“Angel” is a television series created by Joss Whedon (director of “Marvel’s The Avengers”; co-creator of ABC Television’s “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD”) and David Greenwalt.
The show ran for 5 seasons on the WB network, and starred David Boreanaz as private investigator Angel, “the vampire with a soul”.
The series chronicles the adventures of Liam, an 18th-century landowner’s son, turned into a vampire by the lady Darla (played by Julie Benz).
Adopting the vampire name Angelus, Liam massacred his entire village, then took off with Darla on a murderous rampage that lasted 140 years, and spanned the civilized world.
Now, assuming that each of them had to consume the blood of at least one human every day, for 365 days a year (Leap Years, too), for 140 years… Well; do the math.
Most prolific serial killers in history.
Until Darla made the fatal error of procuring a young Gypsy girl, for Angelus to consume.
The girl’s family took revenge in a cruelly subtle way. They put a curse on Angelus, restoring his human soul – and with it, his memory of every person he’d killed.
Driven to the edge of insanity by guilt and remorse, Angelus sought redemption.
Changing his name to Angel, he became a warrior for Good. Hunting down vampires, demons, and assorted Hell-beasts that prey on humans.
Fast forward to the 21st century, and the California town of Sunnydale.
There, Angel falls in love with a teenager, Buffy Ann Summers (played by Sarah Michelle Gellar). As Fate would have it, Buffy is the latest in an ages-long line of Slayers: one girl, per generation, endowed with superhuman abilities by The Powers That Be, to slay vampires, demons, and assorted Hell-beasts that…
Cue angst, in the pre-“Twilight” era.
I’ll let Cordelia Chase (with a little help from Wesley Wyndham-Price) explain.
Video comes courtesy of YouTube:
Too much emotional baggage.
So, Angel left Sunnydale, for the City of Angels. There, he set up Angel Investigations (AI), a detective agency specializing in paranormal cases.
The AI Team
Here’s the bulk of them, in an extended credits sequence from YouTube, set to the show’s iconic theme tune:
You’re only as good as your supporting characters, and Angel had some great ones.
Doyle: Played by Glenn Quinn.
Doyle was the hard-drinking hybrid son of a human father, and demon mother.
Hard-drinking, because The Powers That Be bestowed on him the gift of visions. Or rather, garbled views of supernatural dangers currently happening, or yet to come – accompanied by Olympic-class migraine headaches.
Prior to his heroic death, saving the world, Doyle passed his gift on, to…
Cordelia “Cordy” Chase: Played by Charisma Carpenter.
Gorgeous, self-proclaimed “meanest bitch in the history of Sunnydale High”, Cordelia was more than just mean girl eye candy.
Funny, and incisively truthful in her bitchiness, Cordy signed on initially as a 2-words-per-hour secretary to Angel, after failing to make it in L.A. as an actress.
Handy with ancient weapons (she was one of Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s “Scooby Gang”, in Sunnydale), Cordelia remained the heart and soul of Angel Investigations. And the AI team’s crucial link to The Powers That Be – via those excruciating visions.
Wesley Wyndham-Price: Played by Alexis Denisof.
Former member of the Watchers’ Council – a group of stuffy British academics tasked with mentoring and providing logistical support to the current Vampire Slayer.
Wesley was booted off the Council when Faith (played by Eliza Dushku) – the Slayer called into action after Buffy Summers was killed – went homicidally rogue.
Reinventing himself as a rogue demon-hunter (“What’s a rogue demon?” as Cordelia puts it), Wesley fell on hard times in L.A., until offered a lifeline by Angel.
As the group’s resident authority on demonology and the paranormal, Wesley became a vital part of Angel Investigations.
Charles Gunn: Played by J. August Richards.
Orphaned by vampires as a child, the young Gunn became the leader of a group of street kids, dedicated to keeping their section of the city a vamp-free zone.
A skilled and inventive fighter, Gunn hooked up with Angel Investigations after his younger sister was turned into a vampire.
