Rage of Angels (1983)

One of the very first miniseries written about here was “Windmills of the Gods” (go back to December 2010 to read that one).  That one had Jaclyn Smith as the United States Ambassador to Romania, from the pages of Sidney Sheldon.  Typing that, and having seen it multiple times, it still doesn’t make sense. 

Far more realistic is “Rage of Angels,” which has Jaclyn Smith as an Assistant District Attorney, from the pages of Sidney Sheldon.  Sounds a whole lot more realistic, no?  Yup, sounds like it.

But, it isn’t.  It’s another made-in-heaven made-for-television hootfest, as delectably trashy as they come.  There is no way to take any Sidney Sheldon miniseries serious, and to do so would be foolish, but, as always, Jaclyn Smith is as earnest as all get-out in her sensible shoes.  She believes in what she’s doing (and considering she’s playing a character with the IQ of a carrot, that’s asking a lot of our Jaclyn), so let her undertake that burden and the rest of us can sit back and giggle together.

The drama starts immediately!  Our Jaclyn, in a cutesy casual ensemble of cutesy tennis shoes, jeans and a cutesy sweater tied over her shoulders, turns (dramatically) to the camera because of a disturbance she hears.  She runs toward the courthouse, past the ambulance and the gawkers to a man (Wesley Addy) being tended to by EMTs.  “Oh, Pop!” she coos when they tell her he’s in the middle of a heart attack.  “Do not call me Pop.  Pop is for champagne is soda water…everything is going to be all right, Jenny,” he says, still cracking wise through the pain.  “Don’t call me Jenny,” she replies, inexplicably, through her tears.  Apparently no one is concerned about the severity of the situation, because Jaclyn, still crying, is able to show her father a letter, and read from it.  She’s been made an ADA in New York City.  “I’m one of 278, but I’m one,” she says, proudly, but then changing her tune to say she’ll be back to practice law with him, “Parker and Parker,” to which the old geezer still manages to elicit a laugh, noting, “I say that you got your name first.” 

As he’s being put into the ambulance, I think Pop sees his time being up.  So, he lays on the canned advice, with lines like, “keep the rules” and “respect the law–it’s the only thing between us and the Furies.”  What does he mean?  Only Sidney Sheldon knows, and he can’t tell us, I’m afraid. 

Let’s get to New York (we were in Washington State before), where Jaclyn can still run, but now her clothes have gone from cutesy to smart, but, as usual for Jaclyn Smith, she’s clad nearly from head to toe and in layers, no less.  For one of “Charlie’s Angels,” she never was much of a sexy symbol.  Anyway, watch Jaclyn race for the bus.  Watch her trip on a sidewalk.  Watch her adjust price tag on her brief case.  Indeed, folks, it’s this hick’s first day on the job as one of the 278 chosen few. 

Naturally, DA Ron Hunter has already started with the other 277 when Jaclyn breathlessly bursts in the room.  She hasn’t missed much.  In fact, he picks up where her father left off, speaking in legal fortune cookie dialogue.  “The courtroom is where the action is.  Don’t hang from the stars yet because you people will be living in a world made up of subpoenas, research, mainly trivial, law libraries and still more law libraries.  Life in the courtroom is an ultimate, not a beginning,” he preaches.  You know the moment: tough boss tells half they are going to fail and the other half they are going to quit, or at least she tries to, but Jaclyn has a question.  “Oh, dear God, she’s not only late, she’s earnest,” he whines. 

Jaclyn and the other 277 will be working on “the trial of decade,” the trial of Joseph Wiseman, “the grand master of organized crime.”  The state’s turncoat witness is Art Vasil, who, upon being besieged by the media leaving The Tombs for court, already looks like a romantic novel dead man walking.  Art rattles off all of Joseph’s various business interests for the court, including “linen supplies.”  We can’t forget that one!  The mob king’s tough-talking lawyer, with insanely huge glasses, is none other than Armand Assante, who has spent a television career playing mob kings.  As Ron releases his fireworks questioning, Armand objects and they are called to the bench.  “You want to run for Senator?  Do it on your own time,” the judge admonishes him. 

