REVIEW: JUST MARRIED

 

CAST

Ashton Kutcher (The Ranch)
Brittany Murphy (Sin City)
Christian Kane (Angel)
David Moscow (Honey)
Monet Mazur(Torque)
David Rasche (Ugly Betty)
Veronica Cartwright (Alien)
Thad Luckinbill (The Good Lie)
Taran Killam (Grown Ups 2)
Raymond J. Barry (Born On The Fourth of July)

The film opens with Tom and Sarah in the airport, then flashes back from the moment they met up to the present. Working-class Tom Leezak and upper-class Sarah McNerney meet up when Tom accidentally hits Sarah with a football. A few months later, despite opposition from Sarah’s rich family, they get married. They have kept a secret from each other: Tom doesn’t tell Sarah that he accidentally killed her dog and Sarah doesn’t tell Tom that she slept with Peter Prentiss, a childhood friend and her family’s friend, after she and Tom started dating.Flying to Europe for their honeymoon, they attempt to consummate their marriage by joining the mile high club, but fail rather publicly. They arrive at their classy hotel at the foot of the Alps to find that Peter has sent them a bottle of cognac “with love”, while Tom’s friend Kyle has sent them a Thunderstick A-200 sex toy. Tom tries to force the toy’s American plug into the European outlet and he shuts down the entire village’s electricity. The newlyweds leave the hotel after Tom has a heated argument with the hotel owner and pays a large bill to repair the power. While trying to find another hotel they crash their undersized car into a snowbank, stuck until daylight and once again unable to consummate their marriage.They make their way to Venice, staying at a pensione recommended by Tom’s father. The pensione turns out to be a wreck, and they soon check out after a cockroach crawls over Tom when they tried to have sex. The couple secure a nice Venetian hotel with the grudging financial help of Sarah’s father. They go sightseeing, but Tom quickly gets bored and abandons Sarah so he can watch sports in a bar. Sarah runs into Peter, who is staying at their hotel on business. This prompts her to initiate a conversation with Tom in which he reveals that he accidentally killed her dog and she reveals she slept with Peter. The couple storm out of the hotel and each go their separate ways: Tom going back to the bar, where he meets American tourist Wendy, and Sarah going sightseeing, where Peter follows her. Wendy flirts and dances with Tom, who escapes through a bathroom window when he realizes she wants to have sex with him. He returns to the hotel, only to learn from the maître d’ that Sarah has gone out with Peter for the evening. Tom returns to the bar, only to be accosted by Wendy again. Tom tries to think of a clever way to get out of his situation, and finds himself tricked into walking her to his hotel room, where the girl rips off her top before Tom blurts out that he’s on his honeymoon, upon which the girl finally leaves.Sarah gets drunk so Peter takes her back to the hotel. When he kisses her at the entrance, she slaps him and reminds him that she’s on her honeymoon. Tom sees the kiss from the balcony but not the slap. When Tom confronts her in their room, Sarah finds Wendy’s bra. Peter bursts in to ask Sarah to run away with him to Seattle, leading to a fight that lands Tom and Sarah in jail – still without consummating their marriage. Peter bails them out and the couple angrily decide to go home to Los Angeles, returning to the opening moments of the film. Sarah has moved out and Tom wants to get back with her. Upon receiving advice from his father, Tom attempts to see Sarah at her family’s estate, but gives up after unsuccessfully trying to ram the gate. However, Sarah opens the gate herself after seeing Tom make a romantic speech to the camera and the two rush out to proclaim their love for each other. Sarah’s family finally accepts Tom and Sarah’s relationship.The characters were great, the situations were funny! it wasn’t the best movie ever made, and it wasn’t touching or heart-wrenching, but it was certainly entertaining. everyone has their own opinions, and my opinion is that this movie rocked!!!!

