Revamping It Up

Give Me 3 cc's of Relocation Arc and a Plot Twist, Stat!

Angel is the character most adrift in this new setup. No more of that dashing "find the bad guy and put a stake in him" stuff. Our hero now presides over a firm whose clientele is primarily demonic; if Angel kills all his fiendish clients, then the company falters and he loses the resources and power that Wolfram and Hart puts at his disposal. So Angel CEO must keep up his bottom line while also working to conquer the evil empire from within. This gives rise to some witty legal set pieces. Discussing the details of one upcoming case, a lawyer explains, "The jury is tamperproof. Literally—I think one of the D.A. shamans has conjured a mystical shield around them."

Meanwhile, there are plenty of inside jokes for longtime Angel and Buffy fanatics. Harmony (Mercedes McNab), who has transformed over the years from Sunnydale airhead to devious vampire (and sometimes sycophantic girlfriend of Angel's nemesis, Spike), pops up here as Angel's comically ditzy secretary. When asked why she's at Wolfram and Hart, Harmony replies, "Duh—I'm a single undead girl trying to make it in the city!" Even more enticing to slayer devotees, Spike (James Marsters) has joined the series, adding a frisson of sexual tension and jealousy between the Men who Loved and Lost Buffy. Spike—destined to play ghostly sidekick to Angel—feels as sorry for himself as ever: "I save the world, throw myself onto the proverbial hand grenade for love and honor, and what do I get?" Just as ER's Dr. Carter can never measure up to the long-suffering Luka, Spike forever lags behind the ever noble Angel.

Bloodsucking lawyer, literally: Angel's David Boreanaz
photo by Anna Barry-Jester
Bloodsucking lawyer, literally: Angel's David Boreanaz

Details

ER
Thursdays at 10 on NBC

Angel
Wednesdays at 9 on the WB

This sudden abandonment of apocalyptic gloom for lighthearted jokiness may back-fire: Messing around with the emotional investment of longtime fans is a risky strategy. And the self-referentiality could drive away new viewers not sufficiently versed in slayer lore—presumably the very audience that this overhaul was designed to attract. But in the wasteland of prime-time television, Angel remains an oasis of ambiguity, an eccentric genre series once again pulsing with undead energy.

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