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Feature: Angel

Magic and Loss

Joss Whedon

Where once the future was looking so good for Buffy creator Joss Whedon, now there is something of a vacuum. We talk to this TV wonderkid…

Joss Whedon is an expert on loss. Or at least he’d better be, considering his trade for the past eight years. As the mastermind behind Buffy The Vampire Slayer and its spin-off, Angel, Whedon has perfected the art of creating imaginative, tragic and, at times, bemusing methods of dispatching all sorts of demons, ghouls, spooks and various other critters. But just because he’s good at what he does doesn’t make him immune from the effects the other side of the equation. And if Whedon didn’t already know that, he found out the hard way on –appropriately and cruelly ironic enough – Friday the 13th, when The WB staked Angel dead after five seasons.

“You know, the cancellation was a horrible blow,” says Whedon quietly. “Much more emotional than I thought it was going to be.”

Three months after the bomb was dropped, and just days before the Angel finale was scheduled to air, the fallout was still evident. The 39-year-old writer/producer, usually gregarious and whimsical, was subdued, though definitely not quiet. The way with a quip and a catchy phrase, traits of both his speech and those of his characters, remained, but was intermingled with a contemplation common with one who has reached something of a crossroads.

For the first time in nearly a decade of cult success and critical acclaim, a television season will commence without a Joss Whedon-created show on the airwaves. And it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the man in question isn’t entirely geeked up about that prospect – or the scenario surrounding the clipping of Angel’s wings.

“They could not make money on the repeats,” says Whedon, listing the reasons brought up to explain The WB’s cancellation order. “They couldn’t fill ad time on the repeats. And they have a lot of shows with just one more year in them, or they’re ageing, like Charmed and 7th Heaven, and they want a platform for new shows, they don’t have room for too many [old shows] because they need to concentrate on reality ‘cause the network is hurting. So, you know, basically we were old and in the way, we were told.”

”Bunk”, claims Whedon. The numbers from The WB itself showed that Angel’s ratings were up from last season, in part because of changes to the show that network requested and Whedon readily agreed to, including the shifting of the reluctant good-guy vampire Spike (James Marsters) from Buffy and the use of more self-inclusive episodes. “I can give you a lot of arguments for why the show should have been kept on, including some moral arguments,” explains Whedon with a bit of sarcasm. “But the last time I checked, you don’t run The WB, so I won’t bother. Their arguments were financial, and at the end of the day, no matter how much I may like executives, that is their god to whom they kneel.”

by David Waldon

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Feature © Visual Imagination 2004. Not for reproduction

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Starburst #312
July 2004
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