Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Angel — Season 5



**Warning- contains spoilers**

Well, here we are: the end of "Angel." After suffering through the fourth season the first time I could barely bring myself to even care about the show anymore. But once I start something I have to finish it, so I popped it these discs expecting to either feel totally indifferent or to somehow get even angrier at the series that had rewarded me so often only to take so much away in only one arc. Instead, I was treated to the single best season of TV I've ever watched, one that —though not without weak moments— contained no weak episodes. It took the characters into territory far darker than they had ever gone before, but also featured many of the funniest moments of Whedonverse television. On a second viewing, I amazingly like it even more.

The writers had a lot of pressure on them this season. After the operatic bombast of the fourth season, "Angel" enjoyed great ratings but still couldn't bring in enough advertising money to pay for its hefty budget. So, when the Fang Gang moved to Wolfram & Hart, they also went back to basics. On a related note, WB execs told the writers to focus more on standalone episodes after the lengthy, dense arcs of the past two seasons. Normally, forcing shows to abandon the formulas that won them their fanbases leads to a big downturn in quality, which allows the studio to cancel the show guilt free, but "Angel" excels even in these early episodes.

The season opens with "Conviction," which shows our heroes adjusting to their new jobs at Wolfram & Hart, with Angel unable to go out and help the helpless without a squad of protectors around him. The main plot of the episode (a violent gangster threatens to unleash a virus on L.A. if Wolfram & Hart fails to convict him) is fairly incidental, but it brings about two major changes: 1) Gunn, feeling useless in this new, more elite world, undergoes a procedure that fills his head with full knowledge of the law and 2) Spike materializes in Angel's office.

The former is an interesting development into a late-bloomer of a character. Gunn mainly served to move forward others (chiefly Wesley) up until the fourth season, when he killed Fred's evil professor in order for her to keep her innocence. The resultant emotions over the event destroyed their relationship, and we really got a deep look into Gunn's masked sensitivity. Here, we get to see a man deathly afraid of being left behind, perhaps because it took so long for his character to go somewhere in the first place. His decision would have terrible repercussions down the line and would make him more central to the plot than ever before.

This won't end well, my little droogies.

But nothing compares to Spike’s appearance. Somehow, his essence was contained in the amulet that he used to destroy the Hellmouth in Buffy’s series finale, and that same amulet makes it way to Angel before Spike pops out as some sort of incorporeal ghosty type thing. Spike’s reappearance could have so easily undone his emotional end in “Chosen” (and some believe it did), but his instant rival siblings/old married couple rapport with Angel is a total riot, and he manages to grow just a little bit more throughout the season.

The best thing they could have possibly done.

I’d rather not dwell on the standalones since they all have their various strengths and weaknesses. “Life of the Party” is a terrifically funny Halloween episode, while “The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco” has such an absurd concept that I get a kick of out no matter how empty it is. The best of the first half of the season is unquestionably “Destiny,” in which Angel and a freshly corporealized Spike do battle to determine who has the rightful claim to the Shanshu prophecy. Not only does it contain the best fight sequence in the show by far, it gets deeper into the Spike/Angel relationship than we’ve ever seen. The worst of these episodes by default would have to be “Soul Purpose,” which is actually a great episode but features an atrocious dream sequence in which Angel hallucinates that he “loses” Buffy to Spike. This isn’t bad at all, but factor in the obvious stunt double to make up for SMG’s absence and the non-sequitur lines ripped from the old season 3 episode “The Prom” are the absolute worst. It is the only moment of the season that really grates me.

The first half was strong enough in a Season 1 kind of way, but starting at about the halfway mark, Whedon and co. knew the show’s days were numbered, and they went all out. “You’re Welcome” brings back Cordelia for only one painfully brief episode, but it restores her character back to the person we came to love. The final scene is one of those simple, heartbreaking moments that brings you tears every time.

Apart from a slight stumble in execution in the interesting “Why We Fight,” season 5 hits the throttle. First up is the single funniest, most absurdly brilliant episode Joss Whedon has ever penned: “Smile Time.” A story of the seedy side of the show business, the emptiness of TV and how it enslaves our children, and puppets, “Smile Time” alone should have guaranteed “Angel” another season.

