US fantasy series about a vampire with a soul.
110 episodes of 42 minute duration. 1999 - 2004
Spinning-off popular supporting characters from a hit series into their own show is nothing new to television and has for many years proved to be a very successful formula. US television in particular has an excellent track record in this respect and on occasions the spun-off shows have proved to be just as popular, if not more so than the ones that spawned them. Normally the new series' follow the original's format (i.e. drama, comedy or fantasy) and 'Angel' is no exception. And although it is distinctly different enough from its parent series, 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer', it is still aimed at very much the same audience group.
A centuries-old vampire cursed with a conscience, Angel had taken up residence in Los Angeles, the City of Angels where he aimlessly wandered the streets looking to save a few lost souls and, in turn, possibly redeem his own. It was at this point that Angel met Doyle, himself a demon, sent by the mysterious "Powers That Be". Doyle gave Angel's existence a purpose and, along with old Sunnydale associate Cordelia Chase, the trio set up an agency to help those in need.
Until season 3 'Angel' was somewhat darker and certainly more adult in content than 'Buffy.' When Channel 4 in the UK aired the series for the first time it was decided to cut some of Angel's more gory scenes. This led to complaints from viewers and the channel pulled the series from its schedule entirely before re-scheduling it in a later time-slot. But 'Angel' has not been toned down and in fact co-creator Joss Whedon was sufficiently confident enough to take those darker overtones into 'Buffy's' season six.
Like the series that gave gave birth to it what keeps 'Angel's' strongest points are the sharp writing, well defined and likeable characters and generous helpings of dark humour. The success of the series is most certainly helped by David Boreanaz's dark and brooding portrayal of the central character, whilst the supporting cast -especially Charisma Carpenter as Cordelia, work well together to make this show a highly enjoyable series. In fact most of the time Cordelia gets all the best lines with a 'talk now - think later' bluntness, and Carpenter deserves all the plaudits for her superb performance, which in later season's has seen her character mellow into a mature and sensitive human being. And the writers have to be sharp. Angel exists in a world where Vampires and Demons are accepted as a normal part of everyday life and yet the series manages to hang on to its credibility with consummate ease.
It's entirely possible to envisage the fantasy world of Angel outliving the fantasy world of Buffy. It has continued to introduce new, believable and well-rounded characters in each of its first three season's and there is nothing to suggest that it can't continue to do so. In a world where reality TV is becoming all too real for our own good, 'Angel' is a refreshing piece of escapism.
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