Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Discovered: the fifth Charlie's Angel

If you live in the UK you can now download episodes of fondly remember American TV shows from iTunes, including first season episodes from I Dream of Jeannie, Starsky & Hutch and Charlie's Angels. The pilots for the latter two shows are available for free, so I downloaded the very first edition of Charlie's Angels, just for a laugh.

First aired in March 1976, this hasn't aged well. The pilot is 73 minutes long [not counting the ad break that would have peppered its broadcast], with enough plot to fill 50 minutes tops. TV drama is a hell of a lot faster paced these days. Throw in wafer-thin characterisation, cheesy staging and lacklustre acting - well, this has kitsch value now, not much more. But two faces stuck out.

Oscar-winning actor Tommy Lee Jones plays a supporting role, this callow, youthful incarnation displaying none of the world-weary gravitas he brings to the screen now. But even more surprising is the presence of a fifth Angel. Obviously, there's the three women providing the glamour, and crusty Bosley back in the office for comic relief. But the original ensemble had a fifth member - Woodville.

The character's played by David Ogden Steirs, not long before he joined acclaimed sitcom MASH as Boston stuffed shirt surgeon Charles Emmerson Winchester. In the Charlie's Angels pilot Woodville goes out on assignment with the women, getting in scrapes and offering what assistance he can. His presence is both bizarre and superfluous - so it's no surprise the character didn't become a series regular.

Grud. Wonder who's in the Starsky & Hutch pilot?

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