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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Fallen Angel

February 18, 2004

Put a stake through my heart.

My favorite vampire with a soul just got dusted.

Inexplicably, the WB network canceled Angel this week, despite strong ratings. The decision left fans, and the show’s creator, baffled.

Angel is the frog network’s second highest rated program among viewers aged 18-34. And it posted ratings gains this year, despite tough Wednesday-night competition. The week of Jan. 26, Angel outperformed The West Wing, King of Queens and Becker in the 9 p.m. timeslot to rank third among viewers aged 12-34 and men 12-34. The series defeated both CBS and NBC programs, among women12-34 and female teens.Those are impressive numbers, considering a good portion of the nation’s TV audience doesn’t have access to the WB.

So, frankly, I’m stunned. I don’t get it.

Apparently, series creator Joss Whedon doesn’t either. “I thought that if a show was really good and doing really well (in the ratings), it was renewed,” Whedon told Variety. “I was apparently misinformed.”

Network executives said that the show doesn’t lend itself well to reruns, due to its propensity for long story arcs. Execs also noted that the show doesn’t have a large number of new viewers, a demographic they are desperately seeking. The frog also plans to add more reality shows to its lineup next year, according to Variety.

Shame on the WB.

Sadly, Angel is being buried alive. There is too much story left to tell to wrap up in only a few episodes. This show still has plenty of life left in it. (Well, not literally of course, because many of the characters are supposedly the walking dead. But I digress.)

The point is, Angel is good. At times, too good for the small screen. Pick any given episode, and I’ll promise you an hour of entertainment better than most movies you’ll pick off the shelf at the video store.

Rarely do spin-off shows match the glory of the original series, but Angel does. Watching this brooding hero fight against evil is appointment TV. And while the year didn’t start off with its trademark greatness, the last few episodes have been nothing short of brilliant.

Hopefully, Whedon will follow the same strategy he used when the WB canned Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He’ll offer Angel to other networks. The UPN picked up Buffy, and maybe it will breathe life back into Angel, too.

Hey, a girl can dream right?

Fans aren’t taking the news well. They’ve flooded Internet message boards ranting against the decision. They’ve started online petitions to save the show. And they’re sending tubes of hair gel to the network in honor of thespiked-haired vampire, to protest the cancellation.

Maybe it will work. Maybe the WB will have a change of heart. Or maybe Angel will see the light of day on another network.

Meanwhile, I’m off to stock up on hair gel - I have a lot of flyaways - and contemplate the news.

If anyone can tell me why a network would cancel a popular, refreshingly original program, please do. Because the way I see it, this decision bites.

Originally published 2/18/04 in The Exponent Telegram newspaper.


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