I have to say I really enjoyed the first episode of Angel, so I was deeply let down by the second story, Lonely Heart. It does get better about half way in, but it spends the first 15 minutes milling around a bar watching the entire cast being awkward. It probably has a lot to do with the way they get their cases. Cordelia has printed out business cards, but no one has them yet, so we can’t have people come to the detective agency in any normal way. Instead, Doyle again has to have visions which really are such a cheesy way of saying “hey, the writer needs a semi-convenient way of being in this bar… the only one in LA!” You’ve probably heard the expression, “have horse, will travel” (or for our purposes, “have spaceship, will travel”) but this series offers no logical means of getting from story to story so Doyle’s visions are what we have to work with. So off to a bar they go and a several hundred year old vampire wouldn’t have much experience with humans, so he’d have no idea how to talk to them! (Oh, wait, am I being sarcastic?) When he meets Kate, she asks what he does for a living: why does he go with “veterinarian” instead of “private investigator”? He doesn’t have a case at that point so there’s no jeopardy of putting a case at risk and he’s trying to find out who is in trouble anyway. Sounds like a perfect way to make headway. But no, Mr “I’ve never spoken to a girl before” opts to go with “vet”! I was bewildered. Was it supposed to be funny?
There’s another thing I didn’t like either; something I picked up on in an episode of Buffy. Joss Whedon (or some of his writers at any rate) seem to want to make fun of the “nerd crowd”. In this story, it’s the recent high school grad who doesn’t perform in bed as well as he could have; it’s awkward and embarrassing. This is after he admitted what a geek he was in high school. The problem that I have with this is someone might want to consider not offending the people that will keep you employed. I imagine being in my line of work and humiliating the people who came to me for help; I doubt I’d keep my job long! Someone should be telling Mr. Whedon to be careful or reel in his writers a bit. If you want, just to make the geek-haters feel stupid, I can point out how idiotic it sounds when the writer has a line like “go to the library and look up eviscerating demons”, like there’s an easy way to reference that. I have Google and probably couldn’t pull that off. It’s not a question of being good at looking stuff up, it’s the idea of a book that has various appendices that allow you to look things up different ways. Appendix A: dress code for demons, Appendix B: favorite foods, Appendix C: method of murder, Appendix D: days and times of greatest activity… it’s absurd. (But secretly, I want to write that book!)
Having said all that, I still have to say this was a good episode. I did realize instantly that there was a body jumper in play. The writers clearly wanted us to believe we had the wrong idea of who was the predator and who was the prey, but somehow I didn’t fall for it. But the game of cat-and-mouse was fun and when the villain is stronger than the hero, that makes us perk up a bit. It actually looks like Angel could be defeated. He also has a cop on his tail now, but I can’t help but wonder if she’s being setup as a semi-regular to help the gang out. I can live with that; it makes sense that there’d have to be a normal character in the mix. (Cordelia hardly counts; she knows all of what she knows!) Speaking of Cordelia, her misunderstanding “burrower”, confusing it with a donkey (burro) was comedy gold. The ongoing debate about the picture on the business card, ending with a lobster, was also wonderful stuff. (Doyle makes a comment that Angel doesn’t have a signal that can be beamed up into the sky, referencing Batman. It added so much that Angel later whips out a grappling tool that fails epically to do what it’s supposed to. Kate’s reaction adds to the moment tremendously!)
So where does that leave me? I enjoyed both episodes, though the first one was far stronger than the second. Now, it’s hardly a fair assessment when I only have 2 to work with but I do think the show needs a bit of work. However, I said similar things about Buffy and it took little time for me to become a fan, so I will obviously keep going with this show. It has decent stories, comedy, an Irish Demon, and Cordelia; that’s not a combination you can give most shows! ML
The allowances for specific comedy in a show like Angel or Buffy, knowing all the dark aspects that still come with them both, are certainly interesting. Most fans may be particularly attuned to it for the sake of softening the blows. But it was a big improvement on what the classic Dr. Who gave us thanks to the creative influences of Joss Whedon. To put real people in extraordinary situations, it helps if the comedy is realistically tolerable, even if it’s still escapism. So thankfully these shows in their wisdom opened many doors for the new century. Thank you, ML, for your review.
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