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AngelFather of all vampires mourns show & Photo From 5x22
By Malene Arpe
Sunday 16 May 2004, by Webmaster
Joss Whedon took the cancellation of Angel very hard As always, he’s willing to ease his pain by sharing it
Who is going to make us take our bitter, healing medicine now that the Buffyverse is closed for business?
For eight years and a total of 12 television seasons, Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and the spinoff series Angel, has given the audience, as he once declared, not what we want but what we need.
He’s given us pain, suffering, shocking deaths of major characters (there are no better portrayals of grief than the death of Buffy’s mother in "The Body," and the death of Angel’s Fred in this season’s "Shells") passionate, un-pretty love stories and a parade of selfless sacrifice. He has managed that most difficult of all balancing acts: to take a staunch moral stand without ever being preachy. And while they made us shudder in horror as the characters we loved were chopped to pieces or shot or sucked into faraway hell dimensions, the shows were written with sparkling wit and more downright dirty innuendo than any other show on television.
Buffy quit her job a year ago; Angel was fired by the WB and fights his last fight Wednesday with the series finale, "Not Fade Away." Whereas Buffy was allowed to have a somewhat triumphant, happy-ish ending, it doesn’t look good for the characters on Angel. But that’s in keeping with Angel’s much darker vein.
There will be death. There will be sorrow.
"Oh yeah, baby," Whedon says. "The pain that I felt when they cancelled the show, I’m going to share."
Whedon - who says had he thought the passionate fan campaign to save the show had any hope, he would have been out there with his placard and bullhorn - would have liked one more season to tell his tale of the vampire with a soul and his search for redemption.
"I always felt there was more to say about all these people, that the show was kinda cut down in its prime. We did have a sort of final statement prepared for the end of the season, because you go into every season not knowing your fate, and I do feel like we finished the series saying what I wanted to say in a grand fashion. But I don’t have the feeling I had with Buffy, which was: We are done, thank you, good night," he says during a conference-call interview.
Angel (David Boreanaz) and his fellow evil-fighters Wesley, Fred, Gunn, Lorne and the other souled vampire Spike (James Marsters) - the latter added this year from Buffy’s cast - have spent this season working inside the nefarious law firm of Wolfram & Hart. They’ve tried to fight the good fight, while being tempted by the lure of power.
"In past seasons, Angel had always been the loner hero in one form or another and sometimes he’d been just a bad-ass and sometimes he’d lost sight of his goal, but he was always just a champion, fighting. This year was about, if you’re inside of a structure, be it corporal or societal, that is by its nature corrupt, do you affect it or does it affect you?"
Since the announcement of his show’s cancellation, Whedon’s heroes have found themselves increasingly at odds with that power structure. Coincidence?
"We knew as writers we were projecting a little too much. The fact of the matter is if it only reads that way, then you’re doing the wrong thing. I actually don’t have as contentious a relationship with the executives as I, trying to seem like a cool rebel, would have it seem. The fact is, they let me put on my weird show for a total of 12 years and I’m grateful for that.
"There’s definitely some executives that I’d like to take a ball-peen hammer to, (but) there’s just as many who have been supportive and creative. Definitely, we were feeling the hurt and it definitely informed what we were doing."
Whedon says his show was "old and in the way," as the WB is trying to divest itself of expensive properties to make room for more reality television - a genre for which Whedon obviously has no love.
"Ultimately the (vampire) shows were cult shows; we didn’t make Friends, so nobody is going to use us as a financial model. And the financial models are what changed television. If I had created reality television I would have had a much greater influence, but then I would have had to KILL MYSELF."
With shows like his own, as well as the Star Trek franchise and other science fiction and fantasy shows struggling to find backing while the ratings soar for dating, surgery and survival programs, Whedon still believes that well-written genre television is important and can survive.
"Genre TV is a great way to speak to people, very directly without being either didactic or maudlin or, you know, boring. It’s a way to really hit home emotionally and societally without having to lecture people, and it can be very beautiful, it can be very direct and get to a place no other show can, because people love to imagine themselves in a fantastic universe, especially if that universe is not just in the service of cute tricks," he says.
"In that sense it has a good chance of surviving, of going on. But it also faces peril in that there are very few mainstream hits that use that mold; people don’t take genre seriously. They don’t want to spend the money. The fact of the matter is that’s a very big issue when you’re dealing with fantasy."
Whedon, who says he doesn’t believe we’ve heard the last of the Buffyverse and will find ways to explore his own creation, be it via comic books, miniseries, spinoffs or feature films, will be going to work in two weeks on Serenity, the major motion picture take on his short-lived Fox project, the sci-fi western Firefly, which is set for a 2005 theatrical release.
As for rumours the Angel finale has a cliffhanger ending, leaving the door open for further explorations?
"I do not think of it as a cliffhanger at all. It is not the end of all things. It is not a final grace note after a symphony, the way Buffy was. We are definitely still in the thick of it, but it is, and was meant to be, a final statement about Angel. ... The point of the show is, you’re never done. Whoever survives the show, to get that point, will embody it, but no matter who goes on, the fight goes on.
"Did I make it so that it could lead into an exiting sixth season? Yes I did. But it still is a final statement, if that is what it needs to be."
The finale of Angel airs Wednesday at 9 p.m. on the New VR and Victoria Day at 10 p.m. on Space, after an all-day viewers-choice marathon of favourite episodes. The Space broadcast begins at 11 a.m. with the series premiere, followed by the top 10 episodes.
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