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Tapping into The Angel of it All
To Greenwalt's modesty he actually wrote six episodes in Season 2. "I did? Wow," replies David, amused by his own realization. We chose three in particular which we liked that stood out over the past year and all for different reasons. An early episode 'Dear Boy,' is an emotionally charged installment where the main character (Angel) faces his former vampire lover Darla, the one who brought him into the fold now turned human. The dialogue here is raw and poignant and sets the mood for events to come. Within the arc of the season finale came 'No Place Like Plrtz Glrb,' with its humorous overtones yet dark residue that revealed Angel's inner demon. And finally, 'Dead End,' a post midseason break featuring the singing talents of actor Christian Kane (Lindsey) which also put the spotlight on yet another of Greenwalt's talents as composer/songwriter.
The entire season arc was very unique in comparison to its first season as David explains how he saw its composition, "You know, the structure of the second year was really interesting to me because Angel went very dark; he fired all his people, he set Darla and Drusilla on fire, and he allowed all those lawyers to be killed. He went to a very dark place, and then he went to an atonement place, and then by about episode 16, 17, 18 he was okay again. That, you would think, would be the end of the year, you wouldn't have this big, dark arc and then this atonement in the second third of the year. I loved it structurally."
Dear Boy ~
David states without pause, "I love 'Dear Boy.' " Although he was the author of the episode, Noxon wrote a pivotal scene between the two main characters. "Marti's contributions were extreme to that because Marti wrote most of that stuff. The stuff that was said between Angel and Darla came right out of Marti and it was great." David pulls out a couple of lines that he is particularly fond of, "It was beautiful, like saying, 'God doesn't love you but I still do', and 'You loved that little slut of a cheerleader Buffy, and you didn't love me'. She's totally amazing." Another element that made the scene so awe-inspiring was its setting, a vast underground water tank in the L.A. basin. David gave us a little insight on how they came across it. "My producer Kelly Manners had seen that and he said, 'You have to figure out something to shoot here because this is a really cool space.' We felt this was a great place for him [Angel] to take Darla and torment her. And they're going to fill it with 50 million gallons of water soon, so you won't be seeing it on every TV show."
Greenwalt with Marti Noxon and J. August Richards at the 2001 Paley Television Festival honoring
No Place Like Plrtz Glrb ~
Just the mere mention of this episode causes David to burst into laughter. "Yes! I did love that; that was fun." What made this season closure so different was it ends on an enjoyably different comedic note as we are left with a rather lighthearted ending after the dark voyage we were taken on all year. "We were all out at a restaurant" David explains, "and it was Joss saying, 'Well what the hell are we going to do for these last four episodes?' We started to think, they have to go somewhere but where should they go? And then Joss, as usual just said, 'Let's go to another dimension,' and Jim Kouf said, 'Well if you're going into a different Oz-like dimension Cordelia has to be made a princess.' Then a lot of things fell into place." Certainly a highlight of these episodes was Carpenter's performance as the would-be princess of Pylea. "Wasn't she marvelous," asks David, "in her little, jingling bikini thing? And she just so loved being a princess, she was just great."
Dead End ~
If there was one continually reoccurring subject in our Comments mailbox from the fans last season it was, 'What's the name of that song Lindsey sang at Caritas and where can I get it?' "Oh fantastic! God love them," enthuses David upon his fans' good taste. We're joking here; he was in reality highly appreciative! Here are the facts: The song is entitled L.A., the music and lyrics written by Greenwalt, and performed by Christian Kane in episode 18, 'Dead End'. Here David gets to realize all those college dreams by tapping into his musical creativity. Whedon isn't the only one who can pen a kick-ass tune. "That was really fun," recalls David of his experience while writing the song. "Christian was great!
"The deal with the song was that we knew people were going to Caritas and that they always sing and it's funny," explains David, "and we knew that in real life Christian has this fabulous band called KANE. They're terrific. He's a really good singer and a really good writer; he writes a lot of his own stuff. The guy is really talented so we said, 'This can't just be Angel singing Mandy. We have to come up with a song that's relevant to what he's going through, and it has to be in his style.' " David told us that once he wrote the song he treated it just as he would a script, "I took it to Joss and he gave me notes and I made it better. I am modestly proud of that, I think it's a pretty good song."
