The idea of rebooting 1970s series is hardly new, despite an uneven track record, from the short-lived "Bionic Woman" and passed-on "Wonder Woman" to CBS' more durable "Hawaii Five-O" update.
The idea of rebooting 1970s series is hardly new, despite an uneven track record, from the short-lived “Bionic Woman” and passed-on “Wonder Woman” to CBS’ more durable “Hawaii Five-O” update. Like those titles, “Charlie’s Angels” — previously revived both in primetime and theatrically — is surely promotable, but also instantly dated. Despite cosmetic flourishes (this time even Bosley has six-pack abs) and a few modest wrinkles, it’s hard to escape feeling this is the same old excuse to put “babes” in skimpy outfits, both to thwart evil and inspire swearing off fatty foods.
Without giving too much away, the new series incorporates a revenge plot to get the ball rolling, as the suspicious Eve (“Friday Night Lights'” Minka Kelly) is recruited to assist in a mission and, transparently, become the third cherub.
Beyond that, there’s barely a dollar’s worth of difference (adjusted for inflation) between these Angels and the original ones — possessing mad skills they put to use in the service of justice, as directed by the unseen Charlie and his surrogate Bosley (Ramon Rodriguez).
In addition to Kelly, there’s Rachael Taylor (“Grey’s Anatomy”) as Abby, a one-time cat burglar; and Annie Ilonzeh’s Kate, a former cop. “We’re angels, not saints,” Abby says, implying they’re not above seeking old-fashioned vengeance.
In the pilot overseen by “Smallville” alums Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, their target is a stock crime kingpin, played by “24’s” Carlos Bernard. But there’s relatively little to caper, and not as much leering as one might expect. Then again, other than Kelly (and, admittedly, this is highly subjective) the casting appears short on the requisite sizzle to make these Angels really fly, assuming they still could.
As assumptions go, that’s a big “if.” Primetime is crawling with female cops and vigilantes (think CW’s “Nikita”), so once audiences get past the nostalgia, the challenge will be bringing them back, even if the series has the budget to blow stuff up as promiscuously as the pilot does — another big “if.” (Drew Barrymore, who is among the producers, had that luxury in the movies, which were successful despite being pretty awful.)
Back in its heyday, women enjoyed “Charlie’s Angels,” and young boys felt no compunctions about plastering Farrah Fawcett posters across their walls. Today, those boys are pulled in a thousand different directions, and women aren’t hurting for butt-kicking surrogates who don’t take marching orders from masculine voices.
Like “Five-O,” “Angels” (set in Miami) does provide light escapism and beachfront scenery. Nevertheless, it’s going to test Gough and Millar’s bag of tricks, especially with ABC asking the show to bolster a Thursday lineup anchored by its seen-better-days “Grey’s.”
In terms of assignments, that mission sounds as formidable as anything apt to be thrown the ladies’ way.
Eve French - Minka Kelly
Abby Sampson - Rachael Taylor
John Bosley - Ramon Rodriguez