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Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel

Note: I don't normally write about a show twice in such a short period of time but one of the publications I write for had to bump the original story due to space constraints. When they finally ran it, they asked for a revised version to reflect what had happened in the season so far and to give some hints as to what was coming in the future. This is that rewrite.

By Beth Hannan Rimmels

The new season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the debut of its spin-off, Angel, are off to very good starts. Any time a major character leaves for another show, both shows are at risk if only because the creator’s attention is divided.

Buffy was at double the risk because the title character and her friends had finally left high school and were starting over either in college or seeking new jobs, in the case of Xander (Nicholas Brendon) and Giles (Anthony Stewart Head). But that has been one hallmark of series creator Joss Whedon’s creations — they change, and not always for the better (remember Faith?). Letting characters evolve is always a risk because the changes might not work, but it has kept Buffy alive and fresh whereas static shows such as Star Trek: Voyager are dying slowly.

In the college setting, Whedon’s magic continues. He was always gifted at using supernatural occurrences as metaphors for life. That continues with the inevitable problems of growing adult responsibility. Buffy’s teachers are tougher, she has more school work, and she’s starting all over again as a newbie while trying to keep Sunnydale safe from the undead. She's also more on her own than ever before. She quit working with the Watcher Council last season, and Giles is trying to force her to be more self-reliant. Angel's gone, and her mother has adapted far to easily to empty nest syndrome. Oz (Seth Green) and Willow (Alyson Hannigan) are adapting to college easily whereas Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) doesn't quite fit in and can't explain her nocturnal roamings to her roommate or other students. All in all, it parallels freshman anxiety beautifully. The poor girl still has the worst love life, too, though at least this time the guy didn’t turn into a demon the next morning.

Quinn (left), Boreanaz and Carpenter

On Angel, meanwhile, we find that David Boreanaz’s good guy vampire is still mooning over Buffy while doing a vampiric Batman thing — saving people and disappearing into the shadows — in Los Angeles. Then Doyle (Glenn Quinn) shows up to tell Angel he’s been doing it wrong. Doyle, who is neither vampire nor pure human, warns him that only regular, significant contact with people can maintain his humanity and keep him from succumbing to his vampire nature. Doyle’s been sent by "powers that be" to aid Angel with his migraine-like visions that can lead Angel to people who need his help.

Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter), who is pursuing acting since she can’t afford college, ends up working for Angel while she slowly wakes up to reality in her own shallow way. For the first time, she has to live life without the advantages of money, social standing, connections and popularity, and in LA, pretty girls are a dime a dozen. Cordy may never be Mother Theresa but her brushes with poverty are having an impact, though she’s still oblivious to Doyle’s pining for her.

The hazards in LA aren't just more frequent but also very different from Sunnydale. The supernatural bad guys here are better organized and more interested in their own financial and personal gain than in opening gates to hell (though that's always a possibility for the future). Angel has already had two brushes with a law firm whose clients seem to be both influential scum and supernaturally inclined. It's slowly building to a larger confrontation later this season.

I was surprised the two shows already had a crossover. Spike (James Marsters) appeared in Buffy seeking a ring that makes vampires invulnerable. Buffy ends up with it and sends Oz to LA to take it to Angel. Spike shows up again trying to regain it. The Angel half was the weaker of the two episodes if only because it’s never clear as to why Spike waits until Angel gets the ring before trying to reclaim it. I can’t believe he’s afraid of Oz, despite the latter being a werewolf. But the exchange between Cordy, Oz, Doyle and Angel in the beginning of the episode is priceless. Another crossover is supposed to take place during the November sweeps but little information has been released on it. Spike also reappears on Buffy during the Nov. 16 episode, presumably to set the stage for his return as a semi-regular to the cast. In meantime, Oz is stepping out for several episodes at the minimum while Green makes another movie.

Speaking of November episodes, if you wish to avoid a spoiler, stop reading here.

I mean it. Don't complain that I didn't warn you.

Last chance to avoid the spoiler.

Did everyone who wants to be surprised leave? Good.

OK, 20th-Century Fox Television, which produces both shows for the WB, has confirmed that Glenn Quinn will leave the show by episode nine, which technically is set for air on Nov. 30, but the teasers make it appear that he will be gone by Nov. 16. It’s not creative difficulties. Spokesperson Kim Sandover explained that it’s another of Whedon’s attempts to be realistic and keep the viewers off balance. Whedon hates being predictable so he let everyone think Doyle was going to be around indefinitely.

How long Whedon, who wrote and directed many episodes of Buffy, can divide himself between both shows without either quality suffering or his collapsing remains to be seen, but the first five weeks have been very good, and Angel is getting higher ratings than Felicity did in that time slot last year. Both vampires and other networks should start fearing Tuesday night.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer airs 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT on WB TV. Angel airs 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT on WB TV. Check local listings for the affiliate in your area.

 

Review 1999 Beth Hannan Rimmels. Buffy the Vampire Slayer 1997-2000 The WB Television Network. Angel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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