To See an Angel Die


SUMMARY

Brand new Angel Julie is officially welcomed into the Townsend Agency! Before Kris can fully explain the annoying fact that Jules will never be able to actually meet Charlie, Bosley informs them they will have to chop it up on the plane ride to Hawaii because they have a flight to catch! That's right Angels, ratings are so bad that we need flesh and lots of it. As the Angels leave the office, a repairman who looks remarkably like Greatest American Hero's William Katt who was reparing(?) the phone line slips behind the desk and seems to call his daddy in Honolulu informing him that “she” will be much easier to get because “she” is on her way to Hawaii! What luck! Who “she” is will remain a perplexing mystery (see Angels Belong in Heaven) for only about 6 more minutes.

We are treated to a fair amount of Travelogue shots as the Angels touch down in Hawaii. As they leave the terminal it becomes apparent they are being followed by the repairman; he gets in a truck with his sister and father, who vows to “get that girl who killed your mother". Uh-oh! Then it's time for more stock footage as the Angels make their way in a giant white convertible to their cushy new office, where Julie is still being introduced to more basic Angel concepts such as Bosley's purpose.

Kris volunteers to fetch some champagne to toast the new office (Harrigan would be proud) so immediately after their 6+ hour flight, the very first priority is jumping in the Firebird and venturing out to find a liquor store in the tropics. The Graingers in their very obtrusive Grainger Nursery truck are in... let's call it warm pursuit for a while, and eventually run Kris off the road and accuse her of killing their wife/mother. Kris decides this would be a good time to run; she breaks away and throws a handful of sand in the dad's eyes, but is ultimately recaptured by the pissed off Hawaiian Hillbilly kids. "You're coming with us, Miss Munroe!"

Soon after, an eldery woman (Jane Wyman) drives past Kris' abandoned car and seems to be drawn to it. After touching and studying the car we are treated to a variation of the Charlie's Angels "spooky" music along with a loud heart beat and it's apparent that we are being made to think that Angela from Falcon Crest is some kind of psychic.

Lounging poolside at the new office, the Angels and Bosley halfheartedly fret over the missing Kris. Jane Wyman appears in their courtyard, explaining that she got the Agency's info from "friends" at the police department, and that Kris is in danger. At this news they remain looking bored/confused/skeptical and Eleanor must convince them to please get up and get going.

Eleanor leads the others to Kris' car and explains that something “angry” has occurred here. Is she a nut? They all treat her like she is, just in case, remaining bored/confused/skeptical. Bosley points out tire tracks left by the truck, and everyone stands around acting like they must helplessly defer to the police to handle this evidence, as if this has ever mattered before. Before the others can think on these possibilites the spooky music is played again and Eleanor claims to sense that Kris is moving in that truck, and is in danger!

Riding in the back of the truck somewhere, Kris talks to the son, Ted, trying to figure out what's going on. Eventually the story is pieced together that their mother was arrested in San Francisco (by Kris) for prostitution and, unable to face the consequences, killed herself in her cell before the case ever got to court. That's right people, a hooker offed herself three years ago and it's all of a sudden Kris' problem.

Having no better leads, the Angels decide to listen to Eleanor but continue to treat her with disrespect and suspicion. Eleanor asks to see something personal of Kris' to get a read on her, and the others reluctantly agree to take her back to the new office. After more heart beating and spooky music, Eleanor is attracted to a Hansel and Gretel storybook that Kris has nestled among her belongings. Kelly explains that Kris considers it a good luck charm and takes it everywhere she goes (apparently except for anywhere she's gone in Seasons 2, 3, or 4). Eleanor announces that they should “just drive” while she tries to figure out where Kris is going, and for the remainder of the episode, Bosley, Kelly and Julie's total contribution to the case is looking bored/confused/skeptical while being driven around Hawaiian back roads.

On the road somewhere, Tom is raving at Kris that it's all her fault his wife is dead, so they're going to kill her when they get wherever they're going.

