Please don't bring back Angel

I know this isn't a popular stance, at least not with the people likely to be reading a web site largely devoted to Buffy and Angel, but hear me out before you start sending me hate mail.

Remember when Angel wanted to bring back Doyle Parting Gifts? Remember when Dawn tried to bring back Joyce in Forever? Remember when Willow wanted to bring back Tara in Villains? The point got made time and time again that bringing back the dead is a bad idea. Hey, the last two seasons of Buffy were almost entirely about the problems caused by bringing her back.

Now remember the final season of Roseanne, the final season of Mad About You, the final couple of seasons of X-Files. Is that the way you want Angel to go?

I know what you're going to say. Angel is still young, only 5 seasons. Buffy went 7. It did, but Angel isn't Buffy. The quality has been spotty this season and last. New characters have substituted for new ideas. It's still watchable, still fun, but what would it be like a year or two from now. Optimists think it'll be great. But what if it isn't. What if we get a year of awful episodes and that's the way the Buffyverse ends. Is that really what you want? And it's far more likely. Shows rarely get better, they almost always get worse.

And if Angel does come back - how and where? On UPN where Star Trek can barely hack it anymore and where Buffy withered. On some low rent cable channel which will cut the budget even further and probably demand more action and fewer ideas (didn't anyone else watch Crusade). The best idea I've heard has been for direct to DVD. But if you could make the episodes for a bargain basement $500,000 a piece, make a 20 episode season, charge enough for a DVD to gross $10 per sale (after reproduction, shipping, advertising, and retailer's cut), and then sell a million copies (much more than they do now) you'd just break even.

Remember 1999? That's the year Angel debuted. Here's a list of some other shows that were on the air that autumn:

I may be missing a few, but I think that's close to a complete list of network fantasy and science fiction shows. Five years later, only two of them remain on the air: Angel and Charmed. And God alone knows why Charmed is still there. The fact is fantasy and science fiction seem not to be in vogue any more. The current incarnation of Star Trek is on the verge on cancellation. Firefly couldn't even last a season. Tru Calling is dead man walking. Jake 2.0 is already in the grave. It's not that these shows are awful (although some are) it's that the audience has shrunk. It likely will grow again, medical series and detective series go in and out of fashion and fantasy and science fiction are no different. But this isn't the right time. Angel is a dinosaur. It's almost the last of its kind. Let it die with dignity.

And while I'm ranting, let me add a coda about Sarah Michelle Gellar. A lot of fans are angry over her apparent refusal to appear on Angel and help close off the series. I note some fans have taken to dissing Gellar and belittling her talent. She is not, at least not yet, a great actress. Nobody on Buffy or Angel is a great actor or actress. Many of them, likely most, will never go on to greater success. That's the way of things. Gellar put in 7 years as Buffy. As title stars of tv shows go, she was remarkably well behaved. She didn't sit out for more money or go around griping about her costars. She never phoned in her performance. She did her job and did it well for the life of the show. Now she wants to move on to other things. I can't blame her. As an actress, the Buffy role will haunt her for a long time and the more she is associated with it the harder it will be for her to find decent roles that aren't a reprise of the slayer. If she doesn't want to play Buffy again, at least not this soon, that's her business. She doesn't owe her fans anything more than the 7 years of hard work she's already given them.

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