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October 1, 2014

Jane After Dark: Is Angel as good as Buffy?

by Jane Boursaw, posted May 10th 2009 11:45AM
AngelWell, I've covered Buffy the Vampire Slayer here on Jane After Dark, and my nephew, who loaned me his Buffy DVDs, also got me into Angel. Nearly everyone I talked to about Angel said they just couldn't get into it. After Buffy, maybe everything else pales in comparison.

I have to say, I really only started watching Angel out of respect for Buffy and Joss Whedon, and because I really loved the character of Angel (and David Boreanaz is not hard to look at). I was alternately watching Buffy and Angel at the same time (one disc of Buffy, one of Angel, and so on); it was a good way to do it, because there were a few crossover episodes that made a lot more sense watching them that way.

Now, down to brass tacks. Angel ran for five seasons, and it took me three seasons to really get into it. The first three were just sort of meh for me, but I got through them by forcing myself to alternate with the Buffy discs (look, Jane, you can't watch another disc of Buffy until you watch a disc of Angel!). It was a good strategy. Part-way into season three of Angel, I was finally looking forward to seeing what happens next.

I will say, though, that by season four, Angel really turned into a very different show than when it started. You had Cordelia basically lying in a coma for much of the season, after the weirdly hot sex she had with Angel's son, Connor (and Oh.My.God. I just realized that Vincent Kartheiser plays Peter Campbell in Mad Men - I had no idea!). But the "case of the week" format that started the series was completely out the window (along with the female cop - whatever happened to her?), with demons and other-dimensional creatures taking center stage. Andy Hallett's musical demon Lorne is one of my favorite characters, and I was saddened to hear of his recent death.

Vincent Kartheiser of AngelWhile I loved the Connor story overall, I couldn't really get into the thing with him and Cordelia being the "parents" of Jasmine. However, I just watched the last episode of season four, "Home," and it's definitely the best of the series so far, reminiscent of the best episodes of Buffy. Angel making a deal with Lilah about taking over Wolfram & Hart in exchange for giving Connor a new life with a normal family -- and everyone's memory wiped clean of Connor except for Angel (I think) -- was just heartbreaking. Especially the end scene with Angel looking in the window of Connor's new life, having a joyful dinner with his family before heading off to college.

Skimming the episode list of season five, which I'll start this week, it doesn't appear that Connor makes an appearance (or...does he...?), and for that, I'm really sorry. I love his character, but I guess my vision of he and Angel fighting the good fight together into the future doesn't come to pass.

One thing missing for me from Angel which was always present in Buffy is romance. There are bits of it here and there, but the relationships are totally dysfunctional -- Angel and Darla, Wesley and Lilah, and Cordelia and Connor, to name a few. Fred and Gunn were good together, but not a lot of spark there. I'm still hoping for a Fred/Wesley pairing, as well as an Angel/Cordy pairing. Come on, season five! Deliver the goods!

So what's my assessment on Angel so far? Good series, darker than Buffy, love the characters, and looking forward to season five.

What about you? Did you love Angel as much as Buffy? Moreso?

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John

Angel was hands down the better show. It rocked and while I felt it got better as it went along, when I re-watched it, knowing "ALL", I enjoyed the first seasons more and the latter seasons better still. Frankly, it was overall one of the best shows on all of TV. But then again, I was really into the whole dark - light vamp thing. The film of the past shorts were totally kick to me. I thought it totally original and kind of comic book meets tv throughout which rocked my world. From the ridiculously funny eps like 'the girl in question' to the crazy whirl wind eps of season 2, 3 and 5, to the unique and tossing eps of season 4, it was a wild ride. Season 1 was likely the least dynamic, but at the same time, on re-watch, it was like a step back into a wondrous world. I don't know if they'll ever match it in another show for me personally, but Whedon jammed with that show.

July 21 2009 at 2:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dan

Right. Buffy the warm and fuzzy show. Like in Season 2 when she has to kill her true love to save the world. That decision is more heartwrenching than any that Angel or any Angel character had to make throughout the series

May 17 2009 at 7:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rachel Wayne

Well, the case-by-case format was thrown out the window because the target audience was used to the season arcs as on "Angel," and the procedural format was found to be boring to a lot of Whedon fans (myself included) and viewers in general. In addition, a season arc keeps viewers coming back, whereas for "House," for example, you can skip a few episodes and not miss anything essential. However, the procedural format was good for establishing characters and theme.

I am surprised it took you until season 3 to really get into it, but I'm not surprised it was season 3, as the characters are in really fascinating places in that season, which has some really awesome episodes and killer heartbreak and emotional gravitas. Season 4 is totally different: I think it's about futility, since Season 3 was about hope and redemption and new life and then ended tragically (and yes, to Whedon, relationships that work are boring). Now the characters were dealing with much heavier things, and making very serious choices.

