Terror on Skis
Part 1: Atop the icy slopes of Vail, Colorado, three skiers chase a fourth guy and shoot him, leaving his body in a snowbank.
The disappearance of this guy - who we learn is an FBI Agent - prompts fellow Agent Chadway to hire Angels. It seems the dead guy was working on protecting Carl Hansworth, a political somethingorother who's also participating in a ski competition in Vail, and now the FBI needs unknown faces to fill out his security detail. Why this narrows it down to the out-of-state Angels is unclear; the grumpy Agent Chadway makes it clear he doesn't want them involved, they don't really know why they're being involved, and we don't frankly see the point either, but the next 90 minutes aren't gonna fill themselves, so it's off to Vail!
Upon arriving at the ski lodge, the Angels are publicly introduced to Carl Hansworth in the lobby. The three bad guys from the beginning observe this from a distance, thus pre-blowing their covers for the entire episode and defeating the only reason for their involvement. Sabrina suggests that one of them stay close to Hansworth at all times for his protection.
Sabrina: "One of us should act as a sort of companion to you." Hansworth: "You mean like a girlfriend?" Sabrina: "Well, yeah, whatever."
Hansworth picks Kelly (because they're married in real life). Kris buddies up to Agent Chadway (because she's nice and he's mean), and they agree to go exploring the slopes in search of the dead FBI guy. A suddenly authoritative Bosley starts giving Hansworth's overworked and under-appreciated middle-aged secretary some borderline creepy attention (because she's the only female supporting character and he has nothing investigative to do).
The gang gathers on the slopes to watch stock footage of ballet-skiers (is that a thing?) during which time we score some steamy Bosley/secretary and Kelly/Hansworth gloved hand-holding action.
Kris finally manages to get Chadway to crack a smile via her inherent delightfulness. One of the bad guys spots them heading towards where the dead guy is, and starts shooting to throw them off the trail - actually accomplishing the exact opposite since the resulting chase leads them to the exact spot.
The cuter, younger one of the bad guys performs in the ballet competition and then is ordered by his cohorts to go see what Sabrina's deal is. She learns his name is Paolo, and then he freaks out when a fan takes his picture without asking, which everybody notes as suspicious. Afterwards, she finds the fan and buys his camera so the FBI can check out the film and identify him. Unfortunately, Paolo and company see all this (again).
Agent Chadway reiterates to Hansworth that his life may be in danger and he should pull out of the competition, but he says he'd rather die. (Almost our feelings on continuing to Part II, buddy.)
The Angels sense something is up when they see Paolo elbowing his way through a line to insist on riding the ski lift with Hansworth. He has a gun in his pocket and is supposed to help kidnap Hansworth at the top of the hill; they plan to kill him "as an example", even though it's never explained what he has to do with their cause. At the top of the slopes, the bad guys start shooting at the Angels again for unclear reasons, and another tedious stock footage ski chase ensues. Ultimately, the two bad guys get away, and Paolo is awkwardly left among the Angels' huddle with Hansworth and Chadway, insisting he's just an innocent bystander who got swept up in the confusion. Nobody buys it.
TO BE CONTINUED!
Part 2: Interpol reveals that Paolo is a member of a radical group called the Patriots for a Free Society, who are passionately angry about some vague and boring international issue.
Kelly and Hansworth meet for a soft-focus candlelit dinner, where they exchange vague and meaningless romantic filler dialogue that sounds suspiciously like the result of a random word generator.
The next day, Sabrina and Hansworth go compete on the slalom course, meanwhile the three bad guys stand together and mutter suspicious assertions some more. Following their orders, Paolo comes over after the finish to congratulate Sabrina and invite her on a picnic and oh no, we're gonna watch them ski the entire way there in real time.
The two arrive in a peacefully secluded green-screened spot, where Sabrina casually calls Paolo by his last name, which she wasn't supposed to know, just to see what happens. He starts cutting bread with a big knife and talking angrily about international banking or something (hey, at least he really brought food though). The two bad guys, watching from nearby, start to move in. Spooked, Bri takes off down the hill. They all chase, and after much, much more stock footage, she crashes into a tree and is captured.
Back at the lodge, everyone else is sitting around in striped turtlenecks fretting about how long Sabrina's been gone. They receive a note from the bad guys saying they have Sabrina and want to trade her for Hansworth, and if he won't come, she'll be killed in his place.
Paolo gets left alone to guard Sabrina at gunpoint in a hostage-shack on the mountain. Sensing he's not really all that dedicated, or even clear on what his father's cause even is (good, because we sure weren't), she gives him a speech about how it's meaningless, then simply gets up, calls Kelly on the phone right in front of him, and leaves.
