For Joss Whedon, it was like a stake through the heart. Despite surging DVD sales and a creative revamp that bolstered ratings and won critical praise, The WB Network axed his vampire saga Angel earlier this spring.Creator previews final episode - Angel’s slay ride ends'>
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AngelCreator previews final episode - Angel’s slay ride ends
By Kevin Williamson
Thursday 20 May 2004, by Webmaster
For Joss Whedon, it was like a stake through the heart. Despite surging DVD sales and a creative revamp that bolstered ratings and won critical praise, The WB Network axed his vampire saga Angel earlier this spring.
"The cancellation was a horrible blow. It was much more emotional than I thought it was going to be," says Whedon, who created the drama, a spinoff of his popular Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
And while there continues to be hope Angel may be back as a special or a mini-series later on, there may not be any characters alive (or undead) left for the reunion, if you believe Whedon.
"The pain of loss when they cancelled the show? I’m going to share."
Entitled Not Fade Away, the finale - airing May 19 at 7 p.m. on The WB (37) and next May 24 on Space (46) at 8 p.m. - kills off at least one major character and hinges on the betrayal of another.
If the end of Buffy a year ago saw the titular character emerge victorious against the forces of darkness, Angel’s climactic moments promise to be far less uplifting.
"I had restrictions (with Buffy’s finale)," Whedon says on the phone during a conference call with journalists. "I had to go out on a happy ending ... With Angel, it’s a darker tale, so I have more license to do what I want to who I want to do it to - to make the audience miserable and excited ... It’s not the end of all things. It’s not a final grace note after a sympathy, which I think Buffy was. But it is a final statement about Angel."
That’s because while Buffy centred on characters experiencing a rite of passage - moving from youth into adulthood - Angel was about the redemption of its title character, a centuries-old vampire played by David Boreanaz.
Besides which, death and upheaval are nothing new to viewers.
Already this year, the show killed off Cordelia (played by current Playboy cover girl Charisma Carpenter) and Fred (Amy Acker), whose soul died when an ancient spirit possessed her.
Still, Whedon wasn’t alone in his dismay at the show’s sudden end.
The cancellation - blamed on poor repeat ratings and the age of the series - prompted thousands of fans to petition the network to resurrect their beloved, blood-sipping do-gooder.
"I was obviously enormously touched. I was really heartbroken when it got cancelled. I was really shocked. And for the fans to react that strongly for something that has been perceived sometimes as the bastard child of the Buffy franchise, was really important," Whedon says, adding he knew it was still a lost cause.
"We were staring at a brick wall, which is the financial model the WB operates by. This is a really bad time for television and for television drama ... I just felt we didn’t have a shot, or I would have been outside the WB with a placard and bullhorn myself ...
"Ultimately we were cult shows. We didn’t make Friends. No one is going to use us as a financial model. If I had invented reality-TV, I would have had a greater impact. But then I would have to kill myself."
TAKING A BREATHER
This past season saw Angel and his band of not-so-merry men and monsters - occult nerd Wesley, green-skinned Lorne, street-wise Gunn and Britpunk vampire Spike - assume control of their arch-enemies, the demonic senior partners of legal firm Wolfram and Hart.
Whedon acknowledges the season’s theme - "If you’re inside a structure, whether corporate or societal that, by its nature, is corrupt, do you affect it or does it affect you?" - is reflected in his own experiences working for Fox, which produces the Buffy franchise.
"(The Fox) News Corp. empire is a great giant and, politically, has done things with its power that have offended me greatly. Am I the worm inside the bud? Or am I just part of the corporation?"
For Whedon - who begins production of Serenity, a film based on his short-lived science fiction western Firefly, in two weeks - the end of Angel does have a silver lining.
"There is a little bit of relief. Every year for a total of 12 seasons, I was in charge of that universe and it was exhausting," he admits. "So to take a breather from it is nice for me."
As for Angel returning in multiple TV movies next season, Whedon confirms the network and Fox have expressed interest. "I don’t think the Buffiverse is dead. I don’t think anyone saw enough of muppet Angel."
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