"Angel" is not as warm and fuzzy as "Buffy" (which does get quite dark in its last 2 seasons). It is a very different show with very different themes. As I've heard it described, "Buffy" is about growing up and finding yourself through the choices you make; "Angel" is about being an adult and dealing with the world and the choices you've made.

May 13 2009 at 7:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jake

Angel was superior to Buffy in nearly every way, as far as I'm concerned.

And if you think Season Four broke your heart, prepare to have your guts wrenched out by Season Five. Joss proved that he is not afraid to break some eggs to make on hella-f'ing good omelet.

Gotta agree with George, too. "Hole in the World" was incredible. Along with "Shells," "Timebomb," and "Soul Purpose." Oh, and You're Welcome. And lets just admit it, "Not Fade Away" is probably my favorite "finale" of any Season. The title alone is genius ("my my, hey hey").

Man Season Five was good TV! Fracking WB, killing it in the prime of life! Thank heaven for the comics...

May 11 2009 at 11:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jake

I thought season 1 was merely okay, and I wasn't really hooked before halfway through season 2. The third season had its ups and downs, but it also had what I believe to be the best season finale of them all (note: season finale, not series, as Not Fade Away is probably one of the best episodes of TV ever produced). I even tolerated Connor that season, which brings me to season 4. Which was pretty bad. While the Faith/Willow episodes were great, the whole Jasmine thing with Cordelia and Connor was so unbeliveably horrible. Poor Charisma Carpenter. Though at the same time the evolution of Wesley throughout the season was fantastic. And while the arc was pretty sloppily done, the episodes themselves were for the most part good. Season 5 started out not too promising (The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco comes unfortunately to mind) although it made a left turn later on in the season, firing all cylinders until what was the unfortunate end for yet another great Whedon show.

Best episodes:
I Will Remember You
Five by Five
Reunion
Waiting in the Wings
Sleep Tight
Tomorrow
Orpheus
You're Welcome
Smile Time
A Hole in the World
Not Fade Away

Best season: 5.

Worst episodes:
She
Provider
Double or Nothing
Players
Shiny Happy People
The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco
Why We Fight
The Girl in Question

Worst season: 4.

May 11 2009 at 11:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
StillBash

Angel S1 nice. S2 better. S3 meh. S4 teh suck. S5 awesome (Spike!).

I honestly don't get why you loved the Connor storyline. The last episode was a total reset and cop-out and god was I pissed about that.

Still haven't watched the last five episodes but now after I finished Buffy for the second time I'll go back.

To be honest I don't find David Boreanaz that appealing and Carisma Carpenter sucks. Amy Acker was the only reason for me to watch that show and honestly I can't wait for Dollhouse to return. Angel wasn't done right, it was a spinoff that was made to get Angel off Buffy and cash in on the hype. Buffy S6+S7 was irritatingly bad too when you look at anything that's not Spike+Buffy.

I'll write something about that soon I guess, nothing to put into a comment.

May 11 2009 at 9:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
R. O\'Quinn

I have a deep, deep love for Angel. I liked it better than Buffy because it was so much darker and grittier...very much in line with the sort of "detective noire" I believe it was patterned after.

This is not a happily-ever-after kind of show, and that's one of the things I like so much about it. Buffy is, despite the various traumas the character and town experience. There's always a kind of "oh, well, the world nearly ended today, but let's go to the mall now!" kind of attitude in Buffy, and Angel feels much more real to me for not having that.

Seriously, compare the two series enders and you'll see what I mean. I won't spoiler the Angel ender for you, but I will say...at the end of Buffy, the world is saved. At the end of Angel... it's not.

Dark, dark, dark stuff, and I could kill the tv execs who canceled it. I *crave* Illyria stories.

May 11 2009 at 9:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
M. Reddick

I still miss Angel, which was one of the best television shows ever. I started out with Angel and only began watching Buffy because of the references to her in that show. I am now pleased to report that I love them both. Angel, however, was the better show.

May 11 2009 at 8:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Xina

I agree that Doyle was an amazing character, and that final episode with him, was truly awesome.

Season five is also my favorite, and I think there are some really great surprised in it. The Series Finale, one of the best.

May 11 2009 at 6:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
caiuslupus

When I first heard about Angel, I was thrilled. They were taking the Buffy characters I couldn't stand, Wesley and Cordelia, and exiling them to another show!

I just couldn't care about any of the characters other than Doyle. Ok, and Lorne was entertaining. But the rest were not my taste. For me, unless Doyle or Spike were on it, the show was just meh. Which leaves me the first half of season one, and all of season five. I'm ok with that.

May 11 2009 at 1:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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