By FadeToBlackBolt 60 Comments
Ok, so I just read some imbecile's list of why Angel was a bad show (I sincerely hope the author was sterile, we do not need his stupid seed running about). I also know that a bunch of Buffy fans will come on here and give me **** about saying Angel is better than Buffy. (I love Buffy too, it's just not as good.) Anyway, rather than write a thesis on why Angel is the best show ever, which I'm seriously considering, I'm just going to go with a short 10 reasons, and here they are;
10. Wolfram and HartOne of the staples of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was the season-long "big bads". Rather than go with this approach Whedon and Greenwalt decided to go with a far more subtle form of evil; a ruthless corporation. We don't even see the Senior Partners throughout the course of the entire series, but we know they're there, lurking and manipulating. On top of that, Wolfram and Hart weren't always defeated by season's end, they were a continuing force throughout the series. Not to mention that the location of the Head Office was brilliant. At the same time we were introduced to Wolfram and Hart, an incredibly intelligent and deceitful network of corruption and deviance; Buffy was fighting a superpowered Demon Cyborg. Yeah....
9. Jasmine Was Jasmine a particularly good character? No. Was she particularly likeable? No. Was she the most complex and misguided villain in all of the Whedonverse? Hell yes. Before Jasmine, every Big Bad was pure evil. Some were more evil than others (the Mayor really wasn't that bad, he just wanted to become a god....Didn't happen), but before Jasmine they were all easily categorised as evil. Jasmine was not so simple. She gave the World total peace. She demanded complete obedience in return, but that does not change the outcome. Jasmine was the embodiment of Machiavellian manipulation. She tore through Angel Investigations and Wolfram and Hart like they were nothing, only to become a completely benevolent being. The ends justified her means. Except, she ate people to sustain herself. And she was incredibly flighty. Had she become bored, ol' Jaz would have definitely left us behind for another world. So, Angel took her down a peg, and society committed suicide. Isn't it nice being a hero? This is the kind of moral dilemma that made Angel such a brilliant show.
8. Cordelia ChaseOh, Cordelia, how I loved thee. Rather than serving as comic relief for another three seasons, Whedon decided to give Cordy some more depth, and more than that, a purpose in life. She was the medium between the Powers that Be and the forces of good on Earth. Cordelia retained her biting wit and trademark superficiality, but she gained so much more. She was now a heroine. Sure, she wouldn't beat down vamps with her fists or volley lightning from her palms, but Cordelia went through agony every day of her life, and although she could have relinquished the pain; she knew she was the person for the job, so she stuck at it. Sure, her season 4 arc was a little disappointing, but that technically wasn't Cordy, it was just Charisma Carpenter, but despite all that, her final appearance in the show is one of the best farewells in television history (though it's beaten by another member of Angel Investigations).
7. Smile Time :D Angel as a puppet. Puppet vampire Angel. This is the single most epic thing ever seen on television. The funniest episode in Buffydom, and one of the most creative, this was Angel's "Once More, With Feeling". Though it probably wasn't as good, this episode was just fun. Whether it was the "Self Esteem Song" or the sheer creepiness of seeing a human used as a puppet, there wasn't a single moment of this episode that didn't kick ass. But if all of that wasn't enough, we have a beautiful soliloquy by Wes about his feelings for Fred, and the nature of "Perfect Happiness". Not to mention the best couple in Buffydom FINALLY get together this episode. Honestly, there isn't a single moment in the 40 minutes that isn't marvelous.
6. "Not Fade Away" This was a perfect finale, to an almost perfect show. Everyone's story was resolved. Wesley was reunited with Fred, Illyria found a reason to continue her life on Earth (beating W&H into oblivion), Spike read his poetry, Gunn....well he was there, and Angel stood out as THE Champion of the Buffyverse. With the series motif as the final words ever broadcast, and an epic final scene, this show went out with a bang and there wasn't the slightest hint of Deus Ex Machina anywhere to be seen (*cough* Chosen *cough*). Also Angel's fight against Marcus; badass.
