Thursday, July 10, 2008
The Best Thing They Ever Did
So in my ever-evolving quest for a down-time show to DVR, I've gone from Will & Grace to The O.C. and have now arrived at Angel (it's like I'm traveling back in time!). TNT reruns the episodes early mornings, and I latched on right at the beginning of Season 3. Of course, I've seen these all before, but it's a hell of a good time to go back and remember.
Coming off of Season 2 (my personal choice for best Angel season ever), Season 3 was not one of my favorites, and watching it again I can see why. Vampire-hunter Holtz and his masochistic lady-friend Justine were supremely crappy villains who got way too much screen time, for one thing. All the really good Cordelia stuff is overshadowed by the knowledge of what ultimately becomes of her character (and what was likely going on behind the scenes at the time). Even Fred, who I grew to love, started off as a supremely annoying and skittish little thing, which made the Gunn romance make almost zero sense. Worst of all, and what ultimately harmed the season worse than anything, was that a whole bunch of characters ended up doing a whole bunch of stupid-ass things because of some prophecy. And after (at this point) five seasons of Buffy and two of Angel, the audience already knew damn well that those fuckin' things are always wrong. Stupid goddamn Wesley.
That being said, it's still Angel. A subpar season of Angel is still pretty damn good (Season 5 notwithstanding), and this one didn't skimp on the awesome. The frick-and-frack antics of lawyers Lilah (Stephanie Romanov) and Gavin (Daniel Dae-Kim!) were always a pleasure. And I don't think David Boreanaz got enough credit for how much he grew as an actor (no waistline jokes, please) during the course of this series; he was really versatile and affecting in these episodes.
But by far the best parts of this season were everything that had to do with Incredibly Pregnant Darla and the wonderful Julie Benz. I'd nearly forgotten how heartbreaking she was as she took Darla from pissed-off and vengeful to the sad realization that she never be able to love her child -- to even remember loving her child -- once it was outside of her. When you're ranking the Buffy/Angel alums who were shamefully snubbed by the Emmys, make sure you're putting Benz on that imaginary list.