"He's amazing! Look, here [Joss] is Year 6, most guys would just be saying, 'Oh, have her fight some vampires; I'll be on my yacht.' "
He followed up by recording it with Christian and his guitarist Steve Carlson. "It was very simple but again we worked on the song in the studio. I didn't want him to appear to be a rock and roll star; I wanted him to appear to be a guy singing a song who was pretty good at singing songs. I was real happy with the way that all worked out, I thought it came out great." David wasn't the only one who thought the song turned out well; some of his staunchest critics came around after hearing the finished product. "I found out later a lot of the crew were like, 'Oh Greenwalt, oh God, the producer wrote a song, it probably sucks,' and then they were like, 'Oh no, it's pretty good.' "
The Musical Joss-verse
Whedon's accomplishment on the Buffy musical episode is not surprising when you see where his interest in the musical genre came from to begin with or when you see how involved Joss and his people are in music and the arts, even beginning at the onset of his phenomenal series. "The music thing has been terrific," David tells us as he explains, "there's been this whole Renaissance feeling and Joss is at the center of it. Joss started playing piano and guitar about when we were starting the Buffy show. He'd have Sundays at his house and he'd read Shakespeare and people would jam and like everything else he puts his hand and mind to he's become this expert songwriter. He just drives me insane," David jokes. "A lot of people play and sing and do various things and if he sees a talent somebody else has ..." For example Anthony Steward Head (Giles) who began singing in various Buffy episodes during their fourth season. "That man can sing! I mean that guy's a real performer," he states. And if Angel has an equal counterpart to the singing Watcher it would be none other than Andy Hallett (The Host, Lorne). "Oh I love Andy, isn't he the greatest?" David continues to marvel.
The final touches were being put on the musical numbers of 'Once More With Feeling' when we spoke to David and he was eager to share with us his thoughts, "Let me tell you, I heard some of them and you just can't believe this thing. You want this to be in a legitimate theatre that you can go back again the next time. I mean it's a real musical, it's not just, 'Oh, our guys can sing and they're singing', it's a real musical production!" He continues by stating how they are truly beautiful songs but still further the story the way they should. "It's going to be terrific, he's amazing! Look, here he is Year 6, most guys would just be saying, 'Oh, have her fight some vampires; I'll be on my yacht.' He did 'Hush' and he did 'The Body' and now he's doing this!" David compliments Joss by admitting that, "Every year he sets some huge new challenge for himself and it raises the bar for all of us. It's helpful to see the guy at the top working that hard and stretching that far and that's what makes a well-rounded production; you work hard, the fans appreciate it more."
The Darkage and The Funny
We've mentioned that Angel had crossed a wide range during the course of last season, from dark and destructive to happy-go-lucky only to end on the most somber of notes; learning of his one true love Buffy's demise. With such an array of emotionally driven episodes, here are a few key moments that Greenwalt most enjoyed beginning with Angel's darkage. "I did like it when he locked those lawyers in the room, I liked that place that he went to," he says. "I liked when he fired his people, when you realized hopefully as a viewer that he had to because the kind of things he had to do where he set those girls on fire he couldn't do with his people. He had to become kind of 'less of a human,' he didn't want those people around with him. And I loved how that paid off at the end," continues David, "even with the fun of the last four, the beast that was in him, the thing that he fears in that land it came out. He was 100 percent vampire, he was a worse vampire in that land because that's the land of black and white, there's no shades of gray. I liked what he had to deal with in that land, that when he first went there he could see himself in a mirror and he was doing jokes about his hair and he's walking in the sun and then he's this horrible thing that he becomes and he doesn't want any of his people to see who he really is and he's afraid he'll stay that forever."
