Why can’t I stay?*

Angel – “A Hole in the World” (Joss Whedon)

This is a disjointed rant about the episode in which Fred (I mean, Winifred Burkle) became a saint. And another woman died (and RIP Cordelia Chase).

ANGEL Good. Guys…
WESLEY You don’t have to say it.
ANGEL I’ll say it anyway. Winifred Burkle. Go.

Astonishingly, Angel S5 has not been a patch on S4 (actually not so astonishingly since I like Cordy and Charisma Carpenter and I, sort of, like love Vincent Kartheiser) and now it is actually rehashing storylines from that season.

“A Hole in the World” was manipulative beyond belief. I think my view of the episode is coloured by my continuing dismay with the Whedon theme of getting a couple together, making them really happy for a short time (often a really short time – like an episode) and then making them really unhappy, usually by killing one of them. If Wesley and Fred had been a couple for longer then I might have cared for his grief.

I would complain that Gunn, who was with her for over a year, wasn’t at her bedside but, since they had zero chemistry then and subsequently, I had practically forgotten they had ever been a couple until Wesley asked Gunn if he was okay with them going out.

Andy and I were shocked by Wesley shooting a man in the knee. It might have been intended to be funny and I wonder if it was supposed to be that. Maybe it was another thing that I will come on to in a moment but, whatever, I seriously maintain it is one of the most outrageously stupid and offensive things I have seen in the Whedonverse (and that includes Mal kicking a man into a spaceship engine in “The Train Job”) and then Lorne hit Eve. Andy said something must be manipulating them and that is, of course, true but not quite in the way he meant.

Lorne hit Eve and why? Because Fred was so fan-bleeding-tastic. So wonderful, that peace-loving Lorne punched Eve because she said the words “why would we even care about her?”

Wesley’s behaviour could be viewed as manly behaviour because there were other incidents in the episode that made it feel like a parody of macho attitudes except that it wasn’t a parody. The low angle shot of Angel and Spike exiting the office after the line “Come on. Let’s save the day” was one incident as was the bonding between Spike and Angel because nothing gets men more riled up and heroic in cliché land than womenfolk getting murdered.

On and on, furthermore, Wesley was saddled with a dreadful lines about loving Fred before he met her. This means he loved an ideal woman not a real woman as Strega and Joanna pointed out over at TWoP.

Have I mentioned the Aliens shoutout (which I suppose Joss is sort of allowed to reference) and the icky snogging at the beginning? And this classic line from Lorne (in a show with the only kind of gods being those with small gs) “If nobody thinks it’s too ridiculous, I’m going to pray.”

To be generous, I’m not sentimental so a sentimental episode about a woman dying (who I didn’t really have any time for except in “The Magic Bullet” when Fred actually did stuff) and the woeful efforts by her boys to try and save her was never really going to get to me. I kept muttering “where’s the puppets?” throughout.

She looks nice with blue hair.

She looks nice with blue hair.

*no, you just can’t because your character wasn’t going anywhere and the obvious answer wasn’t to make your character more interesting and complex (and by complex, I don’t mean adding yet another scientific skill to your already impressive list) but was to kill you.

Fred, would you mind brewing some tea for our guest?*

Angel – “Awakening” (David Fury & Steven S. DeKnight)

I’m sorry but with Angelus’s laughter bothering my eardrums at the end of this, I realised that I can no longer bring myself to blog about Angel. I can only tolerate the show so much and the thought of having to think about it again after my viewing experience is over is simply unbearable.

*the fact that she didn’t say “no” may sum up Angel in some way…

Super-Tom-peeping

Angel – “Long Day’s Journey” (Mere Smith)

Angel - Long Day's Journey

I loved Manny. He was really funny and by no means a caricature.

Gwen and her horrible tops are back. What were the set designers thinking of when they made her pad so totally unlikely for a young woman who wears horrible tops like that? It’s like they had a spare set left over for a Wolfram & Hart board member and decided to be frugal and reuse it.

I was totally convinced that Cordelia was responsible for everything so it really surprised me that it was Angel(us).

This was a straightforward episode which passed the time but didn’t inspire any awe-inspiring thoughts in me.

Oh, god!