Next we watch Eleanor sensing her quarry with alternating shots of her loud ass heartbeat reading Hansel and Gretel in the convertible, and Kris in the Grainger truck. Seeing an opportunity for escape, Kris suddenly leaps out the back of the truck and takes off through a field. She hides, but is soon spotted by Ted, who stares at her in a sympathetic conundrum for like 10 minutes before betraying her location to the others. Tackled by the sister, Kris is thrown back onto the truck.

Miles later, Kris gets a psychic vibe about Hansel and Gretel, remembering her mother reading to her as a child, and decides to covertly tear a hole in a 50 pound sack of... sand? sugar? ... which trickles out onto the road, thus leaving a trail of breadcrumbs. At that moment, Eleanor gets a vision of a white line! Julie may also be thinking about some white lines, but that's unrelated.

Kris gets Ted to admit that his father (who is half asleep two feet away) abused his mother, which is why she ditched her family and went off to hook it in Frisco. She also explains about how people have to make their own choices, designed to guilt him out of participating in her murder. Ted assures Kris that his father doesn't truly intend to kill her, and he's simply hurting and confused.

The kidnap truck at last arrives at the Grainger compound. The dad takes her in the house and sits her down for the old I'm-about-to-kill-you speech. Kris tells him in short order that he's a self-pitying coward and that he can go straight to hell! He's is shocked into silence and Kris appears shaken, waiting to be shot in return for her reality check.

Back in the convertible Julie tries to act "torn up" about Kris, who she doesn't even know. Kelly says that she understands because "you can get to like Kris very quickly... I remember I did." Sweet yes, although her tone of voice sounds a lot like she thinks Kris is dead. As more spooky music cues us in on Eleanor's hot...er, psychic flashes. Julie finally does something useful and notices the elusive white line!

Back at the Grainger Nursery, daddy is getting drunk and angry, reminiscing about his wife and blaming Kris for all his troubles. He leaves the gun sitting on the arm of his chair, so when his  guard is down, Kris grabs a book from the coffee table and throws it, knocking the gun on the ground, and running out the door into yet another scene of this entire family chasing her through tropical vegetation.

On the road nearby, Kelly finally wakes up and takes a leadership role, ordering the others into position as they close in on Kris' location.

Ted gets behind the wheel of the truck and allows Kris to hang onto the side as he attempts to drive to freedom. His dad puts a stop to all that noise by shooting out the tire; he truck careens out of control, crashing and flinging Kris off into a dirt pile. An armed Kelly appears from nowhere, looking alert, 80's, and pissed off. Eleanor and Kris join hands and it's a wrap.

Back at the office the next day the Angels are surprised by Eleanor who stopped by to thank the Angels in person for saving HER life by helping her come out of her shell (IE Jane Wyman's career needed a boost and old friend Aaron Spelling got her this guest spot.) The Angels then confirm a cliché by asking a psychic where the best place to shop is. Freeze frame faux laughter!

BACKGROUND CHECK

To See An Angel Die
Episode #95
Season 5, Episode 2
(in syndication; originally aired as part of a 3-hour premiere)

Airdate: Nov 30, 1980
Writer: Ed Lakso
Director: Dennis Donnelly
Guest stars: Jane Wyman

WHAT'D YOU THINK?

Rate this episode:

CURIOSITIES

• Why are we shown only two company cars? Did Kris just choose whichever ride she wanted?

• Since when is alcohol NOT in their budget? They were all drinking at the end. Who's been buying all this time, then? If we could only explain Season 4, we'd suspect the office liquor funding came out of Sabrina's pocket.

• Were the Graingers holding Kris hostage throughout the episode with her own gun? Shouldn't they have brought their own?

• Looks like Townsend Agency security is about as loose as can be, as the Angels are surprised by a guest appearing in the private-looking back courtyard of their property. Did she have to come in the front door and all the way through the office?

• Tape markers are visible on the ground near Kris' car when the rest of the gang comes to investigate.

• Seriously, IS Ted Grainger supposed to be a little bit mentally challenged, or does he just seem that way? His abilities seem to vary from scene to scene. Sometimes he carries on mature conversation with Kris, but it's punctuated with long stretches of glazed-over looks, like he's gonna tell Kris that she's purrrdy and his mom had yellow hair.