But the land of Pylea was not the only light moment during the season, there were many scenes that took the edge off the ever-present darkness and one where Greenwalt himself appeared in, sort of, but we continue with his love for the funny. "Also some gags, you mentioned 'Dear Boy,' I loved when he's asleep on the couch and he's having this dream of Darla and he suddenly stands up and says some funny little words." He also recalls, "I loved when he's telling the boys about seeing Cordelia in her bikini and how disgusting and exploitive it was and they were all kind of getting a little turned on by it. The little comedic moments, the little 'I'm a tough guy but here's a funny turn you didn't expect to see,' the vanity. And I also made him cheap, which I love, that this big hero who stands for 'fight the good fight' is also kind of cheap with a buck. You know, anything that humanizes him. It's like he didn't tip the delivery boy very well when he comes with [lunch] for Cordelia." The scene David is referring to appears in 'Dead End' as Angel hands the 'delivery boy' (whom you never see) a dollar at the front door of the Hyperion. The camera follows Angel through the shot as you hear, off camera, a voice saying, "Wow! A whole dollar just for me, I'm the luckiest delivery man ever." David gladly confesses, "That was me. I did that voiceover. I really wanted to do that line."
David chats with fans at the 2001 Buffy Posting Board Party
On Greenwalt's hold button, you'll hear the haunting familiarly tune of the X-Files theme running across the line. How appropriate with the latest addition to this highly talented writing staff is a fresh arrival from the Chris Carter (X-Files creator) camp. "Jeff Bell, look out world!" announces David. "This guy's really great; we're very excited. Tim, myself, and Jeff have all been on the X-Files. He was on there for the last three years and I think he was ready to try something possibly with a little more humor in it, I think was his longing. He wrote some really great X-Files and he seems to have a great sense of our show. He'll be writing Episode 2 ('That Vision Thing'), which is a big Cordelia episode. Really cool stuff happening there, some further tormenting of the divisions, really coming close to pulling her apart. We have great expectations."
Also included in those expectations is another new addition, that of Scott Murphy as an Executive Story Editor. "He's one of these guys who knows every movie and every comic book and every television show ever made," David states. "Good fount for information and enthusiasm. He's going to do an incredibly funny Angel episode (number 4 'Carpe Noctem'), it's going to be Angel like you've never seen him, trust me." Part of bringing in a vast knowledge of pop-culture is it's the cornerstone to Whedon's world, something that David isn't shy to admit he himself is lacking of. "Joss speaks highly of it [San Diego International Comic Con] and there's probably a lot I could learn because I'm not a big comic book guy, I don't know all that stuff very well. But I know a lot of our imagery and occasionally some of our great situations are born out of that sensibility. I have at least learned that that's a big serious cool thing, it's not just something that kids do, it's a big deal."
What more could this man learn or do, for that matter, with this knowledge? But, as with all great imaginations Greenwalt has more irons heating up in the fire. "I have a show that involves a lot of music that I'm hoping Joss and Marti and I will all do in a couple of years. It wouldn't be a genre show, it wouldn't be an Angel or Buffy; it would be it's own separate show," he clarifies. Along the lines of music we can also expect another original song as well. "I'm going to do one more. I'm working on a song that hopefully will at some point this year be in there." In fact, this song entitled, Baby Stay a While, makes its debut in episode 11, 'Birthday' and features not only Greenwalt's gift for composition but his vocal skills as well along with those of Marti Noxon, who most recently lent her singing talents to the Buffy musical episode. We may even expect more. And finally, we can certainly expect the obvious, "You know, more of this. I feel a real moral, ethical and fiscal commitment to Joss and to FOX and said, 'You know Angel has to go to 100, I want to see that happen. We'll be halfway there pretty soon." As of this writing Angel has aired episode 55, 'Birthday' just over the half way mark to episode 100. "It's amazing; it's just amazing," he professes. "Then any opportunity I have to work with Joss is an opportunity I want to take so I'm a little torn; there's things of my own I want to do but if I have an opportunity to work with this guy who's just a f***ing genius, and just so much fun and so creative, so clever; so I'm hoping to do a little bit of both. And then some day I want to go back and do movies and live in Montana." Could it be any simpler?
The Cordy! Show starring Cordelia Chase
Written by CoA Head Writer, Kristy Bratton