 

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REVIEW: EDtv

CAST

Matthew McConaughey (Interstellar)
Jenna Elfman (Dharma & Greg)
Woody Harrelson (the Hunger Games)
Ellen DeGeneres (Finding Dory)
Sally Kirkland (JFK)
Martin Landau (Ed Wood)
Rob Reiner (This Is Spinal Tap)
Dennis Hopper (Speed)
Elizabeth Hurley (Bedazzled)
Viveka Davis (Cast Away)
Chris Hogan (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Geoffrey Blake (Contact)
Merrin Dungey (Conviction)
Rusty Schwimmer (Highlander II)
Adam Goldberg (Deja Vu)
Clint Howard (Apollo 13)
Harry Shearer (The Simpsons)
Azura Skye (28 Days)
Christian Kane (Angel)
T.J. Thyne (Bones)

EDtv starts off with the television channel True TV commencing interviews for a TV show that shows a normal person’s life 24/7. This idea was thought up by a TV producer named Cynthia (Ellen DeGeneres). They interview Ed Pekurny (Matthew McConaughey) and his brother, Ray (Woody Harrelson). When the producers see the interview Cynthia decides to use Ed and interviews only Ed. The show hits the airwaves under the title “Ed TV.” It is a total failure at first, as only boring things happen and the producers want to pull the plug, except for Cynthia.

Ed TV gets interesting suddenly on Day 3 when Ed visits Ray. Ed (along with the cameramen) discovers that Ray is cheating on his girlfriend Shari (Jenna Elfman). Ed then visits Shari to apologize to her for Ray’s actions. Shari is very drunk and starts insulting Ray, by talking to the camera. She makes everyone laugh and gasp by saying “Ray was a bad lay.” Ed tries to comfort Shari, and he reveals he has feelings for her. She then reveals she has feelings for Ed as well. They slowly move their faces closer and finally kiss each other. Ed then locks out the camera crew and proceeds to passionately kiss Shari for a while. Ed TV thus becomes extremely popular. At Cynthia’s insistence Ed starts a relationship with Shari which is short lived, as Ed grows more interested in staying on TV and Shari is abused by viewers who find her unappealing.1

Ed then goes on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and meets beautiful model/actress Jill (Elizabeth Hurley) who takes a liking to Ed. Ed then visits Shari and she tells Ed that she does not want to be with him until “Ed TV” stops airing. She then leaves town. Ed goes to the park with Ray and some friends to play football when Jill comes to talk to him, because Cynthia brought her in to earn more ratings. She invites Ed to dinner at her house. When he arrives at Jill’s house, there is a massive crowd. They have a small talk, and then they kiss on top of a table. They are about to have sex, but then Ed falls off the table and squishes Jill’s cat. Ed never sees Jill again.

Ed’s father (Dennis Hopper), who abandoned his family when Ed was 13, unexpectedly visits Ed and informs him that he left because Ed’s mother was having an affair with Ed’s current stepfather, Al (Martin Landau). Ed is furious with his mother and argues with her. Next, Ed gets a phone call telling him to come to the hospital. The doctor says that his father is dead and that he died making love to his wife. Ed thinks this means Al, but it actually is his real father and that Ed’s mother was cheating on Al. After the funeral, Ed becomes disheartened by the fact that the producers want him to stay on longer and that he cannot do anything to change their minds or he would be in breach of his contract. Ed is depressed until he catches a glimpse of Shari (in disguise wearing a wig and sunglasses). He chases her for a long time until she stops in the women’s bathroom in a movie theater. She says she is staying with her brother as it is his birthday and she just wanted to see Ed. Ed vows to find a way to end the show to be with Shari. When Ed exits, one camera man stays with Shari saying that it is the producers’ new idea. The main camera man tells him that all his family are being filmed, but they show the most interesting person.

Ed gets an idea on how to stop the main producer from showing the show: he says that he will give $10,000 to the person who can give him the best amount of “dirt” on the producers and that he will announce it live, with the desired result being they stop airing the show before he can make the announcement. As Cynthia feels sorry for Ed, she tells him a secret of the main producer. Ed announces the secret (that the man has to pump a liquid into his penis to get an erection) but before he can announce who it is they stop airing the show. After the camera crew finally leaves Ed’s apartment, he and Shari renew their relationship and celebrate the fact that TV news panelists predict Ed will be forgotten in a short period of time.2Through consistent one liners and also physical humorous actions by the characters EDTV will win over many audiences as it adds chucklesome humour but drives itself on emotional driven situations to, given a perfectly balance aspect of real life.

