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.


Tom said...

I find Angel was a much better show when I just erase Kartheiser's Connor from my brain and pretend that he was a baby for the entire series. Of course, that just makes me hate Cordelia's end more.

Those are my top two complaints with the entire Buffyverse with Anya's ridiculously gratuitous end in the series finale coming in a close third.

I'm not sure how to count the Buffy's a lesbian arc.

Grunt said...

I loved Buffy. I actually didn't start watching Buffy until after the original run was over and then, when FX would show 2 episodes a day I would TiVo it. That's actually how I came to TWoP. I would read the recaps the day of the episode so that I would know what to watch for. And I started watching when they were at the beginning of season 5. So I got to see the craptacular episodes first and then watched the season 1-4 episodes at the end. Imagine HUSH being one of the last episodes you saw for the first time.

All of that as preface, I started watching the Angel reruns specifically because of the Buffy crossovers. I never liked the series as was much more inconsistant than Buffy, but Angel at its best could be fabulous. Every once in a while there would be some brilliant episode that would blow the doors off of anything Buffy did (the Angel-Puppet episode being the memorable one from the 5th season).

I recently had an argument with some friends who liked Angel better. We came to the conclusion that the reason was Buffy was about the polar ideas of light and dark, good and evil whereas Angel was about the shades of grey in the middle.