Habeas Corpses - the gang

Angel – “Habeas Corpses” (Jeffrey Bell)

A great title or a naff one?

There was a whole pile of stuff in this that cannot bear close scrutiny which I find irritatingly sloppy. And that’s another reason why Angel is pants. It is crazy sloppy far too much of the time. Episodes often feel like they have been thrown together like they have been made in a hurry which, of course, was frequently the case but that’s no excuse for carelessness. For example: what makes Wesley think that the beast “won’t quit ’til everyone at Wolfram and Hart is dead”? Another: why when Cordelia is a proven fighter isn’t she allowed to go to Wolfram & Hart while Fred is? (real answer: the actress playing Cordelia is pregnant, show’s answer: erm). And the building is in lockdown and there are still ways in and out. It’s either in lockdown or it isn’t.

Habeas Corpses - Lorne and Cordy

And this dialogue:

Gunn: So, fight seven floors of evil lawyer zombies or sweet talk a nasty little girl? You know where my heart’s at.
Fred: Yeah, I gotta disagree. I vote for the white room. How do we get there?

doesn’t make any sense at all.

Habeas Corpses - Connor and Lilah

Is this farewell to Lilah and Stephanie Romanov for the time being? Please don’t actually answer that question. As much as I like her, half the time her character is treated poorly, and I don’t like that. In a single scene with Wesley she gets to sexually humiliate herself and make a racist remark.

And gawd, how boring is the incessant sniping between Gunn and Wesley? Extremely boring and nonsensical.

At least we were spared more than an episode of Angel seething over Cordelia sleeping with Connor.

Call me kooky-pants

Angel – “Apocalpyse, Nowish” (Steven S. DeKnight)

Angel - Apocalypse Nowish

WARNING: THIS CONTAINS RAMBLING

I have been struggling to find a reason just why Angel just doesn’t engage me in the way that Buffy does. I have some idea: in “Apocalypse, Nowish”,  Angel, Gunn, Wesley and Lorne are trying to decipher the papers from Wolfram & Hart in order to prevent the Apocalypse meanwhile Cordelia and Fred are absent; they are not there as part of the team. OK, Cordelia has a good reason to be missing but Fred is in a café moping about the men in her life and what they did for her.

Angel - Apocalypse Nowish - four males

However, I don’t really mind that Cordelia and Fred aren’t there; it’s more that there aren’t any other women on the show who could be there. The men are in the majority. Of the seven main characters in S4, five are men and two are women.

The question that then popped into my head was, does everything I watch have to be about women? Erm, let’s examine the evidence by considering my favourite recent shows, Mad Men, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Battlestar Galactica.

Mad Men and BSG have more male cast members than female but women are central to how much I enjoy the series. Without Betty and Peggy and Joan and Starbuck and Six and D’Anna, I really wouldn’t be interested.

[I wonder how often I use the word “really”.]

I am bored by John and Derek in T:TSCC while I love Sarah and Cameron. I also liked Riley and Jesse (but only after I got used to Stephanie Jacobsen’s nasal voice and after they were linked together.

Okay, I definitely prefer to watch things with women in prominent and active roles and, if you are like me, I heartily recommend Torchwood: Children of Earth and, no, you don’t need to have seen the previous series (it didn’t stop Andy and I liking it).

Do you think that any men ever wonder at any point why the majority of things they watch are about men? “Oh, my favourite films are Apocalypse Now, The Shawshank Redemption and 12 Angry Men, just why do I like watching films about men all the time?” These two IMDb lists are interesting. No room on the male list for Amelie and To Kill a Mockingbird and no room on the female list for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Goodfellas. I feel a post coming on.

So I do know why I like Angel less than Buffy but it most certainly isn’t the only reason. Angel has clunky dialogue, poor line readings, and character dynamics that I don’t care about because I don’t believe in them due to their contrivance. This list makes me cringe:

* Wesley/Lilah
* Angel/Lilah
* Fred/Gunn
* Fred/Wesley
* Angel/Cordelia

while I only care about Angel/Connor and Cordelia/Connor (spot the connection).

On to the episode: Lilah as Fred was disturbing particularly since at first I thought she was supposed to be a schoolgirl. And having her hair done up in plaits caused Lilah’s hair to be tremendously bouffant later on.