Our heroine’s first assignment is to deliver an envelope to Art during a recess.  “Don’t stare at me like that, I’m no corpse,” he bellows, further hastening what we already know to be the inevitable.  Proud of herself for having achieved so much on her first day, Jaclyn breathes in the air with a smile…before being grabbed by two cops.  Ron wants to know who paid her to deliver an envelope containing a dead canary (which we get to see) to Art.  Ron thunders at her, “by the time you get out of prison…you’ll be too old to eat, to breath, to live!” as if he’s still performing in court.  The dead bird has caused Art to back out of testifying, meaning he can’t be cross-examined by Armand, who moves for a mistrial.  Jaclyn insists on waiting for the word of Ron secretary, who gave her the package, but Armand warns that if she “climbed to the top of the building now and sings ‘Melancholy Baby,'” the witness still won’t testify.  Wouldn’t you like to see THAT miniseries, huh?  Apparently the judge wants to rush home for that one too, because he declares a mistrial as Jaclyn launches into howling defensive shrieks. 

The judge also tells Jaclyn that he will investigate her conduct and proceed “with disbarment proceedings.”  At home, trying to look like a slob, but with full make-up and terrific lighting, Jaclyn finds out from the news that the secretary who gave her the envelope was killed in a car accident.  “This is a creepy town,” she says to her father’s picture.  Wet and fraying, Jaclyn can’t get a job in any law office, no matter how hard she tries.  Her name is mud. 

Time to meet the hero of the piece: Ken Howard, looking squeaky clean and handsome.  His brother-in-law and law partner wants him to run for the Senate too.  After all, not only is he [insert every positive quality here], he’s even a veteran.  What’s his connection to Jaclyn?  He’s prosecuting her at her hearing before the Bar, of course!  He sees it as “an investigation, not a lynch mob,” the sentiments of a White Knight and the only honest lawyer in New York City.  He’s told to “nail her…it’s worth at least a quarter of million votes,” though Ken has a (not-at-all-original) reply for that.  “And thirty pieces of silver?” 

Let’s wrap up Art.  He’s killed, naturally, in prison, while watching a Three Stooges movie that has he and his fellow prisoners laughing so hard many of the others might stroke out. 

Ken and Jaclyn meet adorably.  She’s in a towel just out of the shower when he rings her buzzer.  She thinks he’s there about a job application.  “Your people go back as far as…” she starts.  “Wigs and snuff,” he finishes.  Awwww, they have banter already!  It goes on for a bit as Jaclyn reaches fever pitch.  “There’s the door.  Or better yet, there’s the window!” she huffs and ducks into the bathroom.  He pretends to leave, and when she sees he hasn’t, she’s furious, throwing out more banter.  “I’ve been investigating your life for four days,” Ken pleads.  “That’s five too many,” she snaps.  Once again, math is not her strong suit, but that’s not even a good line!  He invites her to dinner and she agrees, because “I’m hungry.  For good…and vindication.” 

With even the sleazy law firms having turned her away, Jaclyn goes to meet shlumpy private investigator Kevin Conway, but only to rent office space.  “I want to go into business myself.  I have to go into business myself,” she tells him, though she can’t afford even the discount rent he offers.  However, he has an idea.  “You ever serve a summons before?  Pretty ladies have an advantage.  They are less apt to break your legs,” Kevin says, offering her that job.  But, right at the end, she realizes he knows who she is.  And he still wants her?  “I’m desperate too” is his reply. 

As our plucky heroine is walking home from grocery shopping, Armand drives up in a big fancy car with roses to present to her.  “Strangle any canaries, lately?” she quips, after quipping about what he should do with the roses.  I like quipping Jaclyn.  She gets to stretch as an actress.

Okay, that last line was a joke. 

