The series was created by Buffy's creator, Joss Whedon in collaboration with David Greenwalt, and first aired on October 5, 1999. Like Buffy, it was produced by Whedon's production company, Mutant Enemy.
The show details the ongoing trials of the vampire, Angel, who has his human soul restored to him by gypsies as a punishment for the murder of one of their own. After more than a century of murder and the torture of innocents, Angel's restored soul torments him with guilt and remorse. During the first four seasons of the show, he works as a private detective in a fictionalized version of Los Angeles, California, where he and a variety of associates work to "help the helpless" and to restore the faith and save the souls of those who have lost their way. Typically, this involves doing battle with evil demons or demonically-allied humans, primarily related to the law firm, Wolfram & Hart. He also has to battle his own demonic ghosts.
While the central concept behind Buffy was "High school as a horror movie" in small-town America, Co-creators David Greenwalt and Whedon were looking to make Angel into a different "gritty, urban show. Whedon explains "we wanted a much darker show, darker in tone. It is set in Los Angeles because there are a lot of demons in L.A. and a wealth of stories to be told. We also wanted to take the show a little older and have the characters deal with demons in a much different way. Buffy is always the underdog trying to save the world, but Angel is looking for redemption. It's those two things that creatively make the shows different."
Whedon and Greenwalt prepared a six-minute promotional video pitch, often called the "Unaired Angel pilot" for the WB Network. Some shots from this short were later used in the opening credits.
Early during the life of the series, some effort was made to slightly soften the original concept. For example, scenes were cut from the pilot episode, "City of," in which Angel tasted the blood of a murder victim. The episode that was originally written to be the second episode, "Corrupt" was abandoned altogether. Writer David Fury explains, "The Network was shocked. They said 'We can't shoot this. This is way too dark.' We were able to break a new idea, we had to turn it over in three days. Instead the tone was lightened, and the opening episodes established Angel Investigations as an idealistic shoestring operation.
A first draft script reveals that Angel was originally intended to include the character Whistler, played by Max Perlich, who had already featured in two Buffy episodes, "Becoming, Part One" and "Part Two". In an interview, Perlich said, "I never got called again. If they had called, I would have probably accepted because it was a great experience and I think Joss is very original and talented. Instead, the producers created the Whistler-like character, Doyle. Cordelia Chase, also from the original Sunnydale crew, joined Angel and Doyle.
For the first three seasons, David Greenwalt, who co-created the series with Whedon, was also credited as executive producer. During this time, Greenwalt took on the role of show runner. He left to oversee Miracles, but continued to work on Angel as a consulting producer. At the start of the fourth season, David Simkins was made show runner and executive producer, but after three months, he left the show due to "creative differences. Established Angel writer Jeffrey Bell took over for the balance of Season Four and became executive producer for Season Five.
Fran Rubel Kuzui and her husband, Kaz Kuzui, were also credited as executive producers throughout Angel, but were not involved in any writing or production for the show. Jeffrey Bell mentions in his DVD commentary during the closing credits of the Angel series finale "Not Fade Away" that two people were credited and paid for Angel without needing to ever step on the set. Angel crew member Dan Kerns also revealed in an essay, that two executive producers "received credit and sizeable checks for the duration of Buffy and Angel for doing absolutely nothing". Their credit, rights and royalties for the whole Buffy franchise, which includes spin-off Angel, relate to their funding, producing and directing of the original movie version of Buffy.
Jane Espenson has explained how scripts came together for Mutant Enemy Productions series; Buffy, Angel, and Firefly. A meeting is held and an idea is floated, generally by Whedon, and the writers brainstorm to develop the central theme of the episode and the character development. Next, the staff meets in the anteroom to Whedon's office to begin "breaking" the story into acts and scenes. The only one absent is the writer working on the previous week's episode.
Next, the writers develop the scenes onto a marker-filled whiteboard, featuring a "brief ordered description of each scene." A writer is selected to create an outline of the episode's concept — occasionally with some dialogue and jokes — in one day. The outline is given to the show runner, who revises it within a day. The writer uses the revised outline to write the first draft of the script while the other writers work on developing the next. This first draft is usually submitted for revision within three to fourteen days; afterward, a second and sometimes third draft is written. After all revisions were made, the final draft would be produced as the "shooting draft".
