Does Angel (the Vampire) get better? Also, why is my memory broken?

I’ve only seen Buffy and Angel once each, early 2000s when the DVDs were fairly new. And if you’d asked me then, I would have said that Angel gets better and better while Buffy gets worse and worse.

But from rewatching now, Angel (the show) just sucked towards the end of S2 and all of S3 whereas Buffy S5 is probably my favorite season and S6? Which I remembered as totally dreadful actually has some stuff to recommend it, not the least of which is the arc of Buffy coming to re-embrace life/living which I missed the first time through. Yeah, the big-bads are terrible, and two Willow-Killers were allowed to escape (Andrew and Jonathon are just as guilty as Warren), but there was a great character arc for Buffy.

Meanwhile, the Pylea 4(?) parter at the end of Angel S2 was just…cringeworthy. I mean, I was actually embarrassed for these otherwise solid actors for having to be in it. And Angel Season 3? Dear Writers: if you want to do “Perfect Strangers” or “Mork and Mindy” or any other wacky domestic sitcom, Angel really isn’t the place for it.

All of Season Three is just terrible. There’s the whole Groo/Cordy thing:

Groo: Ah. Cordy. My princess. My love. I see you are tense. Despite the fact that I speak otherwise speak perfect English, let me ask you if you’d like me to obnokarak your tight, tight v’alitwana!!
< audience titters >
Cordy: You want to what my WHAT??? Right HERE?? Groo, we’re in PUBLIC!!!
< audience laughs >
Groo: < hurt > I just wanted to RUB your tight, tight SHOULDERS!
< audience laughs >
Corsy: Oh, Groo!

C’mon. This crap would have been stale in the '70s.

Plus there’s every second Connor is on screen. As a fetus, he drags Darla back in, as a baby, we have all sorts of really terrible scenes of Angel being all “Goochy-goochy-goo! Whosums a 'OOOD boy den? It’s OO! 'Es it is! Doseums want food in da tumtums? Es oo do!” And as a teen, he’s sullen, droopy and a mediocre actor who looks all the worse for being around really good actors.

So–does Angel get better again? Why do I remember it as being so good?

Because Angel’s final season is probably the best thing either show ever produced, with the gang taking the reins at Wolfram and Hart. It’s right up there with Buffy’s Season 3 for me, which is my favorite.

Season 3 was ok. It’s Season 4 that needs to be erased from existence. Then Season 5 bounces back with an arc that is close to perfection.

BtVS Season 5 reeked, for the record.

Buffy season 5 is generally regarded as the weakest. It’s all opinion though. I found all of Buffy and Angel to be good at worst, brilliant at best. For my money, season 3 of Buffy is best and Angel seasons are all about equally good.

Huh,I would have said that the general agreement was that 1 and 7 were the weakest, with the other 5 varying from person to person.

Although looking here, it’s actually awfully flat.

I thought season 4 was pretty strong although I can see there are certain elements to it that are bound to dismay. But the Big Bad was pretty unique, the action was intense (particularly The Beast wrecking shit everywhere he went) and there were a couple standout episodes (“The Magic Bullet” and “Home” especially).

I love season 5 because of the setting and situation (“You’ve reached Ritual Sacrifice! To sacrifice a goat, press 1 or say goat!”) but it started off weak because of a mandate for less serialization. This was abandoned mid-season and the showrunners pulled off a great arc but it’s lumpy in places (“Why We Fight”, “The Girl in Question”).

I liked season four the best, I’d suggest giving it a try.

Season five was good too and I liked the new spin it put on things.

I thought season one and two were the weakest, but could see three being a little that way as well.

I’d say 3 and 5 are Angel’s best seasons, but clearly season 3 isn’t doing it for you. Most of what you’re complaining about is absent in season 5, so you’ll probably enjoy that. But it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

Yeah, no way is season 5 considered the weakest. It always seems to be a competition between 5 and 3 for best season. Worst season is a bit more varied; 1, 4, 6, and 7 all have their haters.

Season 4 and 6 have the problem of being rather inconsistent. Season 4 has Hush and season 6 has Once More With Feeling, but at the same time season 4 has Beer Bad and season 6 has Normal Again (it’s awful, everyone who has a different opinion is wrong).

As for that graph, I’m not sure I quite understand what the lines represent. Call me stupid, but I don’t get it.

Each dot is the IMDB rating (thousands of user votes) for an episode of the show. They’re grouped into seasons. The line is a statistical projection of some sort, so basically each line is a season. The overall height of the line tells you how good the season is, and its angle tells you whether the season improved or not over its run.

