The Pilot Pirate: “Charlie’s Angels,” “Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea”

Welcome back to The Pilot Pirate, where we preview the latest scripts looking for a home on the 2011-12 primetime TV schedule. Each week, we read and preview some of the projects interest to the AfterEllen.com community, breaking down scripts to help you, the optimistic TV fan anxiously awaiting the next Modern Family or Glee, keep up with the onslaught of pilots in contention.

A reminder: These are early stage scripts that are likely to be revised and, in some cases, drastically change before filming, and only some of which will make it to the airwaves.

Pilot: Charlie’s Angels (drama)
Writers: Alfred Gough and Miles Millar (Smallville). Based on the original TV series created by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts

Network: ABC

Logline: The remake of the 1970s series, described as a modern take on the Angels set in Miami.

Cast: Minka Kelly (Friday Night Lights), Rachael Taylor (Transformers), Annie Ilonzeh (Melrose Place), Ramon Rodriguez (The Wire), Robert Wagner (Hart to Hart)

Director: Marcos Siega (The Vampire Diaries, Dexter, Veronica Mars)

The characters:
John Bosley, 30, perfect specimen of 21st century American manhood (Rodriguez)
Abby Sampson, 26, Park Avenue princess turned thief (Taylor)
Marisa Valdez, twentysomething former gang member who was dishonorably discharged after two trips to Afghanistan; explosives and bomb disposal expert (Kelly)
Kate Prince, 28, decorated police detective turned dirty cop (Ilonzeh)
Charles Townsend, enigmatic, wise, haunted voice of the Angels (Wagner)

The original Charlie’s Angels ran from 1976 to 1981 and made stars of Jaclyn Smith, Farrah Fawcett, Cheryl Ladd and Kate Jackson. The franchise, rebooted for the big screen with Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu and Cameron Diaz, scored at the box office as the series successfully captured and updated the tone of the original series: fiercely strong women whose past indiscretions help shape their character and values. All that exists in spades in the script for Angels 3.0 as penned by Smallville writers and executive producers Alfred Gough and Miles Millar.

While the script is being updated now that the new Angels are in place, it’s still a page-turner that effectively captures the spirit of both franchises. The Angels, like the theatrical series, have their vulnerable sides. The pilot script offers a glimpse into Kate’s back story and why she’s so protective of her fellow Angels: her father died and she now takes care of her mother. Abby has a very Cameron Diaz feel about her, and has issues with her estranged father. Marisa’s character, which most likely receiving the most revisions for Kelly, has a Girlfight vibe and a back story that’s truly captivating. Hopefully this doesn’t change too much for Kelly.

The 64-page script is hard to put down. The dialogue is sharp and witty — very big-screen Barrymore, who also serves as an exec producer. Action scenes are updated with sequences that include elaborate choreography with helicopters, base-jumping and a four-way Mexican standoff in the pilot. Technology is smartly utilized — iPads with tracking devices built in and even Twitter comes in handy to help the Angels — and featured prominently.

One of the highlights of the script is Bosley — to be played by young Puerto Rican actor Ramon Rodriguez. Charlie’s right-hand man is written smartly funny and will absolutely serve as the fourth Angel. The writing has Boz coming across as a young Bill Murray who’s hip enough to keep up with the Angels and funny enough to be the butt of the joke. He’s a tech whiz and writing him young — and going a different way with casting — gives this Angels a chance to do more with the character rather than just having him serve as a set-up man.

Judging from the surprising end to the pilot script, look for this series to take creative risks that neither of its predecessors have attempted.

Pilot Pirate outlook: Well done, Angels.

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