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Angel is a fantastic show but for a several
reasons it's very difficult to explain to

people why. Its is a genre bending fantasy
spinoff of the cult show Buffy the Vampire Slayer

about a vampire detective agency starring
that one guy from Bones.

Wait wait wait...
don't close the video yet. I think I can make a
compelling argument for why this is a show

that needs to be in your Netflix queue, whether
you've seen Buffy or not.

"But What Is It?"
The show was created in 1999 by Joss Whedon
and David Greenwalt and features the continuing

stories of Angel, the vampire who has had his soul restored through a curse.
Angel exited Sunnydale and Buffy the Vampire Slayer 3 months before. His life continues in LA as he tries
to atone for the horrible things he did before
his soul was restored. When he runs into some

familiar faces they decide maybe a more organized
approach to do-gooding is to start a business

rather than just roaming the streets Batman style and thus Angel Investigations
(we help the helpless) is born.
If Buffy at its core is a show about growing
up, Angel is a show about being an adult and

the challenges that come with it. From starting
a business, and being a parent, to questions

about what makes a meaningful life. There's
even bits about corporate employment, and

can you change it or does it change you? And all of this is told against the backdrop of a well realized
fantasy world that is as surprising as
it is familiar.

But I know what you may be thinking…
“Don't Spinoffs normally kinda suck?”
Not necessarily. No.
”But ampire Private Eye sounds pret-ty stupid.”
I know. Ridiculous right? Like, like...race

car driving pope. Or.....post civil war space
cowboys. Wait…

Ah yeah. That's just textbook Joss Whedon.
Whedon inventions are nearly all genre benders.

His original concept for Firefly started after
reading a book on the civil war and wondering

what could come about if that was set in the
distant future. From that we got Post civil

war Space Cowboys. Buffy began from him wondering
what if the blonde that always got eaten in

horror movies, instead kicked the monsters
ass? From that we got horror tropes set in

high school. But these aren't your normal vampires
sleeping in coffins:
“Coffins, I hate that stereotype.”
Other than the fact that these are just great
writers, the shows work for two reasons.

The first is Whedon understands that a genre does
nothing except provide a setting. You still

have to tell a great story. And he happens
to tell my favorite kinds of stories, intensely

character driven ones that we see ourselves

The second reason it works is because the
writing is self aware enough to not take itself

too seriously:
-"what's next, vampire cowboy?"
"vampire fireman?"
"oh, vampire ballerina?"
The show is very dark but also whimsical and
that prevents the material from slipping too

far into gothic self importance. Take Lorne,
the red horned green skinned demon who owns

a bar for non-humans. Lorne is from another
dimension and can read your aura if you sing

to him. So of course, his bar is a karaoke

“Fine...it's character driven. But Angel
was a dull character on Buffy…”

I actually don't disagree with this. On
Buffy, Angel's emotes were pretty much limited

to balsa, pine, and aspen. But even on that
show he'd already developed a richer back

story than any of the other ancillary characters,
and as I mentioned Whedon felt he'd outgrown it.

He grows considerably on his own show
once he isn't stuck just being the dark

broody boyfriend.
It's also important to keep in mind that
Angel isn't as single minded a show as Buffy.

Where Buffy's season arcs relate specifically
or metaphorically to Buffy herself and her

friends are often satellites in that orbit,
Angel's season storylines are broader epics

that are less about him. That allows the other
cast of characters to feature nearly as prominently

as Angel himself and as a result the show
has two of the greatest character arcs from

either series, those of Cordelia and Wesley.
My first time through I didn't love Cordelia
on Buffy. The blunt, hard speaking no nonsense

high school alpha girl character seemed to
float between episodes sometimes, a round

peg in a show with no holes. It became especially
true once she lost her direct connection to

the scooby gang. But on Angel she proves a
perfect outspoken foil to Angel's initially

broody introversion. And we get to watch that
alpha schoolgirl facade fall away as she becomes

the beating mature heart of Angel investigations.
Wesley began Buffy as a spinless comic relief
character. A Buffyverse knock off Niles Crain.

“I'm telling the council.”
After leaving Buffy he becomes a self employed
Rogue Demon hunter

“What's a rogue demon.”
He joins up with Angel investigations and
we witness his naivete get slowly stripped

away making him nearly unrecognizable.
"Sounds a bit Morbid"
It certainly can be. Also hilarious, tragic,
exciting, and fiercely inspiring. Both Buffy

the Vampire Slayer and Angel fall into a category
that I would describe as “Meaningful Entertainment.”

That is, stories and characters that provide
us a medium through which to consider ourselves

and our own lives. But far from doing so through
heavy handed moralizing, these shows accomplish

that feat through the characters, and them
asking themselves questions like what makes

a meaningful life? To what extent do you shape
your own destiny and how much is fate? Are

there some things for which there can be no
redemption? Some acts you can never atone for?

And because Whedon places SUCH an emphasis
on creating vivid characters we identify with them,

and confront those questions ourselves.
In a unexpectedly informative news story about
the Russian winter olympics on the fake news

show The Daily Show, Jason Jones found one
woman at an anti-government rally protesting

Russia's recent anti-gay laws. Though 74
percent of Russians don't think homosexuality

should be accepted by society, this woman
was still on the streets protesting for basic

human rights. When asked if she was hopeful
Russia could change she stated, “I have

to do it to not be ashamed...I want to look
in the eyes of my children and say that I

did all I could. I'll say a quote from an
American TV show. Its called Angel There is

a wonderful phrase: If nothing we do matters,
then all that matters is what we do.” I'll

put a link to the Daily Show story in the

Though you certainly don't need to have
seen Buffy to watch Angel, if you're already

a Buffy fan you have no excuses. The reason
to watch Angel is simple: you get to spend

more time in this universe you already love.
There are crossover episodes between the two shows,

guest appearances by beloved characters,
and complete character arcs you may have missed.

You even get to see some of the consequences
to Buffy's decisions at the end of Season 7

Of course that's not to say that there aren't
any rough edges. Not to fret. I'll be doing

an Angel episode guide on this channel once
we get to Buffy Season 4. But strangely where

most shows roughest seasons are their early
ones, fans generally seem to agree that Angel

season 4 is its most problematic. Though Season
1 while entertaining, can be very dry at times.

-"you fight demons! at any moment one of them could walk right through that very door!"
But then comes Angel Season 5.
Terrible, wonderful,
awe inspiring Season 5. The finale is one

of the greatest of any television series I've
ever watched. A symphony of separate moving

parts. At once epic and intimate culminating
in a final scene that harmonizes perfectly

to the shows internal philosophy. That sometimes
right is right, regardless of its futility.

That all that matters is what we do today.
Right now. And, to borrow a phrase, a thing

isn't beautiful because it lasts.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Angel,
Season 1 - Episode 1 - Scene 1. It's on

Netflix, Amazon Instant, Youtube, and Hulu.
Go watch. Go watch it now. It's worth it.

I promise.
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Why You Should Watch Angel

28 Folder Collection
Johnny Tsai published on May 22, 2018
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