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AngelAngel is not coming back, not as the series we now know
By Kristin Veitch
Friday 16 April 2004, by Webmaster
Fan Fervor Runneth Over to Save Angel—See If All Your Energy Paid Off
I used to consider myself the most die-hard TV fan on the planet. It was a badge I wore with pride, sorta like my "I heart Bo & Luke Duke" T-shirt back in the good ol’ days of the good ol’ boys. (Sigh.)
But you "Save Angel" folks put me to shame.
This week, even though we asked readers to send in questions for the huuugest show on television right now, The Apprentice (those answers are coming Tuesday), you Angel fans still managed to send in more queries than people asking what the bejesus is up with the Donald’s hair. And that’s saying
You’ve written letters. You’ve sent flowers. You’ve organized blood drives and food drives and candy-bar drives and truck drive-by drives. You’ve raised thousands for ads in the Hollywood Reporter and Variety and given the show more publicity in a month than it received in five years at the WB.
Your fervor amazes me...and it breaks my heart.
For weeks now, I’ve been trying to break it to you gently that, sadly, there is no promising news about the fate of Angel. And still, you keep asking. And asking. And asking. To the point where I want to cry because I so badly wish I had something good say.
Instead, I think I’ll just tell you the truth on where Angel stands.
I’ve spent considerable time over the past few weeks talking to network, studio and production insiders, as well as a few of the actors (we’ll get to them below), and I can tell you this with a fair amount of certainty:
Angel is not coming back. At least not as the weekly TV series we now know and love. It sucks, and it’s wretched and wrong. But the sooner we all accept that, the sooner we can move on.
Now, I know from my dear friend Mary that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, so here are two of the sweetest people I know (no dookie) to give it to you straight.
"It’s over," James Marsters (Spike) told me Wednesday. "And we’ve known for a while. It was a shock. I’ve never in my wildest dreams thought they would do that. But it’s their game, their football, and it seems they want to pass it to someone else."
An emotional Amy Acker (Fred) also weighed in Thursday before going to set for her final day of shooting. "I guess they had just sort of decided the cancellation was for good, at a point. So, it seems so sad all these people were working so hard and nothing happened. The whole thing has been so sweet, and we all have been like, ’Oh maybe it will work!’ But it seems like they’re pretty set in their way."
That’s the consensus I’ve gotten from various sources — the WB suits aren’t changing their minds on Angel. Though the cancellation seemed like a whack-job, crack-induced whim to us fans, Frog net insiders tell me the higher-ups feel strongly that Angel had "limited moneymaking potential," due to limited advertising revenue and what they consider to be a substantial budget. The fan base is clearly devoted, but these bigwigs see little hope of that audience expanding.
The final stake through Angel’s heart? Dark Shadows, that remade vampire series the bigwigs believe to have "vast potential." Presumably, the man behind it is John Wells (ER, West Wing). If J.W. created a series about three young witches or, say, a reverend’s family, things may have been different.
Meanwhile, UPN and Fox have both passed on Angel. UPN has a strict new edict not to pick up "other networks’ scraps" (the same message given to the producers of Wonderfalls, though when you read on you’ll find some promising news on that). And even if they did want these "scraps," quite frankly they can’t afford ’em. As for Fox, well, one look at its midseason lineup and you know they’re going for a slightly different angle than quality scripted television. Littlest Groom, anyone?
I’m told the feeling on set is not morose these days—but rather like graduation. Though it’s been rip-out-your-heart difficult, the actors are learning to accept the show’s fate and move on.
"I’m used to things being over," James said. "Coming from theater, I’m used to plays being wonderful or less than wonderful, and even if they’re fabulous, they do have to come to an end. And you kind of come to a point where you’re at peace with that."
And I can’t help but mention that David Boreanaz seemed ready to move on before the show was even canceled: "I’m really itching to explore other characters and do other projects," he told me in January. "I think I’ve been stuck in this medical school for a while, and I need to open up and get out."
Not so much the case for Amy. She admits she’s the weepy one. "I just keep crying, and everyone is like, ’Stop it! Or I’ll cry, too.’ It’s hard because last Friday was Alexis’ last night, and yesterday was Andy’s last day. And today will be everyone’s. It’s hard to imagine you won’t be spending 12 hours a day with them anymore."
All that said, you Save Angel folks, please, for the love of TiVo, do not despair. Though the campaign might not have accomplished exactly what we’d hoped, James points out that it managed to do something else truly magnificent.
"It may not have saved the show," he explained, "but what it does for the entire cast and crew is give us a little pop as we go out. Everyone takes notice that we connected well enough with the audience to give them that passion...And I have to tell you, it feels so good. After all these years of, frankly, battling time and money and always having to give up what you were planning to do and getting frustrated, at the end of it, to see everyone really going out of their way to try and save it, it just feels really, really good. So, big warm vampire fuzzies over here. It really took the sting out of getting canceled."
And really, after five years of stellar television, it seems the least we could do, no?
"I just want to say to the fans, thank you," Amy says. "I think that [Save Angel] has been so awesome and it has made us feel better when we’ve all been so sad. For people to come up and say, ’Did you hear there’s a rally today?’ or ’I saw the big poster today.’ That has been as comforting as it could ever be."
Still, the best news is this: According to sources, the finale is supremely open-ended (Amy says it "opens new doors" and "doesn’t tie up any strings" , and I hear the Powers That Be at the WB have approached Joss Whedon about doing at least a movie-of-the-week or two (possibly as many as six) next season—thanks in large part to the folks at Save Angel. "I think a Buffy movie is more likely to happen now," James said, "and they may be given better budgets, seeing this kind of interest, because there’s a feeling that there’s a guaranteed audience. So, the effort that I’ve seen, it is not in vain."
Rumor Patrol: While we’re in the mood for telling it like it is when it comes to Angel, we should address a few more burning Q’s for any and all conspiracy theorists.
1. Sarah Michelle Gellar isn’t evil, just busy. She truly wanted to guest but couldn’t make it back in time for episode 21, because she was shooting a movie in Japan and had commitments to Scooby-Doo. Sarah said she was available to do episode 22, but Joss already knew exactly what he wanted to do for the finale (and it sounds genius). They then tried to reverse the shooting of the two episodes, but it was logistically impossible to get everything together in time. (Joss hadn’t even written the script.) So, put simply, it didn’t work out.
2. Alyson Hannigan, Michelle Trachtenberg and Sarah Michelle Gellar really are not coming back. Unless this is the mother of all foilers, and/or all my sources are bold-faced liars, these three lovelies all had to decline because of other commitments. Alyson was doing a play and a new pilot, Michelle a Disney movie, and S.M.G. had the aforementioned non-evil conflicts.
3. The finale won’t suck. Despite the surprise cancellation and guest-star disappointments, from everything I’ve heard, Joss really pulled through on the series ender. "The characters are in self-doubt and self-conflict and at each other’s throats," James said of the finale. "I really didn’t think there was any way for these characters to overcome what they were facing, frankly. And it’s really suspenseful as to whether they can or can’t. It’s gonna be bloody, and people are going to get hurt. It’s a Joss Whedon finale, man—blood and tears and death."
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