REVIEW: LIFE OR, SOMETHING LIKE IT

CAST

Angelina Jolie (Gia)
Edward Burns (One Missed Call)
Tony Shalhoub (The Last Shot)
Stockard Channing (Practical Magic)
James Gammon (The Cell)
Melissa Errico (Frequency)
Christian Kane (Angel)
Lisa Thornhill (Veronica Mars)
Gregory Itzin (The Ides of March)
Veena Sood (50/50)
Amanda Tapping (Sanctuary)

Lanie Kerrigan (Angelina Jolie), a successful reporter for a Seattle television station interviews a self-proclaimed prophet, Jack (Tony Shalhoub), to find out if he really can predict football scores. Instead, Prophet Jack not only predicts the football score, and that it would hail the next day, but also that she would die in seven days, meaning the following Thursday. When his first two prophecies turn out to be correct, Kerrigan panics and again meets with Jack, asking him for another prophecy so that she can prove it wrong, which would imply uncertainty of her death. Jack tells her that there will be a relatively significant earthquake in San Francisco at 9:06 am; she hopes that it will be wrong but again it also becomes reality. Now Lanie becomes sure of her upcoming death and is forced to reevaluate her life.  The remainder of the storyline, which runs for the week of the prophecy, revolves around her attempts at introspection. She seeks consolation in her famous baseball player boyfriend Cal Cooper (Christian Kane), and in her family, but finds little there. Her lifelong ambition, that of appearing on network television, begins to look like a distant dream. In her desperation, she commits professional blunders, but ends up finding support in an unlikely source: her archenemy, the cameraman Pete Scanlon (Edward Burns), with whom she once had casual sex; he introduces her to a new approach to life. Pete tells her to live every moment of her life and to do whatever she always wanted to do. Lanie implements Pete’s advice; she moves in with Pete for a day, he introduces her to his son Tommy (Jesse James Rutherford) who lives with his mother who had separated with Pete, and they spend a whole day together with Tommy; that night they sleep together for the second time. The next day Lanie receives an opportunity for a job she always dreamed of in New York; she asks Pete to come with her, but he declines and tells her that her appetite for success and fame will never end. Lanie sadly leaves for New York.

Pete meets Jack and tells him how wrong he is, as Lanie got the job which Jack foretold she would not get. But Jack explains that he was right as Lanie will never be able to get the job as she’ll die before it begins; he again gives a prophecy of a death of a famous former baseball player in a plane crash. Pete receives the news of the death of the baseball player as foretold by Jack, and tries to call Lanie to warn her. When he cannot reach her, he also flies to New York. Lanie, unconcerned with Jack’s prophecy, interviews her idol, famous media personality Deborah Connors (Stockard Channing). Lanie realizes how petty the opening questions are and shares a heartfelt moment with Deborah live on air. The interview receives which receives huge television ratings. The network immediately offers her a position, but Lanie declines, realizing that she wants a life with Pete in Seattle. As she leaves the studio, a police officer gets into a conflict with a man, who shoots a bullet into the air. Pete tries to warn Lanie across the street, but she is shot in the crossfire. Luckily, Lanie survives, and Pete tells her in the hospital that he has loved her since the first time he saw her; Lanie says she loves him, too. Later, Pete, Lanie and Tommy watch Cal’s baseball game, where Lanie (in a voiceover) says that one part of her has died—the part which didn’t know how to live a life.

Enjoyable film which has both a strong satirical edge and an introspective, philosophical tone. Jolie is fab as the shallower than shallow career journalist who has her life changed by a modern day soothsayer

 

REVIEW: ANGEL – SEASON 1-5

 

