The Sandcastle Murders


SUMMARY

Sabrina and Kelly are chillin' at Kris' beach house planning a party that is said to include members of the LA Rams. Bosley calls them to the office for an out-of-town case, and there is much whining. Kelly and Sabrina take off while Kris lingers behind hoping to make a pity cosmetics purchase from her young beach-bum friend, Betsy.

Meanwhile, we see Betsy (played by Melody Thomas who has starred as Nikki Newman on Young and The Restless for like 160 years) complaining to her doofus lifeguard boyfriend about Gerson, a creepy, muscle-bound stalker who’s following her around with binoculars. Instead of rushing to his girlfriend's defense, the lifeguard simply admires the other guy’s physique and suggests she tell Dave, the resident beach cop about the stalking, but this suggestion upsets her and she runs off.

Next Betsy shows up in front of Kris’s house and starts to tell her that something is dreadfully wrong, but manages to reveal absolutely nothing before dramatically running off again.

A late arrival at the office, Kris quickly derails the meeting to tell everyone about her freaked-out friend. They conclude that Betsy may have known something about the recent string of oceanside murders whose victims  are buried underneath sandcastles. Charlie decides it’s most important for Kris to go find Betsy, and of course the others follow.

Kelly: "How do you hide a gun in a bikini?"

Kelly and Kris explore the beach scene interviewing people, talking to Dave Christopher the beach cop, and annoying the police detectives who are also on the trail of the Sandcastle Murderer. Betsy is soon found, but less alive than when we last saw her. Kris identifies the girl by a charm bracelet dangling from her corpsey hand which is sticking up out of a fresh sandcastle.

The Angels go to question Melissa Rosseter, the cosmetics lady who employed Betsy. She dramatically tells her uneventful life story and introduces them to a guy named Larry, who she plans to marry after her divorce is finalized. Red flags are raised when Larry denies having known dead Betsy, since the lifeguard told Kelly that the two had once dated.

Bosley lands a job at a seaside hot dog stand while Sabrina embarks on a pointless job interview tangent to score a flirtatious dinner date with Larry. He reveals that Melissa’s soon-to-be-ex-husband is actually Dave the beach cop. As soon as she hits this pay dirt, Sabrina all too easily ditches her date using the old "I've got a headache" ploy, phones Kelly, and arranges a late-night meeting at Kris’s house. Meanwhile, Kris is just wrapping up her own obligatory dinner date with Dave, gently declining his request to “come in for a while”.

Stalker Gerson then arrives on the moonlit beach and peers through Kris’ window to observe her curling up with a book on her uncomfortable wicker couch. He breaks in through a french door, and the bathrobed Kris manages to hold her own in the disco themed wicker fight that follows. The other Angels soon arrive to break it up, as does Dave, who makes a show of taking the intruder into custody - only he doesn't really. The audience is not surprised to learn that Dave and Gerson are actually in cahoots.

The next day, Sabrina randomly theorizes that Dave is killing blondes to make it look like a psycho is responsible for look alike killings, in order to blend in his wife Melissa’s eventual murder. Since there are only 20 minutes left, her bizarre hunch turns out to be correct. They go tell Melissa, who announces that Dave has decided to give her the divorce on her terms. Their meeting is arranged on the deserted Santa Monica Pier (not suspicious!) where Melissa is startled to find Gerson’s corpse riding the carousel. A smug Dave then reveals himself and tries to kill her instead of signing her divorce papers. The Angels appear for backup and chase Dave outside, where Bosley shoots him off the edge of the pier. Sabrina objects, dives in, and saves him from drowning.

Back at the office, Kris is glum that Betsy remains dead, to which Sabrina uncomfortingly responds with an announcement that she has an “incredible urge to do something”. Cut to the next scene and everybody is back at the Santa Monica Pier riding the carousel. Faux-merriment and unsettling freeze-frames ensue.

BACKGROUND CHECK

The Sandcastle Murders Episode #40 Season 2, Episode 18

Airdate: Feb 1, 1978 Writers: Robert C. DennisJames D. Buchanan, Ronald Austin, Jock MacKelvieSkip Webster Director: George McCowan

WHAT'D YOU THINK?

Rate this episode:

CURIOSITIES

• Why does Kelly ask how to hide a gun in a bikini, if she's going to wear a parka to the beach in the next scene?

• Why does Sabrina have a piece of paper tucked under her watch in the office scene?

• Bosley specifically radios "Kelly, Kris?" from his food stand, when it's Kris and Dave sitting in the car with the walkie talkie. Last-minute script change, or just a mistake?

• The Angels release the dangerous killer into the custody of a “glorified lifeguard” even though HE was a suspect as well. Sigh.

• The book Kris is reading at her house is A Rumor of War by Philip Caputo. Heavy.

