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Angel (TV series)

Angel is an American television series, a spin-off of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The atmosphere of the show was darker, and at brief periods it performed better in the U.S. Nielsen Ratings than its parent series, though Buffy's highest ratings records in Season Two and Three still topped any of Angel's seasons ratings.

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.

Production

Origins

Co-producer Greenwalt points out "there's no denying that Angel grew out of Buffy". Several years before Angel debuted, Joss Whedon developed the concept behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer to invert the Hollywood formula of "the little blonde girl who goes into a dark alley and gets killed in every horror movie." The character Angel was first seen in the first episode and became a regular, appearing in the opening credits during Seasons Two and Three. According to the fictional universe first established by Slayer, the 'Buffyverse,' Angel was born in 18th century Ireland. After being turned into a soulless, immortal vampire, he became legendary for his evil acts, until a band of wronged Gypsies punished him by restoring his soul, overwhelming him with guilt. Angel eventually set out on a path of redemption, hoping that he could make up for his past through good deeds. In Buffy's Season Three finale, the character leaves Sunnydale for L.A. to continue his atonement without Buffy. Whedon believed that "Angel was the one character who was bigger than life in the same way that Buffy was, a kind of superhero. Whedon has compared the series to its parent, "It's a little bit more straightforward action show and a little bit more of a guys' show.

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.

Format

Much like Buffy, Angel is told in a serialized format, with each episode involving a self-contained story while contributing to a larger storyline, which is broken down into season-long narratives marked by the rise and defeat of a powerful antagonist, commonly referred to as the "Big Bad". The show blends different genres, including horror, martial arts, romance, melodrama, farce, detective fiction, and comedy. It mixes complex, season-long storylines with a villain-of-the-week format, where the protagonists regularly use a mix of physical combat, magic, and detective-style investigation to combat both human and supernatural evils.

Executive producers

Joss Whedon is credited as executive producer throughout the run of the series. Alongside Angel, he was also working on a series of other projects such as Buffy, Fray, Astonishing X-Men, and Firefly (which would later also lead to the film Serenity).

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.

Writing

Script-writing was done by Mutant Enemy, a production company created by Joss Whedon in 1997. The writers with the most writing credits for the series include: David Greenwalt, Tim Minear, David Fury, Mere Smith, Steven S. DeKnight, and Jeffrey Bell.

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".

Music

Main articles: Music in Buffy and Angel
Angel features a mix of original, indie, rock and pop music.

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.

Cancellation

On February 14, 2004, the WB Network announced that Angel would not be brought back for a sixth season. The one-paragraph statement indicated the news, which had been reported by an Internet site the previous day, had been leaked well before the network intended to make its announcement. Joss Whedon posted a message on a popular fan site, The Bronze: Beta, in which he expressed his dismay and surprise, saying he was "heartbroken and compared it to a "healthy guy falling dead from a heart attack. Fan reaction was to organize letter-writing campaigns, online petitions, blood and food drives, advertisements in trade magazines and via mobile billboards, and attempts to lobby other networks. UPN was a particular target, as it had already picked up Buffy. Outrage for the cancellation focused on Jordan Levin, the WB's Head of Entertainment.

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.

Characters

Main characters

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.

Recurring characters

Many characters on Angel made recurring appearances. The two longest running recurring characters besides Lorne, who was later added to the main cast, are Lilah Morgan (Season One through Four) and Lindsey McDonald (Season One, Two, and Five) appearing in 35 and 21 episodes respectively. Lindsey is also the only character besides Angel to appear in both the first and last episode of the series. Throughout the series, there were also guest appearances from Buffy characters, which include main cast members Buffy Summers, Willow Rosenberg, Daniel "Oz" Osbourne, and also Andrew Wells. The character of Faith Lehane played an important part in stories from Season One and Four. Another character to make the jump from Buffy, becoming a recurring character on Angel, was Anne Steele.

