Cultural Catchup Project: How Do You Solve a (Scheduling) Problem Like Angelus?

How do you Solve a (Scheduling) Problem like Angelus?

June 4th, 2010

You can follow along with the Cultural Catchup Project by following me on Twitter (@Memles), by subscribing to the category’s feed, or by bookmarking the Cultural Catchup Project page where I’ll be posting a link to each installment.

We have reached a crossroads in our journey with Buffy the Vampire Slayer – later today, I intend on watching “Graduation Day,” at which point I will be officially done the show’s third season. Now, I’ll likely take the weekend to write about that finale and Season Three as a whole (which will include the previous four episodes of the series, which I haven’t found the motivation to write about in further detail amidst a fairly busy period of time but which seem to be building towards the finale in a way which will make my essay on the finale more complex), but there are other pressing concerns which need to be addressed.

While I’m looking forward to the finale, I’m also looking forward to what comes afterwards, the million dollar question of sorts. When I started this project, I committed to doing both Buffy and Angel this summer, and I don’t entirely think I understood the enormity of that task. Just so we’re clear, enormity isn’t all bad: I don’t mind watching large volumes of entertaining television, after all. That being said, I can’t help but feel like the decision I make now will fundamentally change how I experience two different television series, and it’s a decision I do not want to make lightly.

Accordingly, I want to run down my options here at the blog, and then ask anyone with experience in this area to share their own opinions on how, precisely, to handle the complicated nature of the series’ crossover episodes which start with Buffy’s fourth season as Angel splits off into its own narrative. I’m aware there is no right answer, and ultimately this is going to be a gut sort of thing, but I still want to see what the Cultural Catchup Commenters, those who have been reading but not wading into the discussion, and even those who haven’t been following the project at all, have to say on the issue.

As far as I can see, my options are the following:

  • Just keep watching Buffy, Crossovers be damned, and then shift to Angel.
  • Watch Buffy and simply include the Angel crossover episodes within my viewing schedule, returning to Angel in earnest after Buffy is complete.
  • Watch Buffy and Angel simultaneously, using episode orders like this one or simply a rotation system.

For me, there are two distinctions here: how do I want to watch the series, and how do I want to write about the series? It’s a difficult balance because I’d like to believe that they’re the same, but in reality I think it would be tough to keep writing about the series as I have been while trying to watch two separate narratives intertwined with one another. However, at the same time, I am aware that many of the narratives and character arcs which I’ve been following will be continuing on Angel, and not on Buffy, so would it feel even more strange to abandon a character like Cordelia and have to return to her story a few months down the line?

I know that there are different opinions on this, and I know that many of the regular commenters have gone through the series numerous times using various different viewing patterns. Any insight you may be able to offer would be most wonderful – I’m not going to include a poll, as I don’t necessarily want to quantify the response. It’s not an issue of what pattern is better but why it would be best for the project, and I’m really interested in the responses.

However, once you finish letting me know your thoughts on this issue, there’s more Buffy and Angel to consider: Noel Murray has finally returned to his Buffy the Vampire Slayer T.V. Club Classics writeups at The A.V. Club , and this time he’s brought Angel along for the ride. I’ll be soliciting Noel’s opinion on the above problem, but in the meantime you should all be heading over there to read his thoughts on the first two episodes of Buffy’s fifth and Angel’s second seasons, which I’m sure are fantastic (but unfortunately, for a while at least, still off-limits for me due to spoilers).

And now I turn it over to you – looking forward to reading the responses over the weekend, and I’ll be back with thoughts on the end of Season Three, probably on Monday.

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86 Comments

Filed under Cultural Catchup Project

86 responses to “Cultural Catchup Project: How Do You Solve a (Scheduling) Problem Like Angelus?

  1. I actually stopped watching Buffy at Season 3 for specifically that reason. I figured the best bet would be to watch it as it originally aired, as I’d assume that would be closest to the showrunner’s original intention. My feeling is that the crossover episodes will likely lose a lot of punch for me if I watch them outside of their intended order.

    Wikipedia seems to have a decent list of air dates for both series, and as such, that’s the order in which I plan to watch them when I get back into the series.

    • greg

      Unfortunately, watching them by air date won’t work. Specifically wrt B7/A4 there’s at least one serious crossover event that got messed up because of unexpected preempting. (causing a major character to arrive somewhere before they’d even left somewhere else) You need to watch them in the order they were intended to air, not as the networks actually aired them (not a problem when both shows were on the WB, but when B6 moved to UPN all cooperation went out the window)

      I’d recommend watching all of Buffy and then all of Angel. But if you decide to watch them simulataneously, here’s the significant events to keep in mind (I wouldn’t wouldn’t recommend the Buffyfest order – it’s close but not perfect):

      S1 Angel – S4 Buffy: ‘Harsh Light Of Day’ (B) before ‘In The Dark (A). ‘Bachelor Party’ (A) before ‘Pangs’ (B) before ‘I Will Remember You’ (A). ‘Wild Things’ (B), ‘5×5’ (A), ‘New Moon’ (B), Sanctuary’ (A), Yoko Factor’ (B) – in that order.

      s2Angel – s5Buffy: ‘Fool For Love’ (B) before ‘Darla’ (A) – preferably, watch ’em back to back on the same night. ‘Reunion’ (A) and ‘Rediofinition’ (A) have to be viewed before ‘Crush’ (B) and ‘The Gift’ needs to be screened before ‘Plrz Glrb’ (A)

      you MUST watch the first episode of season 3 of Angel (‘Heartthrob’) BEFORE you start season 6 of Buffy. You gotta watch ‘Carpe Noctem’ (Angel) before you watch ‘Flooded’ (Buffy), then ‘Fredless’ (Angel), then ‘Life Serial’ (Buffy). the rest of the two shows can be watched however you want.

      The early episodes of B7 and A4 can be watched however you want, as well, but it’s ESSENTIAL that you watch ‘Lies My Parents’ (Angel) before you watch ‘Oepheus’ (Buffy). And ‘Home’ (Angel) needs to be viewed before ‘End Of Days’ (Buffy)

      • Hmm, there are at least 2 differences in what you’ve listed and what we have. Greg, can you email us at Buffyfest@aim.com? We’d like to pick your brain as to why you think this. For instance, watching Heartthrob before Bargaining seems like a very bad idea, but maybe we’re missing something and we’ll make another tweak. Don’t want to get into it here as it’s spoiler-sensitive.

        Also, why smash an ep like “New Moon” between an amazing 2-parter like 5X5/Sanctuary? Is that necessary? It’s so much more dynamic watching the 2-parter together.

        • Aeryl

          Plus Greg totally forgot to include “This Year’s Girl” and “Who Are You” on Buffy before “5×5” and “Sanctuary” on Angel.

