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August 01 2006

SFX Asks "When Did Angel Jump The Shark?". The issue #149 edition of this regular feature will try to answer this very question (including if it ever did), and they're asking for people to contribute their views. (reg. required to take part)

I don't believe it ever did, but reckon there's several places where some people could think it did.

This has been quite a good feature so far, most of it is an article about the show as a whole, seeing if there's any point where the show was bad from then on. It's not just 2 pages of people saying "show x got crap after event y" which is what I initially thought it would be.

Man, Angel totally jumped when it didn't come back for Season 6. I found the show completely unwatchable after that point.

(and talk about a contrived plot device ? Did Joss really think we wouldn't notice the highly deus ex-ish 'Network Exec' big bad just suddenly appearing with no back-story or foreshadowing ?)
This has been quite a good feature so far

Yeah, it's been done with a sense of fondness - I mean it is SFX, so everyone on the staff loves these shows anyway! It's also pretty good for a laugh, even if you don't agree with it (and they do include comments from people who don't think the shows jumped, just to be fair).
I don't think it ever jumped the shark. It may have had a few glitches along the way but it was soldily consistent with plot arcs that rivalled Babylon 5 and DS9 in terms of depth and epicness and some wonderful characters as well. Each season was wonderful.
Man, Angel totally jumped when it didn't come back for Season 6. I found the show completely unwatchable after that point.

ha! Yes, that was it.
You know, if it were any other show, I'd say that when you turn the lead character into a puppet, that pretty much jumps the shark.

But with a guy who regularly turns people evil/into demons, kills then resurrects, has people break out into song, gives people funny syphillis, has Angel sing Manilow...I'd expect nothing else from the Joss.
It jumped the shark back in early Season 3, when the glorification of Saint Cordelia started. However, in late Season 3/early Season 4, it had backtracked in the water, swam under the shark, and reappeared in a place where the shark was virtually un-jumped.

First post by the way. Hi, WHEDONesque.
I think it lost some of it's zest when it made Cordy the answer for every problem. Glow-Cordy and whatever was Conner's real purpose was the start of some very bad writting. They victimized Cordy so much that it was hard to have sympathy or understanding at those points.

But then it had great Eps in the later season's like Home, Orpheus and Lullabye. I agree it really recovered from the unwatchable season three in the seond half of 4. It was creepy, funny and even sad. Perfect Angel. Season 5 was a combination on 3 and 4. Not great, not bad. But always heartbreaking because of Angel and his struggles.

I think Angel grew and constantly changed and still you could see the man he was when he had started the journey. And it did give us Wes's brilliant story and Faith's continued redemption. I had problem's at the end because it looked like to me that Angel forgot the words he had said so long ago to Faith. We never give up, we always fight. But I also loved him fighting the dragon!

[ edited by Donna Troy on 2006-08-01 23:40 ]
It jumped around the time Amy Acker went overboard with her attempts to make me jealous by marrying some other guy. ;)
I found S3 to be fairly dull aside from a few standout moments ("Lullaby" and "Sleep Tight" come to mind). S4 was a bit more exciting, but still had its problems. S5 picked up the pace considerably and ended great. I'd say Angel never jumped, although it had an extended rough patch in the middle seasons. For the record, Buffy never jumped either imo. Although, the writing in S7 did begin to have some problems (not to say there wasn't a lot of very well-done material in there also).
I think rough patch is just the right term. "Jumping the Shark" implies that a series has so overshot the mark in terms of verisimilitude that it can never recover. I had problems getting on board with the whole Connor/Cordelia thing - that really was squick-borderline, but not as bad as say, Oedipus sleeping with his mother, but I got that whole angle out of it. However, the father will kill the son screw-up in Wesley's translation of the prophecy resulted in later powerful scenes of friend/friend, son/father issues (the son tries to kill the father, over and over and over). Spike coming on the show only helped it as far as I'm concerned, because it plumbed/exploited the landscape of Angel and Spike's history together.
Season 4 in its entirety kind of sucked, what with the never ending plot arcs (who's the baddie? the satyr dude is the baddie! no, cordy's the baddie! no, Jasmine's the baddie!), but I wouldn't say there was any one moment when it "jumped the shark". And any failings of S4 were more than made up for in S5.

