SEQUEL ALERT: Rage of Angels: The Story Continues

For the original “Rage of Angels,” click here: http://mmarathon.blogspot.com/2011/05/rage-of-angels-1983.html

Who asked for the story to continue?

How fondly we remember Jaclyn Smith as Jennifer Parker, the plucky lawyer in the Sidney Sheldon trash-fest “Rage of Angels.”  Definitely not the best of the Sidney Sheldon miniseries, it’s the strangest one from which to draw a sequel (that, like “Lace II,” only takes the characters from the original).  It wasn’t that good a book and wasn’t that good a miniseries, but, since Jaclyn Smith and Ken Howard apparently had nothing better to do, here they are, back for more.  Thus, there is “Rage of Angels: The Story Continues,” though the story was pretty much self-contained in the original and did not beg for a continuation.

When we last left them, just as a reminder, Jaclyn’s character was leaving town forever, having been through the kidnapping of her son and a few dead bodies.  Ken was in a marriage from hell, but rising up the political scene, so careful to appear happy, though his wife did try to have Jaclyn killed.  There was a mob lawyer in love with her, but he’s actually not back for this one (Armand Assante had “Evergreen” on his plate around the same time–he chose wisely).  Really, that’s all you need to know diving into the sequel.  If you don’t remember it, flashbacks are provided in the second scene to catch you up, but trust me, I’m faster. 

Admittedly, things start off well enough.  A carriage driver in Central Park is dead when his horse returns the carriage to the line, and the customer in the carriage is also dead.  The murderer approaches Michael Nouri, asking who his “customer” was.  “A friend,” is the only reply he gets. 

Jacklyn leaves court and gets into a cab, asking the driver to turn up the news.  Her former lover, Ken Howard, is the Vice President-Elect.  He’s still married, though now his wife is played by the always-lovable Susan Sullivan, who managed to live through the “Rich Man, Poor Man” sequel alive, and that’s as dire as miniseries sequels get.  For some reason, coverage of the inauguration focuses on the Vice President.  For the life of me, I can’t remember seeing either the outgoing or incoming Veep at an inauguration, though I’m sure they are there. 

Just who is Michael Nouri?  It turns out he’s the brother of Armand Assante’s character.  His first real scene, with fellow bad guys Paul Shenar and Philip Bosco, doesn’t make much sense, but it seems the dirt he has on Ken (presumably that he’s the father of Jaclyn’s son, whom she’s pretending to raise as an orphan, much to the dismay of her nanny) is hoped to be enough to convince Ken to stop the Attorney General from getting in the way of their business dealings. 

This movie has one thing the original didn’t, and a big difference: Angela Lansbury!  In the middle of her third career as a TV celeb, Angela had proven there was nothing she couldn’t liven up.  Aunt Hortense in “Lace” almost stole the movie!  This time around, she’s a sloshed Italian Marquesa.  “Inaugurations, what a circus!” she bellows as her television only gives partial reception to the inauguration of the Vice Presi…I mean, President.  La Lansbury will have no competition with her snoozy cast members.  This time, there is no “almost.”  She will steal the movie, not that it’s worth much.

Jaclyn’s friend Father Mason Adams is on his way to Rome (already the miniseries is inept–wouldn’t it have been better to do the scene with the jolly priest and THEN show Italy?).  The way he eats, chirps the nanny, he’s bound to pack on the pounds.  “Do you think priests go to Rome for spiritual growth?” he asks, just a few years show of that line being shamefully embarrassing.  Jaclyn sasses the priest back, saying “it’s nice to have a priest around…absolves us of our sins before we commit them.”  Father Mason has a purpose (don’t stop there, this is leading somewhere) in being at Jaclyn’s.  He wants her to hire Paul Roebling, a notable lawyer “who was very nearly disbarred,” in Jaclyn’s words.  She doesn’t remember when that happened to her? 

The Washington balls are on television for all to see as well, and of course the cameras are centered, where else, but on the Vice President.  Michael scowls watching, promising his henchman Brad Dourif some work (there’s a long conversation about blackmail versus murder, cleaning up and absolutely nothing important) before going to the head shot of his dead brother on the wall, lit like a religious icon, promising revenge.  Yup, that appears to be the plot.

Jaclyn is also watching the balls, but she lucks into the one millisecond of commentary NOT about the Vice President.  Nope, it’s about his wife, the “second lady of the land.”  She’s said to be extremely ambitious, which Jaclyn knows all too well but can’t think about in flashback because Susan Sullivan hadn’t yet played the part.  “The eyes of the nation” are on this couple, we are told.  Boy, the President and First Lady must be exceedingly boring people if they don’t even rate a camera shot or two on Inauguration Day.