Plot synopsis

See also List of Angel episodes

Season One

At the start of the series, Angel has just moved to Los Angeles in an effort to earn redemption for the evil deeds he committed as an un-souled vampire. He is soon visited by Doyle, a messenger sent to him on behalf of The Powers That Be. Doyle receives visions that can guide Angel on his mission. Angel also bumps into Cordelia Chase, who is trying to break into stardom. The three group together to form Angel Investigations, a detective agency that hopes to "help the helpless." When Doyle dies in the episode "Hero", he passes on his 'visions' to Cordelia. Shortly thereafter, the ex-Watcher, Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, joins the group. Meanwhile, the evil law firm Wolfram & Hart pay increasing attention to Angel. They tempt him toward darkness when they resurrect Darla, Angel's ex-lover and sire — killed by Angel in the first season of Buffy in the episode "Angel".

Season Two

Charles Gunn was introduced toward the end of the first season in the episode "War Zone", a street-tough leader of a gang of vampire hunters, he is initially determined to kill Angel, but slowly comes to accept him and join his cause. Wolfram & Hart's star lawyer Lindsey McDonald primes Darla as its weapon to bring down Angel. However, Darla is brought back as a human, not a vampire. But as a human, she suffers from a terminal case of syphilis — which she had contracted in her original life before being sired. Lindsey brings in Drusilla, a vampire originally sired by Angelus, to restore Darla to the cause of evil. Enraged by this, Angel begins to grow darker. He cuts himself off from his staff and attempts to go after the pair himself. In despair, Angel sleeps with Darla (cf. "Reprise"), but the next morning, he has an epiphany; seeing the error of his ways, he banishes Darla and reunites with his group. Lorne, the flamboyant demon owner of Caritas, reluctantly takes Angel and his crew to his home dimension, Pylea, to rescue Cordelia. They return with Winifred "Fred" Burkle, a former physics student who has been trapped in the dimension for five long years.

Season Three

To get over news of the death of his ex-girlfriend, Buffy, Angel spends three months in a Sri Lankan monastery, where he encounters some demon monks and goes home frustrated. He returns to Los Angeles, as does Darla — now bearing his child. The group is puzzled by what might be the first vampire birth. Darla sacrifices her life to save the life of her child, Connor. The gang is eager to care for the infant, but Wesley soon learns of a (false) frightening prophecy that suggests that Angel will murder his son. Feeling disconnected from the group, Wesley does not share this information, and quietly kidnaps Connor. This backfires as he is attacked and the child is seized by an old enemy, Daniel Holtz, whose family Angelus and Darla slaughtered two hundred years ago. Holtz escapes through a rip in the fabric of space to the dimension of Quor'Toth, and raises the boy as his own. Angel feels that his son is lost forever, and tries to murder Wesley. Though he survives, Wesley is banished from the group. Weeks later, Connor returns, but because time moves faster in Quor'Toth, he is now a teenage boy, having been raised by Holtz. Tricking Angel into believing Connor needs to be the one to take Connor in, Holtz gives Angel a letter letting Connor know that he will be leaving and to trust Angel. Holtz gets Justine to kill him, but ends up making it look like a vampire attack so Connor will assume the worst. Connor imprisons his birth father in a casket and drops it to the bottom of the ocean.

Season Four

Despite his exile from his old friends, Wesley locates and frees Angel. A hellish Beast emerges and blocks out the sun over L.A. He then proceeds to kill the staff at Wolfram & Hart. Although the city survives, the sunlight seems to be blotted out permanently. In a desperate attempt to confront the Beast, the team removes Angel's soul, releasing Angelus, but manage to restore it thanks to help from Faith and Willow. Their efforts, however, do not prevent the coming of Jasmine, who was indirectly responsible for the work of the Beast. Jasmine, it turns out, was formerly one of the Powers That Be and plans to solve all the world's problems by giving humanity total happiness through spiritual enslavement to her. She arrives in our world through manipulation of Cordelia and Connor, using them as a conduit into our world, eventually forcing Cordelia to fall into a coma. Fred is accidentally inoculated against Jasmine's spell by contact with her blood and frees the rest of the gang though they remain hopelessly outnumbered by thousands already entranced by Jasmine. Angel travels through a magic portal into a world previously visited by Jasmine to find a way of breaking her power over L.A.'s populace. By revealing her true name, they are able to break Jasmine's spell over everyone. Jasmine confronts Angel, but is then killed by Connor, revealing to have never been under Jasmine's influence and just went along for the sake of having a semblance of family and happiness. In the season finale, they are met by Lilah Morgan, the resurrected Head of Wolfram & Hart's Special Project Division, who congratulates them on preventing world peace, and says that as a token of their appreciation, Wolfram & Hart would like to give them the Los Angeles branch. To help save Cordelia and Connor, who has gone mad with confusion over losing everything, Angel reluctantly agrees.

