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from Cult Times #60

The Premise: Angel, the once notorious ‘vampire with a soul’ from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, has left Sunnydale for Los Angeles. While fighting evil as a shadowy vigilante, he is persuaded to become more involved with those he protects. Soon the Angel Investigations agency (speciality: demonic activity) is in business – with a Sunnydale High graduate on the staff…

Background: In an early Buffy episode called simply Angel, the enigmatic, brooding ally given to Buffy by creator Joss Whedon was unveiled as a vampire over two centuries old. After that series’ snowballing success, David Greenwalt (who scripted that episode) and Whedon co-created this spin-off for the WB network. Its début season coincided with Buffy Season Four.

First Run: October 5th, 1999 on the WB network in the US. In the UK, January 5th 2000 on Sky 1.

Number of Episodes: Twenty-two to date. The initial commission of 13 episodes was increased once success seemed apparent. A second full-length season is now in production.

The Good Fight: Angel (David Boreanaz): a reformed vampire twice cursed to bear a soul, released from Hell, mission unclear. Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter): a reformed ‘vapid whore’ – the once-wealthy queen bitch of Sunnydale High, now a struggling actress. Doyle (Glenn Quinn): the mentor who guides Angel with visions channelled by the presumably good Powers That Be. Wesley Wyndam-Price (Alexis Denisof): a failed Slayer’s Watcher, arrives mid-season and gratefully accepts employment. Detective Kate Lochley (Elisabeth Rohm) works with – and is attracted to – Angel, but recoils from him later.

Dark Powers: Many short-lived supernatural and demonic foes have appeared. But the powerful legal firm of Wolfram & Hart often emerges as a common link. Its scheming agents come into their own late in the season, notably the ambivalent Lindsey MacDonald. Meanwhile, cool vampire Spike and dark Slayer Faith have both travelled from Sunnydale to LA. There’s also the danger of Angel’s unreformed vampire nature re-asserting itself.

And Isn’t That... Carlos Jacott plays the gourmet in The Bachelor Party, having played hellish slaver Ken in the third season Buffy episode Anne. Julie Benz, as well as playing vampire Darla in Buffy and Angel, played Agent Topolsky in Roswell.

Overdone Clichés: Kick-starting an episode’s plot with convenient visions gets rather tedious mid-season, but later the blatant plot device is treated less reverently.

Fashion Statements: Long dark coats and classy monochrome threads for Angel; a leaner, funkier look for Cordy than her former designer gear; largely scuzzy combos for Doyle.

  David Boreanaz is Angel. Portrait ęSue Schneider/Moonglow

I Will Remember You
A chance encounter regenerates Angel during a visit from former love Buffy, leading to a taste of freedom – and a devastating decision.

A vampire acolyte of Angel’s embarks on a copycat killing spree, and Kate’s perception of Angel goes fang-shaped.

The Prodigal
Angel’s past and Kate’s present are brilliantly intertwined in a story about fathers and sires which thrillingly dramatizes Angel’s ‘birth’.

Five by Five
Rogue slayer Faith is hired by Wolfram & Hart’s beleaguered junior staff to kill Angel, leading to an emotionally devastating fight.


I Fall to Pieces does exactly what it says in the title, showing the kind of half-hearted Horror anthology series Angel might have become. Hero is a clunky, heavy-handed attempt to engineer a noble swansong. But from mid-season onwards, every episode passes the quality threshold with some style.


starts its UK terrestrial run on Channel 4, Sept 15th at 6pm. Our Out of the Box listings includes the series premiere as a highlight here

You can pre-order the first Angel VHS box-set
at Blackstar


Mark Wyman

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Photo © Sue Schneider/Moonglow Photos

Feature © Visual Imagination 2000. Not for reproduction.