By Sherrie Li
By Falling James
By Amanda Lewis
By Amy Nicholson
By Amy Nicholson
By Jennifer Swann
By Scott Foundas
By Sherrie Li
In Angel, which has been spun off from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the eponymous undead guy, played by David Boreanaz, comes to L.A. in order to make a fresh start away from his impossible love, and becomes, of all things, a detective. Buffy, of course, is the show that taught a whole generation of screenwriters what a metaphor is, and Angel follows in its practice of finding a demonic analogue for everything. Along with the familiar lawyer-as-devil trope and the literalization of Hollywood as a place of bloodsuckers and bartered souls (a no-brainer, that), we have here the vampire as alcoholic -- recovering alcoholic in our hero’s case -- with half-demon Glenn Quinn (Becky‘s husband on Roseanne), dispatched by “the Powers that Be” as a kind of supernatural “sponsor,” though he functions more as a sidekick. (Quinn is rumored to be leaving the show; but he is also rumored not to be.) With Buffy’s former semi-nemesis Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter) in town for convenient reasons, they form a classic P.I. triumvirate of shamus, legman and secretary, arrayed against the underworld. And I do mean Underworld.
Like Buffy, it‘s an essentially cheerful show, for all its mucking about with the Dark Side. Carpenter, who has become more interesting with more room to maneuver, is chirpily dismissive of all that does not immediately concern her; Quinn, who is burlesque Irish on his non-demon side, is full of blarney; and Boreanaz, whose hunky sullenness I thought a distraction on Buffy (but then again, I’m not who the character was created for), has been considerably brightened and somewhat de-hunked: It turns out that beneath that underwear-model facade, Angel‘s just another bumbling geek (“I don’t do well with people,” he allows). In a sense, his character here is a kind of satirical fleshing out of the eternally broody dude he was drawn as heretofore: Sport is made of his hair mousse and his upscale taste in furnishings; he is fussy, in an Ungerish way, about his stuff (“And the reason there‘s a wet towel on my leather chair?”). Not surprisingly, he’s also been given a new, blond not-quite-love-interest in the recurring character of police detective Elisabeth Rohm, who was very funny in an episode where a devilish sensitivity trainer put the cops too much in touch with their feelings. To be sure, there‘s a lot of demon-whomping and kicking Evil’s ass for the 12-year-old boys (and the 12-year-old men), but the main appeals to us grown-ups remain the cracked reflection and dark fun-house inflation of mortal matters and manners, and the Bond-like cracking wise in the face of all the forces of hell.
Also set on and around the mean streets Philip Marlowe once walked is Snoops, the latest spawn of David E. Kelly, who has trouble delegating authority. The series, which gives Kelly four shows in network first-run, stars Showgirls girl Gina Gershon and, for the time being, Paula Marshall (Cupid) in a premillennial update of Charlie‘s Angels, minus Charlie -- making it a sister show to Pam Anderson’s trash-and-proud-of-it V.I.P. But Snoops has a more ambivalent relation to its own trashiness; it wants to wear the high high heels and work the decolletage at the same time it wants to seem smart and caring and better than that -- which, if nothing else, suits D.E.K.‘s brand of do-me-no-don’t-do-me-no-do-me post-feminist power feminism. I‘m not complaining exactly; I was happy enough to see talented Paula Marshall in her skivvies, yet I was also . . . somehow . . . sad. The news anyway is that she’s asked to leave the show, surrendering sole stewardship to the much less interesting, though first-billed Gershon, who‘s not bad exactly -- she’s just like a long, complicated equation that works out finally to zero. It‘s not quite the fall of the house of David; the show displays flashes of what makes The Practice and Ally McBeal interesting -- the offbeat character, the ethical conundrum. But it’s limp in between. It‘ll have to get a lot stupider, or sillier, or stranger to get my regular crimefighting-watching business.
Join My Voice Nation for free stuff, film info & more!
Find everything you're looking for in your city
Find the best happy hour deals in your city
Get today's exclusive deals at savings of anywhere from 50-90%
Check out the hottest list of places and things to do around your city