Finally, we meet this couple in person, in their new digs, a mansion so big it dwarfs the White House.  “If Marie Antoinette had your brains, this would be a palace, there would be no need for revolution, hypocrisy. Poverty and injustice would be irrelevant,” Ken tells Susan.  Do you understand what he said?  I sure as hell don’t.  Maybe we’ll come back to it later.  He’s actually quite bitter, going on to say how “without you” he would be this or that.  “Without me, you might be a hell of a lot happier,” Susan finally snaps to end that ramble.  She still clings to him like they are actually in love and then launches into her version of the way things will be.  “Heaven does charge.  There will be no scandal, no affairs for me, no you.  Therefore, old husband, you have the deal of the century…so, Mr. Vice President, here I am, the only game in town,” she says, alternating between steeliness and a strange sexiness.  That doesn’t stop him of dreaming of Jaclyn in his sleep, with pissed-off Susan watching from the back-lit windows.  “You brought her here tonight.  You chose this occasion to bring her into our house…you didn’t sleep with me, you slept with her, you brought a whore into the sheets!” she rails, wildly overestimating talking in one’s sleep. 

Unable to bear his wife’s jealousy, Ken does what all politicians in trashy stories (and Nixon) do: he gets in his limo, with his security detail in tow, and goes to the Lincoln Memorial.  Why?  Is Ken wrestling with questions of national unity or ethical responses to slavery?  Hell, Abe Lincoln was never even Vice President!  Oh, wait, I sorry, it’s just to call Jaclyn in private.  Sorry, sorry, I jumped to a conclusion.  It’s been years since they last spoke, but just hearing his voice makes her cry.  It just makes me snore.

Paul shows up at Jaclyn’s office (so does Brad, if you care) to encounter snooty secretary Tonya Pinkins for his interview.  He was a high-powered attorney who didn’t show up for a summation and cost his client a case, apparently searching for his wife, “whose whereabouts are irrelevant.”  In miniseries terminology, that means she’s going to show up at the worst possible time.  When trying to sell himself to Jaclyn, he refers to himself a few times as “damaged goods,” saying she can get them at a bargain or for a long time.  Which how-to-interview manual did he read so we can all avoid it.  “I don’t think you’re damaged goods, but you are a bargain,” Jaclyn says with a smile and hires him.  She gives him as a welcome-to-the-firm a “child molestation case,” on the side of the “alleged molester.”  “Ugh, I want a raise,” he jokes. 

Ken slips up to New York City to see Jaclyn, the Secret Service hustling all of the other park patrons away so Ken can talk to Jaclyn, who still pines at the same place along the river.  “I still love you,” he admits.  “Go home, be a loving husband and a loving father,” she says, bolting off when the topic turns to their son. 

At home, Nanny Pauline Flanagan introduces Jaclyn to Michael O’Hare, from the old country, looking for work.  Nanny is not at all happy that Jaclyn is defending a child molester.  “People like that…” she starts to say before Jaclyn cuts her off with “are people!”

Jaclyn is being wooed by Southern-accented Michael Woods to join his powerful firm.  Apparently, they want “more women, more ethnic types, more non-establishment types.”  It’s always nice to be offered a job when you are told ahead of time you are filling a quota.  She declines immediately, saying “I’m doing fine.”  Michael suggests he could be fired for not signing up Jaclyn, but Jaclyn agrees to cover for him should his boss conta…”You laugh like a chicken.”

Huh?  What?  Oh, the chicken line came from Michael Nouri, who sits down at their table without an invitation.  Michael Woods wants to verbally tussle with him, but a cliche story about broken kneecaps scares him off.  “You’re Michael’s brother,” Jaclyn figures out somehow from just these few clues.  Usually, it takes an elevator falling on her to understand her surroundings, but this time, she’s smart as a tack.  He wants her to “help me avenge my brother’s death.” 

“Are you going to punish me for your brother’s death?” she finally asks Michael Nouri tells her the life story of Hans Christian Andersen.  Frankly, at the end of it, I was hoping he might just kill me.  If this is the way he’s going to talk through the whole move, then shoot me now.  Michael feels that Jaclyn owes him for saving her son.  She reminds him she took a bullet from his brother intended for Ken and can’t have any more children.  “That was your brother’s legacy to me,” she adds.  He still claims, “you owe us.” 