Damn, I miss that show.
As I understand it a shark can't be unjumped once the fateful leap has occurred (except for comic effect, welcome, PhoenixVII ;) so that bad patches don't count so long as you a) continue watching and b) feel the show reached or bettered its original standard after said patch.

(and just for the record, IMO, neither Buffy nor Angel jumped and personally I wouldn't say either show had bad patches that lasted more than 2 or 3 episodes)
It jumped some smaller creatures. Rays, maybe. But never the shark.
Season 4 is my least favorite season...but I dont think sharks ever entered into the equation.
Angel was good to the last drop. Crunchy to the last bite. Jumping the shark? Nonsense.

I didn't like Connor, as a character, but that didn't make me like the show much less. I do think that Cordelia was used too liberally to fill in whatever the show needed at certain points, but the show never jumped the shark.

I enjoyed all five seasons of Angel; I liked Angel as a show better than Buffy, really.

That's my $.02, likely worth the same.
I stopped watching in season three. I saw up to Conner being stolen, but after that the writting lost me. I came back in the middle of 4, after Awakenings. I watched most of five, though I skipped some of the eps that were just too out there. I was not a fan of Spike on Buffy, but he was very enjoyable on Angel. And watching Wes was always a plus. His story was the most enjoyable of season 5. Infact his was one of the best of the whole show.

So no, I don't think Angel jumped. He just had alot of stops and starts. Some of them more painful then pleasent. Angel also had some of the best season premiers and finales. Judgement and Home are still two of my favorites.

I also to like Angel more then Buffy. Especially after Buffy season 5. I liked the themes, and how the Angel show handled the gray area and redemption stories better then Buffy. Everything had a price and no got away with anything. Even if they should sometimes.

[ edited by Donna Troy on 2006-08-02 00:25 ]
For the record, I'm with Resolute. I liked S4 the least, 5 the best.

But let's look at some of the things listed on Numbers are voters selecting that option--mostly in numerical order, not considering anything that got less than 10 votes.

Never Jumped 394 Not a bad choice... I'd select it.
Death (Doyle) 94 Nonsense. That may have been a bitter pill for some who started out as Doyle fans, but Wesley rocked. This is a preposterous, sour-grapes answer.

Edit: After reading the comments, it looks like a lot of the Doyle votes were recorded in S1. I think the ability to vote on "shark jumping" before a show's run is finished harms the credibility of the voting. It's kind of like trying to predict the transition between a bear and bull market--is it a sea change, or just a correction? Many analysts will be shown to have been wrong in retrospect.

They Did It (Connor and Cordelia) 45 A reasonable choice, and the first one I would actually consider. I really didn't like the arc--it just had too much ick/eww factor. She changed his diapers! Who cares he grew up fast and hard in a hell dimension? Too pedophile.
Birth (Connor) 39
Darla is pregnant 26
Death (Darla, to save the baby) 17

So, I'm going to lump these three together, because they're really one arc. It's very clear that a good bit of deus ex machina was involved, and pregnant vampires aren't supposed to exist... but wait! Angel can talk, but not give Buffy CPR, so why is this any more shark jumping science-that-fits-the-story-objectives than going back to Prophecy Girl? Frankly, the Darla pregnancy was one of the more poignant tragedies of Angel as a series. I just don't see it as shark jumping.

Angel is a puppet 19 Oh, fine. So Smile Time was a funny, one off episode. But I don't really consider it any worse than any early-season MOTW Buffy episode. It's not as good as OMWF, of course, but like OMWF, it has its own internally consistent reason for the oddities.

Everyone joins Wolfram and Hart 18 Completely disagree. If anything this was the anti-shark-jumping event that recovered from the fiasco that was S4. Take the show, reinvent it, and give established characters a ton of bargains to make with the devil. Tempt them with power, see how they react. I don't see it at all.