• Did the Graingers have to take that big rickety truck with their name on it to the airport and follow the Angels home in it, risking being seen? How were they planning to nab Kris if she didn't instantly venture out on her own?

• Kris' car registration reads "Kristine Monroe, 4376 Kalhaii Ave, Townsend Agency;  License 7F-8441." So they managed to get the car's arbitrary license plate right, but not their main character's name. How nice. Incidentally, there is no Kalhaii Avenue in Hawaii.

• As their only lead it certainly didn't hurt to give Jane Wyman a chance, but in case she had turned out to be nuts, or wrong, or the bad guy, it was a pretty terrible idea for Bosley, Kelly and Julie to ALL get in the car with her. One should have stayed behind to investigate. Sabrina's solved cases solely on tire tracks before!

• Knowing seconds count, why do the rest of the Angels have to keep stopping the car, sometimes even getting out and standing in the road, to discuss what's happening? Gooooo. Anywhere!

• Wow, pouring a few sparse granules of sand(?) on asphalt really produces a nice fluorescent white line. Nice how that bag never empties, and the Graingers never notice the giant glowing trail even though they have nothing to do except stare out the truck for hours.

• Wait, wait wait. There's an unattended gun sitting on the chair, so Kris decides to... throw a paperback book at it and run while Dad's busy picking it up? This is her plan? How about GRAB THE GUN?

• Watch the over-the-top disgusted look Charlene gives her brother Ted as he trips her up with a hose, and try not to laugh.

• Kelly's intended cool one-liner was really more like a one-paragrapher. "I don't know who you are, but you've got about two seconds to drop that gun. And one of them's already gone." Kinda self-defeating in that it took way more than two seconds to say the whole thing. Coolness in brevity, Kel. Stick with "Freeze!"

• The ending "I'm a friend" "I know" hand-holding moment was beyond weird. Why is Kris supposed to sense that Jane Wyman (who's a stranger staring at her closely and awkwardly) is a kindred spirit? She's not the psychic one.

BAD GUYS BEAT DOWN

FIGHTS LOST

SHOTS FIRED AT ANGELS

SHOTS FIRED BY ANGELS

DAYS TO SOLVE CASE

ANGELS KIDNAPPED

BIKINIS

CHARACTER DEATHS

FASHION

For the remainder of our stay in Hawaii, opening shots of the office will almost always begin with an unnecessarily long shot of Julie walking toward the pool in a bikini. Just because. Poor Kris gets kidnapped before she can take off the Magnum P.I. Hawaiian print shirt she arrived in. Kelly succumbs entirely to the 80's and can barely see out from her giant, wind-blown perm and hoop earrings for most of the episode. One of the strangest fashion choices ever made is visible for only a few frames here - Kelly's very first attempt at the "tropical professional" fashion genre results in a slinky bikini top worn with gray, baggy business slacks. Wha...t?

POST-DANGER REUNION

This is one of the most disappointing post-danger reunion scenes of the entire series. The entire point of a kidnap episode is for the payoff of seeing that Angel reunited with the others at the end.  We've got Kris crumpled in a dirt heap looking injured and making distressed noises (that they keep playing on repeat), and Kelly runs to see if she's okay. So what happens? Kris tells her to go help the kidnapper, and with nothing more than an emotionless stare in response, Kelly disappears. We invested 45 minutes for this?

VACANT STARES AND SKEPTICISM

This is NOT the first time the Angels have encountered paranormal activity - the other times featured some pretty impressive (and for the most part unexplained) phenomena, so it's a little surprising they are still such skeptics of psychics at this late date. Have we forgotten that time Tiffany brought a ghost back to the office?

The girls just arrived on the island and Kelly already seems over it. Listen how she says the line “An office never looked so good” upon seeing the new office. She says it in such a monotone detached manner you're wondering if she really means it. Kelly also stares at poor Eleanor in an pained way for an awkward amount of time while the psychic attempts to do her hoodo, and Eleanor has to tell them all, more than once, to basically cut it out.

