Favorite Episodes: ‘Angel’

Dennis’ Self-Indulgent TV List Funhouse!
That’s right, see what happens when I’m left to my own devices?  I just start babbling on about my favorite TV show episodes.  (Want to avoid this regrettable fact? Send your self-indulgent movie and TV lists to us at denmn@hotmail.com or our Facebook page “Videoport Jones”, or in the comments section here, of course).  So this week, it’s “Angel”, the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” spinoff that, improbably, became just as good as the excellent original.  Here are the best of the show’s five seasons (available in the Horror section at Videoport!). Basic premise: Angel’s a 200-ish year old vampire who was, along the way, cursed with a soul.  He was Buffy’s snugglebunny and ally until the obvious obstacles to their happiness led him to leave her (and her show) and move to L.A., where he operates as a sort of unlicensed private detective/champion of the weak and helpless in order to make up for all those centuries of serial murdering and, occasionally, save the world.  Oh, and “Buffy” castmember, and comic relief, Cordelia is along as a helper/comic relief.  MANY SPOILERS! In order of broadcast:

>>>“In the Dark” (season 1, episode 3): ‘Buffy’ ringers Spike (James Marsters as Angel’s hilariously-evil vampire nemesis), and Oz (personal man-crush Seth Green as the world’s coolest, most laconic werewolf) guests star in this one, with Spike chasing a mystical doodad which gives vampires the invulnerables and hiring a nasty torturer to make our hero give it up.  Spike’s opening narration mocking Angel’s do-goodery, Angel and Oz’s terse-off, Cordy and co-Angel-aide Doyle (the late Glenn Quinn*)’s standoff with Spike, the theme-restating denouement- all solid gold.  Plus Spike is the man.

Excuse me, I think there's something in my eye...

>>>“I Will Remember You” (season 1, episode 8): The Buff herself finally makes the cross-over in the three-hanky-box  epic of the year.  Buffy comes to L.A. to get a few things straight only to get drawn into a case where Angel finds himself, inexplicably, turned human again.  The whole Buffy/Angel doomed romance thing seems to be headed off to the land of flowers and puppies (and ice cream bedroom sexcapades) when reality (so-called) rears its ugly head and forces Angel to make a terrible choice.  If you’re not weeping when Buffy says, “It’s not enough time!”, then you’re made of stone, and are not, like me, a big, big, hairy girl…
>>>“The Trial” (season 2, episode 9): Sucker for doomed love that he always was, Angel is faced with the impossible resurrection of his former partner in slaughter [and lover] Darla.  She was dust, but the meanies at evil law firm Wolfram & Hart have brought her back, this time as a human.  Great right?  Well, no: see, she’s dying, she’s none too pleased not to be a vampire still, and W&H has some typically-nasty plans for her, involving another deliciously-evil ‘Buffy’ alum.  Julie Benz (now ‘Dexter”s oblivious girlfriend) pulls out all the stops in her anguish, there’s some great action, high drama and suspense as Angel tries to save the day, and Benz gets to show off her pipes, singing “Ill Wind (You’ve Blown Me No Good)” at Lorne’s demon karaoke bar. (Trust me- it makes sense in context).
>>>“Reprise” (season 2, episode 15): Angel’s had it up to here with evil law firm Wolfram & Hart and thinks he’s found a way to bring it crumbling down for good.  Except their machinations have been making Angel darker and darker and, in an elevator ride to the ‘home office’ to do the deed with the ghost of the firm’s head partner (Sam Anderson as Holland Manners), he finally comes face to face with the truth about evil, a truth that leads him to make a pretty darn shocking decision.  Chilling.
>>>“Fredless” (season 3, episode 5): Amy Acker’s a name you’ll here a lot from here on out.  A brilliant but understandably-squirrely young woman rescued by the gang from a demon dimension at the end of last season, Winnifred ‘Fred’ Burkle quickly became the most endearing, funny and touching character on the show, and this episode, where Fred’s parents come looking for her, is where she takes her place in the gang for good.  Acker’s performance is, simply, stunning, laying the groundwork for the complex journey her character is to take.  Lovely, touching, funny, and with a big, icky bug monster thrown in for good measure.
>>>“You’re Welcome” (season 5, episode 12): Even with the spoiler alert previous, I don’t want to give much away here.  Let’s just say it’s one of my favorites because, again, I am a big, hairy girl.

I want one.

>>>“Smile Time” (season 5, episode 14): Angel, investigating an evil, demonic children’s TV show [and, no, it’s not Barney] gets himself transformed… into a puppet.  It shouldn’t work, but it does, thanks to the reactions of the gang (especially Spike, “You’re a wee puppet man!”), and the design of the ‘Sesame Street’-esque puppet Angel.  Why they don’t sell those, I have no idea**…  Hilarious.
>>>“A Hole In the World” (season 5, episode 15): Season 5 started out shakily, but, boy howdy, did it finish strong.  Creator, and all-around genius, Joss Whedon returns to write this one and, as usual, creates one of the best hours of TV ever.  My choice for best episode, it, again, brings Amy Acker’s Fred to center stage, as she is stricken with a mystical disease and Spike, Angel, and Wesley (Alexis

Amy Acker as Fred...there's something in my eye again...excuse me...

Denisoff’s ‘Buffy’ alum, continuing his series-long complex, heartbreaking journey) race against the clock to find a cure for their friend.  There’s nothing more terrifyingly sad than Fred’s fate here [her last{?} line destroys me], and Whedon’s gift for wringing moral complexity out of the machinations of pulp shines in Spike’s ep-ending benediction, “There’s a hole in the world.  Feels like we ought to have known…”  Best. Episode. Ever.
“Not Fade Away” (season 5, episode 22): The finale, this one wraps up everybody’s stories in a most satisfying way, killing some, leaving others to an uncertain [but not happy-lookin’] fate, but, in each case, honoring the journey each has made.  Big, hairy girl and all, but I can’t think of a more satisfying goodbye to a series.  Not even ‘Buffy’’s.  Oh, and best last line of any series ever, too.
So, that’s it.  Apologies to the runners-up (“Are You Know Or Have You Ever Been”, “Dead End”, “Hero”, “That Old Gang of Mine”, “Lullaby”, “Sleep Tight”, “Spin the Bottle”, and dark-horse pick “The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco”).  And much love to supporting people I didn’t mention: J. August Richards as Charles Gunn, Andy Hallet*** as showbiz demon Lorne, and Christian Kane as conflicted lawyer Lindsay.  Well done all, and happy renting, all.

*RIP dude.

**I recently found out that ‘they’ do, in fact sell the Angel puppet; a donation of one would be proudly displayed at Videoport…

***Double RIP dude.

Published in: on June 14, 2009 at 12:30 am  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added”
    checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get several e-mails with the same comment.

    Is there any way you can remove me from that service?
    Bless you!

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