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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Yeah, when the fans have to bend over backwards to make an episode work, that’s not usually a good thing.

Ironic that Angel should come into its own with an episode that reintroduces another Buffy character.

FIVE BY FIVE:

Rogue* slayer Faith comes to town, andwhen she partners with Wolfram and Hart, ange’ls likfe is in danger.

*(See, I spelled it correctly this time.)

I never did care all that much for Faith on Buffy, not when she was a loose cannon, not when she started to learn control, not when she turned and not when she reformed, and nothing in this episode altered my opinion… until the very end when she broke down. At this point I still don’t like her all that much as a (fictional) person (torture is pretty tough to excuse), but I like her as a character and look forward to seeing her arc unfold.
SANCTUARY:

This is another episode Chris ranked as a particular favorite of his. Now, through the miracle of time-travel, here is past-Chris to explain what he liked about this particular episode. Take it away, Chris!
”Convinced that Faith is capable of changing her ways, Angel tries to help her even as Kate, the Watchers Council and Buffy continue to hunt her down. The human evil may be one of the major themes of Angel. Atonement is another. Sanctuary is the story of Faith’s first step down the road to redemption. It’s a wonderful story showing the power of having faith in another person. And this is one of the episodes that made me wish the proposed Faith series had actually come into being.”

As KSwolf said yesterday, this is the episode in which "the series really starts to come into its own and begins to establish itself as more than just a Buffy spinoff." I'm watching the series for the first time, but even I can see that "Sanctuary" is a game-changing episode.
WAR ZONE:

The “realism” of the “Buffy-verse” was apparently being examined, explored and expanded in 199-2000. In a world populated by demons, it’s only natural that forces other than the Slayer and the Council of Watchers would arise to oppose them. In Buffy, “The Initiative” was the focus of the fourth season; concurrently over in Angel (although albeit not until the end of the season) a street-level demon-fighting was introduced.

Hey, were was Faith this episode?
Jeff of Earth-J said:
WAR ZONE:

The “realism” of the “Buffy-verse” was apparently being examined, explored and expanded in 199-2000. In a world populated by demons, it’s only natural that forces other than the Slayer and the Council of Watchers would arise to oppose them. In Buffy, “The Initiative” was the focus of the fourth season; concurrently over in Angel (although albeit not until the end of the season) a street-level demon-fighting was introduced.

Hey, were was Faith this episode?

Faith's Angel appearances are pretty sporadic. She doesn't have a lengthy, extended arc like she did in Buffy season 3.
Except in season 4, where she sticks around for a bit.

KSwolf said:
Jeff of Earth-J said:
WAR ZONE:

The “realism” of the “Buffy-verse” was apparently being examined, explored and expanded in 199-2000. In a world populated by demons, it’s only natural that forces other than the Slayer and the Council of Watchers would arise to oppose them. In Buffy, “The Initiative” was the focus of the fourth season; concurrently over in Angel (although albeit not until the end of the season) a street-level demon-fighting was introduced.

Hey, were was Faith this episode?

Faith's Angel appearances are pretty sporadic. She doesn't have a lengthy, extended arc like she did in Buffy season 3.
BLIND DATE:

Angel must break into Wolfram & Hart to prevent an assassin from carrying out her deadly mission.

The best part of this episode was the characterization of Lindsey. They’ve done such a good job this season so far of painting him as a total slimeball that it took half the episode to convince me he really had switched sides. Then, when I was finally convinced he was on the side of the angels (pun intended), he apparently switches back. I likes me a good morally ambiguous character.
TO SHANSHU IN L.A.:

Chris ranked this episode, the season one finale, as a personal favorite. Here’s what he had to say…

”Angel turns to Gunn for help when Cordelia and Wesley are attacked by a demon although this is just the first creature Wolfram & Hart plans to send against Angel. I realize that I picked a lot of episodes for this season. I almost trimmed the list down, but these episodes did so many different things that I didn’t want to lose any of them. How could I leave out Doyle’s sacrifice, or the theological conundrums of I’ve Got You Under My Skin? And how could I leave out To Shanshu in L.A.? Well, besides the bad title. But other than that, there’s Angel’s confrontation with Kate, Lindsey’s hand being cut off and the unexpected return of Darla.”

Hey, I kind of liked the title! Darla’s return didn’t do much for Tracy (she never liked that character), but I’m looking forward to more character development than she had on Buffy. I’m pleased to see the show moving on from “The Powers That Be”. I didn’t like seeing Cordelia in so much pain this episode, though, I must admit. Here’s my promised…

SEASON ONE OVERVIEW:

I think Buffy the Vampire Slayer got better and better from season to season as it went along (at least I seemed to enjoy it more and more). I think Angel took Buffy’s momentum and ran with it, and I expect this show, too, will continue the upward arc in quality. For what I’ve heard that is the case, so I’m looking forward to starting season two shortly.
SEASON TWO: EPISODE 1: “Judgment”

I remember all my life
Raining down as cold as ice
A shadow of a man
A face through a window
Crying in the night
The night goes into

Morning, just another day
Happy people pass my way
Looking in their eyes
I see a memory
I never realized
You made me so happy, oh Mandy!

Well you came and you gave without taking
But I sent you away, oh Mandy!
Well you kissed me and stopped me from shaking
I need you today, oh Mandy!

I'm standing on the edge of time
I Walked away when love was mine
Caught up in a world of uphill climbing
The tears are in my mind
And nothing is rhyming, oh Mandy!

Well you came and you gave without taking
But I sent you away, oh Mandy!
Well you kissed me and stopped me from shaking
And I need you today, oh Mandy!

Yesterday's a dream I face the morning
Crying on the breeze
The pain is calling, oh Mandy!

Well you came and you gave without taking
But I sent you away, oh Mandy!
Well you kissed me and stopped me from shaking
And I need you today, oh Mandy!
Hah. Angel's love of Barry Manilow ballads becomes a pretty funny recurring joke in the series - as does his horrible singing voice.
I don't know why I think this, but I'd be willing to bet that David Boreanaz has a pretty good singing voice. It was probably a pretty difficult thing for him to sing that badly!
SEASON TWO: EPISODE 2: “Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?”

In the1950s, Angel aids a woman hiding from her past inside a hotel with a long history of death and mayhem. Meanwhile, in the present day, Angel and his colleagues hunt down a demon responsible for the carnage.

This is another episode Chris identified as a personal favorite. Here’s what he had to say about it: Angel has his eye on an old hotel where he’d like to set up the new offices of Angel Investigations, but first there’s a bit of old history to resolve and a demon to kick out. In my Buffy column, I mentioned how much I enjoyed the flashback episodes. That’s true of Angel as well. However, this isn’t a typical flashback episode. Rather the flashbacks serve as the main story. Angel’s adventures in the 50s are the real story of this episode, and his modern investigation of the hotel is secondary. Joss Whedon has mentioned that this is one of his favorite episodes and I have to agree with him: it’s one of mine as well.

I like the flashback episodes, too, and this one is no exception. (Actually, the hotel itself was first seen in the previous episode.) I look forward to Angel Investigations settling into its new digs.
SEASON TWO: EPISODE 3: “First Impressions”

Angel encounters an amorous Darla in his dreams; Cordelia vows to protect Gunn after she experiences a vision depicting him in mortal danger.

I’ve discerned a pattern in Buffy and Angel, and that is, early on in the shows’ respective seasons, episodes are more, uh… episodic (i.e., self-conatined)… as aspects of the season’s overall threat are insinuated and developed in the background. Last season it was wolfram and Hart; this season it’s Darla.

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