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30 Days Of Telly #7

Day seven, your least favourite episode of your favourite TV show. That's a difficult one, as I tend to block out the bad stuff, and pretend it never happened. And if it didn't happen, I can't mention it here.

There is one, though. Angel isn't my favourite TV show (except when it is), but I love it dearly. It had some superb writing over the years, and it also had some fine actors working on it. The character arc of Wesley Wyndham-Pryce is one of the finest that I've ever seen, and although Buffy The Vampire Slayer was probably the better series over all, at its height Angel gave it one hell of a run for its money. Which is why, when it failed, it did so very noticeably. I have a particular disliking for two episodes. One's a contraversial choice, but the other most definitely isn't. To begin with there's the final episode of all, "Not Fade Away". The plot hinges on a grand plan of Angel's that's quite the worst piece of tactical thinking ever. This means that everything falls apart, and in the worst kinds of ways. The Angel we knew would not have made that plan. And when your grand finale has the main character do something unremittingly stupid, and do it unceasingly for an entire episode, the result is a dissatisfying conclusion. That would be bad enough for an ordinary finale, let alone for the end of everything. It takes the fabulous build-up of tension from the preceding episode, "Power Play", and ruins it all.

The second time Angel got it wrong was just a few episodes before. "The Girl In Question" might have worked, had Sarah Michelle Gellar agreed to appear in it (so we could have had the real Buffy, rather than a few long shots of the back of a stand-in's head). It might have worked had the show not been axed, and we were not careering towards its final episode. It might have worked mid-season, when a lot of shows let the main narrative slip for a bit. Those are three very big ifs. In the event, with only two episodes left to go, hundreds of loose strings to tie up, and a popular regular cast that had already been badly underused all season for several reasons, "The Girl In Question" might just rank as the most badly misjudged episode of anything.

It's a tough choice, as "Not Fade Away" was a massive disappointment, and I hate it. For me it got everything wrong, although I appreciate that other opinions are available. "The Girl In Question" was just one huge mistake throughout, though. I think I shall probably have to go with that.


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