Good.

Better.

I came.

At the end of the episode Wesley finally gets with Fred, and we all should have known that would spell trouble. Enter “A Hole in the World,” quite possibly the most depressing hour of TV Whedon’s ever penned. Yes, even above “The Body.” When Whedon kills his characters, he tends to do so in the most abrupt ways, but when he does allow for melodrama, he does so in inventive ways. After Fred is infected with a mysterious pathogen when she opens a coffin, she spends the entire episode slowly dying. However, instead of her spouting out tearful monologues, she has more subdued (and therefore more affecting) moments with Wesley while the rest of the Fang Gang desperately searches for a cure. Those final scenes where Angel and Spike realize that they can do nothing and Fred’s final, innocent last line will tear out your heart and puree it in front of you.

Fred’s death ushers in an amazing new character: Illyria. An ancient demon resurrected in Fred’s body, Illyria is disgusted to even have to reside in such an unworthy “shell” and even more repulsed that she is surrounded by everyone’s grief over losing Fred. Their grief is only more compounded with the knowledge that Illyria’s resurrection not only killed Fred but also destroyed her soul. It’s a testament to the writing that this revelation devastated me, that I was so into the show that even thinking about it purely on its surface, supernatural level could affect me.

Amy Acker didn't win an Emmy for this. Emmys mean nothing.

The end run of “Angel” is stronger than any other run in the Buffyverse: above the original Angelus arc., above Buffy’s third and fifth season, above the beige Angel arc. Wesley turns into a pathetic wretch who clings to Illyria as his only link to the only thing he ever loved on this planet, and his feelings seem to bring out latent remnants of Fred in a clearly vexed Illyria. Wesley’s not the only one who suddenly has nothing to lose. Angel, fed up with sitting by, plans a last-ditch attack on Wolfram & Hart, leading to the epic two-part finale.

In “Power Play,” we cannot be sure that Angel has truly snapped over his grief for Fred and has turned evil. He goes so dark that the Circle of the Black Thorn, the highest agents of the Senior Partners on Earth, invites him to join. When his friends confront him on his sudden change, he reveals his plan: gain entrance to the Circle in order to kill every member. This plays out over the final episode, “Not Fade Away.” The finest and truest series finale I’ve ever seen, NFA shows our heroes mount a large-scale attack on an unbeatable foe while still keeping to the central theme of the series: a daily struggle against evil as a means to redemption. The seedy depths that the characters stoop to (Lorne’s final act for the gang still turns my stomach because of what it means to him), the beautiful parting moment between Illyria and Wesley and that much debated final scene display everything that made the show great. If this is not my all-time favorite episode of TV I can’t tell you what is.

I’ve been trying to make these things more concise because let’s face it, no one reads this anyway and it’s never fun to surf through a big essay online. But I can’t help myself. If I went into even half the moments of this season that affected me deeply it would be four times as long. Apart from a few moments in a couple of episodes, I love every second of this. Even “The Girl In Question,” which I completely agree should have been moved earlier in the season (even though Buffy threw in a comic relief episode plenty of times in the middle of a dark arc), is so damn funny I don’t even mind that stupid stereotypical Italian Wolfram & Hart executive.

When you boil it down to its essence, Angel’s fifth season mixed the best of the solitary quality of Season 1 with the emotional impact of the big arc structure of the other three seasons. The fact that I have to resort to pointing out individual scenes to demonstrate any dip in quality is a testament to at the very least my undying love for it, if not the actual quality. “Angel” became my favorite show the instant I watched it (yeah, even including the fourth season), but even when I take a step back from it I can do nothing but shower this season with adulation.

Let's get to work.

17 comments:

  1. I love season 5 of Angel, but I love season 3 and 2 even more. Season 5 had so many amazing episodes and it always amazes me how fast Joss can change the show. We go from Smile Time (the silliest episode ever made) to A hole in the world (One of the saddest episodes ever made). The peoeple that decide who wins Emmys are deeply stupid!

