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Fans mobilize to try to save Angel after its cancellation

Friday 20 February 2004, by Webmaster

TV Tidbits Fans mobilize to try to save Angel after its sudden cancellation
Friday, February 20, 2004

Winston-Salem Journal

The WB Network’s announcement last Friday that it was canceling Angel came as a shock to fans and many industry observers.

On a ratings level, Angel is one of the network’s most popular shows with the prized 18-to-34-year-old demographic, coming in behind only Smallville among the WB’s offerings for that age group. Earlier this month, WB’s "weekly ratings" release sent out to television critics boasted that Angel had gotten "outstanding year-to-year gains" in all of the key demographic groups. This week, WB’s weekly ratings release conspicuously lacked any mention of Angel at all.

On a creative level, Angel is in the midst of a renaissance after muddling through much of last season. The series has rebounded nicely, thanks to increased input from series creator Joss Whedon and the addition of James Marsters to the cast.

And on a historic level, the series is - or perhaps that should be "was" - WB’s last tie to Whedon, whose Buffy the Vampire Slayer helped define the fledgling network and save it from obscurity.

Adding insult to injury, the show was canceled the same week that WB announced an early renewal for its other supernatural series, Charmed - a fluffy show that serves little purpose other than to put Alyssa Milano and company in different skimpy outfits each week.

In an interview that ran in Variety earlier this week, WB president Jordan Levin said, "This isn’t about the WB bailing out on one of its top shows."

He went on to say that the show had a loyal core following, but it didn’t have much potential to draw new audience members.

In a press release on thewb.com, the network said it had given Whedon early notice that the show wouldn’t be renewed for a sixth season so that he could have time to wrap up the subplots in the remainder of the current season.

Fans were quick to rally behind Angel, setting up Web sites and starting petitions and letter-writing campaigns within hours of the announcement. As of Wednesday, one such petition had already gotten more than 36,800 signatures.

"Letting fans know on the day before Valentine’s Day verged on the cruel, in my view," said Greensboro fan Sara Jane Mann, who is working on efforts to save the show. "It seems the network just doesn’t appreciate the gem it possesses in Angel’s particularly brilliant (and addictive) blend of witty humor, stylish drama and astute, pop-culture-savvy intelligence."

Fan campaigns don’t always work, but they are certainly worth a shot. In the past, such shows as Star Trek, Cagney and Lacey and Roswell were saved by fans who let the networks know how passionately they cared about the shows. Without fans giving Star Trek a third season, in fact, it’s possible that Paramount’s billion-dollar-plus franchise would have faded into obscurity; without a third season, there would not have been enough Trek episodes for syndication.

Angel is already in syndicated reruns and has also been a hit on home video, where Fox Home Entertainment has already released three of the show’s five seasons in highly successful DVD boxed sets. But fans want new episodes, and posts on fan sites by such members of the Angel production team as Whedon and Marsters indicate that they want the show to come back and that they feel they have more stories to tell.

Fans who want Angel to come back should check out such online campaigns as www.saveangel.org and saveangelcampaign.tripod.com for more information.

Online petitions are good for showing fan support, but networks tend to pay more attention to letters.

Many of these fan sites are suggesting that fans write to Jordan Levin, President of Entertainment, The WB Television Network, 4000 Warner Blvd., Bldg. 34R, Burbank, Calif. 91522.

Letting your local WB affiliate know how much you want the show back would also be a good idea.