Angel - Apocalypse Nowish - Lilah

Chocodiles are a real thing!

Satan was rather immobile except when he Springheel Jacked over the rooftops. I don’t dislike slow motion except when it is used in a hackneyed way or to serve no purpose except to prolong a scene and that’s exactly how it was used here.

A bright spot was Lilah (despite her relationship with Wesley) because she gets to call Fred a “Texas twig” (although part of me thinks that is mean to Amy Acker) and summarizes this audience member’s feelings when she says “so let’s say we skip the usual two-step, you threaten me, I threaten you, yadda, yadda, yawn”.

I’m not sure what to think of Cordelia and Connor having sex but I do know that in the Buffyverse sex can only lead to bad things happening. And, by bad, I mean worse than the Apocalypse.

Angel - Apocalypse Nowish - Connor and Cordelia

Sigh. Why do I continue to watch it? The obvious reason is that I have watched Angel and Cordelia over seven seasons of Buffy and Angel and I do want to see the end of their journey. And the DVDs are cheap. And there are occasional crossovers with Buffy. And I like Cordelia Chase/Charisma Carpenter. And I like Lorne. And I like Vincent Kartheiser (even if I do have to check how to spell his surname every single time I type it). It isn’t hard or difficult to watch. Finally, I want to work out why Amy Acker can’t sell Fred to me but can do so with her portrayal of Dr Saunders in Dollhouse.

Hello, salty goodness

Angel – “Spin the Bottle” (Joss Whedon)

spin the bottle - cordelia

Joss Whedon penned (and directed) episode improves Angel by 100% shocker!

Well, it is a bit of shock since “Waiting in the Wings” (the other episode so far with JW taking solo credit) wasn’t that much of an improvement in quality over the rest of S3.

This was exceptional. I will never love Angel but if I was to consider rewatching an episode then, so far, this would be my choice.

It is a wacky we-have-lost-our-memories episode  like “Tabula Rasa” but I love characters behaving wackily even if I don’t like the word wackily.

spin the bottle - wesley

Plus, and this is big plus, anything that makes me LIKE Fred and Wesley (who are languishing in my least favourite Whedon characters drawer alongside Topher) is automatically raised a few notches.

spin the bottle - fred

Boohoo, Wesley, I do believe the fact that “I had my throat cut and all my friends abandoned me” was entirely your fault.

I loved the way it flowed and the way it was edited so that Lorne could seamlessly tell the story.

spin the bottle - angel

I have put up more pictures than text.

Wait. You should take her fuzzy slippers. Her feet get cold.

Angel – “Supersymmetry” (Elizabeth Craft & Sarah Fain)

I sort of wish that I hadn’t decided to blog about Angel. I dislike myself when I cannot find nice things to say about characters and actors and writers for episode after episode. Suffice to say that Fred, Gunn and Wesley and the actors who played them annoyed me as much as ever. I am also pissed off that the writers had Gunn kill the professor. I am at a loss to understand that. It makes Gunn such an unnecessarily dubious character while whitewashing Fred’s blood lust. She started it so she should have finished it. Though I am aware that the story between these two isn’t over and Gunn’s action will have repercussions, it just seems to me that Gunn has been abruptly pushed in a new direction that I would never had expected. BTW, non-dedicated readers, I am blogging about Angel from a virgin point of view so, in theory, I have no idea what happens next. In theory…but try being unspoiled on the sites I frequent on the Internet.

Connor in Supersymmetry

I have inappropriate feelings towards Vincent Kartheiser. He’s so young looking. It initially seemed plain wrong that he fancies Cordy despite the fact that on the show she is supposed to be about 21 or 22. I love how any mention of Cordy’s youth has been dropped from Angel because Charisma always looked way too old to be a high-schooler on Buffy. Anyway, I think Vincent is endearing. And Charisma is looking pregnant and womanly.

Lilah in Supersymmetry

I also think Lilah is endearing though in a completely different way. The writers were really naughty to have Lilah describe Fred as a twig. I was chuckling over that for far too long. I liked her scene with Angel in the car park. “Tragedy struck Gidget? Really? Did she go to that place in the big Texas sky?” “Yeah, yeah, hulk smash…”

I’m no scientist but I’m pretty sure that it would be impossible for Fred to get published and a symposium gig no matter how hidden her work has supposed to have been on the show.