• After the wicker fight, watch Kelly walk straight through Sabrina's line of fire to get to Kris.

• Sabrina uses her disguise mastery to go undercover as a fakely tattered beach bum/bag lady/hobo/clown ... thing. Was this really necessary, considering the guys she was hiding from had never seen her before? Oh, well.

• Why is Charlie calling them to work on a new case on Sunday? They don't toil on Sundays, or so he claims in Angels Belong in Heaven.

• Look closely toward the left of the shot of the carousel's mirror - some girl is accidentally reflected in it.

• Why in the world does Sabrina think it'll be fun for everybody to drive 40 minutes down to the Santa Monica Pier to ride that carousel where the guy's corpse was found?

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BOSLEY'S SHOOTING ACCURACY

SHOTS FIRED AT ANGELS

SHOTS FIRED BY BOSLEY

DAYS TO SOLVE CASE

WICKER FIGHTS

TURTLENECKS

CHARACTER DEATHS

FASHION

Kris sports a reddish shiny silk disco beach getup with a blue visor. For an episode set on the beach, and Kelly asking how to hide a gun in a bikini, oddly enough Kris and Kelly don't don bathing suits. Sabrina wears a weird Asian print jacket to a sexual-themed dinner date with a leering suspect and Kris fights dirty in a pastel bathrobe. Later, Sabrina slips into a stripey sweater vest with dress shirt collar poking out, but somehow she makes it work as only she can.

Wardrobe Repeats Bri looks comfortable in her favorite brown and white striped turtleneck that she also wears in Angel Come Home (not to be confused with the black version she wears in four other episodes). The jacket Betsy wears is also re-used by an extra in Game, Set Death.

The Sandcastle Murders The Sandcastle Murders

Angel Come Home Angel Come Home

BLONDES HAVE NO FUN

Kris' blonde locks make her a target once again as it does in Little Angels of The Night and Pom Pom Angels. Big sister Jill had a similar hairy experience in Season 1's Lady Killer.

NON-LIFEGUARD

It's Sabrina who dives off the pier to retrieve Dave after Bosley blows him away. Then in the office wrap-up, Kelly tells Bri, "I'm so glad you forgot I was the lifeguard". We didn't see Kelly life guarding until way down the line in Waikiki Angels, so what was this about? It seems like it should have been followed by a half-hearted line about life guarding at the Police Academy or something. They practically go out of their way to avoid throwing us some worthless tidbit about anyone's past.

ANGEL SHOOTING

… sorta! Bosley makes his first shot a pretty cool one, blowing away the bad guy off the end of the Santa Monica Pier and into the ocean! This is the show’s 4th Angel shooting (or “team shooting,” if you’re about to yell at me in the comments for calling Bosley an Angel).

Shooting trifecta! A bad guy also got shot in the previous episode (Angels in the Backfield, by Sabrina) and another will in the next episode (Angel Blues, by Kelly), making this part of the only time in Charlie’s Angels history that the bad guy got shot 3 episodes in a row. Furthermore, all three of these were their first times shooting anybody.

Read more Angel kill stats

SCREEN TIME ANALYSIS

Kris gets the focus, but not really at anyone else's expense (well done, considering Sabrina and Kelly's contributions to this case are sorta negligible or at least not all that memorable).

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

ACTION

action-kris-sandcastle-murders-wickerWicker fight! Once again a Munroe sister defends her beach house by throwing wicker furniture at the bad guys (more effective here than when Jill tries it in Mother Angel). Although the fight must ultimately be ruled a draw (due to the other Angels bursting in and breaking it up) Kris proves a scrappy and resourceful opponent combining judo, wicker lamps and fire pokers to hold off her late night attacker. There is a nice action sequence at the end of the ep with a bad guy shot then rescued from drowning by a heroic Bri.

More Kris fight stats

HOORAY FOR CONTINUITY

This is one of very few non-Jill episodes where Jill is mentioned. Most were early in this season when we needed to be constantly reminded that Kris and Jill are sisters: Angels in Paradise, Angels on Ice, Circus of Terror; this is a little surprising since it's a bit later on in the season.

LAME PARTY

We have a lot of questions:

1. Sabrina claims they've been planning this party for weeks, and now, the day of the party, they're just getting around to blowing up balloons and starting to think about whether to serve food? And Sabrina's just now informing Kelly that the Rams are coming? What could they have been "planning" for weeks?

2. If they have been in long-term preparation for this big party, why wouldn't they have mentioned it to Bosley/Charlie to make sure a case wouldn't interfere?

3. Who's coming, just the three of them? None of them have (real) other friends. Anyway, friends that are still alive after this episode . . .

