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From Dreamwatch Magazine


Angel Season 5 Article - Dreamwatch #111

Transcribed by Setje

Sunday 9 November 2003, by Webmaster

Dreamwatch Issue 111

Taking the FIFTH

Angel creator/executive producer Joss Whedon is promising big things for its radically re-tooled fifth season - and given his track record, it’s hard to doubt him. Ian Spelling quizzes him about what lies ahead for Angel, and also finds out about the state of play on Whedon’s other projects…

Angels fifth season is going to get to the Wolfram & Hart of the matter. “That’s where we’re going , in terms of the story.” Promises Joss Whedon, who, as series creator and sometimes director and writer, is the ultimate tour guide to all things Angel. “We’re going to learn a little something about the way that Wolfram & Hart operates. We’re going to let our characters pends some of their time seeing how the other half lives, in terms of finally having some money and power. We’re going to be putting a little more money into the show that way, visually. We’ll also see our characters interacting with all of these people who are evil. So they’ll be getting a sense of the ins and outs of corporate America and what it is they’ve been fighting against all of these years.

“Where it’s going otherwise is a little bit back from being a suspended soap opera to single episodes that can be appreciated by themselves, by people who’ve never watched the show. Hopefully, those people who’ve never watched the show will appreciate the episodes and won’t need a mini-history lesson.”

Hart Of Darkness

Season five of Angel kicks off with Conviction, which establishes Angel (David Boreanaz), Gunn (J. August Richards, Fred (Amy Acker) and Wesley (Alexis Denisof) in the Wolfram & Hart offices, where they’ll take on evil from the seat of corruption itself. The episode also heralds the arrival of a resurrected Spike (James Marsters), in a development which has excited fans of Angel and its parent series, Buffy, alike.

Spike is such a strong character that Whedon and company contemplated a Spike spin-off following the decision to put a stake in Buffy. And it’s not lost on Whedon that some people have predicted that James Marsters could end up dominating the series he is meant to enhance. But he’s quick to dismiss such suggestions.

“They’re underestimating Angel, quite frankly,” states Whedon. “David is also powerful enough as an actor to have his own show, and he’s had his own show for five seasons. James will dominate some of the storylines because he is the new guy and he’s a major player in Angel’s life. So there will be some episodes where he really is up front. But the title of the show is what it is. And the danger of having a character that’s too charismatic doesn’t exist.”

Other newcomers to the Angel fold in season five include Wolfram & Hart liaison Eve (Sarah Thompson) and former Cordelia crony Harmony (Mercedes McNab) , who’s on board as Angel’s new secretary.

“Sarah and Mercedes are lovely,” reports Whedon.

“Eve brings a nice little sort of mystery and a new way to look at Wolfram & Hart. She’s got something up her sleeve, but obviously I’m not going to tell you what that is!

Harmony is a great combination of being really cute and extraordinarily funny. She brings a lightness that we always like to have running through all the horror and all the drama. She’s just gut-funny.”

Whereas Buffy’s arc was, from the start to finish, obviously about empowerment, Angel’s underlying theme has always seemed less clear-cut. Whedon, however, feels that the show was and continues to be based on a particular concept.

“I believe that the overall themes of Angel are redemption and morality,” he notes. “When we started the show we had a kind of alcoholic metaphor. Angel was a guy who was recovering from the terrible things he’s done, who was trying to atone, and was occasionally tempted to do something terrible again. Angel, to me, has always been structured around the idea of Angel trying to find his place, trying to find a reason to go on helping people. And he’s had different variations of that.”

Slay Days

Angel’s parent series ended in May 2003 with the Whedon written and directed finale, Chose. Whedon told of his satisfaction with Chosen in dreamwatch 106 just before the episode aired, and now, looking back with the benefit of hindsight, he reports that there’s not much he’d change. “We were heading for that exact place the entire season,” he says. “I was just so tired that it was sometimes difficult to shoot. As to what I would have done differently, when you get into TV you’re working a little too fast to get into that kind of thinking.

“I will say that part of me wishes I’d had the energy to do even more. We talked about, for example, Oz (Seth Green) coming back with his wolf pack. But we said, “You know what? We have, like, 80,000 vampires. We can’t afford 10 werewolves, or even one. So let’s just go with what we’re doing.’ Anything else would be the movie version of this, and this was still the show.”

