Angel made a strong debut on The WB two years ago when the popular character
of the brooding vampire with a soul, Angel, from the hit show Buffy the Vampire
Slayer , was given his own series. But it was more than just another spin-off
show. Instead of trying to duplicate its parent show exactly, it took the successful
formula of Buffy and moved it into the adult world. Angel was
to the adult world what Buffy was and is to the high school to college
scene; a forum for presenting life's problems in the metaphorical guise of demons
and monsters. But unlike Buffy, Angel was not about a kick-ass
heroine destined to defend the world from evil. It was about a hero, a very
flawed guy who despite a nearly overwhelming pull towards evil, did his best
to overcome that pull in order to help people and make amends for his past.
It was about adult choices and their consequences. It explored the human condition
in a framework of paranormal happenings.
After a largely episodic first season, highlighted by individual, self-contained
stories, they took a different turn in season two, opting for a yearlong story
arc, as the writers were more used to producing back on the Buffy set.
Angel was driven on an emotional quest to deal with his past (in the form of
Darla), his present situation (still a vampire and still Buffy-less), and the
future (and his place in it). While Angel's own personal journey had many interesting
aspects, the new story arc model weakened the show's overall impact on the audience.
The show became less about helping others with their problems, and more about
dealing with the issues of the main characters themselves, many of which just
didn't seem very applicable to anyone else's life.
Angel's third season began well over a month ago, but I'm not entirely
sure that the writers realize they're writing for a NEW season and not for the
end of the last one. It's as if they're still trying to wrap up the second season.
The focus has been heavily on their newest character, Winifred "Fred"
Burke, a young woman they rescued at the end of last season from 5 years in
a demon dimension. She's a little crazy, and she seems to be in the category
of comic relief, at least for now. She appears to be the kind of character which
will be developed along the way, and I see real potential, if only to break
up the boys' club that Angel Investigations has become.
Of course, comedy is something which the writers do well, having made very
funny dialogue in tense situations such a BTVS signature style. My favorite
moment so far was a positively surreal conversation between Angel and a ferocious-looking
demon warrior named Skip. Angel is about to fight Skip in order to release Skip's
prisoner from his torture, but rather than exchanging threats or taunts, we
find them introducing themselves and discussing Skip's commute time to work.
We can only speculate about what's in store for this season. As mentioned in
TV Preview, the main villain will be someone from Angel's and Darla's past.
spoiler section for details.) It isn't giving anything away to say that Darla
will play a major part, since it's already been established that she's pregnant
with Angel's child. Despite the fact that a vampire pregnancy seems to
be violating existing Buffy-verse rules, it's a very interesting plot
point which NO ONE saw coming.
Otherwise, although Angel's writers are sticking with the story arc
model for this season, they still haven't given viewers any indication what
that storyline will be. There have been a couple of clues as to who the villain(s)
will be, but if you're in the "spoiler free" crowd, you don't even
know that much. The episodes are floundering around just waiting for the "real"
part of the show, the main plot thread, to get going. This season has been like
being stuck on hold for a long time; it doesn't matter how much you like the
music you're listening to, you'd still just rather get the phone call over with.
Still, Angel has the most important thing going for it: character development.
No one, from Cordelia to Angel to Wesley, is quite the same person as when he
or she was first introduced. They've all faced obstacles and hurts and have
not only moved past them but grown stronger and better as a result. They've
learned from their mistakes, know they're not perfect, but keep trying to become
better people in spite of it all. It is these complexly written characters that
keeps viewers tuning in week after week... even when other elements get a little