Furthermore, she (and the others, really) don't look very concerned about Kris. They're lounging at the pool and managing some light worrying at best. When this lady appears from nowhere and tells THEM information about THEIR missing friend, they seem completely bored and reluctant. Jane Wyman literally has to TELL them to please hurry up because Kris is in danger. C'mon, people! It's still the season premiere and they're already flatlining. Even Bosley, who's usually a constant, seems quiet and uninterested this week.

FORGOT TO MENTION...

Kris takes that Hansel and Gretel book everywhere, since when? Like, EVERYWHERE? To restaurants? Into the bathroom? Why is it such a big deal that her mom GAVE her this book, like it was the only possession she ever had? How come we've never heard of this before? This is pretty darn late in the game to try to introduce these supposedly lifelong details. If it were convenient to this week's plot, Kris could just as easily have had a conjoined twin third Munroe all of a sudden. Why not? They don't even bother spelling her name correctly. And what's with the giant Rageddy Ann that we've never seen in her house? She barely has room for clothes in her suitcase what with all this childhood paraphernalia she's gotta cart around. What, no Mother Goose koala bear? Why is her mom a brunette? Looks more like Julie's mom. Why was little Kris channeling 70's Chastity Bono? Why wasn't it Jordan Ladd again? Why did they pass up yet another opportunity to include little Jill in a flashback? Kris and Kelly must really bond with all their childhood dolls and flashback issues.

The chronology of Kris' law enforcement career sounds wrong but actually checks out, so long as we keep everything vague. This is the very beginning of her 4th year as an Angel, so she could have been in this supposed Vice Squad position just before her first case for Charlie. Regarding a kidnapping in Hawaii. Full circle!

SCREEN TIME ANALYSIS

The scenes of Jane Wyman tripping out over Kris' abandoned car are the only ones without Angels in them, getting this case a high score on Angel content (in fact, it makes the top ten list of fullest episodes.) The quality of that content, however, is another story. Although this could easily be agreed upon as a Kris solo, she actually doesn't get as much time as you feel like she does - in fact, just shy of twice the others' time, which is our usual yardstick for considering an episode solo. It's certainly solo format, though.

  • KELLY
  • KRIS
  • JULIE
  • BOSLEY
  • HOW MUCH OF THE EPISODE HAS AT LEAST ONE ANGEL/BOSLEY IN IT 91%

A THREE-HOUR TOUR

Season 5 of Charlie's Angels originally began with a three-hour premiere consisting of Angel in Hiding blending right into To See An Angel Die, all in once piece. According to our interview with frequent CA director Dennis Donnelly, the producers realized the Angel in Hiding script was too short to fill a two-hour premiere, so they decided to conjure up an extra Hawaiian episode to tack onto the end of it. That doesn't justify, but does sort of explain, the hasty recycling job.

For syndication, the premiere was cut into the two-hour Angel in Hiding and the regular-length To See An Angel Die. Some moments of connecting footage were edited out entirely in syndication because attached only to either one episode or the other, they wouldn't make much sense. Throughout the final office scene where it’s announced Julie has been hired, Ted Grainger is actually sitting on the floor behind the bar messing with wires. After the Angels leave, he sits down at Bosley's desk and calls his dad in Hawaii.

ACTION

Kris gets run off the road and then into a fight with her abductors at the beach five minutes after she arrives in Hawaii! She fights hard and a little dirty (literally). Cool points for Kris for being one of Charlie's most resourceful and adaptable Angels. Not in Hawaii for five minutes and she manages to use its natural habitat (hella sand) to her advantage in a fight. However, her excellence at brawling with multiple opponents is played against her weakness for fighting manly women, and Kris gets tackled twice by Tom Grainger's silent, scowling brute of a daughter. (In her defense, the dad had a gun, so it's not like she could keep fighting.) And realistically, it's time for her to lose for a change - at 5'4" and 100 lbs, she's beaten enough crowds of 3+ people. Kris' escape at the end features a stunt performed by someone who looks remarkably like Cheryl Ladd flying into a dirt pile. Kelly arrives after the main action is over just so she can say "freeze!" and Bosley and Julie arrive even after that for backup-backup.