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  2. A massive return to form after the dismal season 4. Three reasons for this. First, practicalities. The end of Buffy allowed the Mutant Enemy team to focus more on Angel (which had always played second fiddle to its parent show). Two, there's Spike, by far the best character in the Buffyverse. Three, the show returns to standalone episodes, where it has always been strongest.

    Still some problems. The season arc is pretty messy (can't remember what the deal with Spike's amulet was), but better than season 4. The Illyria twist was difficult to swallow (I just about managed it). And although the idea for the finale was great (what a cliffhanger!), the thing itself was rushed and didn't, for me, hold enough weight. Granted, it was a difficult thing to pull off...

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  4. Not Fade away is pretty much one of the few things I've really enjoyed lately. God, when a hopeful writer becomes a....well, hopeful writer for like, long enough, they enter a stage where most movies and shows that they watch are crap. I guess that's why I keep watching a bunch of Joss Whedon stuff. I can't find anything good to watch. My precious retreat.
    At the first two or three times I watched this episode, I kinda had a only descent reaction. Angel's not exactly my type of show, and though I liked the concept of a darker and more relaistic tone than Buffy, Angel kinda failed in some major parts because unlike Buffy, when this show stalled, it STALLED.
    I've seen so many episodes of this show where approximately nothing happened. Even some of the characters did almost nothing through the entire series(GUNN AND LORNE). In Buffy, I always thought that Joss did a good job of giving most of the characters something to do in each episode, rather than putting them in for the sake of it. In almost every episode of Angel, Gunn does absolutely nothing. I don't know what Joss was thinking when he wrote Gunn's character. He's the flatest main-character he's ever written. And he appears in every single episode from the end of season 1. Maybe that's one of the reasons why I like the first 19 episodes of season 1 so much, no Gunn. I mean, his sister dies in the first episode that he appears in, and in the next 90 episodes, he doesn't seem to be affected by it or even meintions it. I swear, they might as well have just put in a cardboard box.
    You think Riley's bad? At least he only lasted a season and a half, and oh yeah, he DID things. Gunn does a little bit better in this season, but not by much. I'm just saying. I hate Gunn.
    But the more and more I watch the last episode, the more I notice things and love it even more. It's just so subtle, and it does really represent everything that the show stood for. Plus, Lindsey has, in my opinion, the best character send-off ever.
    I watched the series finale of Buffy yesterday(the fourth time I've seen it), and I have to say, I like it, but Not Fade Away is almost twice as good. But that's just because it's almost flawless. And to think that it actually got mixed reviews.
    I guess the people that don't know what a good series finale is will never understand the people that do.(Forgive me)
    Please respond Jake, if you have something you'd like to say. I'm happy to hear your inevitable contradicting.

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  5. No, those are pretty fair criticisms. Gunn was around for over two seasons before anyone saw fit to really progress his character. Lorne had a big shot at character growth in the Vegas episode, which instead was one of the series' worst. They're lucky they got someone as jaw-droppingly talented as Amy Acker to play Fred, because they often ran to the "put Fred in peril" device for the entire third season and didn't let her break out until the fourth; without Acker guiding that character even through the dry writing spells, she'd be a blip on the radar. instead of my favorite Whedon character. And while I think Buffy had more spectacularly bad episodes than Angel's 4 or 5 standout clunkers, entire seasons (3 and 4) went by with only a few episodes here and there lasting in my memory.

    I think that's why I love S5 so much. After the fantastic run of Seasons 1 and 2, Angel hit a hell of a rough patch, and the writers sort of started from scratch with Season 5, returning Angel and Spike to their basics, rewriting Gunn into relevancy and keeping the things that worked (i.e. Fred and Wes) and continuing to tweak them for maximum depth. While I'm still in the age group that more identifies with Buffy, I found the more adult themes of Angel more enticing (though a quick perusal at the number of stars I threw at Buffy shows how much I love it), and S5 managed to shed the operatic clutter of S3 and 4 while retaining the epic spirit in this new, confined area while returning the series to its moral roots, of the struggle between good and evil and how it isn't so simply as demarcating "good" and "evil."

