The Best of Charlie's Angels TV Series (1976)

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Released 17-Nov-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Adventure Main Menu Audio & Animation
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1976
Running Time 200:23 (Case: 196)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Richard Lang
Phil Bondelli
George McCowan
Cliff Bole
Studio
Distributor
Spelling-Goldberg Pr
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Kate Jackson
Farrah Fawcett-Majors
Jaclyn Smith
David Doyle
Case ?
RPI Box Music Jack Elliott
Allyn Ferguson


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

††† You may recall that around the time of the release of the movie Charlie's Angels on DVD, a cash-in release of a couple of episodes from the first season of the television show upon which the film was based was issued. Well, guess what? With the upcoming release of Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle we get another cash-in release from the first season of the television show. As Gomer Pyle would say: Surprise! Surprise!

††† You may also recall that I was rather less than complimentary about quite a few aspects of the original television series and believe me a second dose has still not improved things much, despite the passage of another two years. Were the 1970's really this bad? Okay, things are not entirely bad here and there is still something quite alluring about Jaclyn Smith, albeit tempered by the dreadful 1970's fashions she was asked to wear. But truly this never was an artistic highlight of television along the lines of say Hill Street Blues (a television show that deserves a DVD release so much more than Charlie's Angels), which is hardly surprising given that the Executive Producer was none other than the master of sleazy, rubbish television, Aaron Spelling. However, as a piece of 1970's television kitsch almost beyond measure, this remains worthwhile watching simply due to the three leads. Note that I did not mention the A word, as simply there is precious little acting going on here.

††† The Best Of Charlie's Angels brings together four episodes from Season One of the television series. We all know that they are from the first season as they star Farrah Fawcett-Majors, who left after the end of the first season to be replaced by the infinitely less capable actress Cheryl Ladd. The four episodes on offer are:

††† Hellfire (Episode 1, first broadcast 22nd September, 1976) (50:17) - a local lady race car driver is killed in an accident at a local racetrack and everyone is happy with "accident" being the cause of death. Her mechanic is not, not the least because it reflects badly on him. So he hires the Charles Townsend Private Investigations to, well, investigate. Sabrina Duncan (Kate Jackson) signs on as a replacement driver in order to track down the killer, whilst Kelly Garrett (Jaclyn Smith) heads off to speak to the deceased's parents. To flesh out the perfect covers, Jill Monroe (Farrah Fawcett-Majors) and John Bosley (David Doyle) masquerade as father and daughter, with father being a preacher doing the race circuit offering spiritual guidance. With plot holes the size of the Grand Canyon, the story takes some twists before the girls uncover the dastardly deeds being committed.

††† Angels In Chains (Episode 4, first broadcast 20th October, 1976) (49:59) - whilst it might have been a fancy of any number of hormonally charged youths of the era, regrettably this does not quite go down that route. Rather, the mysterious disappearance of yet another inmate from Pine Parish Prison Farm sees the Angels engaged to literally go behind bars to discover the truth about Pine Parish Prison Farm. Getting in is easy - justice is very swift in this county and the local sheriff is not above tampering with evidence to ensure lovely young ladies find themselves on the chain gang (sort of). With the Angels in the prison thanks to a very un-American regard to due process, they set to work to discover what happens to the missing girls. With an almost unbelievable disregard for character development or plot development, this soon lurches down a rather predictable route that involves men and women - with the women having very little say in the matter. Despite the setbacks suffered, the Angels of course solve the mystery and gather the undying gratitude of the State Governor. Noteworthy for one of the guest stars, looking very different to the way we know her in more recent times.

††† Consenting Adults (Episode 10, first broadcast 8th December, 1976) (49:51) - starting to get the drift of the episode names? This one involves a little piece of scamming under the guise of a dating service called Consenting Adults. A simple enough scam - "date" hooks up with male companion and whilst they are otherwise engaged the accomplices rob/clean out the house/business of the male companion. Nothing unusual here except this particular male companion was also doing some illegal activity for the benefit of a "former" mob heavy, who really is not happy about being ripped off. As the male companion and his "date" find themselves in increasing hot water, the Angels are engaged to unravel the mystery by the mother of the male companion. With heaps of plot-holes never daunting them, do they succeed? Come on, the Angels can solve any mystery with nary a clue to work with. Fans of Battlestar Galactica will no doubt recognise the female guest star in this one.

††† Dancing In The Dark (Episode 19, first broadcast 23rd February, 1977) (50:16) - wherein the Angels are asked to investigate an extortion scheme emanating from a local dance studio. Simple little deal - wealthy women learning to dance are wooed by hunky dance instructor, taken back to a motel room and photographed in "compromising" situations. Okay, remember "compromising" in the 1970's television parlance was not a fat lot more than a quick cuddle on the bed, but we will excuse that plot hole. "Compromising" situations means that money will change hands. One victim is not too happy and now that her deceased husband is assured of not suffering from the scandal, she wants revenge - well, at least her money back. Noteworthy only for the fact that despite being a later episode from the first season, if anything the acting, plot development and character development are even worse than the early episodes.

