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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There was a Riley one-shot? Maybe I don't need to buy Previews but I sure should start reading the solicitations that Cap posts for us here.

It's been a long time since I saw "Damage" but as I remember it, Andrew basically pulls the rug out from under Angel and Spike. It would have been funny if Xander had done that but Andrew is even more of a joke so it's funnier to have our heroes be defeated by him instead of Xander.
There is going to be a Riley one-shot released August 18.

Regarding the use of Andrew, it also shows his growth as a character and that Buffy and Giles are trusting him with more responsibility.
SEASON FIVE: EPISODE 12: “You’re Welcome”

Chris: Cordelia returns to help her friends one last time after an old nemesis shows up determined to defeat Angel by overriding a secret failsafe created by The Powers That Be. It was tough not to pick all of the character-centric episodes from the scary Spike episode Hellbound to the funny Lorne episode Life of the Party to the heart-wrenching Wes episode Lineage. They were all so good for different reasons. But I only have room for so many episodes and this Cordelia-centric episode absolutely has to make the list. This episode brings back Cordelia for a brief moment, reintroduces Lindsey as a returning nemesis, features a great fight between Angel and Lindsey, and sets Angel back on his right path as a champion. Plus, it has that bittersweet ending in which we learn that Cordelia didn’t really come back but died.

Ah, closure! I’m sorry to see Cordelia gone for good, but I’m glad she went out with a bang instead of a whimper. (Leaving her in a coma at the end of season four was so unsatisfying!) I suspected this would be one of Chris’s favorites, and rightly so. Great episode!
SEASON FIVE: EPISODE 13: “Why We Fight”

It’s like Das Boot with vampires!

This was a good story but with one flaw: Angel gained nothing by not putting the vampire he sired to its final rest when he first got the chance, plus he put Wesley, Fred and Gunn at greater risk. Other than that, good episode.
SEASON FIVE: EPISODE 14: “Smile Time”

Chris: While Wesley and Fred’s relationship heats up, Gunn makes a deal to ensure his mental powers are made permanent, and Angel gets turned into a little felt-covered puppet. Angel gets turned into a puppet. How cool is that? I think this episode would rank highly on a lot of lists of people’s favorites. Let me say that again: Angel gets turned into a puppet. Angel gets to be funny. Puppets get to be scary. And the team gets to fight with abandon.

The Angel puppet was really well done and the cast, especially Spike, did a good job interacting with it. A big, bad vampire rolling around on the floor with (and eventually getting beaten by) a puppet? How funny is that? I’ll tell you: pretty damned funny! I think Angel deserves to have some happiness with the werewolf chick. Wesley himself pointed out my long-standing argument, that the odds are stacked way against him achieving that one moment of true happiness which would signal Angelus’ return. Look at Eve on Hallowe’en.

Speaking of Wesley, it’s nice to see Fred finally showing some interest in him, but I’m not too terribly sympathetic toward her. She made her choice and she chose Gunn. Frankly, I preferred seeing Wesley with Lilah. We’ll see.
SEASON FIVE: EPISODE 15: “A Hole in the World”

Chris: After breathing in the air from an ancient sarcophagus, Fred falls deathly ill and the rest of the gang races to find a cure before it’s too late. This is what I love about a Joss Whedon show, whether it’s Buffy or Firefly or Angel. The show bounces from extremes, yet does each of them so well. Smile Time was one of the funniest episodes in the entire series, yet it’s followed up with this tear-jerker of a tale in which Fred falls ill and all of the guys vow to save her. Yet, despite their vows and their many skills, none of them is able to save Fred. She dies in Wesley’s arms. Other deaths have been shocking as was the case with Lilah but few have been as heart-wrenching.

I actually guessed Fred's lab partner as being the culprit very early on (Tracy will back me up on this!), but I think Whedon mislead the audience somewhat by the way what's-his-name (the lab guy) reacted when the the sarcophagus was delivered, as if he had no idea what it was. There was no one else there (other than the delivery men) to see his "act".

So, is Fred dead dead? No, don’t tell me! I’ll find out soon enough!

Gee, now I feel bad thatI was so unsympathetic toward her yesterday. :(
SEASON FIVE: EPISODE 16: “Shells”

Mourning Fred’s death, Angel and his friends vow to find a way to bring her back, which leads to a confrontation with the ancient god Illyria, who now occupies Fred’s body.

She’s not only merely dead, she’s really quite sincerely dead.

Kudos to Amy Acker for her performance as Illyria; it was convincing due to more than simply the hair, make-up and contact lenses. I’ll have more to say along these lines in a week or so when I’ve finished watching the series.
According to Whedon, Illyira was created for the sole purpose of allowing Amy Acker to show off her acting chops.
If that's the case I must say the experiment was a success!

SEASON FIVE: EPISODE 17: “Underneath”

Angel, Gunn, and Spike rescue Lindsey from a suburban hell dimension; Lorne and Eve are pursued by a representative of the senior partners; and Wesley consoles Illyria, who hates her new world.

Jayne! It’s gorram Jayne!

SEASON FIVE: EPISODE 18: “Origin”

When a Warlock brings Conner back into Angel’s life, Wesley finds out that Angel has tinkered with the memories of his friends.

When the “play episode” frame appeared on our screen and we saw Conner, we bother lamented, “Oh, noooo!”

SEASON FIVE: EPISODE 19: “Time Bomb”

As Angel and Hamilton urge Wesley to get rid of Illyria, she suffers a potentially cataclysmic physical breakdown; and Gunn clashes with Angel over the enforcement of an evil demon contract.

I like time paradoxes. Must pay closer attention the next time through, though.
Up next: the most widely despised episode of the season.
KSwolf said:
Up next: the most widely despised episode of the season.

Was "The Girl in Question" despised? I don't remember particularly minding it...
SEASON FIVE: EPISODE 20: “The Girl in Question”

While Angel and Spike go to Italy to retrieve the head of a demon mobster (and save Buffy from a new suitor), Fred’s parents arrive at Wolfram and Hart, looking for their daughter.

I don’t know why this episode should be “despised” particularly, unless viewers felt their collective chains were being jerked regarding Buffy. Michelle Geller’s name was not in the credits, nor (even more obviously) was her picture on the DVD “play episode” screen. Once it became obvious that “The Girl in Question” is not, in fact, Buffy, but Fred, I settled down and watched the episode without expectations.

A few days ago I mentioned how Amy Acker’s performance as Illyria was far more nuanced than simply make-up, hair color and contact lenses. Never was the quality of her performance more obvious than when whe slipped back and forth between Illyria and Fred without make-up! Very well done!

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