Whenever I write opinion pieces for the website, it usually relates back to whatever I happen to be writing for the magazine, that usually being the subject that’s on my mind at the time. This morning, I found myself writing about Angel in a fairly comprehensive way. I was reminded, in a fit of nostalgia, of how good that show was in its five-year run, and the extent to which I preferred it over mother show Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
I also realised I haven’t found a show that has truly succeeded it – since it finished in 2004, I’ve sought out dramas like The Wire, Mad Men, Life On Mars, House, Battlestar Galactica and Caprica. They’re all good in their own way, but I now believe the reason I like Angel was that, in spite of the campier elements like demon prosthetics and fictional incantations, it was a pretty sophisticated drama. Not The Sopranos sophisticated, as such, but engaging in that it challenged me, in some way, despite being easy viewing.
The number of shows that have subsequently done the same thing is quite low. They’re either too densely serialised, too procedural or too caught up in their own mythology – I think Angel balanced all three elements quite well, and that it was key to the show’s success.
Supernatural is certainly an Angel type of show, and despite its flaws, Dollhouse was too. My hunt for a spiritual successor to Angel goes on – in terms of pacing, I think Whedon and company had it just right. There was rarely a point in that show’s lifespan where I wasn’t enjoying the experience of watching it.