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ANGEL: Episode By Episode, Part 2
Tim Minear continues guiding us through the ever changing season one of the BUFFY spinoff.
By Edward Gross
August 21, 2000
Last week, we began an exclusive look at the first season of ANGEL as told through the eyes of supervising producer Tim Minear. What follows is the second part of this guided tour....
'The Bachelor Party' explores a bit more of Doyle's past, introducing the audience to his ex-wife as well as her current beau, who is secretly from a family of demons. Given the fact that she still wants Doyle to be part of her life, he agrees to join the wedding party, unaware that the groom and his ushers plan on devouring Doyle's brains as part of a demonic marital ceremony.
'I love that episode,' admits Minear. 'I think it's wacky, but I love the spoof on the whole PC thing. I love the demonologist who is very PC, and I love the brain-eating. There was actually a lot of stuff cut from that episode because it ran very long. A lot of my favorite jokes had to be cut out of my second half. A pretty straight-forward show.'
'I Will Remember You' serves as the first full-fledged crossover between BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and ANGEL, with Buffy coming to Los Angeles as Angel, splattered with its blood during a battle with a demon, suddenly finds himself human. The two lovers come together, believing that they've found true happiness with no chance of Angelus returning, but learn that Angel must become what he once was to save the planet. The price for being allowed to do so: no one but Angel will remember the events of the day.
'A lot of people have issues with the resetting of the clock thing,' Minear offers, 'but I personally love it. For me it's all worth it because of the scene where Sarah is saying, 'I'll never forget; I'll never forget; I'll never forget,' and then, boom, she forgot. Oh, man, it just kills me. And then Angel and Buffy having sexnever a bad thing. We got a lot of heat, too, for what the fans call the 'Glitter Twins,' actually the Oracles. I understand. It's a little bit STAR TREK-y in terms of the look. But wait until next year: Joss has got the coolest thing in mind regarding Angel's connections with the powers that be. I can't wait. It's not going to be the Glitter Twins.
'There were a lot of humorous and touching things in the episode,' he
continues. 'That's the fun of it, when you're trying to figure out the story and you sit there saying, 'Let's say you haven't been mortal for a couple of hundred years and you can eat but it doesn't taste the samewhat's the first thing you're going to do? Raid the ice box!' I thought that was pretty bitchin'. Actually, the one thing that I would say about the episode is that we discussed the idea that the entire situation was a test by the Powers That Be. It was supposed to be sort of the 'Last Temptation of Angel'. In The Last Temptation of Christ,
his whole fever dream when he's on the cross is that he
comes down off the cross; he gets to live a normal life and grow old, and at the end he chooses to make the sacrifice. That was sort of the idea, and something that kind of got lost there was the idea that they were trying to see if he was worthy. There were no scenes of this shot; I think the idea just kind of fell out of the script naturally, but it was one thing we discussed at some point during the breaking of the story. But then, as will happen, it became about the emotional aspect of it.'
One of the nice surprises of the episode was how effortlessly Sarah Michelle Gellar and David Boreanaz played off of each other, particularly when one realizes that they hadn't worked together in months. Says Minear, 'Sarah had so much fun shooting that episode. It was really nice. It was the first time she came over to our show and she was just great. She sent a card over to our crew thanking them, and that was pretty nice.'
Doyle meets his end in 'Hero', as the character sacrifices himself to save humans from a weapon launched by a group of Nazi-like demons. 'I killed Doyle, and I'd do it again,' laughs Minear. 'Truthfully, we killed Doyle because we thought it would be better for the show. It was something that was decided way before 'Bachelor Party'. All of those episodes that featured that character were there for this moment when he sacrifices himself. There were a lot of reasons, but I think mostly we were still figuring out the show early on; we were still figuring out what the dynamics should be. Again, you look at the pilot and the story where Angel doesn't save the girl. You look at episode nine of a 22-episode season, and the guy who is in the main titles, the sidekick, dies. The reason for that is that it proves anything
can happen. It was decided early on that that would be an interesting, creative thing to do. And there was also some feeling, too, that David and Glenn's characters were very similar: They were both half human and half demon; they both had a past; they both were brooding type characters, and they were both searching for redemption. It just seemed like the same note to some degree. So we decided we could do two things. We could shake up the universe of the show; we could give our characters an emotionally resonating event that would help infuse the show a little bit. Again, for the first nine episodes, their shared history feels like it should be another series. This is a huge event in our universe that can inform things to come. I think you'll see that in later episodes. You look at THE EXORCIST episode, 'I've Got You Under My Skin', and if Doyle hadn't died, it wouldn't be as interesting.