††† I thought the stories found in the episodes on Charlie's Angels - Angels Under Cover were pretty ropey, but the passage of a further couple of years has been even less kind to the plot-hole ridden efforts here. And these are the best of the first series - which was by far and away the best of the run of the show! With the distinct lack of acting talent on display, and some of the most mind-numbingly boring action sequences ever devised for television, this really is not a high point of the 1970's. However, the show was always about three good looking women parading around in as much tight-fitting and flesh-revealing clothing as 1970's American television would allow and on that score the show succeeds admirably.

††† A seriously dated product from the wacky era known as the 1970's, complete with bell bottoms and all. As a flashback to those heady days when nipples poking through tops were the height of titillation on American television, this is priceless. As mindless entertainment, there is plenty better around. Those words rang true with Charlie's Angels - Angels Under Cover, and they still ring true with The Best Of Charlie's Angels.

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Transfer Quality

Video

††† This was made for television twenty seven years ago. We really cannot expect real excellence in the transfer. So the fact that this is quite a watchable transfer is perhaps the most surprising thing about it. Naturally the transfer is presented in a Full Frame format that is not 16x9 enhanced.

††† With the benefit of having reviewed the earlier release Charlie's Angels - Angels Under Cover, I had a rough idea of what the transfer was going to look like. In the final analysis, whilst perhaps a bit better than I thought it would be, it really is no better and no worse than we have any right to expect for television material of this age. The transfer is of reasonable sharpness throughout, not too bad but nothing approaching even television programming of much more recent vintage. Detail is decent enough, although shadow detail could perhaps have been a little better. Clarity is not too bad but again reflects the age of the source material. Grain was pretty much a non-issue in broad terms, with the exception of Consenting Adults, which was blessed with some obvious issues - most notably during scenes filmed at the stables. These were of a distinctly inferior quality to the rest of the transfer in every respect and the grain was rather too noticeable. There did not seem to be any low level noise in the transfer.

††† Just like the earlier release, the colour on offer is very reflective of the age of the source material. Not exactly blessed with deep saturated colours, there is also a slight inconsistency in the colour. Nonetheless, the transfer is reasonably vibrant, just not very colourful given the preponderance of earthy tones. The somewhat under saturated colours are not objectionable though. The look is reasonably natural and very watchable. There is no oversaturation in the transfer (well, okay at times the advert break lead-in suffers almost beyond the delineation line) and colour bleed is also not an issue.

††† There are no significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer. Film-to-video artefacts seemed to be confined to some limited aliasing that barely raised an eyebrow in the viewing session. Hellride is perhaps the most afflicted episode with limited aliasing in the shutters at 3:52 and in Kelly's tank top at 40:28 and 42:56. There is a reasonable display of film artefacts in the transfer, albeit no worse than we would expect for television-sourced material from the 1970's. The odd hair is the most noticeable problem but largish specks can also be seen here and there.

††† This is a Dual Layered DVD, with two episodes mastered on each layer. Accordingly, there is no layer change to worry about.

††† There are no subtitle options available on the DVD, which given the rather banal dialogue may or may not be a blessing in disguise for those with hearing impairments.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

††† There is just the one soundtrack on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

††† The undeniably banal dialogue comes up reasonably well in the soundtrack and is general easy to understand. There are no real problems with audio sync in the transfer, although some of the ADR work is pretty sloppy.

††† The musical score for the episodes comes from Jack Elliott and Allyn Ferguson. Dull, uninspired stuff but what more would we expect of the music-by-numbers approach used by most television shows of the era?

††† There really is nothing much positive to say about the soundtrack, but equally not very much really negative to say. Rather flattish sound at times with little clarity and certainly no dynamic at all. There are a couple of audio glitches but these are inherent in the source material rather than any mastering issues. It would have been nice to have had some clean up of the soundtrack but what we have is serviceable enough.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

††† Given how dated the series is it is hardly surprising that there is nothing on offer in the way of extras. Probably all fell into the category of why bother?

Menu

††† A bit of audio and animation enhancement is all you get here, apart from a rather poor looking effort (very 1970's).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

††† The equivalent Region 1 release features five episodes - the same four we get plus The Sťance - along with a couple of trailers: one for Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle and one for another DVD The Greatest '70s Cop Shows. From the limited reviews located, the transfers sound pretty similar so the Region 1 would be the preferred version thanks to the extra episode. However, if you are a real fan of the show, then you will really want to indulge in the five disc release of the entire first series in Region 1.

Summary

††† Just like the previous Charlie's Angels - Angels Under Cover release, this really is probably one for serious fans only. I certainly watched the show avidly as a teenager in the 1970's but looking at it now is all rather painful. The show is terribly dated - it highlights how bad the 1970's could be fashion-wise and frankly the series offered little more than three attractive women put into as much tight and/or revealing gear as possible - all in the name of supposedly strong female characters. It is no wonder that feminism got such a massive boost in that decade...

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Monday, October 27, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1600, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Aconda 9381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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