ABC is close to giving a pilot order to a modern version of the classic 1970s TV actioner “Charlie’s Angels.”
Josh Friedman, who recently adapted the “Terminator” franchise for his Fox series “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” is onboard to write and exec produce the new “Angels.”
Also involved are original “Charlie’s Angels” producer Leonard Goldberg, who launched the series with Aaron Spelling in 1976, as well as Drew Barrymore, who starred in and produced the 2000 film version and its sequel. Sony Pictures TV is the studio.
Insiders said that ABC Entertainment Group topper Steve McPherson is particularly high on this project.
I was asked why I don’t care for this idea even though I’m an admitted fan of the light action-adventure drama (which I think is not merely worthy of more consideration by the networks, but just an underrated form of television, artistically). The reasons are:
1) I don’t think there’s any compelling reason to remake the original. It’s not like Battlestar Galactica, an interesting idea trapped in cheesy ’70s execution. It was not a great or even good show, but it was pretty much what it set out to be, and the premise of attractive female crimefighters is no longer very unique. The only reason to remake it is that it makes the executives feel more comfortable about the cheesiness or sexism inherent in a format like this. (Sort of like the first movie got away with being both a cheesy, campy adventure and a parody of such adventures.) Like a number of other remakes — Knight Rider being the most obvious example — it seems like an excuse for networks to avoid developing new shows in this format. NBC could have used a new episodic light action drama about a guy with a cool car; instead they remade one from the ’80s, because their executives didn’t have the confidence to pick up a show like this without a brand name behind it.
2) Josh Friedman is on record as preferring serialized shows, so I figure he’ll load the premise with more weight than it can handle. There will be an almost overwhelming temptation to make some kind of ongoing mystery out of who Charlie is and why he hired them.
3) We’ve got two Aaron Spelling remakes already, 90210 and Melrose Place. And neither of those are much fun. Previous Spelling remakes like Fantasy Island (which, as the article notes, is being re-remade as a reality show) and The Love Boat have also flopped. Spelling shows, let’s face it, are so content-free and fluffy that remaking them is pointless (not that he didn’t try himself). The temptation in any remake is to try and have more character exploration and depth than the original. Spelling shows have no depth anywhere in them, so anything you can add to them, in terms of meaning, just winds up being a dull distraction from the opulent sets and catfights.
If the show turns out to be good, I will not eat my words; it’ll just mean it turned out good in spite of the above obstacles. It could happen. It’s not like the original show is so good that people will be up in arms over the changes.