TV Guide’s Matt Roush on Angel:
February 17, 2004
I go away for a week to escape the winter chill, and look what happens. WB cans Angel midway through its fifth season, leaving fans of cool, dark fantasy bereft. Some of us are still dealing with the demise of Buffy the Vampire Slayer last spring, and that one was long planned! This unfortunate dusting of Angel confirms rumors that had been circulating since before the 100th-episode celebration, but it still comes as something of a shock. If there’s an upside, it’s that Joss Whedon and his crew appear to have been able to muster up some sort of suitable season/series finale, so we won’t be left hanging.
But we will be left wanting.
Buffy, and to some extent its spin-off Angel, helped put WB on the map — much as The X-Files was key in establishing Fox’s network identity. I still remember my shock when I first put in the tape of the Buffy pilot, with expectations that couldn’t be lower — after all, I’d seen the movie. I wasn’t counting on much from the series or from the mini-network that up until then had little to recommend itself. (This was before Felicity, Dawson’s Creek and Gilmore Girls, mind you.) Sarah Michelle Gellar’s delightful performance as the spunky slayer, the warm wit and wisdom of Whedon’s worldview, and the dynamic presence of David Boreanaz’s soulful Angel (who would prove himself to be a leading man capable of carrying a series of his own), all were revelations to me.
Over the years, I have come to expect a certain level of quality from WB, and I have also become accustomed to the network not making that many regrettable programming decisions. Losing Buffy to UPN was one, letting Angel go before its creative team was ready is another. I will miss this world terribly. I think WB will come to miss it as well.
It’s yet another body blow in a discouraging season for fans of offbeat TV. How many more reluctant goodbyes will we be forced to make to our favorite series before this year is over?