Meanwhile, Hansworth has gone with the bad guys to swap himself for Sabrina, not knowing she's already escaped. Everybody else stakes out the drop spot to watch, even though they still don't know who they're watching for. An FBI peon arrives with Interpol information, namely mugshots of the other two bad guys (Paolo's dad and their friend, who they've seen constantly but failed to identify up until this point).
The bad guys see the Angels recognizing them, and everybody starts shooting again, with Agent Chadway getting hit in the arm. Sabrina rides into the scene on a stolen snowmobile and runs him over with it. Paolo arrives just in time to watch his father die and, instead of being upset with Sabrina at all for killing him, tells her she's right that the cause actually was meaningless.
Cut to the Angels checking out of the lodge and of their temporary relationships. Hansworth and Kelly say goodbye, not too torn up about the fact that their boring romance went nowhere. After being mean all episode long, Chadway gives Kris an unexpected kiss and a gooey speech about how she's changed his outlook on life because of the way she had like 2 sorta optimistic lines of dialogue earlier. She and Sabrina persuade him to get Paolo a lighter sentence, and they all ride a sleigh back to Los Angeles.
• The guy who gets shot at the beginning is played by Ed Lakso, writer of this and many, many, many other episodes, according to the Charlie's Angels Casebook.
• In the opening office scene, Chadway hands Kelly a polaroid, but the close-up we see isn't a polaroid.
• The aesthetic is nice and all, but why do the Angels have to bundle up in parkas/blankets and ride that horse-drawn sleigh in and out of town when everybody else is simply driving in cars? Does the sleigh go all the way to the airport, or don't they have to transfer to a car at some point anyway? Is the FBI paying for this? Is this where your tax dollars went in 1979?
• Chadway gets one of his ski poles shot out of his hand, but in the immediate close-up of him freaking out, he still has both.
• Granted he looks pretty dead, but don't Kris and Chadway want to go check on "the body" to make sure the guy is indeed dead and not just hurt really bad?
• Good thing this originally aired all in one piece, otherwise the end of Part 1 would be the most boring cliffhanger of all time.
• Why is that inspirational-sweeping-landscape type music played so loud over Kelly and Hansworth's entire date? You can barely hear what they're saying. (The dialogue is so bad, maybe it's better that way.)
• Did somebody have a bet going about how many times they could work the phrase "mountain full of fireflies" into that scene? Good grief. It's just people skiing down a mountain holding road flares but they act like it's the most profound and romantic thing ever seen by humans. And here's the icing on that cake - when this case is remembered in the series' final episode, guess how Kris introduces the clip? "What I remember most is a mountain full of fireflies..." (Even though she wasn't in the mountain full of fireflies scene... but we guess she could've been watching the mountain full of fireflies from elsewhere.) (Mountain full of fireflies.)
• Who filmed that riot footage focusing on Paolo and his family, complete with close-ups and reaction shots?
• We still don't understand how a 2-minute talk from Sabrina was able to turn Paolo away from his father and years of passionate radical beliefs.
• Bosley knocks over two skiers while getting the hang of his snowmobile. This is merely laughed off, but a very similar impact kills the bad guy later.
• Why does Rossano Brazzi keep colliding with that rock for like 15 whole seconds?
• Did Chadway need any medical attention for getting shot in the arm, or..?
• This episode was 2 parts merely to justify the trip to Vail (a bit of trivia that absolutely anyone can infer about 4 minutes into Part 1).
BAD GUYS KILLED BY ANGELS
SHOTS FIRED AT ANGELS
SHOTS FIRED BY ANGELS
DAYS TO SOLVE CASE
Sabrina wears another awful fur hat and a weird Clydesdale prototype of Ugg boots. Kelly inhabits large fur coats and fuzzy sweaters, and generally everybody is stuck in ski suits for the whole episode. Appropriate for the setting, but not much to look at.
You shouldn't be too surprised to learn that this is the episode sets the record for most turtlenecks worn (9). Although this seems like Sabrina's time to shine, she actually wears no more than the others - just 3 apiece. (If you think 3 is plenty, remember she alone wore 7 in Dancing in the Dark.)
Here's a rare episode where everyone kind of had a romance, but each was a weird failure.
First of all, we get the feeling Sabrina might have spent more time with the cute-ish Paolo if he wasn't the bad guy. She seems to have a thing for criminal skiers, although he was a little young for her tastes. Maybe she'll be interested when he gets out of prison in a decade.