“I think you got one of the bummest raps in history,” Armand informs Jaclyn.  What she doesn’t know, but he does, is that his boss did not order the hit on Art, but all he does here is deny he had any part in it. 
He: “I hate lynch mobs.”
She: “I hate criminals.”
He: “Then be a jailer, not a lawyer.”

I guess living in the Pacific Northwest teaches a woman some interesting skills.  When Jaclyn shows up at her new office the next day, Kevin is drunk.  Rather than huffing in disappointment, Jaclyn smacks him around, pins his arm behind his back, shouts, “where is my office? Where is my LIFE?” and then dunks his head under a faucet to sober him up.  Not only is she skilled physically, she’s also something of a shrink.  “No one asks you to be happy!  Sober, clean and healthy you can be!” she rails.  Where the HELL did all of this come from?  “I think I want to die,” he claims, defenses down.  “You can die later,” she says sweetly. 

Armand sends over flowers and a case to Jaclyn via messenger.  Luckily, Kevin is there to tell Jaclyn it’s a bad idea, so she turns it down in favor of handing out more summonses.  Kevin also has some insight into Jaclyn, sensing that she has feelings for Ken, though they have only had that one awkward scene together!  That is soon corrected when Ken shows up at lunch to tell Jaclyn she has been cleared of all wrongdoing by the Bar committee.  Now she and Ken can really get to know each other. 

“I feel dumb and wonderful,” Jaclyn says at lunch.  Never has a line had a truer ring in the land of the land of the miniseries!  She’s referring to her giddy feelings.  I took it to be about her character as a whole. The two spend the whole day together, going for a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride at night where Ken complains about his bad marriage and tells Jaclyn he has no hobbies at all except hosting “rap sessions” for some fellow Vietnam vets. 

Armand isn’t going away.  When Jaclyn gets home from work one day, Armand is there already, with oodles of roses.  To get him to stop showing up, she agrees to go out with him “in a public place” and he takes her to a hockey game.  He loves the brawling, but she doesn’t understand either the game, the fighting or the fans.  “I see nothing beautiful,” she says, as if she’s not understanding a night at the opera.  It gets more ridiculous when Armand hits a man in the food line who insults him.  “You just hit that man!” Jaclyn says a few times, not that she leaves her place in line or doesn’t eat her food.

Ken wakes Jaclyn up in the middle of the night (although in one of those gaffes that affected the trashier types of miniseries, it’s clearly full daytime outside with loads of people milling about) to tell her she has a client.  “A client?  C-L-I-E-N-T?  I’m there already,” she yells, jumping out of bed.  But this client cannot pay.  It’s a priest, Father James Greene.  He explains the case, about a prisoner who may have beaten a man to death in prison (Bill Cobbs).

So, wearing her preferred outfit of suit with a flowing skirt and something around her neck (this time a sweater AGAIN), she goes to the prison to meet Bill, who is suffering badly from being in solitary confinement.  Here comes Dr. Jaclyn again.  When Bill avoids her questions and propositions her sexually, she asks, “do you hate all people?”  So, what is Bill’s story?  “I killed a honkey slime,” he starts, but business-like Jaclyn has trouble connecting to him, so he leaves, saying, “this is real!  This is black!” in trying to avoid telling her the truth.

Who is her opposing counsel?  DA Ron, of course, who threatens to “have your eyes, ears, nose and throat” before the judge arrives.  What, you don’t want her mouth or her shoulder pads, Ron?  Nope.  “I’m going to ram your face into the law, THE LAW!” he says furthermore.  His threats are one thing, but she opens an anonymous letter in the courtroom telling her to drop the case, that it will end her career (naturally, it’s one of those notes with letters cut out of magazines and newspapers, pasted together). 