[ edited by jclemens on 2006-08-02 00:24 ]

[ edited by jclemens on 2006-08-02 00:35 ]
Season 5. When the show became cheap and dumbed down. When morphing into a Power Ranger's villain passed as character development and when the character of Eve was introduced; played by an actress with only two facial expressions: pouty & more pouty. But most of all, when A:TS was pulped, squeezed and chewed up into a pseudo Buffy season 7 clone. Plus Spike served no real purpose other than being a obvious ratings ploy.
It was never them joining the W&H that bothered me. Angel was always a bit idiolistic and thought that he could change the world. It was to his credit he tried. Like Buffy in season 7, he forgot the big picture in his pursuit and it took a horrible event to remind him about the real purpose of his mission.

Season 5's problems for me centered around the sudden entrence of the Black Thorn being the ultimate baddie. I never understood Lindey's purpose(One minute he wants to kill Angel, he then help's Spike save him, then tries to blow up W&H, but is working for them...HUH?) As much as I liked Wes and the Illyria arch, I hated the fast forward of Fred/Wes. Or how Gunn was basically Xandered.

Puppet Angel was one ep, and while I never found it too funny,but it was also not offensive or bothersome to Angel's overall arch. A self contained ep.

All the Darla stuff from pregnancy to birth was great storytelling. It brought some very dramatic and sad moments to Angel. I would not miss it for the world. I also love Conner, all versions. Baby, punk and college all added more depth to both himslef and Angel. And the storyline with Wes... chills still from the hosiptal scene.
Angel, while very solid, never pulled me in as deeply as Buffy, perhaps because it lacked SMG and the Scoobies, with whom I fell in love and stayed in love. Those characters on Buffy mattered vastly more to me than any characters on Angel, although Wesley came close. However, Angel's stories, both arcs and one-offs, were often more dramatic, suspenseful, and all-around entertaining than those on Buffy. I can remember watching Buffy S7 out of loyalty to the characters while being occasionally disappointed in the stories, whereas I tuned in eagerly to Angel S4 because I knew I was always in for a ride.

Oh, and Angel never jumped.
I found Buffy more consistent, more personal, and more entertaining in its entire seven seasons than I found with Angel, a show which was always pretty good, but rarely exceptional. Plus, rewatching BtVS is way, way more entertaining than rewatching most AtS eps. This is all, of course, imo. I don't intend to demean AtS' accomplishments, but I just find BtVS way more close to my heart and meaningful to me (I saw both shows on DVD only). Neither show ever "jumped the shark" though. :)
For me, Buffy was the more addictive of the two. Maybe this is why I love ATS season five so much, because it did become more like Buffy (many of the writers moved over there). I thought Spike served his purpose well particularly from DESTINY on.

I loved bits of all the seasons--WAITING IN THE WINGS is one of my favorite episodes of both series. I loved the Darla arc, and even Pylea because Fred was introduced, not to mention the pure Demon in Angel.

[ edited by spikeylover on 2006-08-02 01:31 ]
I never thought either Angel or Buffy ever went irrevocably off track. Any time I was temporarily disenchanted with either show, I was thoroughly pulled back in a week or two later.

I did learn which writers I preferred, and I still tend to prefer those episodes, but even that isn't consistent -- a writer could always surprise me.

"Puppet Angel" was a smashing episode, and was all cartoon-a-fied by Ben Edlund, to whom I will forever be grateful for "The Tick."

A friend of mine recently looked at my Buffy/Angel/Firefly DVD collection and said, "But who ever watches these things more than once?" All I could do was stare at him blankly.

Lottsa people is the correct answer...
QuoterGal, I even go so far as to tell people these shows get even better on each rewatch. You begin to realise just how much creativity and thought went into them, and just how much top-notch foreshadowing is present, among other things.
I hated the whole holtz arc, it went into backstory i never really cared about, Yeah i know Angel was an absolute maniac before he was cursed, but i don't care about it to have flashbacks every so often.