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MAIN CAST

David Boreanaz (Bones)
Charisma Carpenter (Scream Queens)
Glenn Quinn (R.S.V.P)
Alxis Denisof (Dollhouse)
J. August Richards (Agents of SHIELD)
Amy Acker (The Cabin In The Woods)
Vincent Kartheiser (Mad Men)
Andy Hallett (Chance)
James Marsters (Smallville)
Mercedes McNab (The Addams Family)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Tracy Middendorf (Scream: The Series)
Christian Kane (Just Married)
Josh Holloway (Lost)
Sarah Michelle Gellar (Ringer)
Michael Mantell (The Ides of March)
Elisabeth Rohm (Joy)
Obi Ndefo (Stargate SG.1)
Johnny Messner (Anacondas)
Jennifer Tung (Masked Rider)
Seth Green (Family Guy)
Andy Umberger (Deja Vu)
Tushka Bergen (Mad Max 3)
Beth Grant (Wonderfalls)
Bai Ling (The Crow)
Jesse James (Blow)
J. Kenneth Campbell (Mars Attacks)
Henri Lubatti True Blood)
Christina Hendricks (Mad Men)
John Mahon (Zodiac)
Kristin Dattilo (Intolerable Cruelty)
Carlos Jacott (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Lee Arenberg (Once Upon A Time)
Jeremy Renner (Avengers Assemble)
Ken Marino (Veronica Mars)
Stephanie Romanov (Thirtten Days)
Tamara Gorski (Man With The Screaming Brain)
Julie Benz (Punisher: Warzone)
Eliza Dushku (Tru Calling)
Alastair Duncan (The Batman)
Sam Anderson (Lost)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Justina Machado (Final Destination 2)
Matthew James (American Crime)
J.P. Manoux (Birds of Prey)
Tony Amendola (Stargate SG.1)
David Herman (Futurama)
Edwin Hodge (The Purge)
Daisy McCrackin (Halloween 8)
Juliet Landau (Ed Wood)
Brigid Brannagh (Army Wives)
W. Earl Brown (Bates Motel)
Tony Todd (Wishmaster)
Jim Piddock (The Prestige)
Julia Lee (A Man Apart)
Gerry Becker(Spider-Man)
Eric Lange (Lost)
Leah Pipes (The Originals)
Thomas Kopache (Catch Me If You Can)
Brody Hutzler (Days of Our Lives)
Persia White (The Vampire Diaries)
Daniel Dae Kim (Lost)
Mark Lutz (Bitch Slap)
Alyson Hannigan (How I Met Your Mother)
Keith Szarabajka (The Dark Knight)
Frank Salsedo (Power Rangers Zeo)
David Denman (Outcast)
Justin Shilton (Little Miss Sunshine)
Rance Howard (Chinatown)
Kristoffer Polaha (Ringer)
Jack Conley (Payback)
Jim Ortlieb (Roswell)
Laurel Holloman (Boogie Nights)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Losers)
Sunny Mabrey (Snakes On A Plane)
Summer Glau (Firefly)
John Rubinstein (Red Dragon)
Alexa Davalos (Clash of The Titans)
Kay Panabaker (No Ordinary Family)
Joel David Moore (Bones)
Adrienne Wilkinson (Xena)
Gina Torres (Hannibal)
Annie Wersching (The Vampire Diaries)
Danny Woodburn (Watchmen)
Sarah Thompson (Cruel Intentions 2)
Jonathan M. Woodard (Firefly)
T.J. Thyne (Bones)
John Billingsley (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Simon Templeman (Black Road)
Roy Dotrice (Beauty and the Beast)
Brendan Hines (Lie to Me)
Tom Lenk (Argo)
Navi Rawat (Feast)
Roy Werner (Power Rangers Time Force)
Alec Newman (Dune)
Adam Baldwin (Chuck)
Jaime Bergman (Soulkeeper)
Stacey Travis (Easy A)
Dennis Christopher (Django Uncahined)

When Joss Whedon pitched Angel: the Series, he described it as a detective-style film-noir-themed take on the supernatural, much in the same way Buffy was pitched as a look from the viewpoint of the Horror genre. Buffy’s style took some time to get right, but the aesthetics of this show in its first year are well thought out and crafted; darkness and emotive shadow creep over, tense musical swells linger, and the picture is shot in a large resolution to provide just a bit of grain. I’d be damned if it didn’t seem intentional. Joss also said that where Buffy looked, metaphorically, at the hell of High School, Angel’s show would look at life past it in your early adulthood and the life and relationship issues of that unique, big city world. This metaphor is dominant in the first season, and is one of the main themes.

