Ah Charlie’s Angels. The epitome of what was termed “jiggle TV” in the late 70s and early 80s. I think you can understand why it was given that rather dubious term if you think hard enough. But in my opinion, and for many women who watched the film at the time of its airing, it was a TV series that while not perfect, paved the way for female centred and led TV programmes that came after.
The TV show had complications due to Farah Fawcett walking out and breaching her contract after the first season, then Kate Jackson butting heads with the producers, and finally the death knell was delivered with the casting of Tanya Roberts and lacklustre scripts in the last season.
But the show boasted some very impressive guest stars, such as Patrick Duffy, Sammy Davis Jr, Kim Basinger, Ida Lupino, Tom Selleck, Tommy Lee Jones, and, of course, Timothy Dalton.
After Farah Fawcett left the show, she and the producers smoothed things over with Fawcett promising to make six guest star appearances in the series. My favourite episode in which she guest stars is Fallen Angel.
The Angels, Kelly (Jaclyn Smith), Kris (Cheryl Ladd) and Tiffany (Shelley Hack) are tasked with protecting a Italian diva’s blue diamond necklace from being stolen by the notorious playboy and cat burglar, Damien Roth (played by Timothy Dalton). After failing to get close to Damien via their wiles and wits, they are shocked to learn that Jill (Farah Fawcett) is in a serious relationship with the jewel thief, and is seemingly primed to become his partner in crime!
There is much to love about this episode, from the introduction of Damien/Tim in a baseball cap and sneakers, stealing a woman’s jewels after passing her a towel whilst she’s in the shower, kissing her hand and choosing her evening dress; to him haughtily turning down Kelly, Kris and Tiffany’s advances. Is this man made of stone?!
There are, of course, several outright or intimidated references to Tim’s character being Bond, which obviously play on A) him being British and the very image of Fleming’s creation and B) him famously being offered the role after Sean’s departure, but turning it down due to him feeling he was too young.
There’s an interesting and clever exploration and inversion of the James Bond/ Simon Templar image, with Roth being a man of the world and possessing the wit and physical skills of those two characters, but not being interested in violence or romantic and sexual entanglements with multiple women. There’s also the rather important detail of Roth being a thief, which is kind of in line with the early, pre-WWII Charteris version of Templar, but Roth is definitely not beholden to any moral code or higher authority a la Bond.
The entire premise of the episode is rather absurd, especially the Italian Diva’s failsafe against her necklace being stolen, which consists of a cobra being kept in the case with said necklace. Roth manages to use some kind of vague, hocus pocus hand waving trickery to divest the cobra of its valuable booty. But Tim plays the scene entirely seriously, as does Fawcett, and so they just manage to get away with it (both the necklace and the farcical scriptwriting).
The best parts of the episode are when Dalton and Fawcett are together in a scene, like when they’re in his apartment and Jill shares her concerns about what is intimated to be the planned jewel heist.
Their chemistry is really, really good, and elevates the episode from a kind of subpar premise, to one that truly holds some important stakes, both for their relationship and Jill’s with the angels, most importantly Kris.
Fawcett’s hair also looks fabulous in this episode, from wavy, to curly to this interesting side parted straight do. And Tim wears a pair of little shorts that should be illegal in all fifty states, but which I’m glad aren’t because fans self.
But I digress. Whilst, let’s be honest, Charlie’s Angels is at best a sweet confection of 20th century American television, and definitely not the Shakespeare Tim was trained to perform, he never phones it in. He is suave, sexy and above all, engaging, as Damien Roth, and definitely sets himself apart from other guest stars in that he’s not just memorable because of being Timothy Dalton in an episode of Charlie’s Angel’s, but because he develops a character that’s pretty thin on paper.
This is my last contribution for my and Gill’s You Knew My Name: The Bond Not Bond Blogathon.