Charlie's Angels was okay. It's okay. Really. It's Charlie's Angels, what do you expect? It's pretty and ridiculous and pretty ridiculous, but less of a cartoon than the 2000 and 2003 movies. One could argue it's better than the movies if one has time to waste arguing something pointless. Charlie's Angels is written and developed by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, who ran Smallville for seven years, so that's a big tell on what kind of show to expect.
The villain was a pleasant surprise: It's Carlos Bernard! Tony Almeida from 24! That was kind of inspired casting, actually. Bernard is a powerful Miami billionaire who is also secretly a crime lord sex slave trafficker. And once we realize Tony Almeida is the villain, we expect some 24-style torture and we get it: Tony -- pardon me. Bernard -- strings up Minka Kelly, smacks her around, and tortures her. Jack Bauer would be proud. Or furious. No, he'd be furious. Also, the Angels bleed on this show. (No, not that way, gutter mind. When they get punched.) The Angels can be hurt, for like a second. But they clean up fast, and so pretty.
Another surprise on the outset: Despite Minka Kelly being the centerpiece of the advertising, she's not an Angel when the show begins. The Angels are Rachael Taylor, Annie Ilonzeh, and Nadine Velasquez (Catalina from My Name is Earl!) Bernard's character blows up Velasquez (car bomb) in act one, and thus Minka Kelly, Velasquez's childhood friend with ties to Bernard as orphans in South America (don't ask, or Kelly will prattle on and on nonsensically about it), is brought in to help investigate her death.
Also, Kelly is not the best Angel. Rachael Taylor is the one with the most skills. She was a millionaire heiress turned cat burglar who is a master at breaking and entering and hacking into safes. Ilonzeh is just kind of there so far, because there have to be three Angels. Kelly contributes mad driving skills (she donuts a Ferrari until she runs over Bernard to take him out - hilarious) but mainly, Minka Kelly is the Angel of Exposition. Minka Kelly is beautiful but she has a weird speaking voice - whomever decided Kelly should be the one who has to dole out all of the backstory has questionable judgment. It's Taylor comes off as the hottest and smartest (relatively); Taylor shines as the alpha Angel. She hides her Australian accent well enough too.
Bosley, who is now young, a whiz with an iPad, and a playa with the ladies, is Ramon Rodriguez. You may remember him, without fondness, as the incredibly annoying sidekick to Shia LaBeouf in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Biggest laugh in the episode was when he blurts out his backstory: he went to MIT (sure!) and was rescued from prison by Charlie after he hacked into the IRS and stole a penny from everyone's tax return. The mysterious Charlie himself is now voiced, rather robotically, by Victor Garber.
The threadbare logic Charlie's Angels was running on at the outset dove out the window at the start of act two when a helicopter machine gunned Kelly's house boat after she gets into a brawl with Taylor and Ilonzeh and they're frozen, guns drawn, in a Mexican standoff. Later, while investigating Velasquez's apartment, Kelly pulls a gun on the other two Angels. So the two Angels bring along an unknown quantity on their investigation who brawls with and pulls a gun on them. Later, the other two Angels tell Kelly she's "benched", but that holds no water because she's not part of the team. Regardless, none of hold the slightest grudge towards each other, because they and everyone at home knows Minka Kelly will join the Townsend Agency and become a Charlie's Angel before the hour is up. And wouldn't you know it - she does! (But not without the requisite arm twisting, with Kelly pretending she doesn't want to be an Angel but fooling no one.)
The show is pretty, though. The Angels are very pretty. Miami looks colorful and pretty. Pretty counts for something.
Rachael Taylor was in Transformers and Ramon Rodriguez was in the second Transformers. Charlie's Angels should bring in Megan Fox as a villain. Or Megatron. Either one will do.
(edited by John Orquiola on 23.9.11 0829) @BackoftheHead
I really need more Stanley as a character on this show. Everything he touches is gold. However, I nearly did a spit take when Michael fielded the call from Stanley's wife. That was just brilliant. They really got back to basics with this episode.