4. Why would the Rams ever come to their lame party? Yes, Kris has a nice beach house, but the Angels aren't famous or anything. Is she expecting Joe Namath to be impressed by their dollar store 10-pack of non-helium balloons?

5. This is a Sunday. Deliberate planning, assuming the Rams have cooler parties to attend on Friday/Saturday nights? Or are they just lame enough to really plan their big party on a Sunday night?

REPEAT OFFENDERS

Alan Feinstein: Dave Christopher also played crooked D.A. Paul Baylor from Dirty Business. Steve Sandor was also the beefy apartment manager Red Loomis from Angels on Wheels. Gee, he's strong!

The girl with the football was Cheryl's friend Cis Rundle. She played lots of other extra-level roles on the show including 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, 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.

George McCowan also directed Lady Killer, Consenting Adults, Angel Trap, The Vegas Connection, Mother Goose is Running for His Life, The Jade Trap, Cruising Angels, and Three for the Money.

Ronald Austin and James D. Buchanan also wrote Diamond in the Rough and Unidentified Flying Angels.

OUR TAKE

Joann's Rating: 4.5 Stars This is one of my favorite episodes. Although not at all Kris centric, it does takes place on the beach. It manages to be interesting, clever, well paced, funny, suspense filled (okay I'm overreacting), and slightly touching.

The girls are planning to have a house party with the Rams (yeah), and the beach kid (yeah) that Kris is waiting to get cosmetics (as they were referred to in the 70s) from shows up in a hysterical state but doesn't tell Kris what's wrong. Because of the rash of newspaper dubbed Sandcastle killings along the beach (which in the Angelverse means the surrounding area near Munroe house), Kris enlists the help of Kelly and Sabrina (who looks like she'd rather have the party) to search for the girl, who is soon found dead. Since the lead cop is an old adversary of Charlie's from his police days (Charlie is the most interesting man in the world), he lets the Angels investigate. There are certain staples in the Angelverse that make an episode immediately classic, loved, referenced, and lampooned. A beach house wicker furniture fight (this one with a Venice Beach muscle bully) is one such example. David Doyle's excellent comedic skills shine as a bungling short order cook. Throw in plenty of Angel camaraderie and banter, and end with a twist to the whodunit and his motivation a bit more finely tuned than usual and you have near perfection.

Anna's Rating: 4.5 Stars A bright spot in Season 2 and one of my go-to classics. The sandcastle thing was a simple, interesting way to spice up a standard serial killer story. The instant you saw Betsy, you knew she was gonna die. Plus we've got the Angels actually hanging out away from the office, eyes rolling as Bosley tries to cook, David Doyle wringing genuine humor from so-so lines (was that dropping the hamburger on the floor thing scripted? I almost feel like no), and a beach house wicker fight to seal the deal. If I could only save a few episodes, this would be one of them.

Brolly's Rating: 4.5 Stars The Angels plan a beach-party but a corpse gets in the way. Goodbye party-balloons, hello murder. A solid episode that showcases Kris' fighting skills with improvised weapons (wicker furniture!).

Greg's Rating: 4 stars A real live murder mystery! Women are getting killed and buried under sandcastles. Wow . . dark, Aaron Spelling, pretty dark. An Angel is unable to save her friend's life this time out and it's a nice change of pace, giving a bit of gravity to the proceedings. Although Sabrina's running around interviewing red herrings went nowhere, there are some nice moments of suspense especially concerning Kris and the creepy beach patrol guy and her late night beach house attack.

Joshua's Rating: 4.5 Stars This gets a full on five stars. The Sandcastle Murders is one of those episodes that is 10% in the Angelverse and 90% could totally be ripped from the headlines.

Dave Christopher, husband of the enterprising Melissa Rosseter, has hired his buddy Gerson to murder young, blonde-haired, blue-eyed, women to cover up the soon-to-be murder of his wife. Why? Well, Melissa has filed for divorce but Dave wants a fortune so he’s not letting this divorce go through. When the murders began Kris is distraught not for her own safety but one of those “beach kids” who’s not really a kid maybe just a three or four years younger than Cheryl—which makes one question, how old is Kris?

Anyway, back to the point at hand, the “beach kid” is murdered and the Angels are on the case. Fluff reasons ‘Sandcastle’ merits a five: First we get another rare glimpse into the Angels' personal lives as the girls plan a party. Plus we get to hear about their connections (The Angels did it without Facebook, too.) some of the Rams would have been there perhaps - Joe Namath. Either Charlie is psychic or he has got a camera in the office, how else could know how to respond to the Angels and Bosley in the opening office scene? Sabrina’s line to the unseen Charlie never seems old: “You’re a good guy, Charlie, like to tell you that to your face someday.”

Another thing - I know the Angels are on a case - but chicas, come on, specifically Kelly - why is she on a California beach in a white fur coat?