That and the whole connor/cordi bringing jasmine into the world, and blah blah blah...

other then that. it was great.
Even though I started watching Angel first (in reruns), Buffy is the series that I rewatch the most. I have all the DVDs - for both shows (and FF/S) - and find the more I watch, the more I see. It's the same with Firefly and Serenity. I saw the movie 16 times in theatres (17 counting the charity screening) and each time I noticed little things that I had missed on previous viewings.

So, no, I don't think AtS or BtVS jumped the shark, especially since my favourite seasons are S6 and S7 of BtVS and S5 of AtS.
It never jumped. Only in season 5 did it come close but that was because of Spike. It probably ended just before it jumped. Apparently Nina/Angel was going to be like Buffy/Spike and that's what caused Buffy to jump the shark. Maybe these shows are only good for 5 years.
Yeah, I'm with those that think that Angel season 4 was quite bad, only for the show to come back with a vengeance in season 5, when they set up in Wolfram & Hart. So yeah, I think it jumped the shark in season 4, only for it to kill the shark and make a trophy out of it in season 5 as the show reached new levels of greatness.
It didn't. Neither did Buffy. I don't understand the hate for particular seasons. My least favorite of both shows is an incredibly satisfying season of TV.
I've been trying not to get sucked in, so I'll just say: here, here, Chris inVirginia. I'm with you.
AtS, I felt, just grew better with each passing season (with a few missteps, to be sure; I still absolutely abhor the Cordy/Connor hookup -- not only was it gross, but it made no sense whatsoever, even given that Cordelia was supposedly not herself). I liked the first season the least and the last season the most. The best (and strongest) arcs of the series were the Fred/Illyria/Wesley storyline and the entirety of Darla's involvement, both pre- and post-pregnancy. I recently rewatched the series and was struck anew by just how inventive and well-made the show was. I've definitely grown to appreciate it a LOT more after watching the DVDs again.

And yes, I'm one of those Watched-Buffy-from-the-first-day-it-aired-on-The-WB people. I've never been so affected by any shows like those in the Whedonverse (BtVS, AtS, and FF all).
Thank you Chris inVirginia! My thoughts exactly. :)
My favorite seasons of Angel were the first two. It had the Buffy feel and like a lot of others here, Buffy was my favorite.
The attempted pairing of Angel and Cordelia was not easy to watch and the series lost a great character because of it. Cordelia Chase as the selfish absorbed Bitca worked on about every level.
I thought season 5 was great. Maybe it was because it had the undeniable feel that SMG as Buffy was coming. Quite a let down when that didn't pan out. The biggest disappointment was in the WB as they axed the series once it had regained its footing.
I guess karma really is a bitch. They certainly payed dearly for that particular mistake. When Joss Whedon fans tell you
"No Angel on our table, no WB on our cable" better take heart that we mean it.
I guess I need to get to watching the rest of Angel on DVD, huh...Buffy followed me through high school but Angel hit me at college, where I had no cable tv.
Angel never jumped the shark, but it did hit a dry spell for much of the second half of season 4. This is when I tried to get into Angel, and it was only my love for BTVS that made me endure it; however, when Angel came to DVD, I got hooked immediately on Season 1, loved season 2, and until Season 5 came along and became my all-time favorite, I thought season 3 was its best.
Couldn't agree more, Chris inVirginia! That said, it took a LOT of faith to stay invested after the Connor/Cordelia nooky. I'm cringing just thinking about it. I literally couldn't stand either character after that until they came back in Season 5. And I like Spike, but I did feel he was shoe-horned into the show a little bit there. Everything else? Like delicious warm cookies (especially Wesley!)
Season five of Angel is my favourite season of Buffyverse. So, no shark jumping.
In my opinion, Angel never jumped the shark. The character of Cordy, however, went flying right on over that sucker, never to be seen again, in any consistently watchable incarnation.

I loved Connor, loved Angel being a father (ah, poor heart-broken Angel explaining to Buffy, back in the day, that he couldn't have little vampires), but felt his storyline was a little inconsistent and too frequently over the top.

ETA: Just want to clarify. In saying Cordy's character jumped the shark, I'm not pining for shallow, bitcha Cordy of early season 1. I loved Cordy in season 2, with her lovely mix of selflessness and self-absorption. She was complex and fascinating. Unfortunately, she eventually became a caricature, always good and right and true and wise. And half demon? Puhleese. All glowy? No!

