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Why Angel After the Fall Delivered and Buffy Season 8 Did Not

February 22, 2009

With Angel After the Fall almost wrapped up, and Buffy Season 8 swinging in the wind, it might not be the best time to write an epitaph for one and a eulogy for the other, but what the hell.

Like their real life TV counterparts, Buffy Season 8 has gotten nothing but praise, mostly over gimmicks such as Buffy’s lesbian fling (but gosh don’t make the mistake of thinking that makes her gay), while Angel After the Fall has mostly been ignored. That’s pretty much what happened to the real life TV shows.

Buffy got a second chance at life on UPN where it spent another season sucking the life and sanity out of what had once been a great series. Its final season almost made up for the previous three seasons, but really didn’t. Angel got better and better hitting a high note in the fourth season, only to get clobbered at the end of the 5th, with no second chances.

And things haven’t changed in the comic book arena.

Yes Angel After the Fall had a weak start while Buffy Season 8 had a strong one, but after a few issues that clearly changed. The big difference was that Brian Lynch kept control over Angel After the Fall, while after a strong initial run, Joss Whedon welcomed in his old writing buddies that wrecked Buffy, and turned Buffy Season 8 over to them. The results… well if you think a giant Dawn fighting a giant Robot dawn over Tokyo, to stop a gang of cyber vampires, with the help of Dracula, even as Buffy is coping with the aftermath of her lesbian fling is great storytelling, you sir are a moron and should be shot with a cannonfull of raw cabbage.

Both Buffy Season 8 and Angel After the Fall shook up their respective universes. Angel After the Fall sent all of LA to hell. Buffy Season 8 gave Buffy command of an army of slayers. Both series threw out their share of out there concepts. The difference is that Angel used all of them to build to a larger story, while Buffy Season 8 just threw them out there out of sheer wackiness. It’s the difference between turning Dawn into a centaur and turning Gunn into a vampire. Guess which one is stupid and which one builds story.

Angel After the Fall did what Angel seasons have always done. Built up an epic story that stretches beyond the individual season, following the thread of a large conspiracy, and individual sacrifices and tests. Buffy Season 8 is doing what the later Buffy seasons did, throw out gimmick after gimmick, surround Buffy with a huge rabble of recurring characters that obscure the meat of the story, dedicate as much time as you can to Scooby Gang bickering, and hope everyone forgets how much they hated the last episode\issue’s lack of actual character development or interesting events.

At times Buffy Season 8 has been fun, but mostly it’s been a dyslexic unfocused ride that shows Joss Whedon and Co. learned nothing from Buffy’s decline on TV. (As if Dollhouse couldn’t tell you that already.) Angel After the Fall closes with Angel saving LA and dooming himself to evil and the destruction of the world. On Buffy Season 8, the writers are busy emphasizing in the last issue that Buffy is not a lesbian. That’s the difference between story and shameless gimmick.

And yes, you’re welcome.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. James17930 permalink
    February 22, 2009 5:13 am

    I agree with you that B:S8 is in a bad place right now (I mean, what the hell is this stupid crap about Harmony’s reality TV show? And a whole issue devoted to Kennedy and Satsu? Wha?), but, again, it did have such a strong start, and the Fray crossover went much better than I expected, that I’m willing to overlook this silliness (provided it is minor and short-lived) for what I hope and expect will be a strong finish (again, it’s simply too early to completely write it off — you have a bad habit of doing that 😉 ). I think the main problem is the plan to stretch it out into 40 or so issues. It should have been more compact, and then we wouldn’t have had so much filler.

    That’s definitely one of the strengths of AtF, although, there were times when that one did go off the rails. The whole set of ‘First Night’ stories, aside from Gunn’s, were atrocious; the issue where he was ‘dead’ and talking to Cordelia was enh; and I’m not a huge fan of the whole ‘it happened but didn’t happen’ scenario — that will only prove its worth if what comes next in Aftermath shows a meaningful set of consequences being dealt with.

    But, again, I’m willing to take a ‘wait and see’ approach with B:S8 to see if they can save it.

  2. drnormalblog permalink*
    February 22, 2009 4:57 pm

    It’s the same problem as Buffy’s later seasons. When Joss Whedon gave up control, the whole thing began to spiral out of control. Even when he got back into it with the Fray crossover, it was too disjointed to work too well and didn’t make much sense.

    Evil Willow works with the lurks to set up a whole scenario, Fray is willing to go along with it, and all of it is set up just so Buffy will kill her. Overcomplicated much?

    Basically Buffy Season 8 had a solid early run and then went the way that Buffy itself did. After the Fall has its own down sides but it did manage to deliver a larger story.

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