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From Philly.com


Does ’Angel’ have a prayer ?

Tuesday 6 May 2003, by Webmaster

DAVID BOREANAZ is living life "on the bubble," L.A.-style.

Last week, that meant taking his son, Jaden, to Disneyland for his first birthday.

And what does a 1-year-old do at Disneyland?

"He marvels at the characters," said his hopeful father.

The 32-year-old son of WPVI (Channel 6) weatherguy Dave Roberts, Boreanaz stars in the WB’s "Angel," one of a number of TV series whose casts will find out in the next couple of weeks whether they’ll be coming back in the fall or looking for work.

"Angel’s" fourth-season finale airs tomorrow night, and though some story lines are tied up, the episode’s primary focus is on the future.

For Boreanaz, who plays the title character, a vampire with a soul - and a conscience - the uncertainty about that future is just business as usual.

"For me, when a season is over, it’s over, until we get confirmation that we’re coming back. Until then, it’s over for me," the Malvern Prep grad said in a phone interview squeezed around his son’s birthday celebration.

"I think it comes down to dollars and cents for the network. I’m optimistic that we will come back," he said.

Given the open-ended nature of the finale, "there’s work to be done," he said. "It’s just a matter of understanding if the network wants us to do that work, and hire us all back."

Boreanaz’s boss, "Angel" co-creator Joss Whedon, is a little more emotional about the stakes involved.

"If it was suddenly pulled out from under us it would be a grave disappointment," said Whedon during a break from editing the final episode of "Angel’s" parent show, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," which will air on UPN May 20.

"Angel has always been living in the shadow of ’Buffy,’ and as we come to the end of the season, it’s clear to me that ’Buffy’ is a show that has come to the end, while ’Angel’ is smack dab in the middle" of its life as a series, he said.

"The show has totally taken on a life of its own, beyond the other show," Whedon said.

Indeed, while the show’s ratings could be better - it’s averaged about 3.7 million viewers this season, down from 4.37 million in 2001-02 - it remains a critics’ darling both for its smart, funny dialogue and its deeply felt storytelling.

"It’s got a melodramatic vein to it that I find almost operatic," Whedon said, "while Buffy is a kind of, a welcome-home, strange as it may be, family show."

"They’ve been sort of moving us around with zero advertising," Whedon complained of the WB, adding that while ratings have "fluctuated," the demographics - the show’s appeal to the younger viewers - have "always been strong enough."

"My confidence is high, because there is no earthly reason to cancel this show. But that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen," he said.

Though both Boreanaz and Whedon said "Buffy’s" ending won’t affect "Angel" in terms of storytelling, Whedon did suggest that the spinoff could provide a haven for displaced "Buffy" fans, one of the most fiercely loyal constituencies in television.

" ’Angel’ becomes the only place in town to get your ’Buffy’-verse fix," he said, adding that while he hopes the show will draw some fans who never gave the spinoff a chance before, he also hopes to reach out to new ones.

A surprising change of venue, revealed in tomorrow’s episode, as well as more emphasis on standalone episodes, would "almost reboot it," and allow viewers who aren’t up on the characters’ byzantine connections and histories to join the show in progress, Whedon suggested.

Whatever happens next week, when the WB announces its fall schedule to advertisers, tomorrow night’s finale won’t be the character Angel’s last appearance.

Starting next week, the vampire will return for "Buffy’s" final two episodes.

Reflecting on his progress from recurring character on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" to star of his own series, Boreanaz described it as "a fantastic journey, meeting people, expanding horizons."

"It’s a blessing to be working," he said.

And if the WB clips "Angel’s" wings?

"I’d just go on."