5. ExistentialismThere are exactly two things in the world that make everything better; one is Batman, and the other is Existentialism. Why is Neon Genesis Evangelion the greatest achievement of humankind? About 260 billion reasons, but one of them is Existentialism; a concept Angel has in spades. Whilst it was only hinted at in Buffy (Angel is constantly seen reading Sartre) and barely mentioned in the first season, by season 2 it becomes obvious Angel is a series about WHY we do things, rather than what we do. Buffy was the Slayer. She knew what her purpose was. Angel, however, decided to atone for his sins. But then after awhile, he realised there was no point. He couldn't atone. So he decided, in one of the best arcs in television history, that nothing we do matters, so all that matters is what we do.
4. Winifred "Fred" BurkleFrom her first appearance, it was obvious that Fred was something special. Played to perfection by the beautiful Amy Acker, Fred is the most likeable character Joss Whedon has ever created. There is not a single thing about Fred that isn't wonderful. From her Texan accent to her stuffed toy named Figgenbaum, Fred is completely adorable. She also makes decapitating, axe-throwing briefcases. Do not be mistaken, beneath the insanely high IQ, child like giddiness and angelic visage, Fred is a total badass. She is supremely resourceful, quick-thinking and invaluable in battle. She is also the most empathetic character in the show. Everyone loves Fred, because Fred cares about everybody (unless they sink Angel to the bottom of the Ocean or trap her in a Hell dimension). Even Spike liked Fred.
3. Wesley Wyndam-PryceNo other character in the Whedonverse has gone through as much character development as Wes. He started out as a pompous twit designed to make Giles seem cooler (didn't work, Giles singing made Giles cool). As soon as he arrived, Wesley was treated with derision and apathy from his student and his colleague. After being fired from the Watcher's Council for...well, sucking, Wesley became a "Rogue Demon Hunter" and was surprisingly competent. He was no Faith, but he didn't suck too much either. From there, he joined Angel Investigations as primary researcher. After taking over during Angel's "Kill Everyone" phase, something happened to Wesley, and he became an entirely different person. That something was meeting Fred Burkle. As soon as he met Fred, Wesley developed a new reason to do good, before then, he was simply doing as he was told, or trying to make up for past failures, but when he met Fred, Wesley decided to do good so as to make the world a better place for Fred, and people like her, to live in. After that, there was nothing Wesley would not do for Fred, and though he went through and was consumed by Hell (metaphorically), he came back. Without Wes, Angel Investigations would not have continued and the Buffyverse would have perished long ago.
2. Angel/usWhy is the series' phenomenal protagonist second? Surely he'd be number one? Wouldn't he? No, he's second. This is my damn list. Nevertheless, Angel is the perfect hero. He fights for absolutely no personal gain; a true altruist. He is constantly tempted by things that would cause himself or others ill. He stands up to impossible odds and never gives in, even when he fails. He is dark, enigmatic and, when he needs to be; very, very dangerous. Nevertheless, his terrible singing, love for Barry Manilow, constant assertions that he's "not cheap, just old" and his social awkwardness make him hilarious and human (despite being a vampire). On the other hand, Angelus is the perfect villain. Angelus is as evil as anyone else in either show. He is Hannibal Lector with eternal life and a natural requirement to eat people. But both Angel and Angelus have one thing in common; both are awesome.
1. "A Hole in the World"This is the greatest 40 minutes of television in history. There was no melodrama here, simply a dignified and noble spirit suffering an undignified and ignoble death. Winifred Burkle met her end in one of the most tragic moments ever, and as she lay dying in the arms of her beloved Wesley, she utters the most beautiful line in the series "Wesley, why can't I stay?". No one walks away from this death without losing something; Spike loses the one person who believed in him, Lorne loses his best friend, Gunn loses his co-worker's trust and the woman he loved (since he helped, unknowingly, kill her), Angel loses the one person whose faith in him never wavered, and Wesley loses his reason for being. Fred was a small character in the way that she had no superpowers, she couldn't open portals or teleport, she couldn't end the world with a spell, she was just an amazing person; and she died because of it.
There are thousands of great moments in Angel, but none stand out so much as "A Hole in the World". This is a quiet episode, there is no great battle, no huge sacrifice. Fred just dies. And because we see her final agonising moments, the death is brutal and heartbreaking. It remains Joss Whedon's finest achievement and the number one reason Angel is the best (non-anime) television show of all time.
According to FTBB, thanks for reading :)