The opening theme was composed by Darling Violetta, an alternative rock group that performed two songs during the third season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The next year, Angel invited bands to submit demos for the theme music to the show. They asked bands to use "dark superhero ideas" and "Cello-rock". Darling Violetta watched pivotal Angel-related episodes of Buffy like "Passion" and "Becoming, Part One" and "Two" for inspiration. Eventually Joss Whedon accepted Darling Violetta's interpretation of an Angel theme as that most suitable to the show. The theme has a slower tempo than the Buffy theme. It has heavier use of acoustic instruments such as cello. This is perhaps more appropriate for a show about a vampire from 18th century Ireland on a long journey of redemption. In 2005, the band composed an extended version of the Angel theme called "The Sanctuary Extended Remix", which featured on the soundtrack of the series Angel: Live Fast, Die Never.
The demon karaoke bar, Caritas, is frequently used to spotlight pop hits. There has also been a soundtrack album, Angel: Live Fast, Die Never. The soundtrack mostly consists of scores created for the show by Robert J. Kral along with a remixed theme, and four other songs from the show. Douglas Romayne scored 33 episodes of "Angel" in Seasons Four and Five along with series lead composer, Rob Kral.
Angel's final episode, "Not Fade Away," aired on the WB on May 19, 2004. The ambiguous final moments left some fans hoping for the continuation of Angel and the Buffyverse in the future, hopes that came to fruition in November of 2007, with the publication of the first issue of the comic book series Angel: After the Fall. The series is Joss Whedon's official continuation of the Angel television series, and follows in the footsteps of the comic book Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, whose first issue was published in March 2007.
The series focuses around Angel (David Boreanaz), a vampire over two hundred years old. Angel was known as Angelus during his rampages across Europe. He was cursed with a soul, which gave him a conscience and guilt for centuries of murder and torture. He left Buffy the Vampire Slayer at the end of Season Three to move to Los Angeles in search of redemption.
He soon finds himself assisted by Allen Francis Doyle (Glenn Quinn), an Irish half-human, half-demon. Although he comes across as a ne'er-do-well hustler, he has a heroic side. He serves to pass along the cryptic visions from The Powers That Be to Angel. They are joined by Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter), also an old cast member of Buffy. Formerly a popular high school cheerleader, Cordelia starts her tenure on the show as a vapid and shallow personality, but grows over the course of the series into a hero.
With the death of Doyle in the early episodes of the show's first season, another character from the Buffy series makes the jump to its spin-off. Wesley Wyndam-Pryce (Alexis Denisof) joins the team under the brave guise of "rogue demon hunter", acting as comic relief, and is initially not well-accepted. Over the course of the series, Wesley grows into a leader.
In Season Two of the show, they are joined by Charles Gunn (J. August Richards), a young demon hunter who must initially adjust to working with and for a vampire. At the end of Season Two, they travel to the world Pylea, where they save Winifred "Fred" Burkle (Amy Acker), a young Texan physicist whose social skills have become stunted due to her captivity. She later grows to become more outspoken.
Season Three saw the introduction of Connor (Vincent Kartheiser), the "miracle" human child of two vampires, Angel and Darla. Abducted into a Hell dimension as a baby, he is raised by Angel's enemy Daniel Holtz, and only a couple weeks after he left comes back as a teenager. Connor reluctantly comes to accept his lineage. Although introduced during Season Two, Lorne (Andy Hallett) joins the team during Season Four. An outgoing and pacifistic demon, Lorne's role is predominantly to support the team.
Season Five (the show's final season) introduces several new cast members, chief amongst them Spike (James Marsters), an old vampire companion of Angel's who also starred in Buffy. In that series, Spike reluctantly fights beside Angel as their rivalry continues, now tinged with Spike existing as another vampire with a soul. One of the legendary Old Ones, Illyria (Amy Acker) starts off as an adversary of the team after taking over the body of Fred, but comes to join the team as she must learn to cope with the changed world and the new emotions she feels as a result of her taking over Fred.
Finally, there is Harmony Kendall (Mercedes McNab), also a Buffy alumna, and former friend of Cordelia who was turned into a vampire. Resembling the old personality of Cordelia, Harmony is grudgingly accepted by Angel as his secretary when he takes over the Los Angeles branch of Wolfram & Hart. Harmony is also the only character (other than Angel) to appear in the first episode of Buffy and the last episode of Angel.