'For me,' he elaborates, 'it was really interesting in terms of bringing Wesley in. When I first wrote 'Somnambulist', it was at the beginning of the season. Would it go into production before episode nine, or would it be after nine? So Doyle was in that script originally, and when I went back to rewrite it for Wesley, suddenly the story and the characters got way more interesting.'
According to Minear, the decision to bring former Watcher Wesley on to the show was made fairly early on in the development of ANGEL. 'It was shortly after we decided to kill off Doyle,' he notes. 'We had always planned to add characters throughout the season, and the idea to bring in Wesley came after the decision to kill off Doyle, but it came shortly after.'
The ending of 'Hero' offered much more than a passing nod to the feature film STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN in terms of the moment when Doyle kisses Cordelia for the first and last time, passing on some form of energy (actually his connection with the Powers That Be). This is much like Spock placing his hand against Dr. McCoy's temple and uttering the word, 'Remember.' Minear laughs. 'Gee,' he says, 'we didn't think of that. We were like, 'It's STAR TREK II. It's SUPERMAN II. It's every sequel ever made.''
What's remains interesting, however, is that no matter how derivative this moment might be, it effectively changes the character of Cordelia Chase and allows for genuine character evolution. 'That's what I'm saying,' Minear emphasizes. 'If for no other reason, it made Cordelia's character more interesting. Cordelia, by the wayoff the charts. I love that character. I love Charisma. She's like a savant. She's just so
good. When she taps into her Cordelianess, it's amazing. And it's the easiest character for me to write, incidentally, because I can just hear that voice, because of Charisma. Honestly, who would have ever thought that Cordelia could be this interesting?'
'Parting Gifts' deals with the aftermath of 'Hero,' with Angel and Cordelia still mourning the loss of their friend, Angel wondering how in hell he's going to be able to do his 'job' without a conduit to the Powers That Be (not realizing, of course, that Doyle passed his gift on to Cordelia), and the two of them protecting a seemingly innocent demon named Barney from a 'rogue demon hunter', that turns out to be Wesley, who is trying to carve out a new life for himself. It all culminates in the realization that Cordelia has the gift, and now a group of demons are trying to auction off her eyes so that they can possess it.
'I really admire the structure of this show, and I love the idea of the auction,' enthuses Minear. 'Wolfram and Hart appear again, briefly, which was wonderful. Plus, the idea of bringing Wesley in as a rogue demon slayer is, to me, so great. And him in his leather and on his motorcycle! A lot of people, it seemed to me, were kind of pissed off that he reverted back to being Wesley again, but Wesley was never this leather-wearing motorcycle-riding guy in the first place. But I thought that was a brilliant idea, and I think Alexis is a wonderful actor. Truthfully, he was fighting an uphill battle. People hated
him because they loved Doyle. They were absolutely dead-set against him; they didn't like him in BUFFY. Again, it was the same thing. He wasn't supposed to be likable in BUFFY. You could say the same thing about Cordelia. You know, 'This character in BUFFY, I don't know how she's going to work in this show.' Well, you bring them into this show and suddenly you get to see more sides of them. By now, I think Alexis has won over a lot of the fans. Some of them begrudgingly, some of them whole-heartedly. And Wesley is not supposed to be a replacement for Doyle. Cordelia is the replacement for Doyle. I think that was another brilliant twist from Joss.'
One of the criticisms leveled against ANGEL in its first season is that it was starting to get a little bit ridiculous that vampires seemed to be operating to a large extent in sunlight. It was a point that was made fun of during the episode when Barney suggested that Angel should be in his coffin, with Angel responding that all of the clichés about vampires were devised by 'hack writers'.
'Believe me, our backs are all up about the sun thing,' says Minear. 'It makes Joss crazy. It's something we have tried to get a handle on. That scene with Barney was absolutely a response to the fans' reaction to some of the technical flaws up to that point. Again, we still run into it occasionally, especially with Angel in the police station. We never write that he should be in the light; it just turns out that way. The truth is, the schedule is punishing; they have to light it very quickly, and we have to shoot an episode in eight days. We have actually gone back and reshot stuff that was particularly egregious. At the end of 'Prodigal,' for instance, when Angel is watching Kate at her father's grave, the first version of that he was clearly outside; he was clearly in the sunlight. We went back and reshot it very close and very dark, and left it more ambiguous. It's definitely something I try to address myself. In fact, in 'Prodigal' there's a scene between Kate and Angel where she says, 'It's the middle of the day, how did you get here?' And he explains, 'Well, I came up through the sewer,' and she remembers that she was dragged down there in a previous episode.'Comeback next week as we continue our guided tour through Angel's first season.