Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Angel Flies Away (note: post contains vague allusions to story structure, but no explicit spoilers)

Well, I've now finished watching season 5 of Angel, which means I'm finished with the entire series. *sniff* I have to admit, I started out regarding it as a somewhat inferior spinoff -- interesting and occasionally very entertaining, but not nearly as clever and satisfying as Buffy. But, while the quality was often pretty uneven, it really, really grew on me, and I'm very sorry to have come to the end of it.

I do think the beginning of season 5 was one of the show's weaker periods. Admittedly, season 4 was an incredibly tough act to follow. I loved the fact that the entire year was one long continuing story, with each episode acting very much like a single chapter in a novel. It worked marvelously well, and my love for that sort of intricate story arc is such that seeing them go back to an extremely episodic format -- apparently at the network's behest -- couldn't help but be disappointing. Especially as it felt like four years' worth of character development was falling by the wayside, as the writers were suddenly being strongly discouraged from referring back to past relationships and events. Plus, the fact that, for at least half the season, every episode had to have someone or other explicitly expositing about what the show's new premise was got old really fast, especially when watching episodes back-to-back on DVD. But, as happened in several past seasons, I had just gotten to the point where I was thoroughly reconciling myself to the fact that this particular set of discs wasn't going to be as good as I'd hoped when, bam!, the plot twists started coming fast and furious, and things got really intense and interesting. I don't know whether the network backed down on the "no ongoing storylines" rule or whether they knew at that point that they were cancelled and just didn't care, but the last few episodes of the season were damned good, and introduced an element or two that make me really wish they'd had another year in which to explore them all.

I gather the ending was extremely controversial, and I can understand why, but personally I loved it. I thought it was wonderfully appropriate, both dramatically and thematically. But, I admit, I seem to have somewhat non-standard ideas about the best way to end a TV series.

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