Charlie’s Angels tried to tap into its source-show last night by re-working a script by Robert Earll that aired in 1976 and has become a bit of an Angels cult classic: “Angels In Chains,” in which the Angels went undercover as convicts in a jail in order to save a young woman. UPDATE: These Angels will be ascending to TV heaven — cancelled, Lynette Rice reports. Turns out my suggestion below that Erica Durance be given her own show from the Smallville producers was kinda correct…

With the first “Angels in Chains,” fans got off on the sight of Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith, and Kate Jackson forced to strip down by a warden played by the magnificent cult actress Mary Woronov. (The damsel in distress in that episode was played by Kim Basinger.)

In 2011, it’s unlikely most viewers even know that Earll was riffing on the women-in-prison exploitation films of the ’60s and ’70s such as Caged Heat and Ilsa The Wicked Warden. So Thursday night’s new Angels episode was a hollow in-joke. The hour was redeemed primarily by a former employee of Angels producers Alfred Gough and Miles Millar: Erica Durance, who played Lois Lane in Gough-Millar’s Smallville. Durance played a CIA agent/former girlfriend of Bosley’s, and as she did on Smallville, Durance invested the most banal dialogue with snap.

Unfortunately, the new Charlie’s Angels continues to be a botched project — not action-packed enough to work on the semi-serious level the producers seem to want (adding a back-story this week about Charlie’s dead daughter having been in love with Bosley is a stab at building the show’s mythology), and not campy enough to play up the visual naughtiness that made the original Angels a hoot. Someone ought to come up with a series for Durance.

Twitter: @kentucker


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