Monday, June 04, 2007

Preaching to the Guy Who Ate the Choir

Angel Season 4 Part 2

My Angel rewatch has finally come to an end with season four (I did season five a couple of years back), even though it took me a whole year to get through this last collection.

As was the case with earlier seasons the plot was very well done. The writers tied up all of the numerous loose ends hanging around from three years of back story (leaving it to the final season to resolve the character arcs) and did it in an effective and elegant way. Yes, they did cheat a little (toward the end it is revealed that almost everything that has happened to the characters since Angel began was part of a plan by the Big Bad), but surprisingly enough it still all makes sense. I will also admit that the 'everyone loses their memory of all the bad stuff that's happened to them' twist at the end would be a horrifying cop out if I didn't know they were going to reverse it partway through the next season. Watching this show again now it seems that, with their long running, intertwined plots, Angel and Buffy were the forerunners to today's rash of 'smart' TV shows with elaborate plots, such as Lost and 24.

On the other hand I was not so impressed with the handling of the characters this time around. I don't believe that, at conception, any of them were intended to be taken this seriously, and putting them through their angsty, melodramatic paces never feels right. At the same time I don't think that the grim, miserable situations that the characters find themselves in are ever given the depth they require. Over the course of season three and four Angel's son Connor essentially becomes a damaged psychopath without conscience or anything to live for, finally becoming a servant of evil and when that doesn't work out trying to kill himself and take a building full of innocents (including his step mother slash ex-girlfriend) with him (evoking unpleasant parallels with the Virginia Tech massacre). This is a pretty disturbing and even frightening scenario so you'd expect Angel's final confrontation with his son to generate some decent dramatic heat, but in the season finale Angel does little more than put on his same old sad eyed 'suffering' face. However we may take comfort in the fact that they at least get a pretty cool fight scene.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, this season wasn't funny enough. I watch these shows for the lulz dammit.

Angel was never as good as Buffy at it's best, but it was still well worth watching. The first season was certainly very goofy and rough around the edges, but had genuine charm. Later on it lost that charm but was still quite worthwhile for the story. The best season was undoubtedly the last one, in which they ditched a lot of the gloomy emotional baggage from the earlier seasons and reinstated the fun and humour that had gradually been lost over the years. And in the end, this is the lesson we learn from Angel the television show: a TV show about a crime fighting vampire doesn't really need a whole lot of drama and seriousness.

Season Five
Season Four Part 1
Season Three Part 2
Season Three Part 1
Season Two Part 2
Season Two Part 1

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