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AngelSlayage Conference - Joss Whedon New Spinoffs !!!
Tuesday 1 June 2004, by Webmaster
Academic Buffy Conference
Just arrived back from Nashville, and a weekend of seeing baseball and listening to Buffy papers being presented at the “Slayage Conference” at the Renaissance Marriott. Most of the attendees were presenters, but from the registration numbers there were almost as many people just attending (like me). I thought I’d share some notes from the weekend.
Probably the most relevant discussion to the future of Buffy/Angel came on Sunday at the “Cancellation as Apocalypse: A Panel Discussion on the End of Angel.” On the panel was David Bianculli, TV critic for the New York Daily News, as well as host of NPR’s “Fresh Air,” as well as three academics, including one from the UK who still hadn’t seen the finale of “Angel” but was on the panel because she is editing a forthcoming academic book on the show. This wasn’t a particularly helpful choice for anyone, including her, since it’s difficult to discuss a show’s end without mentioning spoilers. This quickly happened anyway when someone mentioned Wesley’s death, but she said that didn’t really surprise her because Wes had gone so dark in S5 that there was really no way for him to return from the places he had gone to and they were going to have to kill him off.
Bianculli mentioned several helpful things he learned from interviewing Joss by phone prior to the finale.
(1) Joss confirmed that Hamilton was supposed to represent the network suits.
(2) “Dark Shadows” was indeed being deliberately pitted against “Angel” by the WB as it was an in-house production that would cost them less. By the time the pilot for DS was greenlit, “Angel”’s cancellation had been decided. Bianculli has not seen the pilot but confirmed it was apparently awful, and plans to get a hold of it and write a review of it when he does, just to make a point of it.
(3) Bianculli disliked “The Girl in Question” as did most of the audience in the room (numbering about 70 people). He felt it was cheaply done and poorly timed.
(4) Joss apparently also mentioned in the conference call that we “haven’t seen the last of Puppet Angel.” (yay!)
(5) Bianculli brought up how the Sopranos was supposed to end this year but instead the creator decided the story wasn’t finished. They will be getting another 10 episodes from HBO to complete the series. He said it was too bad Joss couldn’t get the same and concluded “network TV sucks.”
(6) He felt that while Angel’s treatment of Harmony was consistent, her representation was not. When the episode “Harm’s Way” aired it looked like the show was going to give her more depth and characterization but this didn’t seem to be followed through.
(7) Joss wanted to do more with Illyria, and Bianculli thought that a Spike/Illyria spinoff would be a great idea. Bianculli noted that the rest of Angel’s group accepted that Illyria was here to stay when Spike nicknamed her.
(8) Although he was only speculating, Bianculli thought that Joss wrote the “last day” sequence as well as the final scene.
(9) Bianculli was asked whether he thought the “Save Angel” efforts did any good. He said he thought they mirrored the show’s end, you fight even though you know the fight will be useless. He mentioned that another critic had written an open letter to the producers of “Freaks and Geeks” when it ended to point out to them that the cancellation was not their fault and they had done everything right. Bianculli thought that he should do the same in the future, even if the shows had no chance. He said you never know what good a protest can do. He is surprised that “Enterprise” is getting another season. He has also seen “Joey,” believed it had quality and thinks it may do well.
(10) He was surprised by Gunn’s arc. He believed that Gunn was going to go dark after he murdered for Fred, and was also surprised Gunn got over Fred “because I wouldn’t.” He thought that Hamilton’s offer to Gunn was for him to become another Hamilton. He also believed that Lindsey and Angel both got out of hell free whereas Gunn did not. Another panel member mentioned that Gunn’s search for identity had led him to become an attachment to Fred, and when their relationship ended, Wolfram & Hart’s offer to upgrade him replaced her in this search for identity.
(11) Like apparently everyone else in the room, Bianculli enjoyed Spike’s moments in the finale, and he asked if people thought Spike’s addition to t he show worked. There was agreement it did. He said it was great to see Spike and Angel interact, the character seemed lost for a while, but he was great at being able to knock Angel down and cut to the chase with him. The “briefcase” moment seemed to be an audience favorite.
(12) Regarding Lorne, Bianculli noted that some of the most shocking and unexpected violence in both Buffy and Angel came from a simple handgun.
(13) He concluded saying that 2 years ago he had 3 shows on his TiVO that now aren’t there.
Aside from Bianculli’s comments there were some other interesting points of discussion from either the other panelists or the audience members.
(1) People felt Connor’s use as a character was redeemed in the last episodes of the season. Even though many had not liked him before, they loved his return. On the other hand there was a general dislike of “The Girl in Question.”
(2) It was suggested that Angel HAD shansu’ed - through Connor.
(3) There seemed to be a liking for Illyria’s character and a firm consensus that Amy Acker did a marvelous acting job.
(4) An audience member brought up that Wesley’s role as a watcher came full circle with Illyria at the end, something which the panel had not considered and were taken with.
(5) It was felt Lorne’s last scene was a tribute to the show’s “noir” roots.
(6) There was disagreement about Lindsey’s death, since wasn’t the show supposed to be about choices and redemption? The discussion seemed to conclude that because Lindsey kept coming back to Wolfram & Hart, that he would always revert. He was an opportunist - and both Angel and Lorne showed disappointment in his answers in their scenes with him.
(7) An audience member talked about how one of the show’s writers said that the loss of the female characters on “Angel” was about the hole it left in men’s lives along with a loss of hope. That “Angel” was never about the empowerment of women but rather about the fragmented images of masculinity.
(8) One of the panelists mentioned that some of her favorite moments of S5 were the various “heart to hearts” that took place on Angel’s couch, showing the great range the show had, from the fantastical to the intimate and realistic.
One other interesting point came from the end of the conference in a short panel Q&A with the various Buffy book authors at the conference. Nancy Holder, who was there launching her latest Buffy/Angel crossover novel, discussed the exhausting process of putting together the Watcher’s Guides for both shows and mentioned that Joss was disappointed with the first one. He wanted it to be more academic but the publisher wanted it to be more fan oriented.
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