What actor doesn’t love a trial scene?  We know hammy Ron does, and his opening statement is flashy.  Jaclyn can hold her own.  Boring as hell, at least she sticks to the law.  Though Bill had admitted to killing the man and there were witnesses, the plan is self-defense.  Ron makes much out of Bill’s being a much bigger man than the victim, but Jaclyn has ample power suits with ties that match on her side!n  She also gets a huge break when Ron makes a small legal error that allows her to introduce a “goody box” into evidence.  That would be a box of weapons confiscated, proving that the victim might have had a weapon.  It’s a giant stretch of an argument, especially since all it does is prove that the victim could have had a weapon.  Pouring the contents onto the floor, Jaclyn gets to showboat in a way only Ron usually gets to do.

At this point, one wonders when and how Jaclyn (who remember, is supposed to be a novice) became so good in a trial setting.  This is her first case!  Should we assume Pop taught her the tricks or is she just super brilliant?  Let’s bet on the former, shall we?

On the stand, Bill says that indeed the victim did have a weapon and he was “forced to kill him” because of it.  Ron picks up the salad tongs Bill claims his victim had and, smarmy as all get out, asks how something like that could do any damage.  “Testicle crushers,” Bill says, as no doubt every man in the courtroom winces.  Even Ron has no reply to that one. 

Jaclyn wins the case and calls Ken to share the exciting news.  As a present, he takes her out on a yacht, complete with wine and cheese.  “Ohhhh, cheese!  Boy, they are going to lose money on me,” she says, once again proving how incredibly socially awkward she can be.  I will give Jaclyn credit for the first sensible thing she’s had to say so far in the entire movie.  She asks Ken if he “minds being seen in public” with her, considering he’s a married man running for Senator.  Nope, apparently “being seen with an astonishingly beautiful woman” is a plus, though Ken doesn’t understand why.  Don’t affairs usually kill campaigns?  Ken also fills Jaclyn in on Kevin, whom he used to use as a private investigator.  He’s smart and good at what he does, but never passed the bar because of his drinking.  There was also a wife.  “She came home one day…” Ken starts, with Jaclyn AGAIN finishing his sentence, “and of course there was a woman in the bed.”  “There was a man in the bed and Nancy killed herself five days later.”  That’s an interesting twist!  “I guess he’s still waiting for the hyenas to come down from the hills,” Jaclyn opines, although I can’t say I understand the reference. 

Having won such an important case, Jaclyn is suddenly the hottest lawyer in town, inundated with offers.  It also seems Kevin has some sort of feelings for her.  Ken invites her to one of his Sunday Vietnam vet “rap sessions.”  She finds them an ornery disappointed bunch, disaffected and angry.  Jennifer is deeply moved by what she sees and hears, unable to hold back tears.  This scene rings with truth and honest pathos, but what it’s doing in a Sidney Sheldon piece, I’m not entirely sure.  Sheldon was not known for taking on social causes in his writing and he was a generation older than the Vietnam veterans. 

Boyfriend and girlfriend have the obligatory run along the beach at sunset and then a rather awkward morning at a hotel where Ken is clearly upset and out of sorts, but Jaclyn soothes him by saying, “I expect nothing but you.”  Suddenly wealthy (her big case was that of a convict, so how could that make her rich?), Jaclyn gets a new apartment where she and Ken can do more of that quip crap.  She talks about the fireplace giving off heat, he makes it sexual.  She talks about preparing dishes in the kitchen, he says she’s the only dish for him.  A relationship built on puns is a house of cards, if you ask me.  When Jaclyn mentions the dreaded word “relationship,” she instantly apologizes, remembering his situation.  “I would rather have no illusions than broken promises,” she tells him when he fumbles for a way to make her feel better, knowing he can never leave his wife.  She just keeps smiling and smiling.  This incredibly nutso scene ends with Jaclyn a bit disappointed that Ken has mentioned his work with fellow vets in a campaign speech, but after two or three lines, invites him to “see the bedroom.”  Either Jaclyn’s character is extremely stupid (that’s been pretty well established) or extremely horny.