          My opinion Myles, is that it’s perfectly acceptable to watch Buffy in it’s entirety before watching Angel, unless you are just so invested in Cordy & Wes’ characters, that you just have to know where it goes too.

          I haven’t seen all of Angel still, but I know enough of what happened in all the crossovers, to feel fully informed on Buffy. If there is any info that’s crucial(like the reemergence of major characters on Angel, before the return to Buffy) I’m sure all us commenters would be happy to give you the low down as it becomes necessary.

  2. Red

    I watched all of Buffy first then Angel for the following reasons:
    1. I wanted to focus on Buffy the character and her story.
    2. I had bought all the Buffy DVDs but not the Angel DVDs, so couldn’t switch back and forth.
    3. I like watching multiple episodes at a stretch and taking a break for the corresponding Angel eps, especially when I didn’t have the DVDs, would have lost me time.

    It was only when I finished Buffy and found great Amazon deal that I bought Angel and watched it.

    Having done it this way, I think you can view each show separately, Buffy first, then Angel, and still be able to write about Buffy as a show and character as you have here. I think it would work too to watch Angel straight through without the concurrently watching Buffy. Their stories really are separate.

    However you do it, I look forward to your analysis.

  3. Jason

    Watch Buffy and Angel simultaneously, using episode orders like this one or simply a rotation system. <— this is by far the most rewarding experience

    • One compromise on rotating Buffy-episode to Angel-episode number by number is to rotate Buffy disc 1 to Angel disc 1, being mindful of the few episodes where a cross-show analysis is crucial (“Fool For Love” and “Darla” come to mind).

      I would hate to miss the crucial times the themes, or events, of the two shows echo each other, and their is a whopper towards the middle/end of seasons 4&1.

        • Unsurprisingly, I completely agree with Masq (hi!) on this point. Rotating discs gives you the concurrent experience without the hassle, and I think you’ll find that your viewing experience of both is greatly enriched by watching them together.

          My own experience was different: I watched Buffy straight through from the beginning to where it was airing at the time (early in S7), without paying any attention to Angel, mainly because I hated the character on Buffy so much I was glad to see him leave. Reluctantly, on hearing there would be more crossovers, I started watching the then-current season of the show (S4), so I would be able to follow the crossovers. And something unexpected happened: I really, really liked Angel! Both the show AND the character, in his own environment. So I went back and watched what had come before, and regretted having missed out on the combined experience.

          • Some day we must return to World Domination.

            For at least seasons 4&1 and 5&2, there are crossovers that are crucial to the personal journeys of particular characters, and if you want to understand those characters, a linear viewing of their journey is crucial, which involves watching the shows concurrently.

            The exploration of common themes between the two shows is less crucial, but I would love to read Myle’s take on those as well.

        • Yes, World Domination really does need to continue. We stopped podcasting right before we got to the good stuff!

    • ninjaraiden2k

      I consign on this thought. There will be plot points that will be missed or even choppy by not watching both in order of date.

      But….its not enough to kill momentum though.

  4. Jennifer

    Honestly, I think you could go either way. I’ve never seen that episode listing before, but it’s not a bad idea if you’ve got the DVD’s to do it.

    I suspect you could pick up what was going on on the other show well enough (or at least infer) if you just stuck to watching one at a time, if that’s easier for you in general.

  5. Hansen

    I think the experience will absolutely be the most rewarding (for both you and your readers) if you watch them roughly based on original airing order.

  6. Nicole

    Hm. I personally watched Buffy first and then Angel, but it really would make more sense to watch them in order because of the crossovers. I think the best way to get the true Buffyverse experience is to watch them in the order they aired instead of Buffy first and then Angel. However, that could make writing about them slightly problematic and confusing. -shrug-

  7. Henry

    I watched Buffy first and then Angel. And I recommend that you do the same. The only season that is really heavy with the crossover eps is season 1 of Angel and season 4 of Buffy. But in the end they both are totally different stories with different storylines.

  8. Tom

    You can watch Buffy without watching Angel, and you will miss nothing important about the BtVS narrative (including the crossovers) until season 7 and the arrival of one particular character, whose attitude and relationship to Buffy and others will seem exceedingly odd unless you’ve seen Angel. And there’s a fairly major doodad in the finale that will seem to come out of the blue. Not a major price to pay in either case, especially if you’re willing to accept a few explanatory spoilers.

    You can’t, in my opinion, just watch the crossovers on Angel and skip the rest, because the motivations of the characters over there won’t make enough sense to give the drama its power, nor will you understand the story as well as you should. This applies, to an extent, to the really major crossover late in Angel’s 1st season (and that matters because, for many people, that’s among the best stuff you’ll see on Angel), but it will really matter if you get to Angel 4/Buffy 7, in which you will be utterly baffled by the arrival of several BtVS characters on Angel, what they’re doing over there, and what the Angel characters are doing in response.

    I’d watch both series, especially as you intend to do so anyway, in the order recommended by good crossover episode guides, with the caveat that a fair amount of Angel 1 can be rough going, and you’ll need to sort of buckle down and get through it until later in the season.

  9. Mimi

    I watched all of Buffy followed by all of Angel, and then went back and tried to watch them in the alternating order…and still haven’t finished that project. And I’ve watched both series all the way through multiple times at this point. I just get bogged down when there are a series of episodes where I don’t like either show for a while, and it’s amplified because they both seem to suck (for them) at the same times. So I recommend the all of one followed by all of the other route.

  10. Eldritch

    I see you’re getting mixed advice. But my two cents worth is to watch them separately.

    The narratives are independent. The crossovers are fun, but they aren’t necessary to understand one another’s narratives.

    I originally viewed them without regard to the crossovers and still enjoyed the two series just fine.

    • Eric

      Interesting. I rarely disagree with Eldritch’s perspective, but I definitely disagree in the strongest terms here. BtVS and AtS (Angel the Series) take place in the same ‘verse. Each show does have its own narrative, but most of the characters know one another, and the relationships that existed in BtVS 1-3, still exist, if only as memories and influences, as the seasons progress. I strongly urge you to watch the series together, since I feel it provides a deeper immersion into the ‘verse.

      Writing about them is another question of course. I suppose, that in your shoes, I would write about the first disc of BtVS4, and then the first disc of AtS1, before commenting on the second discs.

  11. Tausif Khan

    I have couple general feelings

    Buffy develops the mythos of slayers

    Angel develops the mythos for vampires

    this can be viewed entirely seperately (I started with Angel first and did not know much about slayers)

    You do not need to watch Angel to understand Buffy. None of the characters that originate on Angel enter Sunnydale.

