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'Angel' vampires get to lighten up

October 01, 2003|Virginia Tyson | Times Staff Writer

Last season was a dark time in the Buffyverse.

First, over on UPN, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" ended its seven-season run as Buffy and her pals in Sunnydale waged war -- and won -- against the First Evil and his minions.

Meanwhile, on the WB's spinoff series, "Angel," Los Angeles was plunged into permanent midnight by the Beast, the servant of an emotionally needy demon with a big appetite. To defeat the Beast, Angel (David Boreanaz) and his allies were forced to release Angel's own evil alter ego, the murderous, soulless Angelus.

For now, however, Buffy has laid down her stake and things are about to lighten up. Die-hard "Buffy"/"Angel" fans can focus their undivided attention on "Angel" as it returns for its fifth season tonight (WB, 9 p.m.) with an episode entitled "Conviction," the first of a two-parter.

Written and directed by series creator Joss Whedon, the program starts with vampire-with-a-soul Angel coming to the rescue of a damsel in distress. After last season's end-of-the-world plotline, it's a welcome relief. This time, when Angel saves the girl, he actually saves her, instead of then killing her himself.

For the most part, Angel Investigations is back fighting the Big Bad. Angel and his team -- Wesley (Alexis Denisof), Fred (Amy Acker), Gunn (J. August Richards) and Lorne (Andy Hallett) -- have accepted a deal to run the L.A. office of their arch-nemeses, Wolfram & Hart, the multidimensional law firm with ties to most of the world's evil-doers. Wolfram & Hart changed strategies last season, deciding that if you couldn't beat the good guys, corrupt them. With the firm's resources now at their disposal, Angel decided it was too good an offer to turn down. Can we spell F-A-U-S-T?

And, just for fun (and ratings), the popular character of Spike (James Marsters) is in the mix. So he died on "Buffy" -- now he's back from the undead. Is L.A. big enough for two vampires with souls?

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