pour souls into city of 'Angel'
By Robert Bianco, USA TODAY
PASADENA, Calif. --
Buffy and Angel weren't the only ones who graduated over the summer.
After 2* seasons at Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the show that started WB's ratings rise, Buffy creator Joss Whedon
and his producer partner, David Greenwalt, are launching the fall spinoff Angel. This dual duty already has fans on
the Internet wondering how they'll do both shows at once.
The answer? "By the skin of our teeth," Greenwalt jokes.
In reality, Whedon will come up with story ideas for Angel and supervise skripts but won't be as heavily involved in such
production issues as casting.
The two say they've finished Angel's introductory episode and will do the first Buffy this Friday. "Then both will be going
simultaneously, God help us," Whedon says.
Angel sends David Boreanaz's brooding vampire to Los Angeles to assist lost souls in trouble, with the aid of
Charisma Carpenter's angst-free Cordelia. (Think "Mary Tyler Moore with a good-looking Boris Karloff," Greenwalt
says.) A plot line posted on a bulletin board in the show's Santa Monica production office simply says, "Weird things
"We call it Touched by an Equalizer," Greenwalt says. "The idea of the prodigal vampire in Los Angeles . . . the place
is just alive and well with demons."
Angel won't have Buffy's season-long story arcs and will feature fewer regular characters. Otherwise, Whedon says,
fans should expect an extension of the Buffy universe -- the metaphors, the monsters, the humor and some of the
same characters -- but in a slightly darker, older package.
"We got fascinated by the idea of the character as this person in need of redemption, this person who's had a tortuous
past and wants to atone for it," Whedon says. "That to us is powerful, and David Boreanaz conveys that very
Because he keeps up with the show's Web sites and e-mail discussions, Whedon knows fans are worried about the
continued health of Buffy, which switches to a college setting this year. Still, he says, it was time to break up the
long-suffering couple, and time to move Buffy out of high school.
"In a way, I'm sad to leave high school behind, but I think that's part of the high school experience everyone can relate
to. And my whole thing is, I got to college (and) didn't run out of pain."
Whedon discovered a new source of pain when WB pulled Buffy's graduation finale, which finally aired July 13, for fear
that its demon-slaying climax would be offensive in the wake of the Columbine school shootings. (Another episode
pulled because of the tragedy, "Earshot," will air right before the new season starts in September.) It hurt to see Buffy
turned into a poster child for irresponsible TV, Whedon says, since Buffy dealt this year with privilege and responsibility.
"If I put on a show that was just a lot of happy, well-adjusted people
telling each other what to do, I don't believe
anybody could connect to it. . . . Grimm's Fairy Tales didn't endure because the wolf learned to be polite."
But WB, he says, has always treated the show with respect -- which is more than can be said for the Emmys. He
doesn't expect Buffy's lack of recognition to change when the nominations are announced Thursday, though he does
say it "would gratify me to no end were Sarah (Michelle Gellar) to be nominated because I think she deserves it."
Buffy may never be more than a cult favorite, he says, but that's fine with him as long as the people who watch love it.
"This is the first time I've done something where it's been completely realized the way it was in my brain, and then
some. . . . I will be neither surprised nor particularly disappointed if it's the most rewarding thing I ever do."