    One of the big things I feel is that character’s who started on Buffy are written differently on Angel because they serve a different purpose on the show.

    so would it feel even more strange to abandon a character like Cordelia and have to return to her story a few months down the line?

    I feel the answer this is generally no because in Buffy she is mostly an outsider, a doppleganger or a love interest.

    What I would like to see is reviews of Buffy/Angel in the order they were televised given that part of the analysis that you have provided so far includes analysis of how Buffy was promoted and perceived in its time. I feel this is an important thread to continue.

  12. I personally recommend you watch all of Buffy before Angel. Apart from a handful of crossovers (most of them in B4/A1), the series’ have entirely different narratives, themes, and goals. I tend to find Buffy more focused on character while Angel is more focused on theme. I think in terms of analyzing the shows, it’s even more important to stay focused on one at a time. As mentioned above, there’s a couple things in B7 that might seem a bit odd without knowledge of what happened over on Angel, but you can be lightly filled on them when the time comes.

    I initially watched Buffy first, and I think both shows stand just fine on their own. From a more selfish perspective, I also don’t want you to be slowed down in getting through Buffy by diverting your attention over to Angel at the same time.

    Either way, best of luck. It’s quite a ride. 🙂

  13. Tale

    I think you could go either way with a good result for you personally as a viewer, but I feel that as a writer and reviewer you will get more interesting work if you watch them semi-separately. That way you could follow one set of characters and storylines and be able to draw more lines in your review.

    I personally know that I tend to loose interest when I watch shows one episode of one show and then switch back to another. But that’s just me. I like watching things and stories unfold without interruption.

    But it is difficult because a lot of what happens on the end of season 7 on Buffy is connected to previous Angel episodes and I think you will get more out of that if you watched Angel first.

    Good luck whichever way you choose, I’m sure you will enjoy it either way 😀

  14. Witnessaria

    I personally found the tonal shift between Buffy and Angel to be hard to settle into on my first viewing, so going back and forth, episode by episode, I think is difficult for a new viewer.
    However, I don’t think it would be at all fun to watch all of Buffy before watching Angel.
    My compromise position would be to watch Buffy S4, then Angel S1; Buffy S5, then Angel S2, etc. You do miss some crossover information, but it’s not too crucial to the overall stories of each series, more to certain characters. And you could then rewatch the crossovers after seeing the Angel eps to review how they fit together.
    Alternately, you could use this plan for the S4/S1 viewing, then you’ll have a sense of the feel of both series and may feel comfortable going back and forth by episode or disc for the next seasons.
    My two cents.

  15. AO

    “Watch Buffy and simply include the Angel crossover episodes within my viewing schedule, returning to Angel in earnest after Buffy is complete”.

    No, please don’t, this definitely seems like it would be the worst choice and could spoil your Angel experience, except for possibly one Episode where this tactic might make sense. That Episode is a Season 1 Angel Episode where a Buffy cast member makes a significant appearance (this occurs about 1/3 of the way through S4/S1). Other than that, Tom did a good job of explaining the situation and I would agree that everything Buffy makes sense “until season 7 and the arrival of one particular character”. And I think that the show does a good enough job of explaining what happened in Angel to get past that.

    I watched each show straight through, and I would have hated to have switched back and forth. They really do tell different stories that only rarely overlap. In two series where it SO important to focus on the characters and their development, then I feel that splitting one’s focus on two sets of casts would be a detriment and a distraction.

    And while I don’t know exactly how many episodes do contain crossovers, looking back after the fact, it truly didn’t seem to be very many. There are many dozens of Episodes (and some entire Seasons I believe) where there were no crossovers at all. And some (I would say most) of the overlap is in minor ways. A Sunnydale resident might call someone in Angel’s cast, have a few lines of conversation, and be done. Even if those few appearances/mentions/conversations are fun, they’re not what either show is about and I think that it’s far more important to focus on what each show and character arc is trying to say within it’s own show, as opposed to potentially sacrificing some of that in favor of focusing on the crossovers. They may be “cool”, but I would argue that nearly all of them are not terribly important.

    One final note. I’ve found that while nearly everyone enjoys Buffy S1-3, the opinions on what happens next, in both shows, varies tremendously. There are people who quite dislike Angel and people who feel it is a much better show, and people who are everywhere in between. And each Season of both shows has it’s share of fans and detractors. I’ve seen quite a few people people list various post-Season 3 Buffy Seasons as that show’s worst and quite a few others list it as the best. Don’t underestimate the time and attention that might be required to analyze what a Season might be doing right and wrong from this point forward.

    Good luck to you in your decision.

    • Small question — why are so many people saying that something happens in Buffy S7 that would make more sense if you’ve watched Angel? If people mean the character who shows up in Buffy 7.18 — well, okay, I guess it’s nice to have seen the relevant parts of Angel, but I don’t think it’s necessary at all, unless you’re specifically talking about that particular character’s arc.

      Which isn’t to say that we *shouldn’t* talk about that character’s arc — far from it! 😀

      • AO

        I assume that everyone else is referring to 7.18, but I don’t think that we should talk about it much so as to avoid accidentally giving away any spoilers to Myles. I have heard some definite strongly negative reactions and confusion from people who hadn’t seen Angel before 7.18, but I’ve also seen the same (or similar) reactions from people who had. I think that it’s very much a YMMV sort of a thing. As I said, in my case I thought that the recap in 7.18 was sufficient. Watching Angel first *may* help, depending on the person and how they feel about the character/arc. But even if it does then I still feel too much else would be sacrificed by watching the shows concurrently.

        • Austin

          There is also the matter of the item transported from Angel 4X22 over to Buffy 7X21. My opinion is that since it is given to Buffy with minimal information to its use, which remains a mystery until later, there is no reason to know where the person that gives it to her got it. According to Joss, little things like these were actually just ‘easter eggs’ for those watching both shows as they aired and didn’t punish those who were only watching one or the other. (There is one in 4X01/1X01 where he mentions this in the commentary)

          • AO

            I’d agree with your assessment of the plot point in 4X22 / 7X21 and Joss’ characterization of it as an ‘easter egg’. In the same way, I don’t think that at all of the viewers who never read Joss’ Fray Comic Book in which that first appeared missed out on anything either.

            Watching concurrently so as not to miss plot points like that is very much an example of not seeing the forest for the trees, imo.

      • Jessica

        I would imagine that missing the character in question’s arc—which occurs almost completely on Angel (though the first seeds of it are in Buffy)—could be intensely jarring and frustrating, especially if you cared a lot about that character during their Buffy tenure. No, it doesn’t greatly harm the narrative in the end of season seven particularly, but it would be very clear that you had missed something.

