actually possible within the laws of time and physics. The office meeting and the first day's worth of Iowa scenes could not happen on the same day. Office meetings seem to default to 10AM. Say they manage a miracle rush to the airport in an hour, a flight from LA to somewhere in Iowa will be at least about 5 hours (Freebairn is not a real place), that's 4PM, and they're flying into central time, so it's at least 6PM in Iowa by the time their plane touches down. Yet, the first day's scenes all seem to happen at noon.

PRETTY ANGELS ALL IN A ROW

This episode's title is one of the more creative of the series run, seemingly based either on the age-old children's rhyme, "Mary, Mary Quite Contrary" OR the 1971 comedy/sex/murder film, "Pretty Maids All in a Row", starring Rock Hudson and Angie Dickinson.

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, How does your garden grow? With silver bells, and cockle shells, And pretty maids all in a row.

GUESS I HAVE NEVER SEEN SULTRY

“Ladies and gentlemen, you ain't never seen sultry until you've seen Miss Kelly Garrett!" the pageant emcee announces to the crowd just as Kelly does a quirky, 60's Laugh-In inspired dance routine (in 1977). Maybe it was the dimly lit Blair Witch-style camera work, but this dance doesn't seem to fall into the sultry category, or any dance category other than awkward. Bosley - though mesmerized - seems to agree.

BIMBO REPORT

Charlie’s ogling some bikini-clad broad with a leathery tan as she performs lackadaisical exercises with a weighted medicine ball in his office. Ok, seriously – do they intentionally have these girls performing UNsexy activities?

Read our article on Charlie's Bimbos

REPEAT OFFENDERS

Bobbie Mitchell (Grace Cooley) played one of the nurses in Terror on Ward One.

Danuta Wesley (the heavily-accented former Miss Chrysanthemum) returned to play Helga Johnson, the client in Marathon Angels.

Denise DuBarry, who played a miscellaneous contestant here, later appeared in Waikiki Angels playing the client's terrorized daughter Marti.

Cliff Medaugh (one of the pageant judges) played miscellaneous old men in both The Seance and Angels on Vacation.

John D. F. Black also directed The Vegas Connection, Angels at Sea, Angels in Paradise, and Angel Baby, and wrote Angels at Sea, Angels in Paradise and Angel Baby.

OUR TAKE

 Greg's Rating: 4.5 Rating  Silly fun and this ep knows it. Wonder Woman and and The Bionic Woman had already done their requisite beauty pageant episodes (where Jamie and Wonder Woman both won the crown by the way) but the Angels' foray into the pageant circuit is the most entertaining. Never in this 60 minutes does the show take itself seriously and even the bad guys don't really want to hurt anyone. Not much of a mystery since the clues to the bad guy are given 15 minutes in, but it's still one of the most entertaining episodes of Season 2.

Brolly's Rating: 5 Stars  Classico. Cheesy! Silly! You know, they actually managed to make beauty pageants even more ridiculous than they already are. Quite an achievement and definitely a spoof that worked. Miss Chrysanthemum for President!

With that out of the way, the Angels are in top form in this one. So is Bosley. As a matter of fact, he deserves special mention for this episode. His facial expressions during the girls presentations are a hoot!

Shocker of the episode (fasten your seatbelts): Sabrina doesn't enter the pageant as a contestant!

Another honorary mention goes to the music. It is definitely catchy. Miss Chrysanthemum and Hi there, Hello have the pesky tendency to get stuck in my head. Now if you'd excuse me, I have to get the latter surgically removed. But before I go, some advice: Beware of skulking pigeons and always remember, BEAU GESTE!!

Anna's Rating: 4 Rating  Nearly every Angel scene offers some nugget for the best-of reel, but I like this one because it's a rare time where almost every minor character shines. Ulmer and Hubie, despite their criminal hijinks, have such a darn cheerful zest for their work that the hostage situation hardly seems that bad.

Millicent's chutzpah separates her from the show's many other wet-rag hostages, the ignoble Grace Cooley serves as the perfect counterpart to Kris' apple pie pageant persona, and Ben Pawl's just about the most likeable ham west of the Mississippi.

I like how Charlie actually seems annoyed at them for being unprofessional, though the effect is kinda ruined when you consider that he's got that bimbo in his office. Finally, I'd like to point out that, since her coin flip was last, Kris was already doomed so technically she only got to decide which other Angel she took down with her. Maybe she actually flipped tails but decided the world was not ready for a Sabrina swimsuit situation?

Kenny's Rating: 5 Stars I love this episode! Someone is scaring off beauty contestants the latest being with a spider, a freaking spider. Even the Angels think this case is ridiculous until Charlie reprimands them by telling them had that young contestant had a bad heart she would have been dead, wow now that's a stretch. I love how they really lampoon beauty contests, Kris and Kelly are perfect and of course the song has to be the most famous tune of the series, "Hi there, Hello...". Kris' interview answers are hilarious and the bad guys with "ole bitty" are a hoot. Every time he says "the ole bitty" I still laugh out loud!

Joann's Rating: 4 Stars "Hi there! Whoa there. We’re the Mousketeers!" Whoops. Holy 50s Batman! What I love about this episode is the willingness to tackle so much subliminally. Okay, I’m exaggerating. This isn't metaphorical cinema. Yet one has to remember that in the 70s and for some time after, beauty pageants were much more popular on a national level than they are today. This is back in the days when TV programming was limited. When Miss America was on, America watched. So for the Angels to look down on and be critical of the exploitation of women by a beauty pageant (still in the heyday of the Women’s Liberation Movement), then enter said pageant so we get to see them in bikinis anyway, is genius! And let’s not forget the like criticisms leveled at Charlie’s Angels for being as exploitative to women. What a send-up. Right off the bat, the writing nails it with a Bert Parks pretender that would have made the original proud and red-faced all at once.

But this is the Angelverse. None of the contestants are better looking than the Angels. They’re not even in the same contest strata. Is there a Miss Mediocre Looking America pageant? Kris and Kelly are equally brilliant in their delivery of standard pageant hyperbole. If only Miss Teen USA's, Miss South Carolina 2007 had had such composure. “I wanna perform brain surgery and dance and bake a red, white, and blue cake, and feed it to the poor, and...there should be peace...all over.” Again, I exaggerate. But zingers abound here. I love the bit about Beau Geste (one of my all time favorite movies). Remembering it’s the 70’s, I guess it’s not too far afield to reference a 1939 Gary Cooper movie, but it still seems oddly placed. Maybe it just rings as funny. And Ray Milland – later Kelly’s would-be father – is in it!

The other clever touch is the slapstick comedy hijinks of Millicent Farber, Ulmer, and Hubie. (Where did they dig up those names?) You want and should groan, but Patricia Barry is wonderful. Kate Jackson also merits kudos for brilliantly working off of her. This could have fallen really flat had it not worked. Actually, looking back at it today, the entire episode could have been dated and cringe worthy. Instead, it’s a good example of how perfect it was when writers got the sensibility right, delivering it in an exaggerated style, subtly making a point (we hope), and then executed spot on by some brilliant over-the-top performances.

"Now it's time to say goodbye to all our company. C-H-A (see you real soon),R-L-Y (why? because we like you). A-N-G-E-L-S!”