IHAF ... Angel

IHAF is exactly what it seems like … ok, maybe it isn’t the easiest to decipher acronym.  It stands for “I Have a Favorite.”  The purpose of these little articles is so I can talk about other things that I love.  I try to keep IHAO to my first true impressions on things to review, but IHAF will let me chat about something I absolutely love and just want to share with you all.  Everything I talk about on an IHAF will be something I grade A+++.  With all that said, here we go …

I Have a Favorite (television show) ... Angel

For the past few weeks, I’ve been going from episode one through the entire show with my wife, who hadn't seen any of it other than an episode here or there on syndication.  We just finished season 3.  It is always a little hard to share something you love with someone you love, because if they don’t like it … well, that doesn’t matter, because she likes it a lot.  :D

Angel is the spin-off from Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  It became its own show very quickly without Buffy, though, and a stronger one, in my opinion.  The show starts as a take on a “dark avenger” Batman style hero, with Angel helping save people from the dark things in LA.  It slowly starts to delving into deeper ideas, though, as the line between what is “evil” and what is “good” gets blurred.  In the first episode we are introduced to a villainous law firm of humans, sure, but most already are fine with the conceit of evil lawyers.   But soon, we find demons who need saving, humans who aren’t what they seem, and Gunn, a man who is just as powerful and competent as our vampire protagonist.

It quickly became a very character driven, arching story show that never held anything back.  The arching stories are amazing, and the show never shied away from doing something difficult and letting characters go through difficult journeys.  I love the show, absolutely.

We are actually about to get into my least favorite season with my least favorite new season regular, which is what prompted me to talk about Angel.  Even at the lowest point of my favorite show, I am remembering all the things I love even in those terrible low points.  At Angel’s lowest, it is still stronger than most shows.  I compare it to shows like Supernatural or Buffy, and it shocks me to see how little fluff or pure episodic episodes there are.  Every story, every episode, it has a point and a purpose furthering the plot and the arcs of these characters.  Fred, Gunn, Cordy, Wesley, Angel, Lorne, all of these are full fleshed out characters.  They never become flanderized, like Sam has in Supernatural or Charlie has in It’s Always Sunny in Philedelphia.

How should I feel?  I'll just do all the feelings and see which one sticks.

Talking about how good a Whedon show is may seem pointless, but I really do think that Angel doesn’t get enough attention when it comes to being an amazing show.  Buffy, while good, even possibly great, never delved into the story strengths that Angel did, and its characters were nowhere near as full and complex.  Firefly, while fun, is basically a series of standalones since it did not have a chance to get going.  Dollhouse, while very very good, also didn’t hit its stride until it got rid of its episodic nature, which it never could truly shake.  If Angel has missed your radar, I definitely would suggest you give it a look.


  1. It was such fun for me to see this post this morning! I've been busy at work all day and just now have time to compose a decent response. Which means you'll get far, far too much text, b/c it's been simmering in the back of my head all day. And because...

    Angel is my favorite show of all time.

    Once upon a time, it was Buffy, but no, not any more. I adore BtVS and always will, but Angel deals with more adult themes and resonates with me more strongly -- to the extent that my mythical future children have already been named Winnifred and Wesley for years, because... argh argh trying to avoid spoilers. Although, at this point, mythical future daughter might be named Daenerys instead. (C'mon! You can call her Danny! What's the downside?)

    It's super-interesting to me that Season 4 is your least favorite. I came to the series late and did not have any problem with S4 when I first watched it. Having seen it (in the context of the whole show) several more times now, I understand how a big part of the fandom dislikes it, and I can see where the dislike comes from. But I still maintain that it holds up on first viewing -- and on 4th-plus viewing. Angel, as a show, has always been interested in what it means to be adult, and what it means to take responsibility for your choices, and S4 brings that in a big way. Also, I like all the actors -- I think some S4 detractors just don't like watching VK or CC.

    I'm surprised you didn't have anything specific to say about dragging Mel through S1... because every time I've tried to bring someone new into the Angel fold, getting them through S1 was literally ( <-- not really) a labor of Hercules. S1 of Angel is harder to sit through again than S1 of Supernatural, IMHO. Also, I'd rather watch Angel S4 than Angel S1. Angel S1 is just a POOR season of television -- they were trying to do a couple of interesting things but it didn't work. If you don't believe me, go watch season 1 of Veronica Mars.

    Angel turned out to be the most flexible of all Joss's shows to date. It starts as vampire-noir and ends as Vampire-Arthurian-legend. How frikkin cool is that?

    No, my problem with Angel (such as it is) is with S5. I understand all the behind-the-scenes network politicking that was going on, and I know they were lucky to get a S5 in the first place, and I know that they were directed to do a semi-reboot that meant people who hadn't been watching for the last four years wouldn't be so lost they'd tune out. But on my first watching, I was FURIOUS at the setting choice that had been made, and I kept waiting (through 8 or 10 eps) for them to leave that setting, which is not the right mindset for watching that season.

    But then... Wesley and Fred. And everything after.

    "When I grew up, I put childish things away." -- I have found in my 30s that it was easy for me to put my Buffy box set on a shelf and not return to it -- even though there were three years of my life that I took that box set with me any time I went out of town, in case I needed to watch an episode. (Ah, the days before Netflix and such.) But now, I think of Angel eps far more than I think of Buffy eps. It was a world with a very powerful and meaningful ethos, that asked very tough questions, where characters made choices that were really going to hurt, and sometimes they made those choices without all the information they should have had, just like we all do now. And sometimes they were right and sometimes they were wrong, and sometimes they are forgiven and sometimes they are not...

    Well, as a recovering evangelical, Angel sure sticks with me.

    P.S. Dollhouse was not "very very good." It was an interesting experiment that failed. I'm sure we can have a really enjoyable argument about it at some point. :-)

    1. I love big ole comments like this, and welcome them. Guess that means IHAF succeeds enough to do more of them.