You know it’s going to be odd when the heroine is invited to the grand palatial estate of his current wife, Deborah May.  “I think you must be the most civilized person I’ve ever met,” Jaclyn comments, for lack of any other clear sentiment.  Calm WASP Deborah notes, “people change…I feel brand new.  In fact, I’m very much in love myself.”  She’s putting off a divorce until after the Senate campaign.  “Is that agreeable to you?” Deborah asks?  This is too good to be true.  She has to be hiding a knife somewhere under the tea table.  Her only request?  “Let me release [Ken].  Let me let him go.” 

When Jaclyn arrives home, she finds an envelope with a dead canary in it pinned to her door.

After a fundraiser, Deborah decides to talk to Ken about their relationship.  “Emotionally, we’re both run out,” she says.  She tells him she will give him up if Jaclyn can stimulate him and keep him going with his political career.  As for her plans, she remains vague.  “No villains, no losers, everyone wins,” she says, way too smoothly.  She has one request of him too, that they have sex one more time.  And they do!

Let’s pause to learn a fact, via Sidney Sheldon.  “The East River isn’t a river at all, it’s a channel,” Ken tells Jaclyn when they have a rendezvous there.  Let’s unpause…

…to reveal the secret that has been making Deborah so confident.  She’s pregnant!  This gets Jaclyn all upset again, and we know when she gets upset here, she blubbers and can’t speak in complete sentences.  “I’m hurting terribly,” Jaclyn cries, suddenly without any hope.  She has already figured out (and I’m not sure how with her lack of ability to put puzzle pieces together) that Deborah will always have an excuse to keep Ken.  “There will always be another election…she intends for you to be President.”  Before leaving him, Jaclyn even compliments Deborah.  “She rolled over me…that’s good for a Senator’s wife,” she remarks, almost impressed. 

It turns out Deborah is far more devious.  As Jaclyn crosses the street one night, Deborah runs her down with her Mercedes.  She wakes up in the hospital with bruises and make-up, with Kevin there at her side.  The nurse, breaking all rules, tells Kevin that Jaclyn “almost lost the baby.” 

A year later, Jaclyn and Kevin are celebrating her child’s first birthday, which happens to be Election Day.  Wait, so Ron and Ken have been campaigning for over a year for a Senate seat?  Something is off here timing-wise, but we don’t have a choice except to believe it.  Tucked into the conversation is a line that should be the focus of it: “I adopted him legally.”  Even in the early 80s, this character felt it necessary to hide her single motherhood and use that adoption bit?  I thought that kind of thing disappeared with Eisenhower. 

Jaclyn’s big new case is to go after a company that makes trucks.  Not only does it happen to be the one that “accidentally” killed the secretary who could have exonerated Jaclyn, but she also has other clients, proving that the trucks are faulty.  When George Coe agrees to meet her demands for $2 million settlement for another injured woman, he asks her out to lunch.  “Why don’t we wait?  You can hand me the check over a nice chef’s salad,” she says, swooping out of the room. 

We haven’t seen much of creepy Armand lately, and he ups that character description by sitting in the dark in Jaclyn’s office, to be there when she arrives for work one morning.  She tells him never go come to her office again.  “You want me to go to your house?” he asks with swagger?  “No.”  “That’s why I came here.” 

I know you won’t believe this, but Jennifer has been outwitted.  I know, I know!  When you pick yourself up off the floor, I’ll tell you how.  Remember when George Coe agreed to give her client $2 million?  He first had to go to London for a trip, but they do have that lunch.  Jaclyn asks for the money and he informs her she can’t have it.  “The statute of limitations ran out today,” he says with a smile.  Okay, so George Coe and his lawyers bothered to do their research in order to figure it out, but Jaclyn, whom we’re told repeatedly might just be the smartest lawyer EVER in history, didn’t bother to check on that detail, not a tiny one either. 

But, she manages to cover that mistake in the most Sidney Sheldon-esque way possible, with a juicy deus ex machina that is too goofy for words.  She calls George Coe, drunk with his coworkers over their good fortune, to inform him that she has found a lawyer in Hawaii, which is hours behind New York and therefore still within statute of limitations.  Genius, pure genius. 