    That's what makes Not Fade Away such a triumph. Not only does it find the right notes for all its characters, it plunges them into the heart of the show's moral questions and leaves them (and us) hanging. Where Lorne just left a serious problem behind him in "The House Always Wins," we see the depths of his revulsion in that one savage scene with him and Lindsey. Connor, who was an interesting character when introduced before S4 derailed him, has the chance to prove his worth. And the scene between Fred/Illyria and Wesley is absolutely devastating. I love absolutely every second of the finale and it's completely fitting for the series.

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  7. Wesley and Fred are two of the greatest characters ever written. It took me a while to really like Fred, just because in season 3, she was too innocent and la-la-la.(I would of course highly respect a woman who was like that in real life, but come on, a character's gotta be more entertaining!)
    But in season 4, she really transformed into this sexy, tough, cute little bitch, which I loved, and by season 5, she just came down to being a flawed but generally sweet person that was impossible to not care about.
    With Wesley, all I can really say is that he's the best developed character I've ever seen. He was just destroyed in the final episode, so I understood why the writers did what they did with his character. Plus, the final scene with him and Illiria is, in my opinion, the best in the entire series. Illiria changing to Fred honestly was - let's face it - a fan service, but it was one that we deserved to see more than anything.
    I loved the finale because it played all the right notes, it allowed us to care about all the characters and be reminded of each of their perspectives. You have to watch it about 5 times before you really understand everything that it's trying to say.
    It's just that, while I am an inch away from being an aitheist, I still don't like that Joss destroyed Fred's soul. I know, I know, he did it because Wolfram and Hart's contract goes beyond death, and she'd have to come back if she wasn't completly gone. But STILL. Everyone in the Buffyverse that dies has an afterlife except Fred. Argh
    Jake, I actually have read about 30 of your reviews so far(It only works for me when I read about movies/shows I've already seen), and I must say that you're one of the best, if not most underrated reviewers on the internet. Most people don't come by here because it's a difficult website to find, but don't lose hope.
    I'm actually kinda a hopeless wannabe writer myself, but because I'm younge, I have the excuse to deny myself in believing in my inevitable fate of working at McDonalds and living in a box. As long as it's a pretty box. It's always important that the box is pretty.
    Anyway, what I do is use a little camera, use objects(legos, etc) for my characters because I don't have 200 actors and actresses, and upload them to You Tube.
    I'm making two different series right now that I hope, over the years I make them, will eventually get a cult following strong enough to perhaps allow me to make a real pilot in 15 years or so. I know, I'm so realistic.
    Anyway, I was hoping that eventually you could watch one of my no longer than 10-minute projects, because it's about time I get some real criticism.

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  8. Alright, well I re-watched this season, except two episodes that I hated so much the first time and, since I don't get paid, it's my right to not have to watch them again. Since it's also my right to assume that you'd be interested in knowing this, here is what I think of all the episodes and why, numbered from worst to best.

    20.Why We Fight - This episode has a good meaning to it, but that doesn't show until the very end of it. Overall, this episode needed to cut to the chase, because almost nothing happens in most of the episode. Spike is on the submarine for the sake of the last two seconds of the episode, but what does he actually do on the submarine? Nothing. What do the two demons that are on the submarine do? Nothing....except die. This episode adds to nothing but a boring and depressing one to show a meaning that's common sense.

    19.Shells - I find this episode very similar to "Reprise" but while that episode only showed the evil and darkness of Angel after a personal loss, this does it with ALL the characters. In that sense, it's not a bad episode. The reason I don't like it is for more of a personal reason. I've always looked at people with a unquestionable belief or disbelief in the afterlife a little stubborn because it's impossible to know for sure, but I personally think it's more likely that heaven doesn't exist. If you want to keep it simple, you can call me an atheist. But if you do write a show where the afterlife exists, you should at least have a descent amount of respect for Christians, and I REALLY did not like the afterlife being treated like a lottery ticket. I have the same burning hatred for it as I did when I first saw Edward walk into the sunlight and turn into a pile of diamonds.