OFFICE RECYCLING

For the 5 Hawaiian episodes, the Angels relocate to their previously unknown Hawaiian office, which neither Kelly nor Kris seems to recognize as Leilani Sako's house from Angels in Paradise.  They seem utterly blown away by the office - granted the grounds and the ocean view are spectacular, but they seem overly impressed with the interior, which is essentially a big white box.

• Does Bosley brag about the new office having its own beach just for Julie’s sake? Sure, that’s an amazing feature for any office, though maybe Kris (who lives in a beach house) and Kelly (who spends a lot of time at Kris’ house) will not be so floored.

• Julie says that "at the moment, all their luggage is at the office", implying that they'll be moving into hotels or something, but for their entire stay in Hawaii it's made to look a lot more like they all live at the office. No residence is ever seen or implied. And Kris' luggage was in what looked for all the world like a bedroom.

• Why have we gone four entire years without it being mentioned that Charlie has offices in Hawaii or (apparently) Paris? It sounds like the Angels displaced a bizarro set of Hawaiian Angels ("My office team in Honolulu has to go to Tokyo on a special case, so you're going to fill in for a while," Charlie explains.) Why didn't those Angels handle the whole Angels in Paradise thing?

PLOT RECYCLING

This show rips off its own episodes plenty of times, but this is by far the most blatant, an exact copy of An Angel's Trail. For the second time in not even a year, a Munroe is kidnapped by a mean dad and his two varyingly mean kids with serious issues about their dead mom, and kept on the road for almost a whole episode, ultimately half-escaping with the help of the mentally weak, sympathetic younger son, and backed up by additional Angels at the last second for the climactic treat of a brief, emotionless reunion. One wonders why they would bother making an inferior copy of an episode that was not very good in the first place. Both survive only on the likelihood that Kris/Jill is your favorite Angel.

REPEAT OFFENDERS

Cameron Mitchell (Tom Grainger) played Frank Desmond, the guy who shot Kelly up with heroin in Avenging Angel.

Dennis Donnelly also directed Angel Flight, Angels in the Wings, Caged Angel, Angel's Child, Dancin' Angels, An Angel's Trail, One Love... Two Angels, Angel in Hiding, Waikiki Angels, Stuntwomen Angels, and Angel on a Roll.

OUR TAKE

Joann's Rating: 3.5 stars  I say this a lot, but as a kid, I loved this episode. It’s obligatory on the ultimate Kris-centric episode scale. With Hawaii as a backdrop and yet another Kris in jeopardy season starter, how could it fail? First off, Bosley should feel lousy for not paying for the champagne. What’s with the bizarre heartbeat pounding through my speakers when the psychic channels Kris? Why couldn’t the others go look for Kris (she has a history of disappearing) instead of sitting their lazy butts poolside and calling the market to see if she got there? Come on Kelly, Kris in Peril Rule #1 states you start at her last known whereabouts, follow her tracks, and find her fighting baddies on the beach!

I love how bossy Jane Wyman is to all of them. Do we really need dialogue explaining how she traced Kris’ registration through the police department? And why don’t the police ever get involved? Shouldn’t they send out an APB or some other useful acronym? As Jane is trying to explain stuff, Kelly's like "I'm... gonna go check the car." Then Jane talks some more, and Julie's like "I'm gonna go help Kelly." It’s as if they're at a party and slowly walking away from some weirdo they don't want to listen to anymore.