After hearing that Ken is now running the Senate subcommittee on organized crime, Jaclyn gets ready for her next case, defending kidnapper John Glover.  He admits to kidnapping the child, but explains why.  It all started when his wife died in childbirth, as did the child.  “It’s like they couldn’t afford God’s rent to stay here,” he says, a line meant to be brilliant, but instead laughably ridiculous.  Anyway, he saw a little girl who looked like what would have been his child.  “I didn’t send a ransom note.  I didn’t want any money.  I only wanted little Tammy,” he says.  Jaclyn has it all figured out in a flash.  Someone knew about the kidnapping and send the ransom note to frame John (who, admittedly, did kidnap a kid, so he’s not exactly an angel). 

Jaclyn has to beg her old nemesis Ron to move John to a hospital because he’s obviously crazy, and also to protect him from the other prisoners, who don’t look kindly on kidnappers.  She throws a tantrum, but that’s not going to move Ron.  While Jaclyn is speaking in court on another case, Kevin interrupts the the proceedings to tell her John has been playing them.  He’s really a homicidal maniac.  However, Ron actually did have him transferred to a hospital, where he killed guards and escaped. 

Pause again.  So, Jaclyn didn’t learn from the statute of limitations case that she should actually put some research hours into her cases?  Wouldn’t it have been easy enough to find out their client was a con artist?  Unpause.

Needless to say, Ron is incredibly angry, having followed her advice only for it to end so badly.  That night, Jaclyn arrives home to find her dog dead in the driveway.  And her child is missing.  The nanny is gagged and in the closet.  John calls Jaclyn just as she’s undoing the nanny.  Why did John do it?  “You knew they’d steal my brain…you took my case so you could have me destroyed,” he tells her in stuttering gasps.  Oh, John, you give her too much credit.  She could have never put that many pieces together.  Jaclyn has to go back to Ron to enlist his help in finding her son.  She puts a lot of emphasis on forcing Ron to get John.  “Strictly speaking, we’re not an apprehending organization,” he says, quite correctly.  The DA’s office?  Why the hell is she putting any eggs in that basket?  Ah, she actually tells us, and it’s because she knows the DA has informants and she’s hoping to tap into it.  “You’re not going to help me, are you?  You still hate my guts.  You’re going to let my little boy diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiie!!!!!!” she yells as she runs out of the office. 

Hmmm, where else can she go?  Wait a minute, how about mob lawyer Armand Assante?  He must have a few tricks up his sleeve.  He goes to the mob boss to help figure it out and now we are subject to wizened old mafia boss wisdom, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and might be fun it it rhymed.  They get the police file on John, which Armand is convinced has information the police do not understand.  John has Jaclyn’s son tucked away and when the kid asks for his mother, he’s told, “she in hell, she’s deep in hell.”  Armand and company find a friend of John’s and beat the stuffing out of him, getting as far as his sister (Lois Smith).  Skittish Lois isn’t afraid.  “If this is a rape job, go ahead.  My doctor’s treating me for gonorrhea,” she tells Armand and his equally grossed-out pal.  Can she lead them to John before he sacrifices Jaclyn’s son?

Of course!  Armand kills him and the baby is saved.  I suppose Jaclyn owes Armand big time now.  “There’s no thank you big enough,” she tells him and even agrees to call him.  That calls leads to a trip to Paris where their big pouffy hairstyles flow in tandem in the wind.  He takes Jaclyn to the most opulent hotel in Paris, which he calls “quaint,” and packs her off to the room while he has a meeting with some sketchy guys.  She’s left to ponder Paris on the balcony in yet another oversized sweater.  The problem they have is that he loves her and she doesn’t love him.  “Tell me you love me,” he says over and over, and all she says is “want” over and over. 