The gang begins to settle into their new lives at Wolfram & Hart. Gunn undergoes a special cognitive procedure that transforms him into a brilliant lawyer. The group receives an amulet that resurrects a past companion of Angelus, the souled vampire Spike. Cordelia passes away and has The Powers That Be grant her one last request, in which she helps Angel get "back on track." Angel is briefly reunited with his son Connor, now in a new identity thanks to the agreement between Angel and Wolfram & Hart at the end of Season Four. He later reveals that he remembers his previous life as Angel's son. Fred finally declares her affections to Wesley, but shortly after is possessed by an ancient and powerful demon called Illyria. Wesley is devastated by the loss of Fred, but agrees to help Illyria adjust to her new form and the unfamiliar world she's in. Angel, after getting one last vision from Cordelia, infiltrates the Circle of the Black Thorn, a secret society responsible for engineering the Apocalypse, and plans to take them all out in a simultaneous, hard-hitting strike. Because this is probably a suicide mission, he tells each of his friends to spend the day as if it were their last. That night, the team launches its attack on the Circle, dividing up their targets. When Wesley is fatally stabbed, Illyria, concerned for his safety, arrives at his side after killing her targets but is powerless to help him, and grieves for Wesley. Lorne leaves and disappears into the night, his innocence destroyed, after fulfilling Angel's last order to kill Lindsey, the former Wolfram & Hart lawyer who had turned his back on the firm. Angel confronts Wolfram & Hart's new liaison Marcus Hamilton, and defeats him with help from Connor.
Once the Circle has been dismantled, Angel and the surviving members of his gang rendezvous in the alley behind the Hyperion Hotel. Illyria arrives with news of Wesley's death and feeling the need to fight as a result of it. Gunn emerges, staggering from a serious stomach wound. The survivors wait as the Senior Partners' army of warriors, giants, and a dragon approaches. The series ends with Angel and his crew preparing for battle, with Angel expressing interest about fighting the dragon and saying, "Let's go to work."
Much of Angel was shot on location in Los Angeles, California. The show is set in the city of Los Angeles. "Los Angeles" are the first words spoken in the premiere episode, and the cityscape is the first image seen in the opening credits. Joss Whedon said that "It is set in Los Angeles because there are a lot of demons in L.A. and a wealth of stories to be told." Producer Marti Noxon has expanded on this explanation: "Los Angeles was the place that Joss Whedon picked for very specific reasons. There's a lot of preconceptions about what the place is, but there are a lot of truths. It's a pretty competitive, intense town, where a lot of lonely isolated, and desperate people end up. It's a good place for monsters. Many episodes feature references to the city, and the opening episode of the second season features the character Lorne offering this observation of the city:
In the essay, "Los Angeles: The City of Angel" (from the essay collection, Reading Angel: The TV Spin-off With a Soul), Benjamin Jacob explores why Los Angeles in particular should be important to the series. Jacob suggests several explanations. First, the name connection ('City of Angels'). Second, the double-sided nature, the "other side of the stereotypical sunshine city, Beach Boys and Walt Disney", "the place of pain, anonymity, alienation and broken dreams". Third American noir was originally a "Los Angelian genre". Angel was originally conceived as supernatural noir. Noir had continued investigation of the "dark city, a place of regression and darkness as a counterpoint to the city's promise of progress and civilization" that had begun under William Blake and Charles Dickens.
During Season One, Angel Investigations is based in Angel's apartment. Actor Alexis Denisof, who played Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, said "Angel had this dark, foreboding, underground cellar apartment with columns, with this antique furniture all around, and this pokey little office upstairs" These offices were blown up in the story at the climax of the first season, and Angel Investigations found a new base in the episode, "Are You Now or Have You Ever Been".
Production designer Stuart Blatt outlined the new base: "An old hotel, something [the writers] could use to evoke the past of Los Angeles and some of Angel's history, something kind of creepy and spooky but not too dark because they didn't want something depressing, it's called the Hyperion Hotel. It's based on many hotels in Los Angeles... Angel lived in a larger suite in the hotel, like a honeymoon suite, the producers wanted Angel to have enough room to relax and get away from it all, do a little pondering, a little brooding, and a little research. Every once in a while, someone will come up to have a little conversation." During the final season, the team moves to the evil law firm, Wolfram & Hart.
The series' narrative revolves around Angel and his colleagues, collectively making up the detective agency Angel Investigations, who fight against supernatural evils and work to "Help the helpless". A typical episode contains one or more villains, or supernatural phenomena that is thwarted or defeated, and one or more people in need of help. Though elements and relationships are explored and ongoing subplots are included, the show focuses centrally on Angel and his road to redemption.