Always conflicted about working for a blood-drinker, Gunn later became the team’s expert on legal matters, after Angel was given control of Wolfram & Hart (more on them, later).
Lorne / The Host: Played by Andy Hallett.
Lorne (an abbreviation of his real name; don’t ask) first appeared as The Host of Caritas, a karaoke club with an open-door policy for supernaturals.
A lanky, green-skinned demon of the horned Lucifer variety, Lorne had the ability to read a person’s soul and know their fate, after hearing them sing.
Lorne joined the team after Caritas was destroyed, during one of AI’s cases.
Winnifred “Fred” Burkle: Played by Amy Acker.
A cute as hell (in the nicest possible way) Texan gal, with super-genius IQ.
Fred’s Astro-Physics research got her zapped into a demon dimension, for several years. When Cordelia Chase was ported to the same place, Angel and the gang followed, eventually rescuing both.
Fred stayed on, to lend her considerable intellect to the team – and to charm the socks off of everyone, with her persona.
Fans were devastated, when Fred was killed off – her soul obliterated, to make way for the demon goddess…
Illyria: Played by Amy Acker.
Whose essence had been trapped in an alternate Universe by her enemies, since the dawn of civilization.
Smuggled to Earth in an ancient artifact, her soul was freed, to inhabit a new host body.
Illyria looks a lot like Fred, only with blue hair and eyes, metallic gray skin, and a Clive-Barker’s-Hellraiser-Cenobite-esque black rubber body suit.
She has a formidable range of super-powers (which once included the ability to slow down Time), and occasionally uses them to help the team.
Spike (a.k.a. William the Bloody): Played by James Marsters.
William the Bloody was part of Angelus’ vampire “family”. He was sired by Drusilla (actress Juliet Landau), a loopy psychic who had been turned years earlier by Angelus.
Spike (as in, railroad spike; his favored instrument of torture) was a fearsome and skilled combatant, responsible for the deaths of two Vampire Slayers.
He took the hero’s route after falling in love with Buffy Summers (girl had vampire issues, clearly), and undergoing an ordeal to restore his soul.
After sacrificing himself to save the world, Spike was resurrected by Wolfram & Hart (them, again…), to be a thorn in Angel’s side.
He thwarted this plan, by actually proving an asset to the team.
Connor: Played by Vincent Kartheiser.
The unlikely son of two vampires.
Connor was conceived when Darla was resurrected from Hell as a mortal, by Wolfram & Hart, to seduce Angel.
Even after becoming a vampire again (by her own cunning), Darla’s pregnancy went to term, and Connor was born as his mother “died”.
Kidnapped soon after by the vampire-hunter Daniel Holtz (actor Keith Szarabajka), Connor was taken to an alternate dimension. There, the super-powered youth was raised as a warrior, his mind systematically poisoned against Angel / Angelus.
Returning to Earth as a teenager, Connor joined the ranks of AI. Always borderline: in both his sanity, and his feelings toward his biological father.
Connor’s memory was altered, and he was relocated to a normal family, as part of the deal Angel made to take over Wolfram & Hart. Speaking of which…
The Devil’s Advocates
Any legendary investigator needs a nemesis.
For Angel Investigations, the law firm Wolfram & Hart, was it.
In every dimension where Evil exists, the society of the Wolf, Ram, and Hart (Wolfram & Hart; get it?) is there, aiding and abetting.
In one Universe, they might be a religious order. A warrior sect, in another.
On Earth? They’ve set up as lawyers. The Senior Partners of the practice are High Lords of Hell.
And throughout the 5 years of “Angel’s” run, Wolfram & Hart was dedicated to making the heroic vampire’s life a misery – and advancing the course of the latest Apocalypse.
How Come I Never Knew About This?
The thing with “Angel”?
It was one of those shows that not too many people knew about. But those that did, were instantly hooked.
The stories deal with complex issues of temptation, conscience, and redemption. With wisdom, and enough wit to make you laugh out loud. Often.
If you get the chance, check it out, on DVD.
Time for me to go.
I’ll see you, for our next tale. I hope.