by Matt Springer
"I would kill to live in L.A. Being that close to that many shoes."
As we've learned by now, Cordelia should be careful what she wishes for. Joining Angel in Los Angeles, she may have to do just that. And with the new Angel TV series just about ready to make its long-awaited debut, countless Buffy fans around the world are salivating like hungry vamps over the thought of finally seeing this second product from Joss Whedon's fertile imagination.
Yet in the glitzy and glamorous business we call TV Land, diversification can be tricky. For every huge spinoff success like Laverne & Shirley or Frasier, there's a Joanie Loves Chachi or The Tortellis. Many are the creative geniuses who've felt a Nielsen household backlash for spreading themselves to thin by juggling to ongoing series. With all that in mind, the pressure sitting upon Whedon and co-executive producer David Greenwalt's shoulders must be fairly intense. They've brought Buffy to remarkable heights of popularity and critical acclaim in just three short years. Next season, however, they'll separate the show's two hottest characters when the love of Buffy's life leaves Sunnydale for Los Angeles and Angel: The Lost Vampire. Starring David Boreanaz and Charisma Carpenter, Whedon has described the hour-long series as "touched by an Equalizer." Essentially, they're expected to recapture the lightning in a bottle that has made Buffy such a smash hit, only with an entirely new tone and style of show. Nervous much?
"Actually, I'm looking forward to it with open arms and open heart," says Carpenter, who will be fulfilling Cordelia's dreams of living near a limitless supply of shoe stores. "I'm very excited about it. It sounds like it's goin to appeal to an older audience, which is exciting. Also, I'm looking forward to spending more time working with David [Boreanaz] because he's a really talented actor and I don't get the pleasure of working with him too often."
Maybe Carpenter should be a bit more worried,
considering what's in store for Cordelia in the City of Angels. Advance
word indicates that Queen C will face her most horrifying challenge ever:
a shortage of shopping funds. Her family will lose their wealth and
Cordie struggling to make ends meet. As for the show's lead, Angel should travel to Los Angeles essentially intact, a dark and brooding character struggling to come to terms with the evil rooted in his past.
"I see [Angel] as the second half of Buffy,"
comments Whedon. "We deal a lot with addition as a metaphor, because
He's sort of a reformed drunk, so he's fighting his way back to something resembling humanity and helping others do the same." Whedon will executive-produce the new series just as he does Buffy, but Greenwalt, who is already busy penning the first episodes, will take the reins on Angel. The two have collaborated on such fan-favorite episodes as "Nightmares," "School Hard" and "Ted." Greenwalt's solo work for the show includes the episodes "Teacher's pet," "Faith, Hope and Trick" and "Reptile Boy," which he also directed. The vision and powerful story-telling which Whedon and Greenwalt brought to Buffy is shaping up to appear once again on this new series. "It will be a little darker, but it won't be one of those relentlessly blue-collar, angst-ridden shows," says Whedon. "It will have some good, quirky humor. Every episode can really be different. We can go anywhere and be more like an anthology, with stand-alone stories and less of a soap opera."
The move to L.A. has Boreanaz especially excited. Aside from the sheer thrill of starring in his own hour-long series, the anthology nature of the show should give him plenty of plot variety to deal with. He'll also have some juicy acting to sink his teeth into -- no pun intended. "It's kind of like a quest to save humanity," says Boreanaz. "Angel's going to tap into the resources of everybody's minds in Los Angeles and fight their inner demons. He's also going to be a character that can go bad or good -- he'll take the soul or save the soul, depending on the situation. It's moving on to a different level, a different look, and a different show, but the same kind of premises." Boreanaz is also thrilled by the opportunity to reach a different audience with his work than that commonly associated with Buffy. His adventures in Sunnydale had the humor and thrills to appeal to teens and adults alike, but with a later time slot and the exploration of a vampire's black soul, Angel will aim more consciously at adults. "It will hopefully be able to attract an older audience," he says. "We'll be able to do things on the show that we won't or couldn't get away with on Buffy. Older things, cooler things, because it'll definitely be a different timeslot. It'll be more graphic. This series has more adult content that Joss wants to explore."
The buzz surrounding the Angel spinoff has grown to the point that even the usually-sedate television critics are starting to take notice. Buffy's quality has managed to excite -- and worry -- some critics about the upcoming new show. "The departure of Angel is worrisome for any Buffy fan, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens," says Robert Bianco, the TV critic for USA Today, who name Buffy as one of his top ten shows of 1998. "As a TV critic, the idea that the people behind Frasier -- which I think is the best sitcom on television-- were not able to do Encore, Encore without both shows suffering does create some worries [Whedon's] ability to do both shows. But talented people deserve a chance to expand their talents."
The critics are watching. Buffy fans are waiting breathlessly. It's a new city, a new audience, and an entirely new style of television. C'mon -- nobody's even a little bit anxious? "Well, I won't be buying a house this year," quips Carpenter. Maybe not, but we'd bet the farm that Angel has "hit" written all over it.
Back to ARTICLES page