Get this bizarre scene.  Jaclyn and Paul Roebling are listening to their client tell his version of what happened when into the office, without so much as a knock, comes secretary Tony Pinkins to deliver the tickets to Washington the fancy law firm has sent her.  Jaclyn and Paul start discussing the offer.  Wait a minute!  Your client is sitting right there!  Since when would a secretary just waltz in and interrupt, and how rude of the other two to discuss their lives in front of him!  “I would appreciate it if I could go home now,” the client says.  “Of course,” Jaclyn replies, barely having remembered he was there at all.  On his way out, he tells Tonya, “Isaac Stern…is on the radio tonight.  I once met Mr. Stern.  He was quite cordial.”  I know this was meant as the sad rambling of a misbegotten man, but the line could also be seen as a swipe for Tonya having barged in on his hourly-billed time with his lawyers. 

The tacky 80s are in full swing at a party hosted by Michael Woods’ big law firm.  One of the partners is soap queen Linda Dano, wearing a sequined gown and freshly frosted hair.  Oh, the party is in DC, by the way, which no doubt will be very handy for our central plot, if we ever find out exactly what it is.  Linda walks by and promises to be back.  “Is she always…” “No, when she’s angry, government buildings close, monuments cringe,” he says, but notes that one doesn’t “adore” her, one “worships” her. 

I called it.  Plot advancement time.  Into the party swoops Susan Sullivan.  “See a ghost?” pal Debra Mooney asks.  “Just a whore.”  “Ooooh, where…this place is full of whores, which one is yours?”  Um, okay.

Linda is giving Jaclyn the hard sell when they inevitably have to bump into Susan.  Linda gives Susan and over-the-top welcome, to which Susan replies, “I’ve not just come out of intensive care.  I’ve merely come to your sweet little party.”  Before her bitchiness can go any further, Ken arrives, right on schedule.  Jaclyn dashes out as quickly as she can.

Uh oh.  Another original cast member pops up.  It’s Jaclyn’s nemesis DA Ronald Hunter.  The two have a very checkered history going back to her days as a young up-and-coming thing, looking dumb and dowdy in her untailored suits and frumpy sweaters.  He’s decided to try the case himself.  “Damn he’s good, still good,” Jaclyn sniffs while Ron is giving his opening argument.

Father Mason has a small heart attack in church, begging the Lord to “hold off” so he can see Rome because “I won’t get a dime back” if he dies and the tickets can’t be used. 

Vice President Ken decides to visit Jaclyn and her son, as if the Vice President can just do that, make house calls.  Awkward!  “He looks like a TV star,” the kid rattles on.  He wants Ken to stay for dinner, but Ken picks him up and tells him he loves him.  “Hey, ma, the nice man says he loves me,” he says and runs out of the room.  Awkward!  It gets even stupider.  I know, not possible, right?

Jaclyn tells Ken she has a feeling she’s being “watched.”  That’s our observant Jaclyn!  There has only been a man standing outside of her building for weeks.  She has a feeling?  Hasn’t she seen him, day and night?  Anyway, Ken explains that the Secret Service has to protect all family members, oh, but not to worry, because “the President made the assignment himself,” letting the Secret Service believe it was his son they were protecting.  HOLD THE PHONE!  In what world would the President of the United States do such a thing?  To protect the Vice President?  If there is an unknown child out there and anyone gets wind of it, that could kill a career (it was the 80s, before that stuff was fashionable), but the President is simply willing to take that chance?  If that isn’t the worst writing, I’m not sure what is.  My only guess is that the President is so scared of Susan Sullivan as well that he would rather be found out by the American people.

Two quick scenes later (one where we find out Linda doesn’t actually like Jaclyn, but needs her and one involving the court case), Jaclyn is watching her son play in the park when Michael Nouri shows up.  He chatters endlessly before coming to the point, which is that he wants “an ongoing relationship” with her.  You see, “it’s already paid for, in blood.”  He then cozies up to the kid, whom Jaclyn sends home with the nanny, and of course the Secret Service agent a few yards behind.  That way, no one can see Michael grab Jaclyn and kiss her, so he can feel what his brother felt.  Ewwww! 

Back in court, Jaclyn gets to cross-examine the boy accusing her client of molestation.  The kid testifies all on his own that the guy never touched him.  All he did was tell him he had no talent.  I don’t know who this kid is, but he knows how to play a courtroom scene with the best of them!  He actually leaves the witness stand and goes over to apologize to his one-time accused.  “I think what we have here is a tragedy, not a crime,” the judge tells both lawyers.  Rather than having a celebratory meal, Jaclyn and Paul settle for a drink.  She describes going home as pretty boring, something about sloppy kisses from her son, his cars, his “delicious behind” and whatnot.  Paul can top that with what seems like a 30-minute speech about his horrible life, his constantly-missing wife.  Jaclyn cries yet again as she listens to his “go for the Emmy” type performing.  She tries to top his downer of a life with her own, which she says consists of “hanging around.” 

