AngelFarewell Angel, it’s been fun
By Nikki Stafford
Thursday 6 May 2004, by Webmaster
For years, television viewers have been gripped by the lives of six aimless but good-looking New Yorkers, a Seattle sophisticate who can’t find a happy romance and a repentant 250-year-old vampire. This month, the curtain falls on all of them
He was turned into a vampire in 1753 and was one of the most savage killers of all time. In 1898, he was re-ensouled by Gypsies, forcing him to relive the pain and guilt of all of the murders he had committed for 150 years. The curse had one catch — if he experienced one true moment of happiness, he would lose his soul again and become the monster he once was.
For a century, he lived in the dark cave of his conscience, until he realized he could change his life for the better, helping people and atoning for his sins. And then, in 1999, he got his own TV show.
Welcome to the world of Angel.
The show spent its first year known as the spinoff of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the hit cult TV series that ended last year, but Angel eventually managed to crawl out of its older sibling’s shadow. For five years, viewers have watched the characters develop and change so dramatically they’re practically unrecognizable from their original selves.
Then, earlier this year, the WB network announced it was cancelling Angel, despite strong ratings and the most intriguing storyline yet. With the last episode set to air this month (May 19 on the New VR), fans launched a Save Angel campaign, raising thousands of dollars to pay for newspaper ads begging WB executives to rethink their decision and a truck-mounted billboard that drives around Los Angeles and reads, "Angel: We’ll follow him to hell. . . or another network." They’ve also organized countless postcard campaigns, rallies and protests.
What kind of show creates this kind of loyalty among its viewers?
While Buffy used demons as metaphors for the horrors of teenage life, Angel was set in the seamy, adult world of dangerous dating, stalkers, murderers and lawyers. In the first season, Angel and his team — Cordelia and Doyle, who was promptly replaced by former Buffy Watcher Wesley Wyndam-Pryce — formed Angel Investigations with a mandate to "help the helpless" and make Los Angeles a safer place to live.
The series has endured many twists and turns, and each season has brought new hardships and villains. But what makes Angel such a terrific show is its characters, who have all come a long way from where they started.
Throughout the years, new characters added to the cast include: Gunn, the street-kid turned vampire-hunter turned legal-mastermind; Fred, a small-town girl with a mind for physics whose body is now inhabited by an evil demon; Lorne, a demon who ran a karaoke bar and can read your aura if you sing to him; Connor, Angel’s son (long story); Spike, the vampire who was a thorn in Angel’s side; and Harmony, the clueless vampire who is Angel’s secretary.
Angel’s discovery of an ancient prophecy stating that a souled vampire would save the world and become human has given him a new purpose in life. He has battled Wolfram & Hart, an evil law firm that represents demons; been chased by a vampire hunter whose family was slaughtered by Angel; had a son who was kidnapped and returned to kill his father; and finally took over Wolfram & Hart as its new CEO.
Cordelia, the flighty, superficial cheerleader from Sunnydale, had great aspirations to become an actress, but was given "visions" that forced her to become half-demon in order to endure them. She learned to become a warrior, ascended to a higher plain, and became inhabited by something evil that put her in a coma until her death this season.
Wesley began as a bumbling comic foil who tripped down the stairs, fumbled with weapons and always managed to be taken hostage. When he began dropping hints that his father abused him as a child, a new, darker Wesley emerged. He was more serious and became an excellent fighter, making him an important part of the team. But in an unfortunate turn of events, he was tricked with a false prophecy, kidnapped, lost Angel’s son, had Angel vow to kill him, and then somehow regained the trust of the gang.
Sadly, despite efforts by fans, it looks as though viewers will have to say goodbye to this phenomenal series. It explored the deepest emotions of people and how they can be crushed, taught us that just because something’s a demon doesn’t make it a monster, and showed how important familial love and friendship can be.
Angel may never find peace, but he’ll always be searching for it and trying to help people who have been victimized. Until then, he’ll suffer through guilt for what he has done to countless victims. As he once said, "Atonement’s a bitch."
Nikki Stafford is author of Bite Me!: An Unofficial Guide to the World
of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (ECW Press) and the upcoming Once Bitten: An Unofficial Guide to
the World of Angel.
The Angel finale airs May 19 on the New VR