While I didn't enjoy her character by the time she gave birth to Jasmine, I felt robbed that such a once-vibrant character just faded away. You're Welcome was nice, but it still left me wishing we'd seen Cordy end in some other way.

[ edited by looking on 2006-08-02 06:02 ]
As I expected, there are only a few things being mentioned. It seems to me that the only things ever brought up are Jasmine, any changes to Cordelia's character, anything involving Connor pre-Season Five, and the oh-so-very-hated Cordy/Connor sex.

I'm always shocked by the hatred thrown around for Season Four. I admit, Jasmine disappoints me, but everything else is amazing. The weirdest complaint in my book is "Too much arc!" How is that a problem? I can see it being an issue when televised, but we've got DVDs.

I'll never understand the Cordy hate. It seems to me that if she ever veers from her original role as Vicious Bitch, people hate it. "Oh, Cordy's all good and noble. Boo!" "Oh, now she's evil. Boo, once more!"

Connor is awesome. My only gripe with him is how magic gets him going. Any time he needs to be manipulated, someone just needs to suggest that magic is involved, and bam, he's ready to bust heads.

And the Cordy/Connor sex: She was evil! Get over it.

Anyway, I don't think Angel ever jumped. There were some iffy episodes along the way (She, Happy Aniversary, Double or Nothing), but I never lost faith in the series. In my opinion, when Angel was bad, it was much worse than anything in Buffy. But when it was good, Angel was far and away superior. And in my book, it was good for most of the run.
I'm with Chris in Virginia No jumping on either show and I'd take an 'iffy' 'verse episode over anything that is broadcast these days.
Not only was Season 5 the season A:TS jumped the shark, but after it was done 'jumping', season 5 came crawling back to the shark and begged to be smacked around and eaten like the little snot it was.
I'm going to stand against the tide by saying Angel season 4 was great, better than 1 and 2. It was pure Greek drama. Splendid, insane and wild. It might be heresy but at the time I enjoyed seasons 4 & 5 of Angel slightly more than 6 & 7 of BtVS(only slightly, mind you)...
Season 4 was probably the best but it's so hard to choose. I do think that the third season is criminally ignored. A mother's sacrifice, a father betrayed, a best friend deceives. It was so dark, it thrilled me. To be honest, the fifth season did not fit in with the previous ones but then it was essentially a reboot. And it did suffer from the budget cuts.
Back up... Some people really think that Angel jumped the shark when Darla staked herself to save her baby? Really?

For me, that is my favourite moment of Joss based television (quite possibly therefore of all television).
Season 2 and 4 are my favorite seasons.I loved the arcs.Season 1 and 5 were more standalone and not as interesting to me although there are plenty of episodes I loved in both.I like heavy arcs over the anthology format.Between the two,I enjoyed season 1 more then season 5 overall.There were things in season 5 that turned me off.But season 2 followed by season 4 are hands down my favorite seasons.

I put season 3 last as my least favorite season.There was a lot of stuff,I didn't care for in that season although I did like the Holtz storyline and wish more was was done with it.Once Conner came back as a teen,I got interested with that plotline which played out in season 4 and concluded in season 5.I actually rank,"Origin" as possibly my favorite episode in season 5.In a lot of ways,season 4 sort of redeems season 3 for me.

I wish we had gotten a season 6 since the impression I got from interviews with Joss and David prior to the cancelation,and a few after, was that season 6 probably would of been the final season.