Jaclyn gets home to find out Father Mason has been in an accident in Rome.  She wants to be on the first plane.  The Secret Service agent goes to tell Michael Nouri (oh, don’t tell me you didn’t see what coming).  “You have business in Rome?” the agent asks, as a hint.  “Everyone has business in Rome,” Michael replies.  “Business?”  “No crackling wit, capice?”  I haven’t seen even non-crackling wit anywhere on display here.  The conversation only gets worse from there. 

At the hospital in Rome, the kid asks Jaclyn if he can give his heart to Father Mason so he can live “forever and ever.”  I don’t advocate violence against children, but since this one is fictional, and everyone in this movie is a villain, can’t someone rip his tongue out?  Jaclyn has a heart-to-heart with Father Mason, who tells her, “you get with it…don’t wait for the past to catch up.  If you do, you won’t recognize it.”  It has something to do with telling her son the truth about his father.

Michael Nouri is also in Rome, of course, and with a flashy red sportscar that he knows the kid will adore.  Indeed, he is begged for a ride and gets taken on one.  The Secret Service agent tries to object, but is told, “get fitted for a suit.  Believe me, you can afford it” as Michael Nouri and the kid take a drive.  Another man in a fancy sportscar goads Michael into racing them around Rome, always a good idea with a small child (who squeals with annoying delight and does not wear a seatbelt).  Is there no better way to see the sights of Rome than this race?  Of course, tragedy ensues.  Michael and the kid go off the road to avoid a truck.  Michael climbs out, bloody and bruised, but the kid doesn’t look so good as the car catches fire and blows up. 

Ken is pulled out of a very important meeting in Brussels (luckily enough) and rushes to Rome upon receiving Jaclyn’s call.

The nun nurse tells Jaclyn to nap or walk, and she actually listens.  “There will be no change in his condition for quite some time,” she says about the kid.  How does the nun nurse know that?  As for Vice President Ken, who hasn’t been able to go anywhere without cameras, no one seems to notice or question what he’s doing in Rome.  Jaclyn finds him praying in a small church.  Ken blames himself because he should have “stood at the top of the Capitol stairs and said, ‘that’s my kid, that’s my kid.'”  “Something else would have happened,” Jaclyn says, not disagreeing, but also not comforting. 

Unfortunately, we’ve been without Marquesa Angela Lansbury since her one scene in the first portion.  When a visitor comes, she offers “a belt,” a bourbon drink because “personally, I can’t stand any of that grape crap.”  “How’s the kid?” she asks after a very funny diatribe about what her dead husband left her.  Back to the dead husband, she says, “he took me off the streets of New Orleans.  I turned him on like he’d never been turned on before.”  She wants to know if the kid belongs to Ken, but decides herself it’s not possible.  “He’s too earnest to make babies.”  “He has a daughter.”  “His wife has a daughter.”  “What a pair,” she exclaims, “a thoroughly married politician and a vulnerable wounded romantic, mamma mia!”  So far, it’s the best scene in the movie, not surprisingly.

But, the next has potential, if only its players weren’t so lazy.  Michael Nouri, in a sling, shows up to talk to Jaclyn.  Jaclyn really has the upper hand in this argument, but Michael stands his ground, saying “if the boy lives, we all start again.  If he doesn’t, that’s sad but nothing changes, you still owe us.”  Wow, that’s cold!  And poorly written.  Jaclyn flies into a rage and Michael backs out of the room, saying, “business is business.  Personal business is personal business,” gesturing with a finger as if that makes it any less ridiculous of a statement. 

Unfortunately for Michael, his scene is sandwiched between two with Marquesa Angela.  She finds Jaclyn outside the hospital and starts yammering away, tossing off lines like they were spun of gold before offering to buy her a drink at a cafe.  “There’s always a cafe near a hospital.  Doctors, nurses, all of them, they couldn’t do without booze and bad food,” she huffs before telling Jaclyn how beautiful she is.  Jaclyn, scared by the crazy lady, excuses herself, but Angela calls out, “I’m your mother for God’s sake!…It’s all right kid, I don’t need money, but you can buy me a drink and hate me later.” 

