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Angel (series)

Angel is the highly successful spin-off from the American television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Angel has a darker tone than Buffy, and it has generally performed better in the U.S. Nielsen Ratings than its parent series. The series was created by Buffy creator Joss Whedon in collaboration with David Greenwalt[?], and first aired in October of 1999.

The series details the ongoing trials of the vampire Angel, who had his human soul restored to him as a punishment after two centuries of murder and torture of innocents, leaving him tormented by remorse. He works as a private detective[?] in a fictionalized version of Los Angeles, California, where he and a variety of associates work to "help the helpless" and to restore the faith and "save the souls" of those who have lost their way. Typically this involves doing battle with evil demons (which, on Angel, are distinguished from well-meaning, neutral and innocent demons) as well as tangling with demonically-allied humans and his own violent nature.

The original concept for the series was a dramatic modernization of the classical noir detective story, which gained popularity in large part through the works of Raymond Chandler. In much the same way as Buffy had been a recreation of classical horror films, Angel gave the same treatment to the classical Film noir. The central design and format of the series echoed classic noir films -- the first episode even included a Sam Spade[?] style voiceover. The character of Angel was developed here as a recreation of the reluctant, hard boiled Los Angeles detective who has dealings with a variety of underworld characters. In this case, the "underworld" is a more literal underworld of demons and supernatural beings. Many traditional noir stories and characters were explored in earlier episodes, including the ditzy but attractive secretary, the cagey but well informed partner, and clashes with crooked lawyers and meddlesome, too-good-for-their-own-good cops. These were usually given a modern or supernatural twist.

The style and focus of the show has changed considerably over its run, and the original noir idea has been mostly discarded in favor of more large scale fantasy-themed conflicts. One of the characters on the show itself recently described the story-line as "a turgid supernatural soap-opera".

The series has also mirrored Buffy in attaching itself to a higher overarching theme. Where Buffy used supernatural elements as a metaphor for personal issues in adolescence, Angel has employed the same kinds of metaphors to explore higher spiritual and moral issues. The central theme of the series has been the protagonist's quest for redemption. Just as Buffy was intended to capture a sense of the suburban oppression experienced by many teens, Angel has made much use of the feelings of loneliness, danger and callousness often attributed to ultra-urban Los Angeles. The divisions between the ordered world of the day and the chaotic world of the night have been trademark themes of noir and by drawing a protagonist who literally has no daytime life, the series has been able to explore these same themes in more dramatic metaphorical ways.

As the series has gone on, some of the more personal issues on the show have been set aside in favor of more high-minded, abstract ideas. Whereas the show originally dealt with the difficulty of being kind to people on a personal basis, more recently the show has focused on ideas such as the nature of good and evil and the true meaning of being a warrior. Viewer response to the change in the show over time is strongly mixed.

Table of contents




Plot Summary

Warning: Wikipedia contains spoilers

After moving to Los Angeles, Angel is visited by an Irishman named Doyle who is half human, half Brachan demon. Doyle explains to Angel that he experiences visions from the 'Powers That Be' (also referred to throughout the series as "The PTB's") of people who are in danger or in trouble and that 'The Powers' have sent him as a messenger on their behalf so that Angel can investigate these visions. While on his first investigation Angel bumps into Cordelia Chase, who has also moved to LA to escape Sunnydale and become an actress.

When Cordelia later bumps into vampire problems, Angel comes to the rescue and after that Cordelia comes up with the idea that she, Angel and Doyle should start up a detective agency "to help the helpless - but charge a fee" as she puts it.

Partway through the first season, Doyle dies, sacrifices his life to save a group of defenceless part-human demons who were being hunted down for extermination by an army of pureblooded demons. Just before he dies he passes on his dangerous visions to Cordelia, who will find these visions painful and life threatening later on. Wesley Wyndham-Price (who had a recurring role as the new Watcher in season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer) then makes an appearance in the next episode and since then has become a vital part of the team and major character. Season 2 sees Charles Gunn become a major character after guest appearances in last few episodes of season 1 and season 3 sees Fred become a major character after she is saved from a demon dimension.

Season 3 progresses as a pregnant Darla (Julie Benz) gives birth to Angel's son Connor (conceived during a one night stand in season 2). After being kidnapped by an old enemy named Holtz whose family Angelus and Darla killed over a hundred years ago, Angel feels that his son is lost forever. Near the end of the season Connor comes back as a teenage boy but all is not so sweet as Connor has been brainwashed by Holtz to believe that Angel is still the evil vampire Angelus Holtz once knew over a hundred years ago.

There are many regular appearances both good and bad. Wolfram and Hart[?] is the evil law firm who are trying to return Angel to his former evil self. Lorne is a good demon who owns the karaoke bar 'Caritas' where singing bares the soul which the Host can then read, enabling him to advise and guide the singer on or towards their "path". This has often been used by Angel as a source of information on cases and his own destiny. During season 4 Krevlorneswath of the Deathwok Clan (or Lorne) becomes a major character in the series.

During the first two seasons there were many guest appearances of characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, such as Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers, Seth Green as Oz, James Marsters as Spike, Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg, Eliza Dushku as Faith, Juliet Landau[?] as Drusilla and Julie Benz as Darla, as well as small characters such as Anne (aka Chanterel from the Buffy Season 2 episode Lie to Me and aka Lily in the Season 3 episode Anne).

On December 3, 2002, Glenn Quinn, who played Doyle in the first season, died at the age of 32.

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