        • Tom

          Yeah, that’s what I mean. I really think all the other crossovers are unimportant in terms of understanding/enjoying BtVS. (Understanding/enjoying Angel is a different matter.) But that one…yes, someone can supply the brief recap (A, B, & C happened to the character, and now here we are), but from a BtVS perspective, the reactions of some of the other characters to the newly-arrived one will seem to come out of extreme left field if all one knows is BtVS.

          Perhaps more importantly, however, knowing the outcome of that character by watching BtVS all the way through but skipping Angel, acquiring spoilers as necessary, will reduce the impact of what, as I mentioned earlier, is both a character and qualitative watershed moment over on Angel season one (and, I’d argue, a pretty significant series of character moments in Angel season 4). I think that would be a shame, and I think that of the two ways that splitting up the viewing can cause “damage” to the narrative, I think it’s the more significant one.

          In other words, watch concurrently not for the sake of BtVS, but for the sake of Angel.

    • Mez

      “And while I don’t know exactly how many episodes do contain crossovers, looking back after the fact, it truly didn’t seem to be very many.”

      It’s actually quite a few.

      If you want to include them ALL…

      B4.1 with A1.1
      B4.3 with A1.3
      A1.7 with B4.8 with A1.8
      B4.15 and B4.16 with A1.18 and A1.19
      B5.7 with A2.7
      B5.14
      B5.17
      A2.17
      B5.22 with A2.22
      B6.3 with A3.4 with B6.4
      B7.17 with A4.15 with B7.18
      A4.22 with B7.21 and B7.22

      All of those episodes feature characters showing up on the other show or else events from one show directly impacting the other.

      • AO

        The point that I was trying to make, and perhaps the fault lay in my explanation, is that I actually wouldn’t want to include them all. Many of those crossovers are not terribly important in the grand scheme of the shows (imo).

        For example, a scene in one show that depicts a character making a quick phone call or e-mail to someone else from the other show to pass along a bit of information is a nice thing for fans of both shows, but it’s not really important to the theme of the Episode or the character’s arc. If Character A remarks after a crossover that they saw Character B from the other show, then I don’t think that that Episode is terribly important to much beyond fan service. If Mr. Pointy were to be loaned to “Angel” for one Episode and then returned to “Buffy” (which didn’t happen, it’s only an example) then that seems like it would fit your criteria, but I wouldn’t find it terribly consequential in the larger scheme of things.

        Imo, most of the instances where we see “events from one show directly impacting the other” are easy to understand within the show that one is watching, without having seen what is going on in the other. This seems to me to especially be the case when going from “Angel” to “Buffy”. If Myles were to continue on with “Buffy”, which is what I assume that he would do, then I believe that he would find it easy to follow along (as I did) with it’s narrative except for 7.17. Then when he went to view “Angel”, he would already be familiar with all that had happened in “Buffy”.

        Would his not having seen what led up to 7.17 be a detriment? Yes. Would he lose out on something by not having seen all of the other crossovers? Yes. But ultimately I don’t believe that what he would lose out on would be nearly so important compared to how much easier it would be to focus his attention on each show at a time, considering how separate and dissimilar they are in so many characters and ways.

  16. Given that you are WRITING about these shows, and not merely watching them, I’m voting very strongly for watching them separately.

    Once Angel finds its voice (and exactly when that happens is itself the subject of heated debates), the themes of the shows diverge wildly. For example, there is ZERO benefit to critically analyzing the end of Buffy S5 concurrently with the end of Angel S2 — they simply have nothing to do with each other, no matter if you’re looking at plot, characters, themes, you name it. (If anyone disagrees I’d be interested to know.)

    In the end, they really are two different shows. As Eldritch said, the crossovers are fun, but not particularly critically relevant. (And you can always write about them when you go review Angel.)

    p.s. But if you have the time, it would be *awesome* if your analysis of Buffy S4 could be informed by also watching (but not writing about) Angel S1!!!!!!!

    p.p.s. ….but there are still only, like, four episodes in that first season of Angel where it really matters….

  17. While you certainly can watch the shows separately once the narrative break away, you’ll really get so much more out of it if you find a way to preserve the crossovers. Both shows were built to stand on their own, but just as you could have watched only the best episodes of Buffy (or Angel) and skipped lesser ones, a loyal viewer that watches them as they were initially intended, is rewarded with a more complete experience.

  18. Jason

    eh, i think he’ll regret not watching them together as the Buffyverse. There are major crossovers in every season. The timing is crucial for maximum enjoyment. IMHO As someone who never watched them separately I can see why so many people who have watched Buffy first and and Angel second would advocate that position. Trust me, however, watching them grouped together is so important for at least 2 major characters! Plus the weaker Buffy seasons line up with strong Angel seasons and the overall effect of that is a great sense of balance.

  19. fivexfive

    There are 3 major reasons I would say you watch both shows simultaneously:

    1) I watched most of Buffy and Angel as they both aired, so that was my first experience of the show and I’m a little biased.

    2) As someone else stated, you are including in your reviews how the airing schedule and how the audience perceived it at the time affected the writing of the show, which I like. Although, that’s a split vote, also. Probably about half the audience watched both shows when they were new, but I think the writers, while writing separate shows with separate themes and characters and plots, took the other show into account because they are important to each other, emotionally. I’m kind of a sucker for the emotional world of the characters and I start to care about them more than I should for people who don’t really exist, which leads me into the final reason…

    3) If you have a personal attachment to Buffy’s characters, what happens to them on Angel (although for only few episodes throughout the entirety of both shows) affects their long-term arc. I feel that most of the characters on Angel (except Angel himself) are very independent of what happens on Buffy, but not so much the other way around. And like others have said, watching Buffy and only the few episodes of Angel that have crossovers is the worst choice, because it ruins the impact of both series.

    Anyway, I think you’re smart enough to handle going back and forth from one show to another every other episode or watching Buffy in one running, getting a few spoilers, and putting all the pieces together when you watch Angel. You can watch either way and do a very fine job writing about the shows. I would prefer to read about your experience with both shows concurrently viewed. If I were you, I would choose to watch the way that satisfied me most as a viewer.

  20. Cartman86

    I recommend watching them in order (like the one website you linked to). I didn’t when I watched it all, and was a little angry at myself. Just make sure you keep up with the plan. My roommate and I didn’t and were forced to watch a ton of one show before we could continue with the other.

  21. Austin

    If you remember, I brought up this topic a while back and there was a lengthy discussion, I was in the camp of All Buffy the all Angel. I still believe that this is the best plan.