Season Five

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."

Setting and themes

Setting

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.

Format

Angel was initially told in an anthology format, with each episode creating a self-contained story that took place around the title character. Later episodes began to increasingly contribute to a larger storyline, which was broken down into complex narratives that unfolded over many episodes. The most extreme example of this was Season Four, in which almost every episode contributed to the main storyline. The show blends different genres, including horror, martial arts, romance, melodrama, farce, and comedy.

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.

Themes

While Buffy the Vampire Slayer was built around the angst of adolescence, Angel chronicles the different stages of adulthood. The character of Cordelia Chase, who had been the most popular and superficial girl in Sunnydale High on Buffy, develops over the course of the series from an insecure young woman struggling in a daunting real world into an unexpectedly mature woman. Similarly, Wesley, the once uptight and bookish Watcher, becomes a man of quiet confidence and often ruthless action. In much the same way as Buffy had been both an homage and parody of traditional horror films, Angel gave the same treatment to the classical film noir. Producer Kelly Manners said "Angel is a dark show about a man looking for redemption... We have an alcoholic metaphor with Angel. Angel is a guy who is one drink away from going back to his evil roots He attempts to find redemption through helping the helpless of Los Angeles in a fashion similar to that of noir detectives. The first episode even included a Philip Marlowe-style voiceover. The character of Angel filled the role of the reluctant, streetwise detective who has dealings with a variety of underworld characters. In this case, the "underworld" is a literal underworld of demons and supernatural beings. In one instance, Angel is explicitly compared with fictional noir private-detective Marlowe. Many traditional noir stories and characters were explored in earlier episodes, including the ditzy but attractive secretary, the cagey but well-informed partner, and clashes with crooked lawyers and meddlesome, too-good-for-their-own-good cops. These were usually given a modern or supernatural twist.

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.

Reception

Critical reviews

During the course of the series, Angel has been subject to both criticism and praise. These criticisms are often put into the context of it being a spin-off to popular show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and will at times refer to it being "better than" or "lesser than" its parent show.

""Angel" may improve with age. Heaven knows, it has a built-in "Buffy" fan base. For now, however, there's not enough to sink your teeth into."
Phil Rosenthal, Chicago Sun-Times, October 5, 1999

"Some weeks, the series works beautifully, moving along like the otherworldly detective show it's meant to be. The Oct. 26 edition, in which a baddie could detach various body parts and send them off to do naughty things (an eyeball is sent to spy on a girl he likes, for instance), was full of crackerjack wit, as was the Nov. 16 show, in which Doyle's brains are nearly eaten by his ex-wife's new in-laws (Whedon and company excel at gruesome variations on the hellishness of family life).

But other times Angel can tip too far into jokiness -- or, worse, come off like a supernatural version of hollow USA Network shows such as Silk Stalkings. Angel's weaknesses were highlighted in the Nov. 23 Buffy/Angel crossover, in which Angel briefly regained his soul and, in the words of Cordelia, got groiny with Buffy, alternating kitchen-table-clearing make-out scenes with dueling-demon tableaux; it was like Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein for a Last Tango in Paris, yet fully satisfying across a whole range of emotions. Angel's uneven writing and production values need that kind of oomph every week."
—Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly, posted December 3, 1999

"The care with which Joss Whedon created his fantastic universe of vampires, demons, and heroes is evident when watching the first 22 episodes of Angel, his Buffy the Vampire Slayer spin-off."
—Marc Benardin, Entertainment Weekly, posted February 11, 2003

"If, perchance, the WB doesn't bring Angel back for a fifth season, it will drive a stake through my heart. And there aren't a lot of shows I can say that about these days.