Angel, as a series, is always and will always be about redemption, but the themes of its respective seasons are about the different facets to it. Exploring what it is, losing the chance at it or the responsibility one pledges to it is all covered over the duration of the show. With season one, it was most direct: How do you get it? At the start of the season we see Angel arrive in LA, see him save lives, but we also watch him slip deeply into apathy about his goal. To understand the importance and worth of a human and life and soul, Angel learns in “City of” (1×01) that one must have a human connection; friends and allies that make his life worth living so his mission can be worth fighting for, and most importantly so that he doesn’t become detached from (and even dangerous to) those he hopes to save.

The season, as I mentioned, does lack a cohesive arc, but it also has a tremendous amount of hugely entertaining and well-written standalones. Many of them focus on Angel’s mission: “helping the helpless.” Angel makes it his goal to not only save lives, but save souls and make life worth living for others, and as a result of this his connections are solidified as he carries this out. He and his group slowly form into a legitimate investigation team which takes cases and makes money off of them, and many of the seasons situations out of which the characters are developed are a result of these cases. Cordelia, who in “Rm w a Vu” (1×05) is still defining herself by her possessions, searches for a place to live. Instead what she finds is a stronger sense of self, and in that a connection to the world of humans rather the one of plastic. Doyle and Wesley both find their own connections, as well. Episodes such as these are the season’s order, in every one of which something new happens that alters the main or supporting characters, or teaches the audience something about them.

This is, in my opinion, what sets shows like Buffy and Angel apart: relevance. More than any other show, each episode contains progressive, ongoing development that charts development in a very realistic way. On a more specific level, this particular season has an extremely strong episode to episode consistency, with each individual showing striking its own tone and exploring the main theme in different ways. A few larger, more exciting events may have helped, but at the same time I appreciate this season for what it is and how it does something a bit different from most other seasons of Buffy or Angel. There’s a lot more to talk about, including the metaphorical basis’ used and what we’re being fed through them, as well as the general ups and downs. The strongest suit this season has is its extremely fluid use of theme. Though the ponderings on connection, redemption and starting a new life are not as intricately detailed, subtle or socially penetrating as the themes of any other season, the careful and consistent way they’re used to develop characters and give the stories real world relevance is masterful. Angel made it his mission to save souls, and we were shown him connecting with people by helping them, failing to help them, or losing them altogether. All the supporting characters followed, gaining their own redemption through helping Angel and the helpless.

With the exception of Wesley being overly bumbling at times, nothing felt out of character this season, and that’s extremely impressive considering the length of a season. Doyle’s sacrifice in “Hero” (1×09), Angel’s re-ignited belief in himself in “To Shanshu in LA” [1×22] or Kate’s decision to see Angel kiss daylight in “Sanctuary” [1×19] were all thematically conclusive, resonant and well built up to.

The preceding season was,strong and coherent. While looking at the tribulations of life after High School in the big city, it managed to do so in a way that developed the characters within another major theme: Connection; Human emotions and growth that make us a part of the world, make us human. By the end of the season, Angel had been given a purpose, both short and long term, and a mission to fight for: Fighting in the final battles and surviving to be made a breathing human being again. Season Two, with a much broader theme, builds logically on that, and asks our vampire hero just what it means to really be human. Much of the season’s development is split in that way, with Angel increasingly being led off into his own world, with his friends developing entirely in a place away from him.screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-10-18-22-am-e1473430782777While he and the fate that ties him to Darla explore the complexities of human existence, Cordelia, Wesley and Gunn become forced to suffer through and succeed in it on their own. Though not as characterized by pain and hopelessness as much as S3 post “Sleep Tight” [3×16] through to the end of the series is, there’s much darkness and suffering abound, especially for Angel. His epic trials and will for revenge separate him harshly from humanity, only for him to realize that his worst actions are indeed wholly human, and that this is what humanity really can be. Season Two has such interesting ideas in spades, and its theme looks at all the best (“Untouched” [2×04], “Guise Will Be Guise” [2×06], “Epiphany” [2×16]) and worst (“Reunion” [2×10], “Reprise” [2×15]) sides of our existence: forgiveness, self-control, image, obsession, revenge, victory, belonging and the very nature of evil itself. By the time the season closes, Angel’s re-examined entirely what his mission is and how he’s to fight it, and goes from a champion vampire-with-a-soul to simply a genuinely good human being who helps people.fake-dwarvesWith the exception of the brilliant period piece Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?, and a few rare others, the season doesn’t have quite as much use for pure standalones. Its arc employs its best metaphors and situations in the interest of exploring all sides of the characters’ journey, and as such, the season gives the impression that more happens this year than last because of the depth of each phase of the arc: the four episode standalone period, the first part of the Darla arc (“Dear Boy” [2×05] to “Reunion” [2×10]), the second part of the Darla arc (“Redefinition” [2×11] to “Epiphany” [2×16]), another couple of standalones (“Disharmony” [2×17] and “Dead End” [2×18]) and the Pylea arc (“Belonging” [2×19] to “There’s No Place Like Plrtz Glrb” [2×22]).

