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3 Things 'Charlie's Angels' Learned from 'Smallville'

Co-creator Al Gough tells THR how telling the story of Clark Kent/Superman helped prepare him to tackle the ABC reboot.

Rachael Taylor, Minka Kelly, Annie Ilonzeh, "Charlie's Angels"
ABC
"Charlie's Angels"

Thursday’s a big day for Al Gough and Miles Millar as ABC’s Charlie’s Angels reboot makes its series premiere. Aside from the typical pressures of Premiere Day, Thursday also marks the 35th anniversary of the original series’ premiere. While the ABC reboot is the latest in the storied franchise’s successful history, co-creator/executive producer Gough says he hopes the premiere date coincidence proves to be as “fortuitous for us as it was for the initial show.”

STORY: ‘Charlie’s Angels’: Back Story Will Be Chief Among ABC Series’ Differences

For Gough and Millar, the series marks their second major franchise reboot after they teamed to tell the back story of how Clark Kent became Superman on the WB-turned-CW network’s Smallville. While the duo told critics this summer that the new Charlie’s Angels would differentiate itself by focusing more on the Angels’ back stories, The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Gough ahead of Thursday’s premiere to discuss how telling Clark’s back story helped the duo prepare to tackle the new Charlie’s Angels. “You learn a lot doing a series that lasted as long as Smallville,” Gough says. Here are three things they learned.

1. Appeal to the fans of the original and add something new. “You’re always hesitant about touching something that is such a pop culture icon because you don’t want to screw it up,” Gough confesses. “It’s so big and so classic and it goes across so many generations from the original series to the feature films that you want to make sure you do it justice in terms of what the franchise is but also that you’re bringing something new to the table and making it relevant for television audiences today.” Among the ABC series’ changes: Meeting Charlie. “We have a mythology for who Charlie is,” Gough says. “That’s something that fans who watched the show were always looking for: Why is he on a voice box as opposed to Skype or video conferencing? What is his mystery? That’s something we’re going to peel back on throughout the season.” As for when viewers will officially meet the guy who replaced Robert Wagner? Gough teased that the answer could come Thursday. “You will see Charlie eventually,” he teased.

VIDEO: Meet the New ‘Charlie’s Angels’

2. Don’t keep all your cards close to the vest. While the Angels’ back stories will be layered into each episode via an emotional hook to the case of the week, the big reveals need to happen quickly. “One of the lessons we learned from Smallville is there are certain parts [of the story] you need to turn over faster than others in order to keep an audience hooked,” Gough says. “You have to have confidence that if it works, you’ll find new directions to take the characters. One of the things on Smallville – its hesitancy because of Clark Kent and the Superman mythology – you wanted to hold certain parts back and not play them. Things probably should have played sooner that we didn’t.”

3. Be open to change. Gough noted that Smallville originally intended to have Lionel Luthor in the pilot – he says director David Nutter knew William H. Macy and wanted him for the gig but Macy wasn’t available. “The idea was that Lionel was going to be in the pilot and you’d never see him again,” Gough says. After casting John Glover as Lionel, producers realized that Smallville was also telling a parenting story and by Season 2, Glover was a series regular. “It’s always about keeping yourself open to make the changes that you don’t initially see when you’re at the pilot or early episode stage.”

Charlie’s Angels premieres Thursday on ABC.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit

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