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Charlie’s Angels [2011], “Angel With a Broken Wing” (1.01)

Rachael Taylor is awesome. That is all.

A spoiler-free overview, and a spoilery review, of the pilot written by Alfred Gough & Miles Millar and directed by Marcos Siega, after the jump…

Spoiler-Free Highlights:

  •  What’s to like about Charlie’s Angels? The core four – Rachael Taylor, Annie Ilonzeh, Minka Kelly and Ramon Rodriguez – are a lot of fun, and could grow into very enjoyable characters. The show’s slickly directed and shot beautifully. In fact, in an alternate universe I might have loved this pilot. So why did I hate it so much?
  • The script is awful. Just terrible. I wouldn’t be surprised if this were the result of a ‘take this list of cliched dialogue and build an entire script out of it’ challenge, in fact. Every line is either bald exposition or a groaner of a joke. Taylor and Kelly manage to find some fun in their roles (with Taylor doing an adequate job as the show’s Drew Barrymore and Kelly finding an interesting way to play an obvious stock character), but Annie Ilonzeh and Ramon Rodriguez struggle to find any defining characteristics to make their characters pop. I’d be offended by how mediocre this script was if watching it hadn’t sucked away all of my energy. The most I can muster is annoyed.
  • The plot is by-the-numbers, without the flair or the humour of the movies. As with the character issues, this comes down to a listless script. A lot of reviews knocked this pilot for a scad of other things, but I’m pretty sure the script is the centre of all the problems. Everybody else is doing their best work, hampered by a document that has ensured they cannot succeed. They do their best.
  • This script was so bad, Victor Garber gave a bad performance! I didn’t think that was possible! Part of it was him being brought on last-minute for voice work, but the lines were so boring, I can’t imagine how they enticed him beyond the paycheque.
  • My verdict? Skip the pilot… but start with episode three. I haven’t seen anything beyond the pilot, but if anyone can make this mess work, it’s Douglas Petrie, a Buffy alumnus with some decent credits under his belt.

Something More Spoilery

Wow that was awful.

I suffered through this pilot, hoping something would change my mind about it. It was ridiculously bad, and as I talked about above, the script was the main culprit. When every character is written as a mess of boring cliches, how can I care about the stock villain they bring in? When the leads don’t have any genuine reaction to one of their own dying, how can I connect? The episode just kind of meandered from scene to scene, trapped in cycles of lame exposition and bad “quips”, connected by sequences of blurry, too-fast action sequences. The first, with Taylor and Ilonzeh taking on those lame guards in the hotel room, almost gave me a headache.

I’m hopeful. The stock character types chosen have hope with a better scribe, and Taylor and Kelly do show a lot of potential. Rachael Taylor is great at the ballsy attitude her character demonstrates here, so even lame lines elicited a this could be so much better wince rather than outright groaning. Meanwhile, Minka Kelly fights her character’s one-dimensional nature by playing her obvious biker chick stereotype as a soft-talking sweetheart with an inner strength, offering a tiny shred of complexity to an otherwise boring stereotype.

I’m also really sad that Nadine Velasquez, who I’ve wanted to see in a regular role since My Name is Earl was unjustly cancelled, gets killed off in the first few minutes. Then again, if the show doesn’t sharply improve, that may be a blessing for her career.

I want this show to succeed. I want future episodes to redeem this pilot. But if it’s a race between this and other shows, I can’t imagine I’ll be rooting too hard for this one to make it.

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