“You left me in the crib with enough Graham Crackers for 25 years and enough love for 20 seconds,” Jaclyn says at a meal to her mother.  The writing really does get better when Angela Lansbury is around.  Even Jaclyn suddenly seems more alert.  “Your dad was a real class act…and he bored the hell out of me,” her mother tells Jaclyn, who has nothing but anger for her.  “Go to hell,” Jaclyn yells.  “Been there, didn’t like it, left.”  “Just what are you?”  “A working girl who got lucky.”  It gets even more delicious!  “You are beautiful,” Angie tells Jaclyn.  “I mean, you dress like you’re sorry for everything, but you are beautiful.”  At least SOMEONE finally noticed how badly this character dresses.  We’re only about 90 minutes shy of the end, so it’s taken a movie and a half for someone to agree with me!  “You look like me, you know,” Angela says on her way out.  “Your father was a nice man, but not very good looking.”  That’s an interesting compliment.  It’s the last thing she says here, other than, “someone could get killed with information like that,” referring to the paternity of her son. 

The kid wakes up to see his mother, like a vision, and smiles.  She calls Ken and he darts over. 

Don’t forget about Susan.  Naturally, she gets updates on what her husband is doing and asks her pal Debra what she would do to a person who has preoccupied her all these years.  “Is it a man or a woman?” Debra asks.  “Suppose it were a man.”  “I might kill him,” Debra replies.  “And if it were a woman?”  “I’d definitely kill her.”  The idea is now officially in Susan’s head.  When Ken gets home, Susan is in a mood!  She demands that he never contact Jaclyn again.  She has a lousy rant to deliver, but she’s talented enough to make it seem halfway decent.  “You wouldn’t put your ass on a stain cushion if you thought it could make the slightest crease,” Ken tells her in a line his character would never say replying to her and her own ambitious plans. 

The hilarity continues on Jaclyn’s first day at the white shoe law firm.  Linda Dano, now decked out as Cruella deVille, shares champagne and flirty remarks with Paul and Michael Woods before racing out of the room to get back to DC.  Downstairs, Linda complains about Paul, saying he needs to be watched because he may kill himself or something, I don’t know.  I think she rewrote all of her own dialogue and based it on things she had said during her time on “Another World,” but it sounds like random fragments.  Citing the fact that Jaclyn has “ruined my day,” she can’t go with Michael to the theater that night and tells him to get the girl from the tax department to go.  “I hear she yells real loud,” she notes.  He doesn’t agree, saying, “she doesn’t even know who I am.”  “She knows who I am, she’ll yell!” Linda barks. 

If you don’t remember Michael O’Hare, don’t worry.  He was one of the endless parade of characters introduced in the first part of the movie who didn’t do anything because it’s all about Jaclyn.  The poor guy returns now, helping his kinswoman Nanny Pauline with the groceries and then gets hit over the head by Brad and Michael Nouri.  Brad thinks Michael O’Hare is tailing Jaclyn on behalf of Michael Nouri’s partner, Philip Bosco.  He claims not to know Philip.  Michael Nouri threatens him with a breezy speech and then decides the guy is telling the truth.  “See what a highly-charged world we live in?” he asks the beaten man?  “We look everywhere for the truth but in a man’s eyes.  If we could see in your eyes, I bet we could see the truth.”  That is highfalutin’ garbage that I think someone thought would sound pretty.  “It’s okay, no harm done,” Michael O’Hare says, barely able to limp out of the room.  It’s okay?  You just beat me to within an inch of my life, but hey, no worries.  But, since he’s seen their faces, Brad has to kill him.  I truly hope that Michael O’Hare had more to do with the plot than die after two scenes.  If he doesn’t, that means all of the supporting characters, the priest, the long-lost mother, the bitchy female lawyer, the sad-sack legal friend, might also have no purpose but to waste time.  If the story were left to Jaclyn, Ken, Michael and Susan, I guess it would be about 30 minutes.

Working late with Paul, Jaclyn gets a call from Ken.  Seeing how upset she is, Paul says, “let’s get out of here, listen to some gentle music.”  What?  The trick to getting rid of the blues is soft jazz (pun intended)?  “What’s left after tears,” she asks, wanting to cry, but unable.  “I don’t know, dignity, I guess.”  That line has Sidney Sheldon written all over it!  It sounds profound, but is actually nonsensical. 

Phew, Linda does have a tangential reason to be in the plot.  She’s an accomplice of Philip and Michael Nouri’s.  They all want the case against their legit business partner quashed by Ken and the Attorney General.  Like Philip, she is tired of watching Michael drag his feet.  They want action now!  After some banter, Linda realizes Michael is “in love,” and laughs about it.    “You’ve fallen in love with the downstairs maid, how droll,” she quips.  “I’d kill you if you hadn’t already died of face lift poisoning,” he replies.  Philip tells them to knock it off, and Michael apologizes.  “I’m a businessman.  I even have business cards.  Engraved.”  The scene gets loonier with every passing sentence! 