This is likely why the season finds such a strong and undivided following. While some dispute the worth of the standalones or the Pylea arc, others like them, and everyone loves the story arc; there’s something for everyone. The best aspect of this year of the character’s journey in L.A. is how broad and all encompassing the season is. With the exception of Season Five, I find this to be the best season of the show. It has a few great metaphors, an engaging, unpredictable story arc, fun standalones, important character development, strong drama, and some of the most intelligent moral and social considerations I’ve ever seen on a TV show or in a movie.

Like at the start of Season Two, the writers seemed to have a clear direction in mind at the start of Season Three, and they wisely picked up the story at the logical introductory point: With Angel having conquered his innermost doubts about his own humanity. He begins to live a truly human life. He’s accepted his role in the world as a good person rather than a champion, and recognizes the world as a wide-open, random place with no greater destiny or order about it. It’s the kind of world where even the smallest acts of kindness mean everything, because they mean someone is able to shrug off the horrible burdens of life long enough to make another life better.screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-10-18-22-am-e1473430782777It opens with a six episode prelude looking at various facets of the responsibilities and obligations of normal human life, and then really begins with “Offspring” [3×07] when Darla returns to L.A. in a very, very pregnant state. Like “Dear Boy” [2×05] was for S2, this is where the beginning of S3 truly lies. With Darla’s death and the birth of baby Connor (“Lullaby” [3×09]) as the emotional forces driving the season, the writers used the question of responsibility and all the ideas that fall under it (justice, deserving, chaos and guilt) to create some truly, gut-wrenchingly impossible situations for our characters to face. If I have to commend this year for one thing alone, it’s the painstaking drama that the writers plunge the characters into throughout the main arc and in the mini-arcs that follow. Although there’s not nearly as much thematic depth as S2 or as much consistency as S1, the tragedies and difficult moral situations our beloved Angel Investigations team members are forced to face moved me deeper than a lot of other episodes in the series.

Aesthetically, S3 also has a much more sprawling scope than the previous two seasons. While the first six episodes were essentially standalones, everything that followed “Offspring” [3×07] was in some way tied to the main plot arc of the show, even when some of its key players disappeared following the epic tragedy of “Sleep Tight” [3×16]. Just when it seemed the story was about to move in another Pylea-like offshoot after the main storyline concluded, Connor and Holtz returned and the plot kept on chugging. This led to some problems, of course, as all season-long arcs eventually do. Tension sometimes tried to take the place of real content and it often showed. It also led to there being an uncomfortable setup/payoff ratio on the episode list. But on the plus side, S3 (and S4, which moves even further in this direction) had a feeling of epic scope that no other seasons manage, so to even think of the better aspects that lie within strikes me. Such a sprawl is one of the reasons many people love S3 even if they haven’t looked very deeply at it.Image result for angel forgiving“Forgiving” [3×17] was another gem, as it looked at the human need to assume we live in an ordered world where someone is responsible for everything that happens. But it’s never that easy, and watching Angel struggle with that was fascinating. The final three episodes (“A New World” [3×20], “Benediction” [3×21], “Tomorrow” [3×22]) made up another interesting stretch where we saw how our characters could be motivated by pain, hatred or love and the effects of all those things.