By chance, back in New York City, Ken sees Jaclyn with their son, a nanny and a priest (go into a bar…).  It’s an awkward meeting for the two, getting a bit heated when he chides her for associating with Armand and his kind.  Deborah is across the street waving.  “She’s a great waver,” he says, trying to ignore her, but Jaclyn moves on.  However, the meeting has upset her enough to snap at poor Kevin.  Wearing her worst power suit yet, with a wide tie that was never stylish, Jaclyn is on the attack when Kevin tries to warn her about Armand as well.  “I feel so funny.  Nobody looks familiar.  Everybody seems to have gone away,” Kevin ruminates, staring outside the window, an omen of gloom. 

Mafia head Joseph dies and Armand and his other lawyer Joe Warren argue about the will.  Joe is pissed that Armand has turned into a “sloppy lovesick” fool who can’t handle the business.  Armand grabs Joe and insists that Jaclyn “and the organization” are both mine.

Kevin’s world crumbles faster.  He starts drinking again.  “Please, tell me why.  I’ll understand,” she chirps.  Really?  She hasn’t understood much so far, so how will she understand that?  When he rips into her about “yesterday’s heartbreak staring at you through cankered tears,” loneliness and even gay bars, she merely looks perplexed, though with sympathetic tears.  “I’ve got nothing!” he yells and thrashes the office.  He pulls down bookcases and blames Jaclyn for everything, but all she can do is whimper for him to stop.  Yeah, it’s clear she doesn’t understand, just like he predicted.  She takes him home to her family.

But, it’s not enough.  He goes into the office and hangs himself.  When Jaclyn discovers him, she has one of by-now-expected fits of hysteria and then we dash off three months ahead to a legal conference in Mexico.  It’s not all work, as Jaclyn calls her secretary from a pool filled with hibiscus flowers. 

The Senior Senator from New York is supposed to speak, but he can’t make it and instead the Junior Senator from New York speaks (that would be our pal Ken, the only person in Mexico wearing a tie as everyone else is in leisure suits and halter tops).  Ken gets to Jaclyn’s hotel suite and asks point blank if the kid is his.  Why didn’t she tell him?  “I didn’t want to tear you in two.  I would have ended up with the lesser half.  And so would” his wife, she tells him, again proving that math is not a strong suit of hers.  For that matter, neither is good dialogue.  There was a time when she could quip beautifully, but now she can only quote her infant son.  “All gone,” she tells Ken. 

He asks her out on a date in Mexico and she refuses, but does tell him he could have been a great senator and is not.  Why?  “Because [Deborah’s] eyes don’t dance like yours,” he replies.  That apparently seals the deal.  She meets him as requested and they make all sorts of promises to each other in red lighting that is meant to simulate moonlight, but looks like a cut scene from the movie version of “South Pacific.” 

When Jaclyn gets home from her trip, Armand’s chauffeur is waiting to take her to him.  In church.  He’s in a pensive mood, talking in riddles and opposites.  “I love you suntanned.  I love you pale…I’ve seen you naked, but never nude,” that sort of tripe.  He tells in his best mafia voice that, “you must never leave me again,” though she replies, “I hope to be rid of you.”  He insists on protecting her son always, but she doesn’t understand what he really wants.  “What can I give you to keep you gentle?” she asks.  “The title, free and clear,” is his answer.  Last I checked, she’s not the Queen, so what title?

In the next scene, he’s boxing with his lackey, who is giving him his spy report on Jaclyn and Ken’s moves in Mexico.  “You saw him in bed with my property?” he asks, slugging the lackey to the ground.  The conversation continues in the sauna where a very hairy-chested Armand orders a hit on Ken.  The lackey is biding his time because he wants to hire someone from out of the country who cannot be traced.  Ah, but Armand wants to do it himself.  The lackey begs him not to.  “I want him dead more than I want myself alive,” he mumbles.  That will certainly win you Jaclyn, won’t it?  What is she supposed to do, drag your carcass to dinners and the movies?