    Allow me to rebut some of the arguments I have heard in favor of some sort of mish-mash arrangement:

    1.) Major Character crossovers. The referred to major character crossover in Mid-late S4/S1 wraps up to a satisfying conclusion on Buffy that doesn’t leave you needing to know what happens next on Angel, and the character’s arrival on Angel is also self contained, as are the consequences (mostly, there is a minor reference but since the characters in Buffy don’t know what happened in Angel, it is not an issue that the viewer doesn’t know) .

    The major arrival in S7 is satisfactorily explained and though, you can’t appreciate the character’s arc fully, it is done well enough that an insightful watcher (no pun intended) can infer what happened.

    Major characters that depart Buffy for Angel can be summarily forgotten about while watching the rest of Buffy and their stories continue naturally where they left off when they appear on Angel (Cordelia leaves and you never give her another thought, until you watch Angel where her arc is self contained, yet building on what she went through in Buffy)

    2.) Crossovers
    All crossovers begin on Buffy (most do) and 90% are in S4/S1 there are a couple in S5/S2 but not enough to justify a combined viewing experiance. There is none in S6/S3 because they were on different networks and the only reason they had one in S7/S4 is because Buffy was ending so they begged for the networks to cooperate. As I said, for most xovers, the Buffy side can be watched with minimal, if any confusion, this is rarely true for the Angel side since the xover goes from Buffy to Angel and builds on what happened before. Basically, when Angel shows up, there is enough exposition to know why he is in Sunnydale.

    3.) Themes and tones
    While some would say that the cross overs share themes, I would say that because the overall tone of the two shows are so different, the episodes on each show will have very different themes of the episodes, even though they are part of the same crossover. “Fool for Love” and “Darla” tell two stories happening in one timeline but because the tone is so different, they come out feeling almost like opposites and I think a review of them separately would actually benefit them since you could focus on each of their separate themes. Any thoughts on the crossovers as a whole could be included in the second of the two reviews, or you could have special ‘crossover’ reviews where you re-watch the pertinent Buffy episodes before the Angel episodes and simply comment on them as a whole.

    I think you would get the most enjoyment, experience the least confusion, and produce the best reviews by continuing through Buffy and then returning to Angel, taking time to refresh your memory of certain Buffy episodes as needed.

    • Jason

      “and the character’s arrival on Angel is also self contained, as are the consequences”

      except this isn’t the case AT ALL… rethink that

  22. lyvvie

    For me, I’d agree with those who say watching simultaneously is the most rewarding. Not only are their the actual crossover eps but I feel that some of the episodes actually compliment each other with themes and tone.

    But as for writing up, I see your dilemma as for the sake of speed you can’t focus on every individual episode of each season. I suppose it’d be possible to watch them in blocks (as mentioned by Masquerade in another comment), one disk of one, one of another – making exceptions for crossover episodes (the purist in me would complain a tiny bit at that though as knowing the crossovers are coming spoils some of the fun).

    Having looked at that list you posted I could see something like that working as it would allow you to watch a few episodes of each so as not to be writing about one episodes at a time.

    From my own experience I originally watched both series simultaneously and I enjoyed every second of it and that’s how I’ve shown it to others as well… some have taken to it that way, others it’s taken a bit of time to get used to as it takes longer to get to the big season plots.

    Ultimately though its your choice (of course!) and you don’t need to set it in stone, maybe try simultaneously or close to that at first then if you find it too difficult make some changes. I hope you’ll be doing individual reviews of Buffy S4E1 and Angel S1E1 though…

  23. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve actually done all three of your options on various rewatches, and by far my favorite viewing experience involved keeping the two series separated. For me, it’s a tone thing. Buffy, even at its darkest, has this bubbly, humorous, hopeful aura surrounding it. Angel, on the other hand, couldn’t be more noir, and at times, it’s very bleak and depressing in a way that its sister series never is.

    Ultimately it’s going to be up to you, but I think for a first time, keeping them separate is best. The only times they really, really intertwine are in seasons one and four of Angel, and even then, it’s not necessary to watch them together. They were made to stand on their own on purpose.

  24. Vicky J

    I watched Buffy and Angel as they aired and loved it but the difference in tone is slightly jarring and can detract from the appreciation of both shows narrative and themes. It would be easier from a writing perspective to watch each separately, S4Buffy then S1Angel etc. I’ve done that too and it was a different experience.
    Despite this I really think you’ll get the most out of this project if you watch them together for the first time as the crossover episodes forward character development in both shows and tie up arcs that just aren’t as satisfying otherwise. Also, what’s the point in characters calling each other in separate shows if you don’t get to enjoy it? Please don’t just watch the crossover episodes, you really short change some of better episodes of Angel by not watching the previous set up (which can at times in S1 be gruelling )for the sake of mediocre Buffy narrative in Season 4. Maybe a season to season approach is best? S4/1 and S5/2 back to back and the rest as separate shows?
    Looking at previous comments I wonder how much how a person first watched the shows determines what they think best? For a compromise I think disc swapping may be your best bet! Love this project and am always eager to hear your thoughts.

  25. Brr

    In my own experience, I first watched all of Buffy, followed by all of Angel–and felt like I missed a few crucial elements, particularily on Buffy. However, I recently watched both series over again, intending to watch them simultaneously as they originally aired, and wound up dropping the approach for two reasons. First because, as others have noted, the shows are very different in tone and theme and I found that juxtoposing them made for a jarring experience. Secondly, I discovered that trying to follow the two storylines at the same time lessened the intensity and flow that each individual season ought to have–at least on DVD!

    My vote, then: finish Buffy then watch Angel. Take notes.

  26. Mez

    In my opinion, the best system is this:

    -for seasons 1 and 2 of Angel, watch an episode of Buffy followed by an episode of Angel (so it goes B1, A1, B2, A2, B3, A3…)

    – then watch the first TWO episodes of Angel season 3 before watching the two-parter that opens Buffy season 6

    – for the rest of Buffy, watch an episode of Angel followed by an episode of Buffy (so it goes A3, B3, A4, B4, A5, B5…)

  27. kg

    Put me down as another vote for watching them separately. I don’t feel like you’d lose enough to justify having to watch them together, and with the massive tonal difference between the two shows, I think you’re better off going through them one at a time. If you want, you could always alternate shows each season, but I wouldn’t recommend doing it more simultaneous than that.

    Whatever you choose, I’m looking forward to continuing to read these!

  28. Revello

    My vote goes to watching them seperately. Although both shows are set in the same universe, they are entirely different experiences. Watching them together, I honestly believe It would detract from the two unique experiences rather than enhancing it, or crafting it into one singular experience.

    Immerse yourself in Buffy, untill the end. Then move on to Angel. You won’t lose anything from missing the (very few) crossover episodes. The writers do a fine job helping both shows stand alone in these circumstances.

