ISSUE DATE: Nov. 22, 1976
Everybody knows about the power of a great idea whose time has come. What often gets overlooked is that the strength of a mediocre idea whose historical moment has arrived can be just as awesome. This is especially worth considering in the weird realm of regularly scheduled prime-time commercial television, that bargain basement of American culture, where the very nature of the environment usually precludes great notions and the merely good ones are rare. Instead, the insipid and the tasteless constantly push and shove, tug and haul, rudely jockeying for position in the ratings that mean the difference between survival and death for programs. Financially a couple of points make the difference between profits that are merely terrific for the network with a bunch of flops or simply stupefying for the one with the most hits. Here timing is everything. Whoever guesses right when mood swing afflicts the customers becomes TV’s merchant king—for a day—while competitors retreat to a sullen contemplation of their demographics and a glum reshuffling of their schedules.
This year the aesthetically ridiculous, commercially brilliant brainstorm surfing blithely atop the Zeitgeist’s seventh wave is a little number called Charlie’s Angels, starring sexy Farrah Fawcett-Majors, sweet Jaclyn Smith and smart Kate Jackson. The series is about delicious ladies who get into scrapes that threaten life and virtue in the course of working as operatives for a private detective with such a passion for anonymity that he is never seen on camera. The show is not just a winner but a certifiable phenomenon. Seldom has a brand-new entry broken into Nielsen’s top ten in its first week and then stayed there, steadily improving its position with each subsequent airing. Generally it takes a half season at the very least for a show to achieve these heights.
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