On Screen Presents: How “Angel” got its wings

Dylan Wright , Alex Eiden , and Rachael Eyler

Dylan Wright, Arts and Entertainment Editor

A long time ago there was a little show created by Joss Whedon called “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” which was immensely popular, and eventually spawned a spinoff: “Angel.” This show was different from its parent show, as it followed the adventures of the title character as he atones for his sins while creating a detective agency in Los Angeles. Despite its cheesy premise on paper, the show developed into its own entity that could stand up proudly next to its parent.

“Angel” is an example of a spinoff show done right. Like “Fraiser,” spun off from “Cheers,” “Angel” managed to create a new branch on an existing universe, and was able to tell stories that the parent show was unable or unwilling to tell.

Starring future “Bones” star David Boreanaz, “Angel” starts off with a much different goal than “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Instead of telling a tale of empowerment and agency, it is telling a tale of redemption and atonement. Both of these subjects are important and universal, and yet distinct enough to warrant separate roads. Buffy is fighting the forces of darkness while Angel is bartering and sometimes aiding them. Both shows allow for shades of grey, but Buffy is much more black and white in its sense of good and evil.

The middle of society is what Angel focuses on, the people who do the wrong things for the right reasons. Those who are unable to subvert their statuses are featured heavily within the show, and the differing styles of each show’s lead character are often contrasted through crossovers. While Buffy might think someone evil to the core, Angel offers them a chance to change.

Both “Angel” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” are able to fill in the blank spaces of its counterparts, allowing for a cohesive story if one decides to watch both shows. However, “Angel” sometimes tells stories that are much more advanced and nuanced than “Buffy.” This is partly due to the growing pains that the first show experienced that the second show was able to learn from and build upon. It is unfair to judge both shows against each other, but the fact that “Angel” is often regarded as being on equal footing or oftentimes overtaking “Buffy” is proof enough that the spinoff show took on a life of its own.

Both shows are worth watching, as the character work and stories are some of the best that television has to offer. If someone is looking for a show that believes in second chances, then “Angel” just might be that show.

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