original air-date: 02-18-04
most hermit-like Angel fan won't know that this is
the much anticipated episode in which Angel gets turned into
a puppet. That event will no doubt be very polarizing: Some
fans will love it, some fans will hate it. Really, though,
the puppetry is ancillary to the story telling, character
development, and so on. So look past the puppet.
left is a mixed quality offering that might make fans yearn
for the old days of Angel Investigations taking on specific
cases (and Lorne was a more active member). Here the Wolfram
and Hart setting adds very little. The same story would have
worked with a few screenplay tweaks, a cage in the basement
of the hotel, Wes' pouring through moldy spell books, and
Cordy manning the internet. (Remember those funny demon info
opens with a young boy watching Smile Time, a Sesame
Street-esque kids' show supposedly ultrapopular in the
so-called SoCal market. Unfortunately, sitting too close to
the TV really is bad for you in this case. But don't worry,
kid. If it had been real horror, that thermometer would have
gone somewhere else!
kids end up with frozen smiles reminiscent of The Joker's
victims in Tim Burton's Batman. In fact, the rip-off
is so blatant, that Knox even mentions it while he and Fred
investigate. That's OK because it's probably the least annoying
thing that comes out of Knox's mouth. Here the writer's would
do well to rip-off Dead Poets Society and have his
W&H co-workers nickname him "Knox-ious."
Angel deals with werewolf girl Nina, who has developed a crush
on our would-be hero (and thus brings a new definition to
puppy love). A lot of fans didn't like the Nina storyline
the first time round. Really, though, she's not that bad.
Far more dreadful is DB's atypical acting in his initial exchange
with Wes. Maybe he was saving up for his puppet scenes.
storylines come together when Angel uses the need to investigate
the Smile Time studios as an excuse to dodge Nina's
affections. This makes perfect sense except it seems unlikely
that Angel would discover a key clue unobserved by Fred (or
even Knoxious) if she had been over the show recording many
times. Perhaps Fred is distracted by her new found feelings
for Wes. More on that later.
goes to check out Smile Time, he finds a secret passage
behind a file cabinet. Unfortunately, the passage does not
lead into John Malkovich's brain, but instead to the "Don't"
room. But Angel does, and ends up a puppet for the rest of
a few words on the whole puppet thing. It's fun. Seeing puppet
Angel is fun. Seeing puppet Angel almost get the stuffing
beaten out of him is fun (though the set-up is clumsy and
obvious). Seeing puppet Angel vamp out is fun. And the other
puppets, especially Ratio Hornblower, are fun too. So for
any fan who thought it was lame or stupid: Lighten up, Frances.
Fang Gang ends up saving the day is pretty much a given. In
some ways, the Smile Time story is just background
for a few key scenes no doubt tied to the upcoming arc. There's
Gunn going back to "imprints-are-us" for a legalese
recharge. Charles acts out of vanity, one of the Seven Deadly
Sins (if we are to believe The Devil's Advocate, Seven,
or even The Bible). His decision will clearly have repercussions.
Fred and Wes finally coming together. Fred, who with stick
figure and nano-skirt looks the geek equivalent of Ally McBeal,
tries to tell Wesley several times that she has developed
serious feeling for him. Wes, however, has so convinced himself
that his love is unrequited that he fails to note these advances.
He must be that out of it because it's a real stretch to believe
that Wes, under any circumstance, would encourage Angel to
risk turning back into Angelus. But judging from the preview
of next week's episode, Fred-Wes shippers would be premature
a few words about last week's upsetting news of Angel's
WB cancellation. I wish it wasn't true. On the other hand,
something Lorne said made me feel a little better, i.e.,
"remember the last few seasons of Happy Days?"
Well, I don't remember those very well, but I do remember
the last poor seasons of Buffy
and The X-Files.
So maybe it's a good thing that Angel's going out while
still in good form.
I mull that over, I've got lots of postcards and petitions
to fill out...