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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I don’t know why this episode should be “despised” particularly, unless viewers felt their collective chains were being jerked regarding Buffy.

That's pretty much it. Fans didn't like the way that Buffy was being portrayed (even though it's other people's references to and impressions of her). This was somewhat rectified in Buffy Season Eight (the comic series) when- small spoiler- it was revealed that the Buffy in Rome was actually a decoy pretending to be Buffy.
Oh, yeah... I remember that reference. Now I get it! I must remember to point it out to Tracy tonight. Thanks!
Chris handled these final two episodes together, so I will, too.

SEASON FIVE: EPISODES 21/22 : “Power Play” and “Not Fade Away”

Chris: Angel’s strange behavior convinces the gang that he’s joined an elite group of evildoers called the Circle of the Black Thorn a group he could have only joined by killing one of his own. The gang prepares to attack the true powers of evil by attempting to take down the Circle of the Black Thorn in battle none of them expect to survive. I have a few problems with the season structure at this point. I didn’t feel that the finale had the necessary build-up, especially after one-shot tales featuring Connor and a search for Buffy. But I have no problems with the episodes individually. And I certainly have no problems with the finale.

While I still think it would have been interesting to end with Power Play and start a sixth season by taking out the Circle of the Black Thorn (an option that wasn’t available), I can’t be upset with these episodes. They’re both packed full with great turns, great scenes, great moments and great lines. Angel’s speech at the end of Power Play is powerful and effective. The death of Wes is truly moving, especially as he dies in Fred’s arms just as she had died in his. I felt so forlorn for Lorne as he did his one last job before getting out. And I loved Lindsey’s reaction, being more upset that he had been done in by a flunky than that he was going to die.


So…

Was it not known at the time that Angel wouldn’t be renewed for a sixth season? I don’t know what kind of resolution I was expecting, but I was expecting an ending in the same way Buffy was given an ending. Follow-up comic series notwithstanding, I can only conclude from the end of the series that, like in a Shakespearian tragedy or the X-Men’s “Days of Future Past” that “Everybody Dies.”

12 seasons (total) of Buffy and Angel in 14 months. I can’t believe I’m finally through! I have a strong compulsion to start over with Buffy season one again, but this time pay closer attention to the introductions of characters such as Darla, Harmony and Anya, then switch over to Angel at the end of season three. A couple of weeks ago I thought I might re-watch Dollhouse, this time paying particular attention to Amy Acker’s character, but watching her performance as Illyria scratched that itch. I also feel like watching the last season of Buffy then getting caught up on the “Season Eight” comic book series.

I remember when James Marsters joined the cast of Smallville as Brainiac that everyone commented how he was Spike on Buffy. By the time I got to Buffy season two I had forgotten, and didn’t recognize him at first with the bleached hair. Smallville is another series I’d like to re-watch one of these days. I’ve seen every episode (except the most recent eight or ten which I haven’t had time to watch yet) only once each. I’ve also been meaning to start watching Lost.

Has Joss Whedon announced what project will follow Dollhouse? I find it hard to believe he’s been unable to duplicate the (popular) success of Buffy and Angel with shows such as Firefly and Dollhouse. Speaking of Dollhouse (and shifting gears to The Planet of the Apes), I never did really buy how human beings “fell from grace” so to speak to allow the ascendency of the apes, but after watching the Dollhouse conclusion, I can buy that as a possible explanation.

I wonder if Whedon’s ever considered creating a show set in the same universe as one of his cancelled series to serve as an unofficial “sequel” (perhaps similar to the way The Prisoner can kinda/sorta bee seen as a sequel to Secret Agent. Probably not. I’ve wondered the same thing about Jack Kirby after the cancellation of the “Forth World” titles. If it had been me, I’d’ve been tempted to move all my toys into Mister Miracle’s sandbox. I would welcome a new show set in the Buffy-verse.
From what I recall, the cancellation of Angel was imminent, so I think the creative team decided to go out on a cliff-hanger, partly as a middle finger to the network, partly because it worked thematically with the show: the fight against evil never ends, good is never going to win, and all you can do is fight the good fight as hard as you can for as long as you can.

"Let's get to work" indeed.

Jeff of Earth-J said:
Chris handled these final two episodes together, so I will, too.

SEASON FIVE: EPISODES 21/22 : “Power Play” and “Not Fade Away”

Chris: Angel’s strange behavior convinces the gang that he’s joined an elite group of evildoers called the Circle of the Black Thorn a group he could have only joined by killing one of his own. The gang prepares to attack the true powers of evil by attempting to take down the Circle of the Black Thorn in battle none of them expect to survive. I have a few problems with the season structure at this point. I didn’t feel that the finale had the necessary build-up, especially after one-shot tales featuring Connor and a search for Buffy. But I have no problems with the episodes individually. And I certainly have no problems with the finale.