Paul flips out, for reasons Jaclyn doesn’t understand, and goes racing off into traffic.  A dead body is discovered undera bridge, but it’s not Paul.  It’s the Secret Service man, whom Michael had paid to retire.  DA Ron believes he was murdered. 

When Jaclyn arrives at work the next day, two women greet her and she barks, “can’t you two share one good morning?”  It’s not really a good one, because Paul is leaving.  She gives him the hard push out the door, hoping that will work.  “I might be unraveling, but I’m still trying.  You, counselor, aren’t even in the fight anymore.  You don’t bleed, you reminisce,” he tells her.  Yup, indeed the scene has turned itself around to be about her again.  The dialogue that follows get so insanely clunky, it’s hard to have any sympathy for either character.  He says that he intends to give disappearing wife another try, maybe ending up “a suicide or a drunk,” which will be fine with him because he tried, unlike her.  What the hell?  But wait, it all works!  Jaclyn decides to “catch up with my past.”  Next time I have a friend in trouble, I can only hope he finds a way to talk me off the ledge with such intelligent words (sarcasm intended).

Without shoulder pads bursting from every piece of clothing but her shoes, that means Jaclyn is going to see Ken, who is “grateful and so very much in love.”  Their romance is rekindled so easily.  When she wakes up from what was obviously a lovely evening, Ken is on the phone with political business that she is allowed to hear.  Phone call done, he drags her back into bed.  They recite what is essentially the same line of dialogue over and over again in various ways: they both can’t believe the other is there.  It’s all wonderfully idyllic, even for a Vice President with people watching him (when Susan finds out, she is going to be mighty angry!).  Ken gets what may be the most laughable line of dialogue in the enitre movie.  He says, “Vice Presidents are not celebrities, you know, unless something brings attention to us during, say, a campaign or a funeral.  Nobodies knows who the hell we are and couldn’t care less.”  Hmmmm, that’s interesting, considering the movie has spent nothing but time gushing about the Vice President, making him into the world’s biggest celebrity!

Oh, both of them brought their kids.  Was it smart to bring the daughter, Susan’s daughter?  Won’t Susan be pumping her for details?  Anyway, after much gooey talk, slow dancing, mist on the beach, they have to separate because Ken has to go…to a funeral!  Did he know that was going to happen when he said it before?  Go on!  Amazing, eh?  “We still have the night,” Ken says, so they roast marshmallows, indoors.  Folks, it doesn’t get any goofier than this.  Wait, it does:

Him: “No more separations.  I can’t say goodbye anymore.”
Her: “What can you say?”
Him: “Don’t know.”
Her: “You really don’t know, do you?”
Me: “I think even the writers have given up at this point.

With the love plot not having moved an inch since the movie started some 47 hours ago, why not go back to the courtroom?  Trying her “third case in a week” against DA Ron, Jaclyn goes all mind-bending on the jury, telling them to pretend they are in her living room and Ron is horrified at how the jury falls for it.  So, he uses it on their next case up against Jaclyn.  She turns it around and reminds them they ARE in a courtroom, blasting DA Ron once again.  As if this hasn’t wasted enough time, Jaclyn baits him in the hallway, where she chides him about hating women.  His assistant say he’s been happily married a long time.  “Has anyone asked his wife?” Jaclyn asks, using a pun from vaudeville.

Just in time, Marquesa Mama Angela Lanbsury returns.  Jaclyn arrives home from work to see her teaching the kid how to play poker.  Nanny and Father Mason are in deep trouble over that one, but Angela quips, “your kid has possibilities.”  She’s been in touch with Father Mason, who tells Jaclyn, “she had business in Cleveland, so she thought she’d stop off in New York.”  Wait, the rich successful Marquesa has business in CLEVELAND?  Anyway, just as Jaclyn is making a crack about her drinking, Angela stumbles up the stairs.  She makes a few jokes and Jaclyn tells Father Mason “she just likes to be outrageous.”  You’ve met her once, twice at most, and you her behavior patterns?  “You can do better than the politician, be patient,” Mama says.  As she scoots her way through another speech, making Jaclyn cry yet again, one wishes the beloved character actress would stick around.  She says, “I’ll be at the Plaza if you need me” and then corrects herself, saying it’s a “sentimental habit,” but I need her.  Which room?  Come baaaaaaaack!

