Sunday, May 24, 2009

Two Potential Characters

Episodes I've Seen So Far, In Order: (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. All of Season One. Season Two: "Judgment" through "First Impression").

While watching Angel, it occurred to me that the series could have benefited from two more characters who could have shown up once in a while for guest appearances: a computer geek and a doctor.

David Nabbit. Well, they already had a computer geek who showed up from time to time. David Nabbit (played by David Herman) was the socially-challenged, thinly-disguised Bill Gates-type character who made his first appearance in "War Zone" when he needed Angel's help in securing some compromising photos of him taken at a demon brothel.

Cordelia, on cue, went completely ga-ga over him simply because of his money.

Nabbit appeared again in a very uncomfortable scene in "To Shansu in LA" where he showed up unannounced to hang out with Angel, Wes and Cordy, apparently because he didn't have any other friends.

I say the scene was very uncomfortable, not because it was purposefully written to be awkward, but because the scene just did not work at all. It didn't seem to fit into the rest of the episode, and all of the actors acted as though they just wanted to recite their lines and get it over with right away. The scene had all of the hallmarks of being hastily written and filmed in order to pad out the rest of the show. It could have only worked if David Nabbit showed up later on and did something to redeem himself with the team.

Nabbit's character appeared for the last time in "First Impressions", where he was summoned by Angel to give some rather simplistic financial advice, and then he went on to offer the services of his money guy. And with that, David Nabbit was gone for good.

I happen to think David Herman's a pretty good actor. It's too bad his character seemed to be deliberately written (or directed) to be as unlikeable as possible. Let's see, he was a computer geek who dressed badly, had bad hair, was slightly overweight, had no known people skills, had no friends except people he hired to show up at parties, was unhealthily obsessed with Dungeons and Dragons (which I thought disappeared around 1980), and could only get female companionship at demon brothels. Have we left out any other cliches?

To make matters worse, David Nabbit couldn't even come across as being shy or wistful. Instead, he come across as an annoying buffoon. Done correctly, the character of David Nabbit could have been very likable, as the generous misfit who could have been taken under the wing of Angel Investigations. Let's face it - he could have fit in since, in a way, all of the members of Angel Investigations were misfits. Maybe Nabbit wouldn't have been a superhero demon slayer, but he could have been of use to Angel in any number of ways. Nabbit could have cracked Wolfram & Hart's encrypted files instead of Willow. He could have come through with the financing on the Hyperion Hotel, helped set up a community foundation in Charles Gunn's neighborhood, and paid everyone's medical bills. (More on that below.) David Herman didn't have to appear in the opening credits, but the David Nabbit character would have come in handy whenever any number of gaping plot holes appeared which left us wondering "Where are they coming up with the money for this?"

One consolation is that Nabbit was indirectly responsible for yet one more of my favorite Wes and Cordy moments, when Wes purchased the dreadful whipped cream coffee at the little stand in the park (and scooped most of the whipped cream onto the grass), while Cordy made a fool of herself by prattling on about "prostituting" herself to David Nabbit.

Wesley was in his element as the slightly older friend and confidante with whom Cordelia could light-heartedly explore yet one more aspect of sexuality under safe parameters. The dialogue was hardly profound, but I just loved this scene as an example of how Cordelia could comfortably talk about just about everything under the sun with Wesley without fear of ridicule (except for maybe a mild ribbing at her expense.)

Is There a Doctor in the House? Since Angel Investigations was in the very dangerous business of killing demons and vampires, it was only natural that team members would routinely get injured badly enough to need hospitalization. It's funny how I can suspend reality long enough to accept a world of demons and vampires, but I can't accept a world where anyone can march into a hospital and demand immediate lab tests and ultrasounds without doctors' orders. (I could just imagine Cordelia needing an emergency mammogram for whatever reason and being told she'd have to wait a month.) I also can't accept a world where people drag themselves into the ER with multiple stab wounds and the hospital staff does not bother to contact the police department.

Oddly enough, about the only "realistic" scene I can remember is when they snuck Darla into the hospital for an ultrasound and Wesley magically knew how to work the equipment.

And how did everyone pay their medical bills? I don't recall anyone ever whipping out an insurance card. In my part of the world, if you don't have insurance or if your insurance doesn't pay for doctor's visits, it can cost you about $350 just to walk in to see a specialist. It would be a lot more expensive in Los Angeles. Can you imagine how much it would cost to have an ultrasound or spend a few days in ICU? That's where billionaire friend David Nabbit could have come through. He could have either paid their hospital bills, set up a health insurance plan for Angel Investigations, or put them on his company's payroll just so they could take advantage of the benefits package.

It also would have been beneficial if Angel Investigation team members had a regular doctor whom they could meet with at the hospital or at a well-equipped private clinic. This doctor would ideally have experience in treating wounds inflicted by demons or, at worst, not ask any questions and shield the team from messy red-tape and paperwork. If it would have been impossible to bring the same actor in each time a doctor was needed, then, by all means, the creators could have invented a rotating cast of on-call partners. It's TV. Anything's possible.

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