September 21, 1995 in Nation/World

‘Charlie’s Angels’ Wooing Vietnamese

San Jose Mercury News

At 6 p.m., six nights a week, Tran Thanh Vi and her family partake in a ritual shared by thousands across Vietnam. They tune in to “Ba Nu Tham Tu” or “Three Women Detectives.”

You know it as “Charlie’s Angels.”

“I haven’t missed even one!” said Vi, a 29-year-old primary school teacher as she watched actress Jaclyn Smith, in a crimson French-maid getup, dodging gun-toting bad guys.

“We watch every night!” said Tuan, 44, a government employee at a printing plant. “My favorite is the blond.”

The 19-year-old adventures of Farrah Fawcett and her girlfriend gumshoes, Smith and Kate Jackson, despite their dated midiskirts and pantsuits, constitute a landmark in Vietnam. “Charlie’s Angels” is the first U.S. series ever broadcast by government-owned Vietnam Television.

Its blockbuster popularity highlights an immense interest in Western culture among people who were isolated from much of the world for nearly two decades after the end of the Vietnam War. And it underscores the vast - and growing - influence of television on this developing country.

“Charlie’s Angels” is the fourth foreign series to be shown in recent years on VTV, following “Maria,” a Mexican soap opera, “Oshin,” a Japanese soap, and “Little Missy,” a Brazilian soap.

The Vietnamese rejected “Star Trek,” but liked “Charlie’s Angels,” partly because it featured three fetching women in unique roles as detectives, said Luc Boels, director of Alicom Ltd., a French production company that provides “Charlie’s Angels” to VTV.

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