They all look SO confused. Like they're not in Hawaii but Thailand and have no idea which side of the road to drive on. If Kris is going on 3 to 4 years experience in law enforcement, why didn’t she pull out her gun when she was so obviously run off the road? Stupid Line #1: "We'll take you to her luggage." Like it's the Bat Cave?

lub-dup, lub-dup, lub-dup, lub-dup… (Kris’ heart sound effect)

Kris carries with her (wherever she goes) a Hansel and Gretel children’s book aaand a Raggedy Ann doll? Sheesh, Kris, boocoo minus points on the cool meter. Meanwhile, back on the truck, where are they going? How big is this island? They stopped for food. They have driven very far. Hours have passed. It takes less time to get from New York to Chicago.

lub-dup, lub-dup… Whoa, tingly sensation. Kris is feeling Jane Wyman! “Your friend is still moving in the truck.” Holy misplaced modifiers, Jane, I think you mean: The truck with your friend in it is still moving. Finally they randomly start driving along the beach. Yay! We all know this is how you find Kris. What makes Kris think someone is going to find her bag and associate it with a kidnapping instead of just stealing the cash? We’re apparently on the Island of Never End so who is going to come across it, a hermit pineapple farmer? (Is that Hawaii stereotyping?)

In her flashback, why is Kris in a Little Boy Blue outfit in that rocking chair? She looks like The Little Prince. And who’s reading the story? It sounds like Piper Laurie as Carrie’s scary ass mother. “They’re all going LAUGH at yooouuu.” This whole scene reminds me of Kelly in the closet with Beamish. Creepy. lub-dup, lub-dup…

Stupid Line #2: Jane: "I see a white line." Kelly: "What is the line?" Jane: "I must have left a line of coke on the table before I went out for my drive." (Yes, my ad lib.) These are detectives? Driving. Driiiving. Julie is all torn up about Kris because she’s (Julie) not alone anymore and Kelly is starting to hate her hair because of all the wind in the convertible. I think Kelly looked bored in Season 5 because she had secretly joined Poison and was giving Slash a run for his money in the big hair department. Some serious lub-dupping is happening, btw. This looong hour is almost over...but not yet. Stupid Line #3: Again after seeing the white line on the ground looking for all the world like some sort of trail. Julie: "What does it mean?"

Kris flings a paperback at the gun like it's a big mosquito she's too afraid to go near. Isn't it her gun? Then she runs off, even though crazy daddy’s butch daughter has caught her twice before. You coulda had a gun, Kris! Great Line #1: Kelly: "You've got 2 seconds to drop that gun and one is already gone." And finally, why doesn't Kris get up out of the dirt? This was truly a lame post-danger reunion scene. She's like "Oh Kelly, go see about what’s-his-face who helped me. I need to meet my new friend who'll read Hansel and Gretel to me just the way Piper used to.”

Sigh. This episode is a poorly done retread. Had it been another Angel in danger, I might have switched to whatever CBS was showing that night. With that said, Kris looks really good in her red Hawaiian shirt and I love when she goes off on crazy retread dad. Angels don’t get pissed off and yell often, but it’s always so good and much fun when they do. Kris’ tirade is one for the ages.

Now, as I watch this, what I appreciate most is Kelly’s incredulous, pissed-off facial expressions. I imagine this is exactly how Jaclyn reacted all of Season 5, exasperated at the scripts, at anyone saying good morning; the sun. It plainly wore on her so deeply. I like that acerbic side, but it’s unfortunate that it came from probable extreme Angelitis. Still, for the sake of my thirteen-year old self, 2 out of 5.

Anna's Rating: 1 stars  Here's yet another where I'm gonna type something like "a must for Kris fans!" but I'm a Kris fan and I mustn't watch this again for a long time. It's not a bad plot, it's just so poorly produced.

This was the only time an Angel ever got riled enough to tell a bad guy to go to hell. To me, it seems misplaced. Grainger is a bad guy, but not the worst she's ever faced. No such rage for Big Aggie, that rapist guy, that hair-cutting cult guy, that Angel in a Box guy, or the guy who shot Kelly? All Granger did was make her sit bored in a truck for 5 hours threatened with some vague doom, but that's every episode. Her speech was decent performance considering how pulled-out-of-thin-air it was.

Most of Julie's line readings come with the timing and unfounded enthusiasm of a child responding to a Dora The Explorer episode. A very large, bright light... "The sun!!!!" Props to Jane Wyman for sticking with this lackluster bunch who are barely invested in rescuing their own friend. It's like watching Lassie trying to get a bunch of imbeciles to follow her to some kid trapped in a well.