If Kelly has any chemistry with Hansworth, it's no thanks at all to the script and thanks instead to the fact that Jaclyn Smith and Dennis Cole were real-life newlyweds (October '78 - July '81). Despite how they instantly seem to take a shine to each other and want to spend the entire case together, they part without so much as a businesslike handshake. He says he'll call her, but we've all heard that one.
The Chadway/Kris kiss comes as sort of a surprise considering (besides that he's old enough to be her dad) their relationship really didn't have romantic undertones up until that point. He's a designated Grumpy Character™ (and also sad that his FBI friend is dead) but ultimately is changed by the way the sun shines out Kris' butt, and so he has to kiss her. She looks sorta thankful that she's on her way out of town, so she wouldn't have to give him the "uhhh-hey-I-like-you-but-not-like-that" speech.
Even Bosley gets a little thing going with the secretary, whom he keeps ordering to dress up in ugly colors (seriously - yellow, brown, and beige?) and she seems to take this as a huge compliment. She becomes self-empowered thanks to his attention but won't kiss him. Actually it's kind of refreshing that she isn't given to Bosley as a romantic prize just because he bothered to acknowledge her presence as a human being. So that's +1, kind of. Actually.. never mind, it kinda just barely evens out how weirdly out-of-character Bosley acted.
SCREEN TIME ANALYSIS
Non-Angel scenes in this one ski dangerously close to the halfway mark (even counting a generous amount of stock footage as Angel time), earning it a spot among the series' emptiest episodes. Sabrina gets the most time, but not by an avalanche.
This "two hour" episode actually runs about 90 minutes when you take off the credits and recap. That's the syndicated version, though - one wonders how much longer the original was when it aired, and what got cut out (we hope it was more ski footage and not some priceless Angel moments).
- HOW MUCH OF THE EPISODE HAS AT LEAST ONE ANGEL/BOSLEY IN IT 62%
Ski chases don't even count because they all look like grainy stock footage from the 1960 Winter Olympics. Somehow even the many shootouts aren't exciting since it's hard to pay attention long enough to understand who's shooting or why. The action highlight has to be Sabrina running Rossano Brazzi over with a snowmobile (that sounds like a Mad Lib) and looking completely unfazed, even when she sees the red paint trickling from the corner of his mouth.
WHY THE ANGELS?
Same as in Angels in Paradise, why do they (of all people) get hired for cases out of state just because unknown faces are needed? We're tossed the fact that Charlie knows the FBI boss from the war or something, but that doesn't mean they're the best people for the job, certainly not enough to warrant being sought across state lines. As usual, all they do here is sit around, flirt, stumble upon information by happenstance, get kidnapped, and let the person they're supposed to be bodyguarding get kidnapped. None of this required PI training. Did Sammy Davis, Jr. refer them?
SABRINA THE SKIER
Really scrounging for something positive to say here, we appreciate the consistency in making Sabrina the skiing Angel considering her knowledge/interest expressed in Angel in Love. Also, at the end of Angels in the Backfield when they're all pressuring Charlie to buy them new outfits for no reason, Sabrina was the one who asked for a new ski outfit while the others wanted evening gowns. We're going to surmise this was the apparent Aspen trip she references having made "last year" in this episode. (Totally pulling this out of thin air.)
ANGEL OF DEATH
Sabrina's fatal spin on the snowmobile marks her 4th, and the series' 8th, Angel killing.
Dennis Cole also plays dance instructor Tony Bordinay in Dancing in the Dark and ex-astronaut James Britten in Unidentified Flying Angels.
Cesare Danova also plays drug lord Frank Bartone in The Mexican Connection.
Don Chaffey also directed Mother Angel, Angels on the Street, Angels on Skates, Angels on Campus, Harrigans Angel, Nips and Tucks, Island Angels, He Married an Angel, and Mr. Galaxy.
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, Angels Child, One of Our Angels is Missing, Catch a Falling Angel, Dancin Angels, Harrigans 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.
Anna's Rating: Fan opinions on this episode are always either "horrible" or "best of Season 3", I have never heard anything in between. We should all remember that it's just a matter of opinion, and there is no right or wrong, however if you said "best of Season 3", you are wrong. I didn't think an episode with terrorists, kidnapping, and espionage (starring my favorite Angel lineup, too) could be boring. Do yourself a favor and only watch part 2, it has a recap of part 1 included.
Holly's Rating: Wake me when it's over. Or at least for the moments when Kate Jackson is dry-skiing against the stock footage film screen.
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