Joe Warren calls Jaclyn for a mysterious meeting in Lower Manhattan.  “I’m not in the boom boom business,” referring to the mafia.  She doesn’t really care, but when he says “lovesick madman” Armand has a hit out on Ken, she is interested.  Jaclyn doesn’t see what she can do (other than the obvious–telling Ken), but Joe says they are both “your men” and thus her problem.  For the first time in the story, Jaclyn actually asks a smart question: why can’t Joe take care of Armand?  He has some excuse about not starting a mob war.  The answer is wan, but I’m so proud of our Jaclyn for starting to understand!

She can’t get through to Ken, so she goes to her old friend, DA Rob.  She informs him that Armand is going to kill Ken, because “of his obsession for me.”  Rob asks when? where? how?  She has no idea.  “Why me?  Why me again?” Rob begs of her.  “You’re going to do nothing?  You’re going to sit there and stare at me with your dead eyes and do nothing?” she begs.  Oh, Jaclyn, the flattery, it’s too much!  Wait a second, it actually works!  He says “I’ll handle it.”  Of course, when she leaves, Rob tells his assistant he has no intention of listening to her. 

Armand calls Jaclyn and asks for “a civilized ending,” a meeting for that night at 7pm.  He then goes out with a gun to shoot Ken on his usual riverside jogging path.  Ken runs merrily with his constituents (including one sassy girl who says she’ll vote for him because he has “great legs and a cute behind”), while Armand slowly steers a boat to his ideal spot and Jaclyn arrives at Armand’s place, perplexed because “he’s never kept me waiting before.”  Back to being completely dimwitted, Jaclyn doesn’t put the pieces together immediately, grilling the lackey until darkness falls and threatening to “put you away for life plus forever!”  Jeepers, that’s a long time. 

When she gets the information from the lackey, Jaclyn is caught in traffic trying to get there.  Ken stops to take a rest and Armand loads his gun.  Amazingly, Jaclyn runs to Ken (how the hell did she know exactly where he would be?), yells his name and then gets shot by Armand, who does a King Lear-like howl when he sees what he’s done.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t see the tugboat behind him, which knocks him into the river.  He’s caught in the current and goes under. 

Ken keeps a vigil at the hospital and Deborah is there too.  “She has no right to make it!” Deborah says.  She confesses to the notes and hints at the car accident, demanding that “you can be President of the United States someday and I can watch.”  Again in a hospital bed, this time Jaclyn has no bruises, but still her perfect make-up.  Finally catching up with the plot, Jaclyn tells Ken, “I think he wanted me there that night so he could tell me he killed you.”  You don’t say!  “Don’t look so miserable, you don’t have to love my anymore…you loved me once and that’s enough.  I’m the past,” she tells him, setting him up for the inevitable blow-off.  He tells her, “you’re the most distinguished person I’ve ever met,” leaves the hospital room, takes his wife’s hand and walks down the long hallway. 

As for our Jaclyn, she’s “giving up everything” in the words of her secretary, to go back to Washington.  The woman even packs up a house in a jacket with shoulder pads.  Dressing down, up, or sideways is not something she has been able to manage.  Her friend the priest has one last case for her and as she pleads and refuses, the camera pulls away and the movie ends.

The Jennifer Parker lead character in “Rage of Angels” is the most unappealing of all Sidney Sheldon heroines, mainly because she’s so utterly idiotic.  Granted, “Rage of Angels” is not one of his better books, because most of the characters are unappealing and it misses the touch of the exotic that Sheldon did so well.  The movie version goes one worse by letting go of the erotic, something no Sheldon book ever lacked.  Dozens of men want the same woman here and we don’t have so much as a sex scene.  The biggest kiss is from a man to his wife! 

However, things here proved so popular that “Rage of Angels” begot a miniseries sequel…

Questions?  Comments?  Laughs?  Email me at hpmaraka@gmail.com and let’s chat!

Categories: Romance Miniseries

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