Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Touched by an Angel; you'll be hearing from my lawyer

The Buffy comics have been out on shelves since March (see my thoughts on the first two issues by CLICKING HERE) and I had myself a nice little Buffy DVD marathon back in March to celebrate 10 years of Joss Whedon giving us the true Buffy on TV. I have the Chosen collection of the Buffy DVDs, all 144 episodes in a single large box. I have been waiting and waiting for a similar release from Fox for the Angel DVDs, but 3 years and a month (1126 days, but who's counting) after the series finale of Angel, no box has been released, announced, or even rumored as far as I have heard. So after watching the TNT reruns lately, I finally decided to purchase a few seasons. I decided on seasons 4 and 5, as the 3rd season was just wrapping up on TNT.

In case I never mentioned this before, TNT has the WORST HD quality (picture is literally warped) and their editing of the show, both in scene editing (where the commercials air) and the visual editing (why get rid of the widescreen?) is something that could have been done by a high school student with free editing software, and that student would have failed his editing class. Yes, I am assuming his school had an editing class of some sort. Either way, TNT sucks at editing. They quickly kill the pacing set up by the episode's director, and some people's faces are half in the shot, or entirely gone in many scenes. Not wanting to deal with this horrible version of the show, I had Amazon send me the 4th and 5th seasons. New slim sets are out now (smaller boxes, less fancy) and only cost me $25 a piece. Great deal.

Let me start of by saying that my most favorite to least favorite seasons of Angel are 1, 2, 5, 3, 4, with 4 being my least favorite. After watching all 5 seasons again the past month or so, that order has changed. The 5th season is easily my favorite now, with 1 being 2nd favorite, then 2, 3, and finally 4 again. Let me say that I did not DISLIKE the 4th season, and absolutely loved that they were able to take EVERY single event from the previous seasons (mainly everything that happened to Cordy) and make it into a single plot device for bringing out the big bad. I did not dislike any season, but now realize how incredible the 5th season was compared to the others. This probably had a LOT to do with Buffy having ended, Firefly cancelled, and Joss being able to pour more of himself into the season compared to others. His lack of handsonedness is very clear in the 4th season.

The 5th season of Angel starts with Angel becoming the new CEO of Wolfram & Hart, the evil law firm that has been the thorn in his side since the first episode of the show. Angel and company sorta ended world peace at the end of season 4, long story short, and Wolfram & Hart decided to give Angel control of the LA office because of this. Almost everyone comes along for the ride as well, with Fred in charge of the science/R&D department, Wesley in charge of prophecies and mystic information, Lorne becomes head of the PR and entertainment side of W&H, and Gunn becomes a lawyer (they pump his head full of the law during his first week there). The deal Angel made before taking the job was that Connor be given a new life, a normal life, and his existence erased from everyone's memories. Hoping that they can make a difference by "changing things from the inside" the team jumps right into their roles at the law firm. Finally, Spike joins the crowd when the talisman he used to destroy the Hellmouth on Buffy shows up in a package for Angel. He starts off as a "ghost" but is recorporealized by mid season.

For the most part, the show goes back to it's "monster of the week" theme of the 1st/2nd season instead of the serialized storytelling from the 4th season. This is a welcome change, as the show flows much smoother than it did in the late 3rd and all of the 4th season. Yes, storylines carry over from episode to episode, but each episode is unique and can easily be enjoyed without having to know exactly what happened the episode prior. The writing for this season is superb. No character is ever "out of character" like in the 3rd and 4th seasons, and there is an equal focus on everyone on the show. The relationship between Angel and Spike is fun to watch re-evolve (they realize how alike they truly are, and have a good father and son chemistry) and everyone falls into their roles very nicely. There are also some incredible episodes in here, like "Smile Time", "You're Welcome", "Hell Bound" and of course, "Not Fade Away." Yes, there are one or two less than stellar shows (I am looking at you "Why We Fight") but there is nothing bad in sight.

It is hard for me to describe exactly what it is about the 5th season that is so spectacular. It is just like every other season, but everything about it is tight and done exceptionally well. Other than the story itself, there is nothing truly new here, it is the same show as the last 4 years, but everything is written, performed, and shown so well, that it quickly becomes the best of the series. This season has a certain "Firefly" quality about it, in that everything looks, sounds, and is done to perfection, with very little that is not enjoyable. The 5th season of Angel truly perfected the formula that Joss and David Greenwalt were after in the series' concept. The show not only went out on top, but it went out in a blaze of glory, fighting whoever else was trying to get to the top. Joss has said he wants to do a Season 6 comic in the relative future, and that brings me great joy (I do the dance of joy!). This season is just more proof that networks really has absolutely no grasp over what is quality programming and what is utter crap. Cancelling the show during it's best season could be viewed as some as a good thing (go out on top) or a bad thing (we want more). Either way, Season 5 of Angel is easily the best of the series.

Amazon.com: Angel Season 5 Slim set

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