At one time I received a lot of input concerning which TV show I should watch next, the top contenders being Lost, Torchwood and Angel. Although we picked up a factory-sealed Lost season one at Half Price Books a few weeks ago, we haven’t committed time to watching it yet. We’ve been re-watching Doctor Who seasons 1-4 and as soon as we finish up with that (three episodes left) we plan to move on to Torchwood, season one of which Tracy bought a couple of weeks ago. We did record the first two seasons of the third nominee off TV a couple of months ago, though, so although we will be watching all three eventually, the first place winner is… Angel!

I doubt we’ll be watching an episode each night as we did with Buffy (during summer repeat season), but now that I again have access to the board during the day, here are the notes I jotted down concerning the episodes we’ve watched so far.

CITY OF: I don’t know if you guys have Sonic drive-ins in your respective necks of the woods (I hadn’t heard of them until moving to Texas), but I think of them as “A&W without the root beer.” Whereas I use that term in a derogatory manner when referring to Sonic, I think Angel can be referred to as “the Slayer without Buffy”… in a good way.

It took me six seasons of Buffy to warm up to Spike as a sympathetic character, and I never did warm up to Angel, but I hadn’t realized until I saw her how much I missed Cordelia. This new Irish half-demon character, Doyle, seems to be shoe-horned in, but I’m sure he’ll grow on my over time.

LONELY HEARTS: What I liked about this episode is that there were enough clues for the viewer to deduce the true nature of the demon before the cast did.

IN THE DARK: If this were a comic book, the third issue would guest star Spider-Man; being a TV show, the third episode guest-starred Spike and Oz from Buffy. One day in the future, I’ll have to sit down and determine exactly how these two series fit together interstitially.

I FALL TO PIECES: Tracy is enjoying the show so far, but during this episode commented that, whereas Angel is a good spin-off, she didn’t think it would have much appeal on its own to non-Buffy-watchers. I countered that it did last five seasons.

RM W/A VU: So Cordelia now has a line-in ghost roommate? Will this situation be followed up throughout the series? Guess I’ll find out soon enough.

SENSE & SENSITIVITY: I had to go to sensitivity training once, did I ever tell you about that? I suggested to the instructor that instead of training the well-adjusted people to be more sensitive, they ought to take the sensitive people and toughen ‘em up a little. I like Angel’s romantic interest as a character.

BACHELOR PARTY: I forgot what I was going to say about this episode. I’m sure it was something insightful, though.

I WILL REMEMBER YOU: Wow, this watches like a missing episode of Buffy! I was wondering if Buffy is the only girl Angel can’t have sex with, or if he pretty much has to avoid it altogether now that he knows what might happen if he experiences another moment of happiness. And what a stupid provision to his curse, that it’s lifted if he experiences happiness. Somebody didn’t think that through!

That’s as many episodes as we’ve watched so far.

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This new Irish half-demon character, Doyle, seems to be shoe-horned in, but I’m sure he’ll grow on my over time.

They were originally going to use Whistler, the demon character who appeared in a couple of episodes of Buffy season 2, but Max Perlich had just taken another job, and was unavailable.


...but I hadn’t realized until I saw her how much I missed Cordelia.

It was pretty surprising to realize just how much the Cordelia character brought to Buffy. They promoted both Spike and Anya from recurring status to regular status, and give each of them certain aspects of Cordy's personality to try and bring back the vibe she brought to the show. Still, I think she was better served on Angel than she was on the parent series.


And what a stupid provision to his curse, that it’s lifted if he experiences happiness. Somebody didn’t think that through!

I don't think the curse was lifted so much as broken. Once Buffy brought some happiness into his life, the curse was defeated, so to speak, and the status quo was restored. The Gypsies weren't really interested in protecting anybody else from Angelus' evil, they were simply interested in taking revenge and making him suffer. Once his suffering had ended, so did the curse.
Hmm...

Broken... lifted... tom-AY-to... tom-AH-to...

I still think somebody didn't think that through! :P
Wait, why were the tomatoes cursed again?
The Baron said:
Wait, why were the tomatoes cursed again?

'Cause they came with the frogurt.
HERO:

Some time ago Chris Fluit wrote a column of his favorite episodes of Angel to be posted while he was on vacation. Here’s what he had to say about “Hero”:

Doyle gets a chance to atone for his past when Angel agrees to help a group of mixed-heritage demons being hunted by violent pure-blood demons known as The Scourge. This episode is most memorable because of Doyle’s heroic sacrifice at the end. And I’ll admit that it’s a great ending. Not just Doyle’s death, but also the kiss before dying with Cordelia. However, this episode isn’t just a great ending. The jack-booted villains make this a real fearful episode long before we get to the end.

Well, I guess I won’t be getting the chance to warm to Doyle after all! This episode is typical of what I have come to expect from Joss Whedon: 1) change to the status quo (Cordelia learns of Doyle’s half-demonic nature), and 2) the unecpected (Doyle’s sacrifice). The “demon supremacists” / “Jew demon” analogy was (intentionally) obvious, but not heavy-handed.
I FALL TO PIECES: Tracy is enjoying the show so far, but during this episode commented that, whereas Angel is a good spin-off, she didn’t think it would have much appeal on its own to non-Buffy-watchers. I countered that it did last five seasons

I think Tracy's right about the early episodes but Angel definitely grows into its own show as it goes forward.