It basically feels like we got screwed out of the final season.A season that was going to be designed and planned as the last.
I loved it ALL. Perhaps I was fonder of BTVS as I found it more compelling, but ATS intrigued me too. Neither show EVER jumped the shark.
Season 5 was my absolute favorite for ATS and the Spike/Angel dynamic made it work so well. Spike's return was just pure JOY for me and pretty much HELL for Angel, but hey...that whole relationship was super fun to watch.
God...I miss these shows and these characters........
I'd say it hit a rough patch in season four with the whole Connor/Cordy thing. And just Conner in general really was not my favorite character. Regardless of the fact that Cordy was "evil" it still made me cringe...actually it still makes me cringe now! But I thought it bounced back for Season 5.
Some of the sharp jumping moments people are mentioning are my absolute favorites - I LOVED Connor throughout season 4 (he was so twisted, poor thing), and I liked watching Cordy manipulate him. I loved Jasmine too, because how can you not enjoy an extra three or four episodes of Gina Torres on your screen? Also, Puppet Angel is probably one of the funniest things I've ever seen on TV.

To me, the show hit a couple of rough patches, including mid-season 3 before Darla had the baby and the beginning of season 5, when they hadn't quite figured out how to add Spike to the mix yet. But I certainly wouldn't call either times "shark jumping."
Jumping the shark involves an unalterable nose-dive into wretchedness. People who think that a few mediocre episodes (with stong episodes afterwards) is a reason to discuss JtS should be forced to watch a Charmed marathon.

One reason I loved Angel is that the storytelling was a little different every season, all of it with strong writing. For every person who disliked S3, there is someone like me who were mesmerized by it. I was impressed by the old-style serial-type of stories, powerful cliff-hangers at the end of almost every episode! While I thought Justine the vampire hunter groupie was underwhelming, I thought Sahjhan the bitter bully was a hoot (and a great villan).

As for S4, I'm surprised people are still complaining about the Cordy-Conner coupling. Even now, people are talking about how Cordy's character was wrong that season (so of course, the writers have jumped the shark...). At the time it happened, I got it: "That is out of character for Cordy... so even though it looks and acts like her, it is not her. The writer's are brilliant for leaving this clue out that something is wrong!" People may not have liked that Cordy wasn't around for S4 (versus possessed Cordy), but the "characterization" was correct.

[ edited by OneTeV on 2006-08-02 17:23 ]
The Sire issue totally jumped. The network or the writers should have not changed that.
Angelus was the only one to Sire William!!!
The weakest season of Angel was easily the first, though by the end there were some fine episodes. Things started to click with the episodes "Eternity" and "Five by Five," but I don't think Angel really became Angel until "Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?" in season two, and seasons four and five are my favourites.

So, hell no, the show never jumped any sort of marine life.
OK... the Cordy/Connor thing was bad, yes, and they really messed up her character (although she wasn't herself... that much is revealed. Maybe too little too late). BUT! I still dont get this season 4 hatred.

I think that season 4 was far and away the strongest season of Angel before season 5. The writers had honed their craft and it SHOWED. The story was STRONG even if you didn't agree with everything they did. And really, I'm here for the storytelling. Evil Angelus was fantastic, Faith was brilliant, and the episode where they took Angel's soul away was a real stand out - it totally caught me off gaurd and sent shivers up my spine. Plus you get Gina Torres as the big bad at the end, and I love seeing my Firefly alumni.

Granted, I didn't like how they turned many established facts on their heads (ie made Skip actually evil). It felt like they hadn't planned this, but were trying to make it seem like everything had lead to it. That was mostly what bothered me.

And then season 5... season 5 was brilliant. I really loved the direction they took things in (and am sad that we didn't get a follow-up season). Into the belly-of-the-beast (as they say), tempted by the dark side. I loved the Wolfram and Hart storyline. A thrilling season.

So no, no Joss show ever jumped the shark. Sure, every show has it's lamer moments, but they always recover and they're never downright terrible, either.
I, like many here, do not think Angel jumped the shark. Angel never resonated with me like Buffy did, but I liked the show and watched is religiously. Maybe it was Angel and his inability to connect that made it hard for me to connect but I never had warm fuzzies for the show. That said, Wesley's arc was one of the best arcs of the verse. Finding his way as a rogue demon hunter, becoming boss of Angel Investigations, betraying Angel, sleeping with the enemy, losing Fred and unapologically diving into the deep end: amazing. I could do without Angel 3.8-4.8: the whole Connor arc was weird, annoying and icky and just did not work for me. Angel did not jump the shark but it played chicken with it was veered off and just the right time.

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