The most prominent monsters in the Angel bestiary are vampires, which are based on traditional myths, lore, and literary conventions. Angel and his companions fight a wide variety of demons, as well as ghosts, werewolves, zombies, and ethically unsound humans. They sometimes even save the world from annihilation by a combination of physical combat, magic, and detective-style investigation, and are guided by an extensive collection of ancient and mystical reference books. Visions from higher powers guide the group, and are received by Doyle and later Cordelia. Hand-to-hand combat is chiefly undertaken by Angel and later Gunn. Lorne is able to read peoples' destinies and intentions. Fred uses her scientific knowledge to contribute, whilst Wesley contributes his extensive knowledge of demonology and supernatural lore.
The style and focus of the show changed considerably over its run, and the original noir idea was mostly discarded in favor of more large scale fantasy-themed conflicts. In later seasons, the mythology and stories became increasingly complex; in Season Four, one of the characters on the show itself described the storyline as "a turgid supernatural soap opera. Whereas the show initially dealt with the difficulty of being kind to people on a personal basis, the show ultimately focused on Angel's status as an archetypal Champion for humanity, and explored ideas such as moral ambiguity, the spiritual cost of violence, and the nature of free will. The enduring theme throughout the series was the struggle for redemption.
Angel explored trust motifs as an increasingly central focus of the show. In the first two seasons, there were sprinklings of deceit and treachery, but in the last three seasons duplicity began to pervade the thematic structure, culminating in Season Five when almost every episode included some kind of double-cross, trickery, or illusion. An idea presented in Season Three was that even prophecy can betray, as they are often deceiving if not plain lies. In Season Five, it is repeatedly emphasized that the characters can trust no one in their new situation. The series is also notable for harsh betrayals within the cast of main characters; such events often having lethal consequences.
Angel depicted the feelings of loneliness, danger, and callousness often attributed to the urban Los Angeles megalopolis. The divisions between the ordered world of the day and the chaotic world of the night have been trademark themes of noir and by depicting a protagonist who literally has no daytime life, the series was able to explore these same themes in more dramatic, metaphorical ways. As the series progressed, the creators were able to explore darker aspects of the characters, particularly Angel, who commits a number of morally questionable actions, and periodically reverts to his evil persona Angelus.
|Season||Timeslot||Season Premiere||Season Finale||TV Season|| Viewers|
|1st||Tuesday 9:00 pm||October 5, 1999||May 23, 2000||1999–2000||4.8|
|2nd||September 26, 2000||May 22, 2001||2000–2001||4.1|
|3rd||Monday 9:00 pm||September 24, 2001||May 20, 2002||2001–2002||4.4|
|4th|| Sunday 9:00 pm|
Wednesday 9:00 pm
|October 6, 2002||May 7, 2003||2002–2003||3.7|
|5th||Wednesday 9:00 pm||October 1, 2003||May 19, 2004||2003–2004||4.0|
Many of these works are set at particular times within the Buffyverse. For example, Joss Whedon has written an Angel mini-series of comics, Long Night's Journey, which was specifically set in early Angel Season Two. Angel comics were originally published by Dark Horse Comics, which published them from 2000 until 2002. IDW Publishing obtained rights to publish Angel comics in 2005 and has been releasing them since. Most recent releases include Spike vs. Dracula, Asylum, and Auld Lang Syne. Spinning off of the Angel comics comes an entire series of Spike comics, using the Angel logo's typeface in its depiction of the name "Spike", among these are the comics Spike vs. Dracula, Spike: Asylum and Spike: Shadow Puppets. As of November 2007, the story is being continued in a canonical Season Six originally planned to be a 12-issue comic mini-series, titled Angel: After the Fall. The series is written by Brian Lynch (Spike: Asylum) and is plotted by both Lynch and Joss Whedon.
Following their success with a series of Buffy novels, Pocket Books purchased the license to produce novels for Angel. Twenty-four Angel novels were published. Jeff Mariotte became the most successful Angel novelist, publishing eleven Angel novels. They also published seven Buffy/Angel crossover books that featured settings and characters from both series.
Angel DVDs were produced by 20th Century Fox and released from 2001-2005.
|DVD||Original release date|
|The Complete First Season||February 11, 2003||December 10, 2001|
|The Complete Second Season||September 2, 2003||April 15, 2002|
|The Complete Third Season||February 10, 2004||March 3, 2003|
|The Complete Fourth Season||September 7, 2004||March 1, 2004|
|The Complete Fifth Season||February 15, 2005||February 21, 2005|
|Special Collectors Set||October 30, 2007||October 30, 2006|
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