Charlie’s Angels

Water-cooler skein

Once upon a time, there were three beautiful women — and they helped change TV forever.

Save for a few actress noms for Kate Jackson, “Charlie’s Angels” was never an Emmy magnet. Critics denounced it, calling it “massage parlor television,” according to “The Complete Directory to Primetime Network and Cable TV Shows.”

Viewers, however, loved Aaron Spelling’s sexy rethinking of the police drama.

“‘Charlie’s Angels’ captured the audience because it was different,” explains Spelling. “It was the uniqueness of the show that captured the audience and not because sex sells.”

“The shows that had been working were these tough, gritty dramas like ‘Police Woman,'” says former ABC chief Fred Silverman, who put “Angels” on the air. “Then along came this piffle, for lack of a better word, and people just responded.”

Seemingly overnight, the show was a top 10 hit for ABC. Jackson and Jaclyn Smith became big stars; Farrah Fawcett-Majors became a one-woman pop culture phenomenon. Over the show’s relatively brief five-year run, a number of Angels would come and go, but no group ever matched the impact of the original.

The amazing success of “Charlie’s Angel’s” set the stage for a whole new era of T&A television — or “jiggle TV,” as Silverman puts it.

“It was the first in a series of escapist dramas. It was a fantasylike detective show with these three women running around with nothing on and carrying guns. Nobody believed it was an hour of reality, but people just responded to it anyway.”

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