Chosen required some editing to keep the historic adventure within its running time, and a few moments were lost.

“I definitely had to do some hack and slash,” confirms Whedon. “They were small edits. My favourite one probably would never had made it to air anyway. It was Principal Wood (D.B. Woodside) and Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) sharing a joint right before they go into battle, or as I referred to it in the script, a hand-rolled cigarette. That was shot and not aired. Tony sort of went through a thing with it. He has daughters and he talked with his girlfriend, and then he decided. ‘Oh, what the Hell, this is funny.’ We did a version with tiny airport bottles of whiskey, but we did one version with the j.(joint) and I was like, ‘The network will never let this through.’

“The show was so long I didn’t even bother to try to put it in, but it was my secret favourit because, let’s face it, who’s going to be parting with a j. right before the apocalyptic battle? The teachers.”

Although many viewers would love to be tuning in to an eight season of Buffy right now, Whedon makes it clear that he has no regrets about his decision to end the show. It had been a great run, but it ended neither a minute too soon, nor a moment too late.

“There was literally no part of me that was not ready to let it go,” says Whedon. “I don’t say that out of any kind of bitterness. I loved the show, but it was time. IT was definitely time. There comes a point where there’s just a huge amount of wear and tear, physically, from working that hard. The actors are all enormously talented, but there’s only so much you can do as a character before you feel, ‘OK, I’m about to repeat something I’ve done before’ or ‘I’m spinning my wheels.”

Buffy fans were heartened by recent reports that star Sarah Michelle Gellar would appear in an episode or two of Angel, but Whedon now admits that may not come to pass.

“It’s not a done deal and, in fact, we’re not sure if it’s going to happen. I’m sorry to say,” reveals Whedon. “There doesn’t seem to be the interest that was expressed last year. It may be that she got out and just said, ‘I really can’t go back to that right now.’ It’s a very different environment after you’ve left something. So I’m not sure if it’s going to happen or not.”

On a similarly disappointing note, Whedon isn’t sure if the proposed animated Buffy series or Ripper, a Giles-based mini-series for the BBC, will ever see the light of day. “There’s been interest in the animated show, but the problem has always been, first, my time, and then my insistence that any animated show be done on a budget that would make the animation cool,” he notes. “I don’t want to have crappy-looking Pokemon animation. I want it to be something worth watching and nobody’s really willing to foot that bill.

So that’s been a snag. I sort of let it go because of everything else that’s been going on. But the scripts exist and we’ve had every actor except Sarah say they were willing to do the voices for the show.

“Ripper is, again, a victim of scheduling and timing.”

Firefly Starter

Right now, Whedon is devoting the bulk of his time to Angel and writing the script for the proposed Firefly film, which is currently in development. Based on the short-lived show, the Firefly movie will continue the adventures of Captain MAL Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) and the rest of the crew aboard the ironically monikered ship Serenity. The space Western barely broke the 10-episode mark before Fox cancelled it, prompting Whedon to shop it around elsewhere - to no avail - and then contemplate the idea of a movie. And to this day, it’s clear that the show’s demise still gnaws at him.

“I don’t know anybody who hated the show,” says Whedon, who provides commentaries for several episodes on the upcoming Firefly DVDs. “I just know that a lot of people didn’t get to watch the show. Firefly never got a chance to be seen. I’m not saying that if it had, it would have been a hit for sure or anything like that. I just know that Firefly has a fan base that’s as strong as Buffy’s and it only had 11 episodes on which to build that fan base.

“What went wrong was the fact that I didn’t really gauge what I was doing in terms of the network. What went wrong was just basically hubris on my part. The network didn’t really want what I was giving them. That became apparent early on and I sort of breezed over it. I mean, I made adjustments to their requests and they were easy to make. It wasn’t like they were creatively asking me to make a different show, but at the end of the day the show that is was just didn’t seem to work for them. So it never really had a chance to be seen.

“The show hit its stride creatively faster than any show I’ve ever worked on. It had the best ensemble cast I’ve ever worked with. I’m as proud of Firefly as anything I’ve ever worked on. I guess that may sound kind of boast-y, but there it si. I wouldn’t be trying to make a movie based on that universe and that cast of characters,” Whedon concludes, “if I didn’t believe in it with all my heart.