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November 27, 2003
OPINION
How Soon Is Now?
by Daniel Erenberg

There is a great white hope, a flash in the darkness that gives me an extreme sense of happiness when I begin to think about what is about to come in the latter seventy-five percent of Angel's fifth season. His name is Drew Goddard.

My boy Drew (or as his wonderfully, and hopefully ironically, self-centered website drewgoddard.com calls him "Ultimate Drew") was hired to write for Buffy in between seasons six and seven based on a treatment he wrote for Six Feet Under. His first episode was called "Selfless", a mythology-based story surrounding Anya. It was Anya's first real star vehicle and while Emma Caulfield's performance was excellent, it was the writing that seemed somehow different. It seemed new. Energized. Ultimate.

He spent the rest of the season penning some other really good episodes including "Never Leave Me", "Dirty Girls", "Lies My Parents Told Me", and a segment of "Conversations With Dead People". After the season was up, Joss shifted him over to Angel as the only new staff writer for season five. I was definitely excited when I heard this.

I had no intention of writing about Drew Goddard this week. I had a list planned out (which I'm delaying to next week). However, this all changed when I watched "Lineage" last Wednesday, Goddard's Angel debut.

A lot of you know how disenchanted I've felt with Angel this year. I was less than happy with Spike becoming the focus. I didn't think they were using the headquarters and resources of Wolfram & Hart exactly right. Some characters were getting left in the dust. It didn't feel like Angel. Who knew that the only writer on the staff this season never to write an episode of Angel would be the one to return it to its past glories? And this trend looks to continue with the fantastic-looking episode to air this week that features the glorious return of let's just say an important character.

For the first time since last season's Tim Minear-penned finale "Home", I'm breathlessly looking forward to more Angel. Of course, things could happen. Wesley could once again disappear from the limelight. Spike could slip right back in. But, maybe not. Maybe this was a turnaround.

Angel lost three tremendous assets this year. Two of the show's best writers, Mere Smith, and the insanely good Tim Minear, left to pursue bigger things. And the show lost a strong central female cast. Currently the only female character in an ever-growing opening credit listing is Amy Acker's Fred. And this is out of, what, six characters? Cordelia Chase and Lilah Morgan are gone and this dealt the show a massive blow. While I love Fred and Amy Acker (and would prefer to marry her at some point before my inevitable death), she can't make up a show's entire female component. An effort has been made at replacing Stephanie Romanov's Lilah by adding the new character Eve to the recurring cast but let's just say (and I think we can all agree) that Eve is no Lilah. Harmony has also been added to the recurring cast but hasn't done much yet. Actually, where has she been? We haven't seen her for a few episodes. Surely she would have been around during the chaos at W&H this week.

Can Drew Goddard fix all the faults with season five? Hell no! But I trust the show's writing staff. Even without Tim Minear, Mere Smith, and the departed co-creator David Greenwalt, we still have some excellence: there's Stephen S. DeKnight who really blossomed last season, there's David Fury and Jeffrey Bell, and Craft and Fain, and Joss Whedon for God's sake. The possibilities are limitless.

All we have is to look forward to the future. How soon can we see what will happen? How soon is now? It's getting good. "Lineage" is episode seven of season five. Well, take a good look at season four and you'll see that while the first six were better than season five's, the season didn't really take off until the seventh episode: "Apocalypse, Nowish". Same goes for Buffy's seventh season: episode seven was "Conversations With Dead People".

I think you can see where I'm going with this. However, the great thing is that I can't see where THEY are going with this. Angel I mean. (Was that clear?) It's exciting to think. The Buffyverse is back on track, ladies and gentlemen. Grab your remotes and watch "Destiny" this Wednesday. I promise a lack of disappointment.

I guess you can say I dug "Lineage". Now, if the rest of the year doesn't play off of this episode, that's when disappointment is going to hit. But I like to pretend the glass is half full.

Angel is back.

Daniel Erenberg lives in a gothic-looking house in a suburb of Long Island shrouded by trees and darkness. His backyard is so overrun with shrubbery that he can't plant flowers in the soil. He's penned articles for numerous magazines (and a couple of websites for free). Currently, he's writing his first novel, entitled People That I've Long Since Forgotten. He's also written two plays, Little Room and Dystopia and a screenplay called Youth Or Consequence. He lives a fairly happy life alone except for the mind-numbing loneliness he feels on occasion. If youíre a beautiful woman thatís fallen in love with Daniel, or you just want to talk Buffy with him, you can contact Daniel at daniel@slayage.com.
Latest Comments

the show ended when lilah morgan did

Posted by: emma angel on June 27, 2004 08:42 AM

Well, if you are a fan of Drew Goddard's work (like I am!), here's some great news: "Ultimate Drew" is also co-writing Angel eps 5.11 AND 5.13 with Steven S. DeKnight (another brilliant writer!). This has been confirmed on Goddard's official website.

Posted by: Dino7405 on December 6, 2003 12:40 AM

In my opinion, the first few epsiodes of Angel were weak and I feared that it didn't have long to go till WB pulled the plug, but 'Lineage' and 'Destiny' have renewed my faith - I'm very interesetd in what's going to happen and I think ME have coped well under the demands made on them by the WB. I often think restrictions and imposed changes can bring out the best in writers - The addition of Marsters and the 'less arc please' approach may have been the best thing that could have happened. Sure, I'm a self-confessed Spike-aholic, and admittedly the WB ruse to get me to watch S5 by adding him in it worked for that reason - but AtS seems to me more like business - a product made for the televsion to get viewers and attract advertisers, than the inspired art that was BtVS... so if WB made some executive decisions and they've worked, then good on the WB, so long as I get a few Spike one-liners a week I'm happy...God I'm fickle.

Posted by: Rex on December 5, 2003 04:53 PM

How tedious you get when you harp on about Spike. The world is full of people who simply disagree with you. Having watched every episode of Buffy as it aired and as many 'Angel' as they've let us in the UK, the Spike story is, without doubt for me the best part of the show - not shirtless Spike or lover Spike, but suffering, human Spike, certainly better acted than some of the other wooden dummies.

Posted by: gillie on December 5, 2003 12:59 PM

Agree with the fanfic writers comment, particularily season six and seven fanfic. I'm referring to BTVS. Fan fic dealt with the issues but yet, for the most part and for my own personal satisfaction, I never got that on screen. I think the fan fic writers do have a better grip on the characters than some of the writers.

Posted by: jp on December 4, 2003 10:10 PM
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