It was a throwaway line but it seemed daft to say that there are forums dedicated to Angel on the Internet. Almost as stupid as the current storyline in Buffy S8.

I quickly sussed out the professor was the bad guy but then I thought that was too obvious. Ah well.

And the least said about “You know what they say about payback? Well, I’m the bitch”, the better.

I was a cheerleader, a princess and a warrior

Angel – “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” (Jeffrey Bell)

Cordelia and Charisma are back. And on form in both cases. I really miss the CCs which is odd since I never missed her from Buffy.

This was my favourite episode so far. The story zipped along and the message that telling the truth is more often than not the best policy is one that everyone in the Buffyverse should remember. The demon with the mouth was jolly creepy and I liked Cordy’s hair.

Even with bedhead, Cordy's hair looks nice.

Even with bedhead, Cordy's hair looks nice.

Gunn is getting on my nerves. Dialogue about sidekicks is not helping. I feel towards Gunn as I do towards Topher because I’m not totally convinced it’s just the lines I don’t like. I’m suddenly struck (after several seasons!) by how good Nicholas Brendon is at delivering one-liners even when they aren’t that great.

Fluffy. Fluffy the dog. The dog you don’t have.

Angel – “The House Always Wins” (David Fury)

I am naughty. I watched “The House Always Wins” ages ago and forgot to blog about it.

Erm, it was a bit rubbish really.

  • I like Lorne. I like Andy Hallett but not so keen on the singing going on and on.
  • I’m not happy to single out someone (particularly when I’m watching something that is several years old) but Amy Acker is distracting me too much with her thinness. 

    The green doesn't help either, I suppose.

    The green doesn't help either, I suppose.

  • she also has a very pointy nose which is quite endearing.
  • which Wesley having telephone sex with Lilah is most decidedly not – is this is the bad-ass Wesley I’m supposed to love?
  • Lord help me but I am starting to like David Boreanaz as Angel.

Angel - The House Always Wins

  • which is more than I can say about J. August Richards as Gunn – it doesn’t help the poor chap he is often saddled with the unforgivable dialogue such as:

Gunn: Yeah, great work. How you sold Angel out…boy, DeMarco must have wet his pants when you told him what a ripe destiny that was for the pickings. A champion to
save the world or destroy it.
Lorne: You really believe I’d do that?
Gunn: I don’t know, Lorne. I don’t know why you did any of it. What, you were living so large, blaring Tony Bennett so loud in that sweet suite of yours, you couldn’t hear your conscience screaming at you!
Fred: Charles, it doesn’t matter.
Gunn: It does to me. I wanna know, Lorne. Why didn’t you just say no to that piece of…
Lorne: I did! The first time he asked me to, of course I refused. So he blew a girl’s brains out right in front of me. And he said that’s what I could expect every time I said no.

  • and finally, I am most glad that Cordelia is back on Earth because Charisma Carpenter’s poor line-readings from Heaven were getting on my nerves (was she bored, I wonder?).

Looks like Connor’s gonna need someone who cares, like a big sister, or a…Mrs Robinson, if that’s what he’s into

Angel – “Ground State” (Mere Smith)

angel-ground-state-gwen

I thought after viewing this that I had quite enjoyed it as a whole but when I put together a list of pluses and minuses I realised that what I had enjoyed was Gwen: one of the more memorable guest stars.

Minuses:

  • too little Cordelia
  • I like Amy Acker in Dollhouse but in Angel she is distractingly thin and she plays an annoying character even when she isn’t whining at/to Gunn
  • the flip chart scene
  • there is zero chemistry between Fred and Gunn
  • Wesley and Lilah talking and loving at the same time was icky
  • the weird decision to set Angel and Wesley’s important conversation right next to some noisy machinery
  • Dinza asking Angel about whether he misses the sound of waves because why would he when he was at the bottom of the ocean?

angel-ground-state-fred

Pluses:

  • it’s nice to see a man going down on a woman in mainstream television
  • I’m glad they revealed that Lilah did know what Wesley was up to
  • Gwen
  • David Boreanaz’s performance was thoroughly likeable throughout

angel-ground-state-lilah-and-angel