  29. diane

    I’ll take a different tack, and the reason that this might work is that each series, in itself, is a seequence of series. Serieses. Whatever.

    At this point, Myles, you’ve seen Buffy seasons 1-3; all of that revolves around high school and “high school is hell.” That is about to end, and season 4 is a fairly radical “reformatting.” However, season 4 ends up being a transitional season, and seasons 5-7 feature Buffy dealing with her life in a more adult setting, rather than as a teenager. Part of the changes are in life-stages, but they are also physical changes in terms of locale and environment.

    In the same vein, Angel runs the same kind of transitions. Season 1 takes a while to get established, but by the latter half of the season, establishes a distinct tone as well as a distinct milieu. Then, boom. Seasons 2 through 4 involve new locations, new characters, new tone, new motivations. Then, once again, boom; season 5 reformats radically.

    Also, both shows become increasingly arc-heavy; it would be massively disruptive to the arcs if you switch between them episode by episode.

    On the other hand, there are the cross-overs. Some are purely to please the fans, but some of them are significant in both arc and theme.

    So here’s my suggestion, taking a sequence of episodes from one, then from the other, lining up the cross-over bits, and taking advantage of reformatting breaks to switch series and “catch up.” Similar, somewhat, to the rotation you referenced, but less switchy. This will catch the crossovers correctly, but otherwise keep continuity better in each series, and that’s important.

    Buffy, 4-1 and 4-2
    Angel, 1-1 and 1-2
    Buffy 4-3 and Angel 1-3 (cross-over, theme connected)
    Buffy, 4-4 through 4-7
    Angel, 1-4 through 1-7
    Buffy, 4-8 and Angel 1-8 (cross-over time again)
    Buffy, 4-9 through 4-16 (cross-over point)
    Angel, 1-9 through 1-22
    Buffy, 4-17 through 5-6
    Angel, 2-1 through 2-6
    Buffy, 5-7 and Angel 5-7 (backstory cross-over)
    Buffy, 5-8 through 5-22
    Angel, 2-8 through 2-22 (important to sync up at season ends)
    Buffy, 6-1 through 7-11
    Angel, 3-1 through 4-15 (cross-over point)
    Buffy, 7-12 through 7-19
    Angel, 4-16 through 4-22
    Buffy, 7-20 through 7-22 (series end)
    Angel, 4-16 through 5-22 (series end)

    • TheDMG

      I’m liking this suggestion the most. It allows for a better flow of uninterrupted episodes while still giving vital crossover info.

      • Chrystal

        I agree I like this suggestion the most as well. I started out with Buffy s4 and Angel s1 watching together, but the tone of Angel really threw me and after the significant crossovers in those seasons were done I actually stopped watching Angel altogether. Still working on downloading and watching that now since I’m done watching all of Buffy. But I think if I had something like this I would’ve preferred it more because I like to get going and watch a few episodes (so as not to mess with the momentum of the show) but also think there are some important things that I missed in character development (and had to just infer) because I missed seeing the crossovers.
        So this suggestion gets my vote. I’ll be saving it for my own use in the future when I want to watch Buffy again.

        • Chrystal

          Just wanted to say the reason why I agree with this format is because you’re not watching in the one-episode-a-week format that it originally aired in. If you were, I don’t think it would matter so much to watch one Buffy, one Angel, one Buffy, one Angel, etc etc.. but since I’m sure you’ll be sitting down for a few episodes at a time and there’s not all that extra space of a week to allow for the shifts in tone, I think it’d be better to use this format. Sorry I forgot to include that above. Cheers!

  30. Susan

    Wow. Lots of input here. My thoughts will be redundant, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to air them!

    You’ll enjoy what’s coming no matter how you choose to experience it first. None of the crossovers is absolutely crucial to one’s understanding and enjoyment. I watched them first as aired. Now I mainly watch them as discrete series.

    But my best suggestion is to watch them concurrently, in their *originally intended airing order.* While the narratives only cross over at a few key points, there are small moments that crop up in each series every now and then which are informed by entirely unrelated goings-on in the other. (I’m thinking, for those of you in the know, of “thaumogenesis,” for example).

    And while you will certainly enjoy the crossovers even if you watch each series separately, they are richer when the entire narrative remains intact, so I’d say experiencing the crossovers is important, ultimately.

    I didn’t have time to read all of the many comments already posted today, so I might well have repeated every single point, but at least here’s another vote!

  31. Christopher

    Count me as another vote for watching them concurrently. I did not do this on first viewing (watched all of Buffy before I saw any Angel) and was a little confused here and there and, at times, was aware that I had missed something on Angel.

    I agree that the things you would miss by not watching them concurrently are not really crucial to the main arcs, but they do develop the characters and relationships in small ways. It’s like someone upstream said about skipping episodes; for example, you could skip “I Robot, You Jane” in S1 of Buffy (one of my less favorites), but then you wouldn’t know who this Jenny Calendar person was that everyone seems to know in subsequent episodes. You would still get to know her and see her arc, but you would feel like there was a small piece missing.

  32. Beth

    I am completely on the side of watching “Buffy” first and then “Angel.” Watching one narrative play out in one piece is more rewarding (I think) than watching two different narratives (and let’s be honest, the Buffy and Angel shows really do go their separate ways, with some character crossovers, but not really any thematic or plot crossovers after season one). For instance, I’m watching Season Two of Angel right now and if I watched Reunion and then skipped to Buffy and then watched Redefinition, it just wouldn’t have the same narrative heft. Same thing with, say, the last few episodes of Buffy Season Six, etc.

    For background, I watched all of Buffy before seeing even one episode of Angel, and I had very little trouble with the crossovers – even when watching Buffy. My suggestion would be to watch Buffy and then watch Angel, occasionally rewatching a Buffy episode if you feel like it (Harsh Light of Day, Fool For Love) before watching the crossover episode, which does enhance the experience for those episodes.

    Just my opinion. 🙂

  33. Susan

    Now I’ve read everyone’s post.

    “Watch Buffy and simply include the Angel crossover episodes within my viewing schedule, returning to Angel in earnest after Buffy is complete”.

    I think I might have been one of those to suggest this a while back, when the topic first came up, but I’m with AO and others now that this would be the worst possible of the options. I sometimes do it that way now, which is why I thought of it as an option, but I’m VERY familiar with the narratives, so there are no blanks for me. To experience Angel for the first time out of sequence and context would be a bad, bad idea.

    If you only watched the crossovers episodes of Angel without watching the rest of that series’ eps in order, Angel’s LA would seem a strange place indeed. You’d wonder how in the hell certain characters came together and who in the hell other characters were. The Buffy crosses in Angel are not Buffy episodes set in LA; they are episodes of a different series with its own narrative integrity that happen to intersect with the Buffy narrative.