While I still think it would have been interesting to end with Power Play and start a sixth season by taking out the Circle of the Black Thorn (an option that wasn’t available), I can’t be upset with these episodes. They’re both packed full with great turns, great scenes, great moments and great lines. Angel’s speech at the end of Power Play is powerful and effective. The death of Wes is truly moving, especially as he dies in Fred’s arms just as she had died in his. I felt so forlorn for Lorne as he did his one last job before getting out. And I loved Lindsey’s reaction, being more upset that he had been done in by a flunky than that he was going to die.


So…

Was it not known at the time that Angel wouldn’t be renewed for a sixth season? I don’t know what kind of resolution I was expecting, but I was expecting an ending in the same way Buffy was given an ending. Follow-up comic series notwithstanding, I can only conclude from the end of the series that, like in a Shakespearian tragedy or the X-Men’s “Days of Future Past” that “Everybody Dies.”

12 seasons (total) of Buffy and Angel in 14 months. I can’t believe I’m finally through! I have a strong compulsion to start over with Buffy season one again, but this time pay closer attention to the introductions of characters such as Darla, Harmony and Anya, then switch over to Angel at the end of season three. A couple of weeks ago I thought I might re-watch Dollhouse, this time paying particular attention to Amy Acker’s character, but watching her performance as Illyria scratched that itch. I also feel like watching the last season of Buffy then getting caught up on the “Season Eight” comic book series.

I remember when James Marsters joined the cast of Smallville as Brainiac that everyone commented how he was Spike on Buffy. By the time I got to Buffy season two I had forgotten, and didn’t recognize him at first with the bleached hair. Smallville is another series I’d like to re-watch one of these days. I’ve seen every episode (except the most recent eight or ten which I haven’t had time to watch yet) only once each. I’ve also been meaning to start watching Lost.

Has Joss Whedon announced what project will follow Dollhouse? I find it hard to believe he’s been unable to duplicate the (popular) success of Buffy and Angel with shows such as Firefly and Dollhouse. Speaking of Dollhouse (and shifting gears to The Planet of the Apes), I never did really buy how human beings “fell from grace” so to speak to allow the ascendency of the apes, but after watching the Dollhouse conclusion, I can buy that as a possible explanation.

I wonder if Whedon’s ever considered creating a show set in the same universe as one of his cancelled series to serve as an unofficial “sequel” (perhaps similar to the way The Prisoner can kinda/sorta bee seen as a sequel to Secret Agent. Probably not. I’ve wondered the same thing about Jack Kirby after the cancellation of the “Forth World” titles. If it had been me, I’d’ve been tempted to move all my toys into Mister Miracle’s sandbox. I would welcome a new show set in the Buffy-verse.
The cast and crew got word of the cancellation while they were filming "Underneath", but Whedon made the decision to keep the finale's cliffhanger ending because he felt that, thematically at least, it was the perfect summation of the series.

From what I've heard, the only changes he made were with Wesley's death and the presence of Gunn in the final alley scene. Had the show been picked up for a sixth season, Wesley would have survived, and Gunn would have been vamped by the Senator's henchmen becoming one of the main villains for the following year.
That sounds good! I wanna watch that!
I read John Byrne's Angel: Lorne comic book one-shot yesterday. Good call advising me to wait until after I'd finished watching the series! When I bought it I didn't recognize Fred-as-Illeria on the cover because I hadn't seen that episode at that time, but if I had read it, that development would have been "spoiled" as early as page two! I did flip though it and saw the girl with the blue markings on her forehead, but it looked to me as if her spider-sense was tingling! Luckily I filed it away and didn't look at it again until last night. for one thing, I know know what the term "After the Fall" refers to.

Back to the one-shot, I think Byrne did a good job writing in Lorne's voice.
Jeff, any plans on reading the "After the Fall" storyline from IDW's Angel comics, which kind of serves as a season six for the series?
Possibly.

I think at some point definitely, but right now I'm more in the in the mood to read Masterworks, comic strip collections and other archival material. I've been switching back and forth among those three types of collections for a while now, and that, as I said, is what I'm rally in the mood to read. My moods change, though, and what goes around comes around. I also want to re-read and get caught up on the Buffy: Season Eight stuff, but since you asked, I've got a few questions (well, one) about the various Angel comic book series.

The series titled "Angel: After the Fall" is the one I want to read, right?
That's the one! Written by Brian Lynch, art (mostly) by Franco Urru.
You start with Angel: After the Fall and it eventually becomes just Angel.
I read Angel vs. Frankenstein II this morning, a direct sequel to Angel vs. Frankenstein but which actually takes place after “Blood and Trenches”. It was a nice counter-point to Dick Briefer’s Frankenstien, which I also read this morning, but the real joy in the Buffy-verse was the four-page preview of the new ongoing Spike series. It’s a parody of the Twilight series, but “Twinkle” is written by an ex-girlfriend of Spike’s and is loosely based on their time together. In the sequel, “there’s a teen wolf thrown into the mix for no apparent reason.” Fans of the “Twinkle” series are divided in to “Team William” and “Team Jared” camps, and while real vampires prey on them, they shout things such as, “You’re not… your’e not twinkling,” and “You see?! This is why I’m Team Jared!”

Classic.

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