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From Ohio.com


Doomed `Angel’ still good TV

By R.D. Heldenfels

Tuesday 17 February 2004, by Webmaster

Posted on Tue, Feb. 17, 2004

Doomed `Angel’ still good TV

WB decision to kill vampire series may not be fatal; show’s fate staked to star’s desire

By R.D. Heldenfels

Angel is going. But it’s going in style.

As was mentioned here a couple of weeks ago, the makers of the WB drama about a vampire with a soul felt they had enough ideas to keep the show going for several more years.

Still, The WB appeared to be looking past Angel and began talks with producer John Wells about another vampire series, a new version of Dark Shadows. And late last week the network decided the current season of Angel will be its last.

In a statement Friday the network said it had given the show the pink slip. It did so well ahead of the usual series-pickup announcements in May so the show’s makers will be ``able to wrap up the series in a way befitting a classic television series.... We did not want to contemplate this being the last year of Angel without giving the show the option of crafting their own destiny for this character and this series.’’

The WB did hold out the possibility of ``special movie events’’ derived from Angel next season.

And it’s always possible another network could pick up the show, the way Buffy the Vampire Slayer landed on UPN after a falling-out with The WB. But that would depend on David Boreanaz — who plays Angel — agreeing to a new contract, and on a network’s modest ratings expectations. This season Angel is averaging a little under 4 million viewers a week, ranking 93rd among all prime-time series and below several other WB series.

Still, for people who want good television, Angel is still doing righteous work, including in a hilariously oddball episode airing at 9 p.m. Wednesday.

Called Smile Time, the episode finds Angel and his associates investigating what is putting children into comas — and suspecting a popular children’s show of being the cause. When Angel takes a look at the show’s set, he is turned into a puppet and must continue to deal with the case in puppet form.

That includes a hilarious fight between the Angel puppet and the human Spike, a great conflict between Angel and the puppets on the children’s show and at least one bit so funny that I am not going to spoil the surprise here.

It’s inventive, a little scary and just plain fun. The episode also manages to be that while advancing three ongoing stories in the series — whether Angel is ever going to enter another romantic relationship, the romantic tension between Fred (Amy Acker) and Wesley (Alexis Denisof) and the powers given earlier this year to Gunn (J. August Richards).

The show does include some odd choices, including its portrayal of Angel as a bit of a goof with women. (After all, this is supposed to be the same guy who brought smouldering romance to his first appearances on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.) But it’s still guaranteed to be one of the high points of TV this week. I still wish the show wouldn’t end.