RM W/A VU: So Cordelia now has a line-in ghost roommate? Will this situation be followed up throughout the series? Guess I’ll find out soon enough.

It will come up again, but it's not a major part of the show.

SENSE & SENSITIVITY: I had to go to sensitivity training once, did I ever tell you about that? I suggested to the instructor that instead of training the well-adjusted people to be more sensitive, they ought to take the sensitive people and toughen ‘em up a little. I like Angel’s romantic interest as a character.

Ha! I brought your comment up in conversation a couple of days ago.
The Scourge are the villains in the current Angel: Only Human comic book mini-series. Though I recommend waiting on reading that until you've watched all of Angel (and read "After the Fall").

Jeff of Earth-J said:
HERO:
Some time ago Chris Fluit wrote a column of his favorite episodes of Angel to be posted while he was on vacation. Here’s what he had to say about “Hero”:
Doyle gets a chance to atone for his past when Angel agrees to help a group of mixed-heritage demons being hunted by violent pure-blood demons known as The Scourge. This episode is most memorable because of Doyle’s heroic sacrifice at the end. And I’ll admit that it’s a great ending. Not just Doyle’s death, but also the kiss before dying with Cordelia. However, this episode isn’t just a great ending. The jack-booted villains make this a real fearful episode long before we get to the end.

Well, I guess I won’t be getting the chance to warm to Doyle after all! This episode is typical of what I have come to expect from Joss Whedon: 1) change to the status quo (Cordelia learns of Doyle’s half-demonic nature), and 2) the unecpected (Doyle’s sacrifice). The “demon supremacists” / “Jew demon” analogy was (intentionally) obvious, but not heavy-handed.
A co-worker of mine expressed the same opinion about Angel getting better as it goes along. (That was my assessment of Buffy, too.) She said the first season is her least favorite.

Oh, don't worry... I've learned my lesson about "reading ahead" while watching Buffy... and I didn't even think I was reading ahead! ("Buffy's sister!? Wha--?") I read your comments about the Buffy Season 8 comic and am eagerly awaiting the release of the sixth tpb (March 3).

BTW, you owe me a nickel for using my comment about sensitivity training. :)
My least favorite season of Angel is four but I won't say more about that until other-Jeff catches up.

Alas, poor Doyle. I knew him, Horatio. A demon of infinite jest... Actually, I loved Doyle and was ready (once again) to throttle Whedon when he killed the character. We were given some tantalizing hints that there was more to learn about him and then BOOM--we lost the chance.
My least favorite season is also #1. I think it took the show a while to hit its stride. Once they realized that we care more about the Angel Investigations crew than their clients each week, it got better.

I like season 5 the best, followed by season 2.
Oh, five is without a doubt the best.
PARTING GIFTS:

I haven’t been reading ahead on Chris’s vacation “Angel” column, but I have been revisiting his similar vacation “Buffy” column. Every once in a while I get to an episode he’s reviewed and think, “Oh, that was a good one. I wonder what I had to say about it at the time?” Then I pop on over to the old “Jeff Watches Buffy” thread and I blasted it! I at this point, armed with the meta-knowledge that Angel lasts five seasons, I think I’ve pretty much bought into the notion that Whedon-verse vampires are capable of change. Spike’s change came from within, however, whereas Angel’s was forced upon him from without. If ever he should lose his human soul again, then all bets are off. I do think the supporting cast should have some sort of failsafe protocol in case that ever happens, but until it does, I’m going to lay off busting Angel’s chops for being an undead creature of evil.

Here’s what Chris had to say about the episode under discussion: As Cordelia struggles with the unwanted gift Doyle passed on to her, a leather-clad Wesley Wyndham-Pryce roars into town claiming to be a rogue demon hunter. There are a couple of reasons why I chose this episode. One, this episode deals with the ramifications and consequences of the previous episode. That’s one of the things I love the most about Buffy and Angel.There are consequences to actions. There are results. And we often get to see people dealing with those actions after the fact as we do here with Cordelia mourning Doyle. But this isn’t simply a sad episode. Parting Gifts balances out Cordy’s sorrow with the arrival of Wesley. Parting Gifts mingles sorrow and humor without either stepping on the toes of the other. Wesley’s arrival as a rogue demon hunter is both spirited and amusing and it’s one of my favorite moments in the entire series. This episode also marks something that sets Angel apart from Buffy. While Buffy would usually build to a big climax at the end of the season, Angel would usually peak earlier with the biggest events and best episodes happening in the middle of the season as is the case here.

For my own part, I was happy to see Wesley join the cast. (At least I’m assuming he joins the cast; our recording cut off a few minutes early.) Tracy, OTOH, doesn’t want to see Angel become a dumping ground for former Buffy cast members. I think he fits right in, though, and brings with him a history that Doyle never had. It like a comic book team with a large cast splitting off into two titles; Angel is “Buffy without the Slayer.” I also like that Cordelia, like Willow on the parent show, has gained a power to make her a little more formidable (or at least useful). Laughed out loud twice during this episode.

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