Barbara Stanwyck and the Gender-Reversed “Charlie’s Angels” Spin-Off

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All credit to the Mad Marchioness for being the one to unearth this a couple of years ago. It being Barbara Stanwyck’s birthday, I thought it would be a good time to share it.

In 1980, during the 4th season of Charlie’s Angels, producer Aaron Spelling tried one of those backdoor pilots, hoping for a spinoff series. This was both post-Farrah Fawcett and post-Kate Jackson. The cast was getting more anemic and gimmicks were needed (I mean, beyond the intrinsic gimmicks in that series), as well as possible series offspring to survive when this one tanked.

In this episode, the “Bosley” equivalent was played by none other than Barbara Stanwyck. And she was in command of three good lookin’ studly disco dudes, none of whom is any different from the other two (much like the Ritz Brothers. And come to think of it, that would have been a way better show).

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What’s hilarious about the misguided concept (if it isn’t already obvious) is: aren’t ALL cop shows already all about guys? The difference here is, they aren’t primarily cops, but primarily sex objects and only incidentally cops, just like Charlie’s Angels. And, hey, Charlie’s Angel’s succeeded. What I’ve always loved about that show along with (The Love Boat and Fantasy Island) is that the concept is so appalling, terrible and in bad taste that on paper you would say “This will never work!” But no one ever went broke underestimating, etc.

Anyway this episode was entitled Toni’s Boys. Stanwyck was Toni. And the show never made it past this one experiment. Stanwyck (though she was to live another ten years) was mighty frail at this stage; I’m sure that was part of it. (That, and her “boys” didn’t have a single personality amongst them).

Sadly, Mae West died that year. She would have been the perfect Toni!

Someone very thoughtfully stitched together bits of the episode to make a fake credit sequence, which is duly hilarious and much less painful than watching the entire show, in which you occasionally have to hear those three boys try to speak:

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One comment

  1. I would hope that, had this show gone to series, that there would have been much shirtlessness for these actors and every opportunity would have been found for them to parade around in swimsuits, just like on the parent show. You can hear Stanwyck’s hesitancy in the few lines excepted for the voice over…it’s like she can’t quite remember the lines.

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