    18.Soul Purpose - Oh great, more of Angel afraid of Spike replacing him, which would never happen. Clearly a filler episode from the start.

    17.Time Bomb - Other than something that happens to two characters that is necessary for the finale, this episode is another filler one. But it's still not bad, just, you know, a filler episode.

    16.Smile Time - Everyone loves this one but me. After the overly-depressing Why We Fight, it seemed fundamental to keep the audience's sanity by having a fun episode. This one of course does good by finally sewing Wesley and Fred together, and we get a little development out of Angel's relationship with Nina, but maybe this episode would've been better if that's what it was about. Instead, it's mostly silly and stupid, not funny. I don't remember laughing once.(Other than, of course, Spike's reaction to Angel latest form of creature.) At this point, I think the writers knew what was going to happen next episode, and I think their intention for this was to either prepare you for it or do the exact opposite.

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  9. 15.Unleashed - Someone gets bitten by a werewolf. Yeah, we've seen that before. But that was in a different show in the universe, so that makes it ok. Another helpless blond girl that.....is another helpless blond girl. I liked Angel's relationship with her and how they could compare to each other, but Nina never really became much more than an exact replica of Buffy.

    14.Just Rewards - If it wasn't for "Hell Bound", I would be saying that Spike should've never been a ghost. But you might as well make the best of it, right? And this episode's decent enough to be watched and enjoyed.

    13.Orgin - I don't know if the series’ cancellation was the reason of this episode happening at this season, but let's face it, Connor's arc wasn't completely resolved at the end of season 4. The new Connor was more interesting than the old one, and while I didn't think any of the character set-ups that made up the Black Thorn were contrived, Cyvus Vail was one of the more interesting of then. However, Wesley getting his memories back didn't really add up to anything, but I suppose it was necessary.

    12.Conviction - Overall an alright episode that shows the characters developing to their jobs at Wolfram and Hart.

    11.Harm's Way - Before giving my opinion of this episode, I need to talk about Harmony. I thought she was a fun little villain in Buffy, but the character in this show overall did nothing to develope her or the other characters. But then again, I was so disgusted at the development of Spike in Buffy seasons 4-6 that I'm almost thankful she stayed bad. This episode is about a vampire attempting to frame Harmony for a murder, which seems pointless to me because Harmony wouldn't care about killing people anyway and the only reason she hasn't is because of her job. But I think it's supposed to be pointless and funny, and I liked it. Not only that, but it actually got me to, well, I wouldn't say CARE about Harmony, but I became concerned for her, and I guess the writers could do anything more than that.

    10.Underneath - This is where it starts getting good. Gunn will probably always be Joss's worst main character. I never thought he developed through the entire series, but I realize that isn't true now. He does develop in this season. With his part in Fred's death, he became almost as emotionally scared as Angel. I bet the writers knew redeeming him would be hard, especially since not that many people gave a crap about the character anyway, but it works out very well, and the episode ends with Gunn having to go through something darkly original and horrific that only this show would have. This episode had two purposes; to bring back Lindsey and redeem Gunn, and it does both in an episode that's dark, fun, and crazy.

    9.Damage - I was waiting for the season to take advantage of the whole "Hey! The world's full of slayers now." thing, and this episode does it beautifully. "Hell Bound" ended with Spike realizing the bad things he did, but this episode shows him seeing a someone that could've easily been one of his own victims. Our boy's growing up.

    8.Linage - I love Wesley and Fred, so it's almost guaranteed that I'll enjoy an episode that's about them. We knew that Wesley's relationship with his father was strained, but this episode finally allows us a deep look into it, and I felt that it raised the question that his father's demands and expectations were the reason that Wesley started off as a stubborn watcher instead of who he really was.