    As many have noted, Angel is very different in tone and even theme from Buffy. I don’t agree that it’s jarring, exactly, but definitely different. I would say that it’s something of an acquired taste, as a Buffy chaser. Don’t give it short shrift by cherry picking the crossovers out of context; I think it might bias you a bit against its quality (and it’s damn good).

    So you actually have only two good options, and the input seems kinda split down the middle: watch the series entire, all of Angel after all of Buffy, or watch them concurrently, in their intended order. You can’t go wrong with either choice. One is definitely easier than the other–though, as another push for my vote, the easy path isn’t always the *best* path. 😉

    • fivexfive

      “So you actually have only two good options, and the input seems kinda split down the middle: watch the series entire, all of Angel after all of Buffy, or watch them concurrently, in their intended order.”

      There actually seem to be a few more options than that. People have suggested variations of batches of episodes, getting big chunks of Buffy and catching up on Angel in time for the crossovers, disc by disc, or season by season. I kind of like the season by season idea, even though I initially voted for airing order.

      • Susan

        Yeah, definitely there are more options than the two I suggested, IMO, were “good.” Of course everyone who made a suggestion is a supporter of that suggestion, but I personally think some of the suggestions are unduly complicated. I also noticed that the apparent majority of the comments were falling along the line of consecutive/concurrent series viewing.

  34. Alli

    I’d recommend both (I used Wikipedia’s ordering, which seemed to be accurate) simultaneously. It ended up being fun to have both storylines percolating at once, and when crossover events did happen, you’d get the full force of how hard/important it was for someone to jump over. It also makes a couple of events that happen on one show and that are subsequently mentioned in the other more clear, although I won’t name those I have in mind for fear of spoilage.

  35. We strongly stand by using an episode guide and wouldn’t recommend watching it any other way. Even if you don’t use our Buffyfest guide, watching all of Buffy and then hitting up Angel afterward is Whedonverse blasphemy at it’s finest. It will take so much away from the viewing experience and it would be sad to ruin those powerful moments. Please don’t do it.

    That being said, our guide has gone through many incarnations since we first published it and we’ve taken reader’s suggestions into consideration when updating….so we feel very comfortable endorsing it.

    Good luck on your watching and enjoy!

    Best,
    Buffyfest

    • I agree that the Buffyfest guide is a great way to go through the Buffyverse — it’s comprehensive, detailed, and well-researched.

      But people seem to be forgetting that Myles isn’t watching *just* for his own entertainment. He’s writing thoughtful critical commentary on the way the shows’ themes develop, and for that purpose, I think it would be more helpful for him to finish Buffy as a cohesive unit before starting Angel. The crossovers are fun, but they are not essential for understanding the rest of Buffy, and the two shows are very different thematically.

      • Susan

        This is a decent point, though I’d argue that since both Buffy and Angel fed the metanarrative of the entire ‘verse as they aired concurrently, it would be useful in analysis to discuss them comparatively *in addition to* independent analyses of each series.

    • Beth

      I guess I’m a Buffy “blasphemer” then. Must…do…the…same….way…as…Buffyfest. Just kidding (kinda). I don’t think it’s blasphemy AT ALL, and I truly don’t think that it takes away from the enjoyment. You DON’T have to watch one to enjoy the other. They have different themes, characters and for the most part producers and writers. Everybody is going to have a different preference, but it does not makes someone a bad Buffy fan to prefer a certain way.

      • Blasphemer!! hee! But no seriously, what must Whedon think when he hears conversations of these sorts?

        Anyway, there is a great idea brewing here in the vein of watching it in crossover order, but only reviewing Buffy for now (I think Karen started that trend). That makes a lot of sense and solves both problems! We say, go with that.

  36. Susan

    This is only my impression, and it’s entirely possible that I’m crazy, but it seems like most of the suggestions are informed by the ways in which we ourselves came to love Buffy and Angel.

    If we watched them when they first aired, we seem to be proponents of concurrent viewing. This might also be the case for those who first watched the episodes concurrently on DVD (following, I expect, someone’s advice to do so). If we came to Buffy first on DVD, watch all of that series and then came to Angel through Buffy, we seem to favor the consecutive series model.

    There are lots of other ways to come into the ‘verse, but I wonder if this assumption I’m making has any basis in reality. Regardless, one thing is true: we who love the Buffyverse are pretty protective of it, and we feel strongly that those joining us should get the best possible first experience.

    • Hansen

      This is not the case for me.

      I did not have the chance to watch the two shows together, but instead watched all of Buffy before seeing any of Angel.

      I still regret this and see this as an opportunity to explore how the shows work for a first time viewer who’s watching them together.

      Also to me; the creators’ intent should be a very important factor when deciding on something like this. So while the shows obviously work if seen separately, I think there is no doubt that Joss and his writers wrote them as if a viewer is watching both.

    • Anne

      The opposite is true for me as well.
      I watched all of Buffy first then Angel my first time. It worked okay but there were definitely a few times, I thought, “What happened there?”
      My second time through I watched as they should have been aired. For sheer enjoyment, this is by far my favorite. While none of the crossover events (large or small) is critical, the crossover moments and episodes add another layer of texture to both shows. If you are watching purely to enjoy and experience then concurrent watching is the way to go. (On my subsequent viewings , I have watched a disc of Buffy, a disc of Angel with the exceptions of the true crossover eps which for me is better than all of one then the next but not as much hassle as changing a disc after every ep.)

      That said, they absolutely are separate shows with different styles, themes, and narratives so writing about them may be easier (as someone said easier is not always better) and more coherent if done separately. Although I think hearing your take on a side by side analysis with thoughts on how the two do intersect and overlap would be interesting reading.

      So I suppose this is a long way of saying there are pros and cons to whichever way you choose.

  37. circelily

    Having done it both ways round, as well a mini-runs I’m going to offer a method that balances immersion and relating naaratives, but that hasn’t been suggested yet:

    Put down Buffy, start watching Angel up to the end of Season 4. Watch Buffy seasons 4 to 7. Then watch Angel Season 5, which came after Buffy had ended, and is also a complete change of direction from its previous 4 seasons anyway.

    This is because they are both tonally different, but the influence of Buffy the series on Angel the series is mostly unilateral.

    And for my money, these are the breathing spaces in the narrative, and while you’ll be spoiled for a couple of the big shocks in Buffy, they are the spoilers that have been unavoidable in the cultural ether anyway. And you don’t get spoiled for how, just what.

