A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this classic crime drama was considered quite risqué for its time, given the subject matter and skimpy outfits. But it all seems pretty PG these days, which actually highlights how viewers have become more tolerant of sex, drugs, and nudity on television.
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What's the story?
Once upon a time, this classic '70s crime series about three girls who went to the police academy ruled the airwaves, goosing TV's sexiness and paving the way for other female-driven vehicles. It was the first in producer Aaron Spelling's formula for primetime TV revolving around soap-operaish plot lines that hook viewers. The three girls are brainiac Sabrina Duncan (Kate Jackson), sultry and sporty Jill Munroe (Farrah Fawcett), and savvy Kelly Garrett (Jaclyn Smith), who work for the Charles Townsend Detective Agency. Their unseen boss, Charlie (voiced by John Forsythe), relays each episode's case via the now-quaint intercom. Assisting them is the warm and fuzzy John Bosley (David Doyle), who makes sure the Angels stick to Charlie's rules as they go about solving crimes.
Is it any good?
CHARLIE'S ANGELS' light plot lines make for refreshingly frothy escapades -- a nice, though not deep, escape from the often-grim procedural drama of today's shows (no gross-out CSI-type forensics work, enhanced by dreary lighting, here). That said, it's hard to take any of the Angels' cases seriously. Just a few of the over-the-top storylines: One of the Angels suffers temporary amnesia, an escaped convict spoils a cruise, and all three play bodyguard to no less than Sammy Davis Jr. But it's clear that serious detective work is beside the point.
Feminists may wince at the thought that the Angels are providing eye candy, but they are, though it's all done in the spirit of sunshiny -- this is L.A., after all -- adventure. On the plus side, they're also providing examples of strong, capable women. Later on in the series' run, when the original cast broke up and Cheryl Ladd, Shelley Hack, and Tanya Roberts joined in, Charlie's Angels lost some of its magic. Jackson, Smith, and Fawcett had wonderful chemistry, and when their balance was upended, some of the show's charm was lost. In the end, the show that came in like a lion left like a lamb, but its place in TV history is secure. Anyone who doubts its legacy need only look at some more-recent small-screen hits, including Desperate Housewives, to gauge the Angels' long-term legacy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how times have changed when it comes to crime and the TV shows that tackle the subject of crime. Does it seem like life is more violent now than before, or is that just what TV would have us believe? Why are crime shows so popular? What drives people to commit a crime? How does having different personalities working on a case together make crime-solving more effective? And, for fun, how about that funky 1970s fashion sense?