Angel was the highly successful spin-off from the American television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Angel had a darker tone than Buffy, and it at times performed better in the U.S. Nielsen Ratings than its parent series. more...
The series was created by Buffy creator Joss Whedon in collaboration with David Greenwalt, and first aired in October of 1999. Like Buffy, it was produced by Whedon's production company, Mutant Enemy.
The series detailed the ongoing trials of the vampire Angel, who had his human soul restored to him as a punishment after more than a century of murder and torture of innocents, leaving him tormented by guilt and remorse. During the first four seasons of the show, he worked as a private detective in a fictionalized version of Los Angeles, California, where he and a variety of associates worked to "help the helpless" and to restore the faith and "save the souls" of those who had lost their way. Typically, this involved doing battle with evil demons (which, on Angel, are distinguished from well-meaning, neutral and innocent demons) as well as tangling with demonically-allied humans and his own violent nature. The term "demon" when applied to the Angel universe refers to the original or pre-Christian definition of the word, which could just as often be morally value-neutral, as opposed to referring to evil beings exclusively. Although not used, the phrase "extra-dimensional alien" (or something similar) would probably be more appropriate in describing certain characters (Lorne in particular) whose intentions were generally not malevolent.
The original concept for the series was a dramatic modernization of the classical noir detective story, which gained popularity in large part through the works of Raymond Chandler. In much the same way as Buffy had been a recreation of classical horror films, Angel gave the same treatment to the classical Film noir. The central design and format of the series echoed classic noir films — the first episode even included a Sam Spade-style voiceover. The character of Angel was developed here as a recreation of the reluctant, hard boiled Los Angeles detective who has dealings with a variety of underworld characters. In this case, the "underworld" is a more literal underworld of demons and supernatural beings. Many traditional noir stories and characters were explored in earlier episodes, including the ditzy but attractive secretary, the cagey but well informed partner, and clashes with crooked lawyers and meddlesome, too-good-for-their-own-good cops. These were usually given a modern or supernatural twist.
The style and focus of the show changed considerably over its run, and the original noir idea was mostly discarded in favor of more large scale fantasy-themed conflicts. The initial impetus for this change is often attributed to Tim Minear, who wrote many of the show's most important episodes. In later seasons, the mythology and stories became increasingly complex; in season four, one of the characters on the show itself described the storyline as "a turgid supernatural soap-opera".
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