Synopsis: Angel has become Super Angel in the City of Angels. He teams up with the half-breed demon Doyle and a friend from Sunnydale to send a vampire plaguing LA to his doom.
Review: Angel is not Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Okay, I guess that is obvious, but Angel is not Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Next Generation either. The premise of the show stands on its own. If you have never seen Angel, I know exactly what you are thinking, because I thought the same thing before I ever watched it. I thought a show titled Buffy the Vampire Slayer sounded corny enough--and now they have a spin-off about a detective vampire! Then I watched Angel. It is an intelligent blend of action and comedy. In another universe where Buffy had never aired, Angel could have aired and made perfect sense. The premise does not rely on Buffy. Angel is different in visual appearance (hyperactive editing, more stylized) and tone (darker). Thankfully, Joss Whedon's trademark combination of wit and serious contemplation and action are still there.
For a pilot, City Of was good. It shows a greater level of maturity than the first season of Buffy. Maybe the guy who had only worked on Roseanne, Toy Story, and an early-nineties movie that had been the source of public ridicule titled Buffy the Vampire Slayer has matured. Maybe it was because that guy surrounded himself by a group of all stars to create Angel. Angel had a creative team behind it that should make other television series jealous. Co-creator of the spin-off with Whedon was David Greenwalt. Greenwalt was a Hollywood and television veteran originally brought in during the first season of Buffy, because the studio thought Whedon did not have enough experience himself. He had produced, written, and directed for shows such as Doogie Howser, The Wonder Years, and The X Files. Greenwalt was to be the showrunner of Angel. Basically, he had the responsibility of deciding on the direction of the show leaving Whedon to remain showrunner of Buffy. David Fury, who had mostly an animation background but has since gone on to produce and write for 24 and Lost, was brought on as a staff writer. The greatest addition to Whedon's production company, Mutant Enemy Productions, was Tim Minear. Minear is known in Hollywood for his creativity. He got his start as a executive story editor for Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. He has since co-created Firefly with Whedon and served as the showrunner for the short-lived Wonderfalls.Angel is a blend of several genres: vampires, superheroes, and film noir, which results in something entirely unique. Angel intentionally utilizes many of the superhero and film noir clichés in a creative way. In the pilot, Angel has wooden spikes rigged to drop out of his sleeves, when he runs out a dark alley, his trench coat flies up, and he drives a black convertible. Both Doyle and Cordelia are great compliments to Angel. Cordelia is not easily intimidated evidenced by the nonchalant way she deduces the bad guy of this episode is a vampire. The pilot earns a 7.5 out of 10 and promises a great series to follow. I love the episodic feel the pilot establishes: Angel saves a new "client" each episode, but the lawyer firm representing monsters provides some interesting story arc possibilities later on down the road.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10 (Reviewed by: Matthew Miller)