For instance, here’s The West Wing, you can clearly see how it bottomed out in season 5, then improved in season 6 and 7.

For Buffy, Season 6 was far better than I remembered. If you look at the season as “Buffy learning to reconnect with her life” and the last ep (of Buffy and Dawn digging out of the pit) with the first ep (Buffy digging out of her grave) there’s a really good story arc. The three losers are annoying and I don’t see why/how Andrew stayed out of jail (or with his head attached) after helping to murder Tara and murdering Jonathon.

That said, Season 7 had so much potential…and they wasted it. They obviously didn’t know what to do with the First Evil and introduced whatshisname–the crazy preacher–like 5 episodes before the end just to create a motive of some kind or other. Which is sad because the First Evil’s plan was solid but motiveless:

  1. Harass Buffy
  2. Wipe out the potential slayers
  3. ???

With Angel, Season 4 would have been tons better without Connor (I knew…I knew the second they gave Connor Jasmine’s blood he’d betray them because there’s nothing he can’t make suck worse). Imagine how good it could have been if they’d just snuffed connor and had a few more “Everyone in the world becomes a Jasmine-Zombie after the team” episodes. (Also, plot-hole. Maybe 2. If Cordy’s blood de-zombifies Jasmine’s people, then…shouldn’t Conner’s? And maybe Angel’s?)

Season 5, so very, VERY much better, with the exception of the screwed up timeline (if nobody remembers Connor who did Wesley kidnap? What happened to Cordy? from everyone else’s POV?). I’m up to the Muppet ep and man, that’s fun. (Plus, S5 has Harmony and Harmony improves everything. Whoever that actress is, she’s got great comedic timing.)

HowSoonIsThen: Bad Beer becomes a lot funnier when you realize that the Buffy team was trying for some sort of Goverment “JUST SAY NO!” type campaign. (They didn’t get the money)

Plus, Season 5 had Werewolf-Girl (Nina), who was smoking hot.

As someone who was mildly entertained by Angel and Buffy (but not a fan per se), I’m not sure that the quality varies all that much. The first season of Buffy is truly deeply horrible and everything else is more or less the same. If that’s what you like, you’ll probably like more of it.

The one thing I like about Angel over Buffy is that no one is in school. It’s a personal thing, but high school was the worst time in my life and that kind of sours me against anything set in high school.

Then you missed the entire point of Buffy.

I stopped watching Angel probably in the second season.

Came back for the 5th season, which was really good.

You timed it just right. There are good episodes in Seasons 3 & 4, but overall they reek of Connor.

I just finished the last ep. of Angel. I’d completely forgotten that Lindsey comes back, and how they resolve his story.

Great finale, even if the few episodes prior building-up is a bit rushed. That said, you can’t get rid of the “fluff” episodes that most Buffy/Angel arcs have because they were so incredibly good (muppet Angel, the “The Immortal” one which is essentially a Hope/Crosby road pic with Spike and Angel, the Harmony one…).

The bit with Harmony in the end was wonderful.
I never betrayed YOU!”
“Harmony, you are betraying me right NOW! Get out of the building”
“Are you…firing me?”
“Among other things”
“Can…I have…a…a recommendation?”
Bwah! They stayed true to the character until the end. (And beyond. She’s great in the comic series)

The only flaw with the finale is Gunn putting an axe through the Senator’s head. She’d become a martyr. It also lacked the coolness of everyone else’s final battle.
If I had unlimited money, I’d lock Joss and JMS (from B5) into a room and tell them to come up with a 5 year series. They collaborate on the plot/characters, but JMS controls the story arcs and character arcs (with Joss’s input on the character stuff–the one rule being "No goddamn backtracking–I still haven’t forgiven Joss for reverting Xander to a retarded man-child after he left Anya at the alter. Let the characters grow dammit), and Joss writes most of the dialogue and does the individual episodes, with JMS having the control of the episode order so you don’t get something like Buffy S4 where the Big Bad was forgotten about for like the first 17, 18 episodes of a 22 episode run.

Adam was just a late bloomer. What do you expect from such a Momma’s boy?

Season 6, and also Season 7, are much much better binge watched than viewed on the schedule they followed when they originally aired. The pacing is better, and vast acres of nothing is happeningness are compressed into bearable, even desirable, pauses in the action.

But yes, I totally agree that The First suffered from the lack of a grokable motivation.

I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a more general thing going on here, too. TVTropes calls it SeinfeldIsUnfunny. You’ve seen a lot more good TV since then, TV that does what Angel did for you when you first watched, but does it better. Heck, even better seasons of the same show can make the older seasons suck by comparison.

Yep, that should have been obvious. I’m very thick.