Having already been on the air for three years, Angel had more then enough time to establish its theme, characters, and relationships. It was in its fourth year that it would bring all of these elements to the forefront and then mix them up in a season that would come to be known for its complex twists and turns.The season begins with our title character trapped at the bottom of the ocean – put there by his son – with the rest of his gang broken up. From this grim beginning, things only get darker – literally. Enter the Beast, a rock-encrusted devil whose arrival is heralded by a rain of fire and promptly blocks out the sun over L.A. All signs are pointing to the apocalypse, and it’s up to Angel and the rest of his demon-fighting crew to put a stop to it. From a storytelling point of view things just keep getting worse and worse and it’s a credit to the writers that they somehow manage to end it all on a positive note.Since Season 2 Angel has been a very arc-heavy show, but in its fourth year it would approach almost 24 levels of continuity and follow-through. In addition to being very cool to watch, the interlinked episodes add up to a season that is one big experience unto itself. It’s as if the entire season is one episode with many chapters.This year we get to watch everything get shaken up. Wedges are slowly driven between certain relationships while jealousy quickly divides others. The great thing about it is that you get to see what has caused all of these problems. Despite their best efforts to hold together, these characters have no choice but to push each other apart. It makes for gripping television.Visually and stylistically the show is very well put together. The directing efforts of Joss Whedon (who is always excellent), Tim Minear (who has grown by leaps and bounds over the course of the series), and even Sean Astin (yes that Sean Astin) give the show a very polished and theatrical feel. The producers repeatedly stated that they were going for an ‘operatic’ feel to the season and they pulled it off very well. The use of darkness and shadow deserves special mention as does the great use of wide shots and the directors’ ability to fill each frame with as much information as possible. Wesley goes from bumbling dork to dark James Bond. Cool! While the twists and turns are great, the really cool thing to the season is the multiple layers that you’ll find within. Just when you think you know who the real ‘big bad’ is or in which direction the show is going, the rug is pulled out from under your feet. The entire season keeps you guessing from start to finish. Of course, our heroes win in the end — but everyone is left wondering if they did the right thing. And that’s what sets the show apart: It’s action with substance.

Nobody, not the producers, not the actors, and certainly not the fans could have predicted where this show would go. Where it could go. After all, this is an hour-long fantasy about a guy who spends so much time sitting in the shadows and brooding so much he would give Batman a run for his money. Or utility belt, as the case may be. So why is it that after five years and over a hundred episodes this show was still one of the freshest on TV? Simple: this is a story about something. What started off as just a Buffy spin-off has ended up as a massive epic that challenges, if not surpasses, its parent show. Unfortunately, the WB didn’t think so. After giving the producers a hard time and insisting on several changes, the network decided to bring the show back for a fifth, and what would be its final year.

 

So, in previous seasons we’ve had operatic apocalypses, quests for meaning, and our hero even went evil for a while. There’s only one place left to go. Into the belly of the beast, into hell itself: a law firm. Based on the out-of-left-field plot twist that was thrown at Angel and the gang in previous season’s finale, the team is now in charge of wolfram and hart the evil law firm that they’ve spent the entire series battling. The trick then becomes changing the system from the inside, all the while making sure that it doesn’t change them.


Unfortunately when the network decided to renew the show for a fifth year, there were conditions. First and foremost, it had to be more stand-alone. No more back-to-back cliffhangers. Next, the budget was cut. And finally, to sweeten the deal, the producers decided to bring over Spike – who was barbequed in the Buffy finale – in the hopes that his fans would follow. Luckily the introduction of Spike worked out well. He added a nice flavor to the show and helped flesh out Angel’s character in a way that nobody else could have. The punky vampire brought out the worst in our hero, which ended up resulting in some great comedy. Even if this Spike was different from whom he became on Buffy, he made for a nice addition.

The most unwelcome change was the standalone mandate. Yes, it can work, but it’s just not as good. The greatest strength of this show has always been its own history and tying the hands of the writers was a mistake. It resulted in a bump in the show’s overall flow. Even though it seems rushed, things tie up nicely and the finale certainly puts the “grand” in grandiose; now there’s a balls-to-the wall showstopper for you. Most people will agree that the show finished with perfect thematic closure. These characters fight an impossible fight knowing they’ll probably lose, but that’s not the point. They fight, not to win, but because that’s who they are. They don’t give up. No matter what.