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A Heavenly Season with an Angel from Los Angeles, one from San Francisco, and the other from Boston
on July 15, 2009
The fourth season of CHARLIE'S ANGELS, which aired on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on ABC from September 1979 through May 1980, is possibly the season that yields the most dramatic changes in the series, namely Shelley Hack becomes the newest angel, "Tiffany Welles", filling the slot vacated by original actress Kate Jackson. Returning for another tour of duty this season are "Kelly Garret" and "Kris Munroe", played by Jaclyn Smith and Cheryl Ladd respectively, along with faithful sidekick "Bosley", played by David Doyle. Farrah Fawcett's "Jill Munroe" also makes her final three appearances of the series.
With the new angel, also comes a new overall look to the series. With Hack, a former fashion model, on board, all three actresses don dresses, gowns, and tailored suits more often than casual wear. And while attention is taken away from the flesh (the Angels wear fewer bathing suits this season than ever before), the Angels never looked classier and more stunning in their wardrobe. The result is mature, professional-looking Angels that seem to have come a long way from the earlier days of the show when they rarely wore bras.
Aside from a new angel and a new look, the significant change that takes place this season that differentiates it from its predecessors is the writing style. Unlike the writing from season three which, at times, is dull and underwhelming, season four's writing includes several intriguing storylines that are largely the contribution of guest writers. ANGELS ON CAMPUS, ANGEL HUNT, FALLEN ANGEL, and THREE FOR THE MONEY are guest writer-contributed scripts and consequently, they are among the season's highlights as they are solid episodes that demonstrate the series' potency and vitality, even in its fourth season. The writing style also differs with certain episodes straying from the usual team formula, instead showcasing a single Angel while the other two Angels and Bosley are relegated to the background. A final aspect of the writing that changes is the overall tone, with some episodes (AVENGING ANGEL, CATCH A FALLING ANGEL, ANGEL'S CHILD, ANGELS ON THE STREET) tackling social issues such as drug abuse, pornography, child abuse, and prostitution with greater urgency than had been seen before in the series.
However, an aspect of the writing this season that backfired is intentionally minimizing the role of new angel "Tiffany" in the first several episodes. Two episodes in particular, ANGELS ON CAMPUS and ANGEL HUNT, are pivotal because the former establishes the back story and character of "Tiffany" and the latter validates the newest angel's position in the group and fleshes out all three angels' profound concern for each other. It's safe to assume these two episodes were among the first ones filmed because clips from them appear in the opening credits, yet unfortunately they did not air until almost halfway through the season. This was a poor decision on behalf of the producers/creators that damaged the series because it prevented the new angel (and actress) from instantly impressing and clicking with audiences. For this reason, Hack often, and rather unfairly, earns the odium from some fans as the death knell to the series. To remedy this, a simple rearranging of the initial episodes of the season would suffice: LOVE BOAT ANGELS, ANGELS GO TRUCKIN', ANGELS ON CAMPUS, ANGEL HUNT, FALLEN ANGEL, followed by OF GHOSTS AND ANGELS. Had these episodes aired in a similar sequence, perhaps the course of the series would have been quite different, with "Tiffany" continuing to work for Charles Townsend and Associates into the fifth season.
The only genuine flaw in the DVD set is the inclusion of the syndicated 2-part version of the season premier, LOVE BOAT ANGELS, instead of the original unedited print. The set is presented in a similar format to that of the third season set, with an outer box that houses 3 slim plastic DVD cases. Each case holds 2 discs and features a different group photo of the Angels on the cover, with episode titles, synopses, and original air dates on the back, and several photos of the Angels, Bosley, and the season's numerous guest stars (Patrick Duffy, Kim Cattrall, Timothy Dalton, Robert Reed, Barbara Stanwyck, etc.) throughout. Aesthetically, this is easily the best presentation of all CHARLIE'S ANGELS season sets. Mike Pingel of the Charlie's Angels website and SONY have put together a beautiful product, which is only fitting as it reflects such beautiful Angels.