Father Mason tells Jaclyn three times, making up for St. Peter, I suppose, that Angela is her mother.  She is her mother.  Her mother!  The doorbell rings.  In those pre-email days, it’s a hand-delivered note that says, in total, “Not a request, but an order!  The Hans Christian Andersen statue Monday, 11am.  The Brother.”  He has awfully nice penmanship for a murderous thug.  Take that, psychiatry! 

Anyway, Michael Nouri gives Jaclyn a letter to deliver to give to Ken, and if not, “exposure.”  He forces a kiss on her.  “You’re in bed with the devil, enjoy,” he says and blithely trots off.  He hides in a tunnel in Central Park and tries to rape her, but when she tries some psychology on him, saying he’s not his brother, he can’t do it and leaves her sobbing, blouse torn.  She calls Ken and begs to see him (it’s tough to get away, since he may have to break a tie in the Senate), so they arrange to meet at a fancy event.  That seems to make sense to him and he actually get her to believe the same.  Susan is listening in on the extension.

Jaclyn takes to the party the most exciting man she knows, Father Mason, who comments that the hotel is hosting five other parties because “nothing stops weddings, Bar Mitzvahs and college graduations.”  You know, if the cut crap like that, this could have been so much less painful.  He dishes on the food too, the cranky old goat.  Brad is there watching her and then Vice President shows up with his wife, Linda Dano and Michael Woods.  Even DA Ron is there with his wife, the punch line of that earlier joke.  She’s not allowed to speak. 

Our darling angel is summoned to a room upstairs and if you expected Susan to be there, you would be…wrong.  This miniseries ain’t that smart.  No, it’s Ken, making excuses.  “I understand, one funeral after another,” Jaclyn sasses, getting quickly to the point.  She hands him the blackmail letter from Michael Nouri.  Ken think “it’s incredible.”  In fact, he says, “no and no and no,” just like Jaclyn knew he would and THEN cue Susan, calling her a whore, as she always does.  Run her down again, Susie.  Okay, it wasn’t you, it was your predecessor, but that put the dame in the hospital for a good long time.  Murder is even still on the table.  Do it now, before they think of a “plot” for “Rage of Angels 3.” 

Susan urges giving into the blackmail because “the system works.”  Understandably, Jaclyn asks “what system?”  “You have no standing in this court,” Susan huffs.  Objection!  The dialogue is getting worse, your honor.  The weakling Ken starts to cave.  “There are complex issues here,” he says, just like a politician.  “Trust me, I’ll do the right thing, I always have,” he tells Jaclyn.  Wait, when has he EVER done the right thing?  He picks up the phone to call Michael Nouri and after everyone’s eyes look at everyone else, Jaclyn storms out.  He then goes downstairs to make his lofty speech about the need for art.  In a miniseries sequel based on Sidney Sheldon characters.  Art? 

Michael Nouri coos to Philip Bosco that “it’s the first time I ever talked to a Vice President.  He sounded like a pompous squid.”  I assume he has had many experiences with squid, both pompous and otherwise in order to make such a declaration.  Philip suggests Michael go on a vacation, all flush with success, but Michael still has the business of his brother’s death to avenge.  He then invites Brad up to his apartment because he’s “too excited to sleep.”  Once inside, Brad shoots him in the chest, saying, “you don’t kill the Vice President, it’s not right.”  How true.  It’s only really been tried once, unsuccessfully.  The picture of Armand Assante is now on a table right next to Brad so it can watch each successive shot, apparently ordered by Philip, though still because “it’s not right to kill the Vice President.”  Nimrod that he is, Brad doesn’t bother to make sure Michael is dead, so Michael shoots him dead and then finally collapses, bringin the picture of his brother down with him.  “I’m sorry,” he whispers and dies. 

Paul Shenar is furious that Michael Nouri is dead, but Philip insists that it had to be done because “he sent all psycho on us.”  Linda offers an opinion, but Paul tells her to zip it, “playing the diplomat brings out the slut in you.”  Wait, what?  The woman has more clothes on than a Aleut in the winter, and she’s sipping tea, no less.  Slut?  That’s a harsh (and inappropriate for the situation) word.  The discussion is heated and stays heated, but cheesy, as villainspeak always is in these pieces.  As soon as that scene ends, Ken and Susan see on TV that Paul has been killed in a car accident.  Susan is thrilled that “it’s all over…they have a happy ending and so do we.”  She add that he can call Jaclyn and “tell her she can live quietly.  Tell her TO live quietly” in such a delightfully malevolent way. 

