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From Inq7.net


Angel Season 5 To Air In Philippines - Final battle and redemption

By Amy Mosura

Monday 28 March 2005, by Webmaster

THERE’S nothing tougher than being part of a cult hit, especially if its’ one of the most scrutinized in recent pop culture history. Which is why it’s such a surprise that "Angel’s" final, gone-before-its-time fifth season packs such a punch. A heady cocktail of influences - including film noir, heroic quests, action dramas, and the supernatural vampire genre, with a little bit of pilfering from Batman thrown in - "Angel" hits a pretty big stride, triumphantly emerging from under the shadow of its sister series, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," in both theme and scope.

Interestingly, it is this season that seems, on the outside, the most compromised. From its expensive, epic, and vaguely unintelligible fourth season, the "Angel" staff was asked to scale down by its US network by cutting the show’s budget and making it more accessible to viewers. As such, the series’ powers that be - creator Joss Whedon, showrunner Jeffrey Bell, and the rest of the formidable creative staff - re-structured the show, jettisoning cast members (leading lady Charisma Carpenter, a holdover from the Buffy days, is a notable casualty), and promising to hold off on the epic, self-contained drama that was allegedly alienating viewers.

New theme

In accepting the bargain to keep the show on air, the producers also lent it a crafty new theme: Angel (David Boreanaz), the titular vampire with a soul, has agreed to his own devil’s bargain, taking the reins of his series-long nemesis, the evil law firm Wolfram and Hart.

The premise gives the show an extra charge in dramatizing adult challenges in the fantasy idiom. Angel and his cohorts Wesley (Alexis Denisof), Fred (Amy Acker), Gunn (J. August Richards) and the green demon Lorne (Andy Hallett) must now fight evil while staying in the institution they have long tried to bring down, with all of the resources - books, laboratories, cars, weapons, lawyers - once denied them. The rather transparent metaphor - that once an idealistic youth grows up, he could face the reality of joining organizations he used to question, with the hope of changing the system from the inside - gains a surprising amount of complexity.

In one forthcoming episode, the hilarious "Smile Time," dour Angel suddenly turns into a small felt hand puppet engagingly voiced by Boreanaz. This easily ranks among the best and most creative hours of television anyone can see this year. Better yet, the episode is accessible to viewers unfamiliar with the mythology involved in Angel’s quest for redemption.

Spike’s back

Other episodes, like the stunning stand-alone dramas "Lineage," "Destiny" and "Damage," require quite a bit of familiarity with the world of Buffy, but even the expositionary dialogue is well-integrated into the story flow. And if you’re bored, every so often a fight explodes between Angel and the newest member of his team.

That’s right, Spike’s back, too. A great part of "Angel’s" new accessibility stems from its latest cast member - James Marsters, who plays the other vampire with a soul on Buffy, and who now brings his presence to "Angel."

The crackling chemistry that Marsters and Boreanaz showed even in their earliest Buffy scenes survives intact in Angel, leading even Whedon to crow: "I finally found the perfect ing‚nue for Angel - Spike."

Sadly, this fifth season is the last anyone will see of the vivid universe for some time. But fans can take heart in another thing: the US network president was quoted as saying that his management made a big mistake in pulling out "Angel" too soon. Somewhere out there, a soul-ed vampire is laughing.

(The author is a publicist of ABS-CBN. "Angel’s" fifth season premieres tonight on the network’s Studio 23.)