“Damn, It’s a Shelley Hack! That’s Like Gettin’ a Shemp!”

Sony/Columbia is the most unpredictable studio when it comes to TV on DVD, sometimes waiting years between releases. They hardly ever finish anything, but they hardly ever completely abandon anything either. The latest case in point is that they’re unexpectedly releasing the infamous season 4 of Charlie’s Angels, three years after the release of season 3. I can’t say I’m going to run out and buy it, but the fact that they never give up on a title altogether kind of gives me hope. (I think in this case, Sony probably realizes that if they find a way to bring out seasons 4 and 5, they can make some real money selling a complete-series set.)

I don’t know if Shelley Hack is the worst addition to a long-running series, but, as the subject-line quote from Cotton Hill makes clear, she’s one of the most-scorned of all TV replacements. Replacements often get unfairly blamed for killing off shows that were already dying before they got there, the most unfair case of all being Ted McGinley (Happy Days and Married With Children went up in the ratings after he joined). And since Charlie’s Angels had already burned itself out, and wasn’t about to do anything drastic like having better scripts — Barney Rosenzweig had briefly tried to improve the quality of the scripts and Aaron Spelling told him not to — you can reasonably argue that Shelley Hack didn’t wreck the show, she just came into a show that was already in trouble and couldn’t survive Kate Jackson’s departure. But she’s become synonymous with “bad replacements” because a) she was a replacement for the only Angel who could act, and therefore looked even worse by comparison; b) the show had already been able to replace Farrah Fawcett without any decline in ratings. Also, Hack was later hired as the replacement female lead on Night Court, only to be so bad that her part was re-shot. So she’s always going to be a punchline.

You’ve got to admire the evil genius of Aaron Spelling in starting off the season with a Love Boat crossover, though. I think both shows would have been better if they’d been combined into one, with the Angels solving murders on the Love Boat and brandishing guns at Sid Caesar and Florence Henderson.


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