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  10. 7.The Girl in Question - I'm the only person on the planet that prefers this over Smile Time. A lot of people think it's about Spike and Angel moving on from Buffy, but they're only half-right. Buffy has always had a weird, if not bad taste in men, and all the serious relationships she had (including her relationship with Riley) ended with the boyfriend accepting that. I never thought Spike loved Buffy enough. He should've ran to Sunnydale and knocked on her door the second he became corporeal, but he didn't. And Angel realized he couldn’t be with Buffy 5 years ago. Angel and Spike, mostly out of their hatred of the Immortal, didn't think that she should be with him, but how is he any different (or worst) than the two of them? Beyond that, I liked the episode because, as opposed to Smile Time, I thought it was funny...pretty much all the way through. The last 10 minutes suffered because they were made up of pure weirdness and randomness, but that's really only so bad when added up with the hilarity of the rest of the episode.

    6.A Hole in the World - I love deep writing and think there isn't enough of it in movies and shows, but I really do find it tragic that I still haven't fully uncovered the deepness of this episode. How do I know it's deep, then? Well, I don't, but I'm 95% sure. In order to write a good depressing episode, it has to be interesting, and Joss shows the best of his skills in writing Fred's death to the point to where you know he cares at least as much as you. If Wesley and Fred stayed together and had a happy ending, for me it would've been the most rewarding thing I've watched on my tv, but I think in the end, maybe, just maybe, this is better. Maybe.

    5.Hell Bound - Joss's shows have always been good at creating suspense, but this is the most underrated suspense episode I've seen in his shows. Spike was better in Angel than he was in every season of Buffy, and this is just some of the proof of it. I never completely thought of Spike as "heroic" in Buffy because he never seemed to care about what he was doing. But he really starts to change and become a better person when he chooses Fred's life over becoming corporeal again.

    4.You're Welcome - Cordelia was great on Buffy, but I was bored with her by the end of Angel's first season. It seemed obvious that she and Angel get close, and she'd die when they realized they loved each other. The series took too long accomplishing that, but her death was surprisingly moving and well-handled. It was extremely emotional and made her more important than I thought she could ever be.

    3.Power Play - All four of Joss's shows end in the message that everyone deserves the right to choose. Buffy was about it, Firefly wasn't so much about just it as it was about freedom altogether, Dollhouse made it too obvious, and it's one of the biggest messages that's meant to be in Angel, and I think it's the most important. Not only that, but most of the episode questions whether or not Angel has become evil, and you might think that the fans would never be convinced, but the writing's so good that a lot of them probably were. The last 5 minutes of the episode is one of the most inspiring scenes in the series. And I'll bet you a thousand dollars that had there been a season 6, there would've been an episode about Angel and Spike's "fling".

    2.Destiny - Not only is this one of the most fun and entertaining episodes of the show, but it's also a very well-written look at the full depth of Angel and Spike's relationship and how they compare to each other.

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  11. 1.Not Fade Away - I absolutely love this episode. The best one in the series, by far. Through every season, Los Angeles was depicted as a place where people with the most power controlled everything, but the series showed that this wasn't true, and that as Angel kept fighting, he was making a difference, and there was hope that things were going to change. Lindsey's death was as surprising as it was hiddenly tragic, and the last moment between Wesley and Illiria shows how great writing can make us enjoy things in a pitiful way.

    I didn't re-watch "Life of the Party", and "The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco" because there really wasn't any point. If you're reading this, thanks for making it through the list. Your insight would as always be appreciated, but it's cool if you got nothing to say.

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  12. About Shells, why is it necessary for them to tackle the idea of the afterlife in Judeo-Christian terms? There are numerous interpretations of the afterlife across many religions and even secular philosophies. I think the direction they head in with that episode makes it soul-shattering (no pun intended) and makes it arguably as hard-hitting as the previous episode (and completely without some of the histrionics in A Hole in the World which I think are fine but some object to).

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  13. huh, I thought heaven was generally considered a place that people go or don't go depending on how good they are.

