So I guess J. August Richards is gonna be Luke Cage then? Awesome.
(pʰlɹts ʼɡlɹb) n. home
I’m taking a course on Hardboiled Detective Fiction and Film Noir, and my final paper can be on any topic I want. So of course I decided to write about Angel.
This is my paper proposal.
Angel,the cult TV show created by Joss Whedon, has very strong ties to noir and the hardboiled genres. A spinoff of the iconic Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it features the eponymous vampire with a soul on a search for redemption. A major source for its noir inspiration is Los Angeles, which he quickly adopts and claims his own. Just as Batman, another source of inspiration, has Gotham, Angel has LA. The pilot episode is called “City Of” – a pun referring to the meaning of the city’s name, and to Angel himself.
But noir is more than a source of inspiration for the show – it is its essence. All of noir’s major themes and motifs – being vs. having, the detective’s code and moral ambiguity / temptation, the visual aesthetic – translate seamlessly into the urban fantasy analysis of good vs. evil, what it means to fight for good (or for evil) and to seek redemption of one’s evil or criminal past.
I’m so excited.
That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of other Whedonverse actors I’d love to see in SHIELD — the list is pretty much all of them. Enver Gjokaj, Dichen Lachman, Amy Acker, and Alan Tudyk especially. But J. August Richards is probably the one I was secretly rooting for the most, for reasons I can’t entirely explain. Maybe because Angel is my show. I remember always liking Gunn when I watched the show in middle school. And Richards doesn’t seem to have had much of a career after the show, so maybe that’s a factor.
In the BUFFY Season 1 finale (“Prophecy Girl”), Giles, a watcher, translates an ancient prophecy stating the slayer (Buffy) will DIE. Although she does briefly die in the episode, she ends up LIVING.
In the ANGEL Season 1 finale (“To Shanshu In L.A.”), Wesley, a former watcher, translates an ancient prophecy stating a vampire with a soul (assumed to be Angel) will one day DIE. He later realizes the translation actually says a vampire with a soul will LIVE (become human).
Never noticed that connection before now. In both instances, the prophecies end up being more complicated than they first appear.
I actually did notice this on my last rewatch. This is what got me to realize that Joss has three kinds of season finales.
The first is the “season 1” finale. Season 1 of his shows tend to be almost entirely episodic (with varying degrees of arc-ness). Usually, the second-to-last episode of the season is just an episode, but introduces a minor element that becomes central to the finale. In any case, the finale is pretty much a stand-alone. This is Prophecy Girl (Angel gets the prophecy in Out of Mind, Out of Sight), To Shanshu in L.A. (Angel also finds the prophecy in Blind Date), Omega (Alpha first shows up in Briar Rose), and Objects in Space. And yeah, I know Omega is technically the second to last episode, but bear with me a second. Dollhouse is pretty much the sort-of exception to all of these because the finales kind of combine most of them.
Epitaph One, the actual Dollhouse season 1 finale, is an example of the second kind: the “coda”. This happens after a season-long arc. The main conflict is over, the Big Bad has been defeated or whatever, but this episodes somehow wraps up the themes of the show. This is the rarest kind. Pretty much the only other examples are Epitaph Two, Restless, and Home.
The third kind is, of course, the end of an arc. This is pretty much every other finale I haven’t mentioned. Though, of course, the Dollhouse finales both sort of qualify for this category, too, because Dollhouse is crazy like that. And the ones that come before codas, like Primeval and Peace Out, are of course debatable.
This has been a needlessly precise categorization of the Whedonverse finales.
So… between Agent Coulson being in SHIELD, and probably showing up in phase 2 Marvel movies (I’m just assuming he’ll be in them), is he going to end up being the MCU character with the most screentime? And… the face of the franchise?
I’m so happy for Clark Gregg.
I’m reading the Wikipedia entry on “The Body”. It has a long section on themes and production and writing. Some interesting things from the article:
From the start of writing the Buffy series, Joss Whedon asserted that it would never have a “very special episode” as in contemporary series Beverly Hills, 90210, The Wonder Years, or Party of Five, where the core cast of characters addresses a single issue (AIDS, drug abuse, or alcoholism, for example) and resolve all the problems at the end. Whedon was not interested in finding a life-affirming lesson for “The Body”. Rather, he wanted to capture the isolation and boredom involved in the minutes and hours after finding a loved one has died, what he termed “the black ashes in your mouth numbness of death”. He did not intend to resolve any religious or existential questions about the end of life, but wanted to examine the process in which a person becomes a mere body.
Whedon’s rejection of the “very special episode” format impelled him to address the physicality of Willow and Tara’s relationship within “The Body”. Before this episode, they had held hands and danced on screen, but they had not kissed. A genre of television specials dealing with female homosexuality developed as the “lesbian kiss episode” in the 1990s, where a female character kissed another female but no relationship is further explored. Whedon set out to acknowledge Willow’s and Tara’s affection without making it the primary focus of the show. For attempting this, he received resistance from the airing network, the WB. Whedon informed them that the kiss between Willow and Tara was “not negotiable”. According to Whedon, the conversation about the kiss was approached by the network executives, who were concerned with the number of gay relationships on the network. Whedon countered that the kiss was “true to character” and said he would quit the show if the network forbade it. It was the only time during the series he threatened to do so.
If I were to make a list of the top Whedonverse characters, I wouldn’t base it on how much I like them, per se, because that’s just subjective and not very interesting. I would base it on how dynamic and deep the characters are (and how well their characterization development is done, of course). So Firefly and Dollhouse characters would be at a distinct disadvantage, especially Firefly characters.
Not to say they wouldn’t make the list, but could you really say any of the Firefly characters could beat out most of the main cast in Buffy and Angel? I just don’t think they ever got a chance to be “better” characters, for the most part.