Somehow, Jaclyn knows that Linda was “up to her ears in the whole thing” and quits the law practice, telling Father Mason that Paul Roebling is back with his wife, so he’s taken care of too.  The doorbell rings again.  Angela is back, having dropped the kid off at school.  Just as she’s being all grandmotherly, she has a pain and almost passes out.  The phone rings and Jaclyn has to “take it upstairs,” ordering Father Mason to get Mama a “glass of water, nothing in it.”  “Uh, Padre,” Angie stops him, sticking out two fingers.  Nope.  One finger.  Okay, maybe.  I need not say that Angela Lansbury is slumming big time here, but she’s having such a blast doing it, it hardly matters.  She goes over to the phone, wanting to pick it up, but apparently motherly instincts, and a picture of Jaclyn’s father, change her mind.  “How ill are you?” Father Mason asks, not waiting for an answer.  “That’s why you came home,” he adds.  She refuses to tell Jaclyn.  “A little bourbon and my big mouth and they’ll never even notice I have a cold,” she grumbles. 

When Jaclyn comes downstairs, Angela announces “I’m off” and tries not to ask about the phone call.  “I’m not going to see him,” Jaclyn says.  “Good.  You can vote for him!  Nothing else,” she notes.  They hug and then Mama Angie asks where Jaclyn’s father is buried.  “He was a nice man, and he brought you up well.  I’d like to thank him for that,” she says, before launching into the overly stale bit about not remembering his name for the umpteenth time. 

The kid is once again playing in the park with Nanny and Jaclyn when Ken appears, Secret Service following.  He wants to resign, but Jaclyn calls her “a martyr to love” and gets downright nasty with him.  She loves him, but “it has to become irrelevant…to growing up and moving on.”  Cliches spring up fast as she essentially blows him off, snuffing out the love affair that has been gasping for air across two miniseries.  Way to kick your watchers in the groin, lady.  “Don’t let anyone frighten you again, you’re too tall,” she tells him, both crying, though Ken does it with far more conviction, probably since Jaclyn has cried herself empty. 

How does it end?  With Jaclyn and the kid dancing in a circle with other kids in Central Park.  It’s a stupid ending, but at least it ends.

Like “Lace II,” “Rage of Angels: The Story Continues” is utterly pointless.  However, “Lace II” had colorful characters worth seeing again, even if it was handled without any skill.  “Rage of Angels: The Story Continues” has tons of polish, but nothing worth polishing.  The plot is recycled (the tortured love that cannot be, the whining best friend), though what’s new is inane.  What the hell is Angela Lansbury doing playing an Italian Marquesa who is Jaclyn Smith’s mother?  Other than superb comic timing, elegance and acting ability, even Angela Lansbury has nothing to add to this story.  Her character is not involved in the plot, helps solve nothing.  She shows up, announces who she is, has a few light scenes and then disappears again.  Poor Mason Adams is only on hand to have a heart attack and bring Jaclyn to Rome in the middle of her story so she can meet her mother, as if her mother couldn’t have found an excuse to go to the US.  Ken being the Vice President is a bad idea because it cheapens Jaclyn’s character and gives Susan Sullivan little to play (a bit of Angela’s “Manchurian Candidate” would have done her well).  There are fights with DA Ron that are just scene filler.  Linda Dano?  What’s she doing, fluffing up the resume?  If there is anything here that sums up the sheer idiocy of the piece, it’s Michael O’Hare’s “plot.”  The man is brought in only to be killed…as an oops, got the wrong guy.  Huh?  There is truly nothing here that cries for a two-night sequel.  Nothing!

And damn it, Jaclyn, lose the friggin’ shoulder pads! 

Categories: Romance Miniseries

2 Comments to “SEQUEL ALERT: Rage of Angels: The Story Continues”

  1. George Bann 31 January 2017 at 6:47 am #

    As a Sydney Sheldon fan, I recently purchased
    the DVD version of “Rage of Angels” Part 1 from
    Amazon UK. Since Part 2 is unavailable, I am
    therefore left wondering whether Part 1 is based
    on the entire book or whether Part 2 completes
    the whole story. I would be grateful for your
    kind advice.
    Sincerely yours,
    George Bann

    • Bj Kirschner 31 January 2017 at 11:37 pm #

      George–

      “Rage of Angels 2” was made specifically for TV. The 1983 original ends (more or less) where the book of “Rage of Angels” ends. Because of its popularity, a sequel was tossed together (much like “Lace 2”).

      Are you looking for a copy of the “Rage of Angels 2” miniseries?

      Bj


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