    But it wasn't really a philisophical episode. I get why they the writers had to destroy Fred's soul,(It was the only way to keep her from coming back due to the contract. Am I right?) but they just kind of throw in the whole "heaven's just a game of luck" thing just for the sake of that and never really went back to it.

    When I watched Buffy, heaven was depicted as a place of peace and happiness, and from watching "Hell Bound", I started to think that where you went after death depended on what you deserved. But apparently, you can just randomly get affected by a monster and your soul will be destroyed. Even with my personal hatred of this idea, this could've been a much more tragic episode if it put more focus on that, but it just happens for the sake of Fred being gone.

    If A Whole in the World is supposed to be about Fred dying and the conflicts of personal goals, this about was about Fred dying...but oh yeah, heaven's a lottery ticket.

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  14. You are totally wrong when you write "I’ve been trying to make these things more concise because let’s face it, no one reads this anyway and it’s never fun to surf through a big essay online."

    I finished watching all of Buffy and started looking for intelligent and thoughtful analysis of it. Television like Mad Men, Sopranos, Buffy seem far superior in terms of their writing then movie's nowadays. A half an hour of an episode of Seinfeld of Simpson's give you more laughs than any recent 2 hour Hollywood comedies without insulting your intelligence.

    Unfortunately the better critics tend to cover film rather than tv. There is a lot of interesting stuff on Buffy online but sadly not as much as Angel so your blog is an oasis. So as far as I am concerned the more you write about Angel the better.

    In fact I started watching Angel largely on your recommendation that it was better than Buffy (after having finishing Buffy). Which I could not understand given your low ratings of season 3 and 4 of Angel.

    Having watched it though I get where you are coming from. Buffy was a consistently better show than Angel but in my opinion Angel at its best has the greater story and theme than Buffy.

    Unfortunately Angel always had a lot of dross and filler which I think hurts it reputation so it doesn't get the credit it deserves. Season 1 was mostly an introduction like Buffy's season 1 with MOTW episodes. The Pylea arc which had the introduction of Fred could have easily been 1 or 2 episodes instead of 4 episode arc. A lot of what made season 4 so hard to watch was the crazy plot lines were stretched out so long without relief.

    I wouldn't want to do without season 4 because what happened to Cordelia and Connor in that season led to some pretty great payoffs in season 5 in the You're Welcome, Origin and Not Fade Away episodes. But it could've been condensed to a smaller arc with a lot less of Connor's hard to stomach presence.

    Having finished watching the whole series, Angel is one of my favorite shows and one I enjoy more than Buffy (which is saying a lot because Buffy was great as well). But if I was watch Angel again quite frankly there would be a lot of stuff (episodes/scenes) that I would skip or fast forward thru. However if you condensed Angel to it's best 40 to 50 shows you would get a storyline that would be the best television I've ever seen.

    Thanks so much for your commentary it's much appreciated.

    Robert

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  15. "Having watched it though I get where you are coming from. Buffy was a consistently better show than Angel but in my opinion Angel at its best has the greater story and theme than Buffy."

    I think Angel takes its themes into much more ambitious territory; if Buffy was Joss' way to subvert the mainstream image and expectations of women in horror and drama, Angel in turn pushed everyone forward. It wasn't about men and women; it was about family and, eventually, the world.

    I agree that there are payoffs from season 4, though I feel that the could have addressed some of the production issues --i.e. Carpenter's pregnancy -- better if Joss weren't so busy ending Buffy and starting Firefly. He barely had any time for Angel, and it showed.

    But man did it pay off with this season. I still would rank it in my top five seasons of TV ever, maybe even top three with Freaks and Geeks and The Wire Season 4. Even the less essential episodes at the start of the season have their charm for me.

    Thanks very much for the comment!

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  16. I ever liked the series, I dont find this actor right for the part or for any role..hahaha, too bad because it was a great plot.

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  17. "Smile Time" ties with "Beer Bad" and "The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco" as the single most insufferable, physically painful hour of television I've ever experienced. As a matter of fact, pretty much every episode of season five is utter drivel and inescapably boring. With a few marvelous exceptions like "Destiny" and "Damage."

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