Derek’s Review – 1.01 “City Of” Review
Considering the current popularity of superheroes on TV, Angel really fits in with the landscape. This is essentially a Batman show, put a cowl on David Boreanaz and Hans Zimmer score and this could be scenes from the Dark Knight. Though Angel is a lot more self-aware and fun than any of the Dark Knight movies. There are some definite cheesy moments where they are trying too hard to be cool, funny or dark but there is a really nice balance of all three of those for the most part.
While Tina is an incredibly forgettable character, her only defining characteristic seems to be her vague psychical resemblance to a certain unnamed pretty blonde. The metaphor surrounding her was interestingly dark. I hesitate to even call it a metaphor, the only fictitious thing about the scenario displayed by Tina (later Cordelia) and Russell is that Russell is a vampire. I’m sure there are countless young actress who are preyed on by people like Russell and it gave “City Of…” a rather somber tone despite the outlandish supernatural elements.
On the brighter side, the dynamic between the characters really worked. On their last season on Buffy Cordelia and Angel’s stories had either stagnated or just repeated themselves so it makes perfect sense for them to have their own adventures. Angel’s stoic and social awkwardness plays well off Cordelia’s transparent social butterflying. I was also surprised how much I enjoyed Doyle, he wasn’t used enough in the pilot and seems too convenient of a character but there is definite room for improvement there.
There were definite downsides but they are the excepted problems of a pilot. Just because Angel quips about Doyle recapping his entire life to him being unnecessary because he lived it doesn’t make it better. The show does it’s best to punch up the exposition a thons that Doyle and Cordelia give with jokes and flashbacks but it feels like they could have done it better or a completely different way. They are somehow too much and yet too vague. Buffy fans would already know this information and non-Buffy fans aren’t really getting the full picture with the vague and truncated recaps. So no one wins.
Speaking of losers, there is Tina. Ultimately Tina doesn’t really matter and the story becomes much more about Angel helping Cordelia then Tina but that doesn’t mean she’s not a drag when she’s there. There is very little empathetic moments with her, her story is sad sure but I don’t care about her character. David Borenaz does a nice job when Angel discovers her body especially the moment where he is tempted by her blood but her death really isn’t emotive. It’s more excepted.
The show does a good balance of tone but there a moments when the show goes too far into one, wheter it be humor or darkness that it just feels cheesy. Moments in particular that stand out as trying too hard Doyle and Angel’s “I’m just the messenger!” “Yeah and I’m the message” exchange or Cordelia thinking Angel’s evil as he talks to her casually in a crowded room of people.
I cut the episode a lot of slack because it is the pilot and things like tone are rarely definitely tied down in the first episode.
I’m of course tempted to give it to Angel double staking too vampires at once in the first five minutes but the ending scene with the main three characters is so strong that I wish we’d seen more interaction with them throughout the episode and really gets me excited for the next one.
Score: 63 out of 100