Saturday, May 16, 2009

One Happy Family

Episodes I've Seen So Far: (Season Two: "Over the Rainbow", "There's No Place Like Plrtz Girb". All of Seasons Three and Four [Except for "Peace Out"]. All of Season Five. Season One through "Expecting".)

I'm happily settling into the groove of Season 1, where Wesley Wyndam-Pryce has nicely settled into his own groove as being a member of Angel Investigations, and everyone is nice and warm in a cozy little cuddly family of three. In fact, after I watched "Expecting" today, I kept thinking that all I was missing from my viewing experience was a nice big quilt to wrap myself up in and a teddy bear.

There were so many "Aww, that's so sweet!" moments I don't think I can even remember them all. Standout moments for me included the continued insistence by Angel that he meet and give his stamp of approval for all of Cordelia's dates, Dennis the Ghost's sensing there was something wrong with Cordelia's boyfriend and his attempts to lesson the romantic mood, Angel's and Wesley's tenderness toward Cordelia when they found out she was pregnant, Dennis comforting Cordelia by handing her the tissue and covering her up with the comforter, Wesley's attentiveness to Cordelia while pretending to be her husband during the ultrasound and amniocentesis procedures, the warm glow the three shared together when Cordelia told Angel and Wesley she had two people she absolutely trusted with her life, and Wesley tearing up after Cordelia's little speech and claiming he had allergies.

I know from watching Angel in the past that whenever I start getting a really warm glow from the series, all hell breaks loose. (The cute happy shows make for enjoyable viewing experiences for me yet rather boring blog posts.) I'll find out how long the good times last.

I love the fight scenes in the shows, but I don't usually write much about them. It's too much of a given that Angel will usually take on (and knock out) about a half-dozen bad guys at a time, but I really enjoyed it when he beat up the pricks at the private gun club. I don't have a particular problem with good, recurring themes. I never get tired of the one where thugs think Angel's just an outmanned human, until they realize that their attempts to injure him or kill him aren't really working. (Angel: I really don't like it when people shoot me.) Then I love the horror on the bad guys' faces when they realize Angel's a vampire, and Angel proceeds to beat them up and stack them up against the wall like cordwood.

My favorite Wesley moment, besides the ones where he was being sweet with Cordelia (I never get tired of the Wesley/Cordelia moments), was when he tried to engage the huge demon in small talk, pretended he was going to engage in fisticuffs with the demon in a David and Goliath moment, then finally shot the liquid nitrogen container, thereby releasing the gas and freezing the demon in his tracks.

I am really loving the performances by David Boreanaz, Charisma Carpenter, and Alexis Denisof in Season 1. For the most part, the scripts are playing up to Boreanaz' strengths, Charisma lights up and almost completely dominates every scene she appears in, and Alexis continues to dazzle me with his wonderful acting, good looks, and awkward boyish charm.

As a side note while looking way ahead, at this point I can understand J. August Richards eventually being brought in as Gunn. Angel & Co. needed all the help they could get in ridding the world of evil. I can't help but think that bringing on Amy Acker as Fred upset the entire balance of the status quo that I'm currently enjoying.

Although I've blogged previously about how all the men completely fell in love with Fred, I wonder if Charisma Carpenter fell victim to the dreaded We Can Only Handle One Woman at a Time syndrome that shows up in so many other venues. To digress a little more, I remember Sarah McLaughlan stating that she started her (mostly) all-female Lilith Fair tours because she found out radio stations were not playing her new music since a grand total of one other woman was currently getting a lot of airtime. According to the dreaded Laws of the Playlists at the time, only one woman could get a lot of airtime on rock stations at a time.

Charisma Carpenter's Cordelia could certainly stand on her own two feet as the solitary Queen Bee of the group, but I'm wondering if the creators grew a little tired of a bold, confident woman and started pining for a quiet little mouse who would gladly follow orders. The producers might have been reluctant to kill off Cordelia right away, so they embarked on this horrible plan to turn her character into such a vicious demon, fans would be absolutely begging to have her character killed off. Cordelia as the solitary female worked well; Cordelia and Fred together worked well (back when Cordelia was her normal self) since they complimented each other; but Fred's character lacked the oomph to be able to carry off being the solitary female. It seemed as though no matter what the creators did with Fred's character, Cordelia's absence always left a huge void.

Notice also that with both Cordelia and Lilah killed off or in an endless coma, we were left way too long in Season 5 with mousy Fred, weaselly Eve, and bubbly yet nonetheless dopey Harmony. If only Illyria had been introduced a lot sooner!

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