This show has, in its fourth season, surpassed the show from which it was spun off. Which is not to say that Buffy the Vampire Slayer isn't good in this, it's seventh and final season -- it's very good. But Angel is better."
—Scott D. Pierce, Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City), March 18, 2003

"But Whedon and his team have done it. Tonight's season premiere (8 p.m., Ch. 30), written and directed by Whedon, and next week's second episode are great -- action-packed, exciting, extremely funny and fully accessible to anyone who pays attention for a minute."
—Scott D. Pierce, Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City), October 1, 2003

"But it's an uphill climb, and those ambitious newcomers who might hope to come in cold and make sense of all (or any) of what's going on are bound to be frustrated. That's why it's a cult show, no matter how well it's made and how universal its overriding theme of dealing with the hard choices one has made in life."
Phil Rosenthal, Chicago Sun-Times, February 4, 2004

"Angel is wildly uneven: Sometimes it's an absolute blast (James Marsters' gleeful guffaw as Spike, 'You're a wee little puppet man!' was priceless); sometimes it's a dead-end street (the whole Connor, grown-son-of-Angel subplot was where I exited the series for a spell). For a show with such superb acting -- all honor to Boreanaz, who's got macho vulnerability down to a smooth essence not achieved since James Garner in his Rockford Files days, and to Amy Acker, who has gone from victim to sexpot to villain without ever hitting a false note -- Angel is surprisingly rife with leaden lines like 'Rules can be broken; all you have to do is push hard enough.'"
—Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly, posted April 23, 2004

U.S. Ratings

Season Timeslot Season Premiere Season Finale TV Season Viewers
(in millions)
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

Spin-offs

Despite being a spin-off in itself, Angel has inspired a whole "industry" of books, comics, and merchandise.

Expanded Universe

Outside of the TV series, Angel has been officially expanded and elaborated on by authors and artists in the so-called "Buffyverse Expanded Universe". The creators of these works may or may not keep to established continuity. Similarly, writers for the TV series were under no obligation to use information which had been established by the Expanded Universe, and sometimes contradicted such continuity.

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.

Undeveloped spin-offs

In March 2006, Joss Whedon still talked of the possibility of a TV movie involving Spike to be written and directed by Tim Minear.

Merchandise

Angel has inspired magazines and companion books, as well as countless websites, online discussion forums, and works of fan fiction. Eden Studios have published an Angel role-playing game.

Series information

Season One of Angel was introduced in 1999. Each season consisted of 22 episodes. Discounting the Angel pitch tape, the five seasons make up a total of 110 episodes, aired between 1999 and 2004.

DVD releases

Angel DVDs were produced by 20th Century Fox and released from 2001-2005.

DVD Original release date
US UK
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

Awards and nominations

Angel has gathered a number of awards and nominations. It won Best Television from International Horror Guild in 2001. It has received many important awards and nominations from the Saturn Awards which are presented annually by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films: it won Best Network TV Series and Best TV Actor in 2004. Specific episodes, "Waiting in the Wings", "Smile Time," and "Not Fade Away," have been nominated for Hugo Awards for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form in 2003 and 2005.

International broadcasting

Running gags

  • Angel's aversion and lack of typical knowledge of the operation of his cell phone.
  • Angel's friends often comment about the lack of color (he only wears black) in his wardrobe.
  • Despite Fred's very slim built, she has a very large appetite, almost a glutton. In the Season Three finale "Tomorrow", she finishes a "jumbo tub" of popcorn at a drive-in theater before sending Gunn to get another tub since the theater offers free refills emphasizing, "don't skimp on the butter."
  • As a physicist and Internet hacker, Fred often unintentionally rambles or answers questions verbosely using advanced scientific jargon that no one else can understand.
  • Lorne's incessant use of rather inventive pet names, especially with Angel (e.g. Angel Hair).

Footnotes and references

All links retrieved and checked as of November 2006 or after.
49. Liam - Referenced from Season Four Episode 6.

External links

Official sites

Encyclopedias

See also

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