  38. andi

    Hi! I’m a big BtVS fan as it has been a huge influence on how I perceive television and writing in general. I recently came upon your endeavour (which I back wholeheartedly!) and have come upon your Buffy/Angel dilemma.
    My two cents is this: considering your critical/analytical approach to watching each series, considering the emotional/time investment Buffy and Angel requires, and considering you likely also have an entire life to run, I suggest your SECOND OPTION as the best for YOU.
    I think you should continue watching BUFFY to its end, obviously including the pivotal crossover episodes. Yes, B&A are intertwined within their universe, but you will end up losing focus if you juggle both and I don’t think watching these particular series should be a sense of pressure or task because then the fun slowly gets sucked out.
    Cordelia and Wesley’s development, to be just, is fairly minimal on BtVS and the juice really comes in Angel, so when you start back up with Angel, I feel like you’ll kind of just snuggle back into Cordelia/Angel/Wesley/Faith. And when you do pick up Angel, you can rewatch the Buffy crossovers to refresh your mind.
    I wanted to take the time to praise your efforts! It is definitely a hard job trying to convince people of Buffy’s genuine greatness or that I’m not crazy – and it’s VERY exciting to see a first-timer’s reactions to, what I consider, a landmark television series. Hope my long ass comment helps and keep enjoying the show…it only gets richer and deeper. Cheers!!

  39. Karen

    I also favor watching the shows simultaneously using a guide. However, it depends on your core focus. If your focus on characters and their arcs outweighs other elements such as plot or theme, then the simultaneous experience is essential. If you are more interested in plot structure, themes, flow of the narrative, etc. then you can justify watching Buffy independently (with the blasphemous *peeking* at the crossover episodes in Angel as a consideration). In either case, the job of writing about both simultaneously (over the summer) is so massive I have to believe the simultaneous-viewing-but-writing-about-Buffy-only is the strategy that makes sense.

  40. Aaron

    I originally watched Angel after finishing Buffy (on accident; I originally wasn’t interested in watching Angel, but when I got to the end of Buffy, I felt so bereaved I had to watch Angel. So glad I did!). Unfortunately, I feel this was a bad way to do things because you’re confused about the circumstances of some things on Buffy, and by the time you get to Angel, you’ve forgotten enough about the events on Buffy that you’re still confused. :-/

    I agree that keeping track of the separate narratives is easier watching one at a time, and I’m sure it will probably be much easier to write about that way, but if you really want the full experience, use the episode guide.

  41. Karin

    BtVS and AtS are two very different shows, strange as that might sound.

    My advice is:

    Watch BtVS first, then AtS, and then, if you want/need to, watch the crossover eps again.

    This fandom is spread all over the world, and most of us didn’t watch the shows back to back, and that worked out just fine.

  42. BobT

    I’d suggest watching both, but maybe set aside reviewing Angel for the moment. Then maybe do two seperate season overviews for both.

    You could still do the occasional episode review of both if you feel it deserves deeper analyisis.

    Overall Angel is self contained, but you’ll still miss certain character interactions by watching one show and then the other.

    By watching both you’ll avoid making uninformed comments about these things in episode reviews. It’s also a way of avoiding comments saying; “Well, If you’d seen Angel then you would’ve known that…”

    Also, Angel gets alot more serialised than Buffy eventually. So the seasons work better for a seasonal overview anyway.

  43. Gill

    I watched Buffy first because in the UK they were on different channels and not in order. I think I missed out on a few crucial episodes. The original (Angel seasons 1&2, Buffy seasons 4&5 shows were shown after each other on the same evening – in a few cases themes and storylines are loosely or even closely linked. I would strongly suggest The Harsh Light of Day be followed by In the Dark, for example, as in some ways they are the same story. Strictly-speaking there is a total of about eight or ten crossover episodes where it matters – otherwise the advantage of seeing them in the order aired is mainly in seeing how far apart the characters move, which is, ultimately, relevant in the final seasons of each show.

    The shows diverge in tone and themes, more as you move on, and particularly for the last three seasons of Angel and two of Buffy, when they were on different channels and officially not linked at all. Even so, there are some key characters and moments relevant to both – you certainly should not consider watching AtS season 5 before BtVS season 7.

    Myself, I think it’s worth alternating the two for the first two seasons. After that, go with whatever flow suggests itself to you. And good luck – it’s an amazing ride however you do it.

  44. David

    I didn’t start watching Angel until a few years after Buffy ended. So I can’t speak to the experience of watching them at the same time. But I will speak to my experience watching Angel, which is fantastic and in some ways better than Buffy to me.

    I didn’t have any problems reconnecting to the characters. I never liked Angel’s character on Buffy. But the way they present him on his own show warmed me up to him pretty quickly. The same with Cordi, who I always loved. But it was a little odd once I got to the crossover episodes since I was watching season 4 Buffy after I had already seen her through season 7. But that really wasn’t a big deal.

    I don’t want to add anything else in order to avoid spoilers. So I’ll just say that I don’t think it would be a big deal to wait if you feel that watching both at the same time would be too much. Though I guess as someone who didn’t watch them together I would appreciate someone who could relate that experience to me.

  45. Eric

    Another reason for watching concurrently is the spoiler factor. If the commentators are discussing a cross-over “event”, there is a much greater chance of having the Angel side spoiled when you review the Buffy side.

  46. Amy

    If you care significantly about character arcs and understanding character motivations, DO NOT watch without the crossover experience. I originally watched without the crossover experience and missed a lot… when I later went back and “simulated” the crossover experience with my DVDs, I felt that it explained a lot.

    Basically, I didn’t really get in to Angel until later. So I’d watch the Buffy episodes and think I was getting the entire experience, except for the little nagging details that didn’t feel resolved or were referenced to. Later, when I did watch Angel straight through, the Buffy character threads that came in from time to time felt completely out of context and lacked the emotional punch that would have come if I had watched the episodes in the order that they occurred in the Whedonverse.

  47. Amy

    Also, having re-read most of the comments, I would say that the general theme is this:

    1) Plenty of people recommend watching Buffy first, then Angel, and plenty of people recommend the crossover experience, so clearly there are advantages to both.

    2) There seems to be a significant number of people who watched Buffy first, then Angel, and regretted it because of the missed character arc experience from crossover episodes.

    3) There seems to be no one who regretted watching both shows simultaneously, though several people who lost interest this way or could not do it because they found it distracting. (Though just from what you have expressed in this blog, I don’t think that the distraction factor would be a problem for you as much as some other people. Never really has been an issue for me, either.)

    4) Overall, the experiences from commenter indicate that the crossover experience is much better for character arcs, and the consecutive experience is slightly better for plot arcs and tone.

    Given all of that, I still recommend the crossover experience… but hopefully the pro’s and con’s here will help you make a decision that makes sense for what you’re trying to accomplish here.

  48. Mandy

    I have watched them both ways, I didn’t get into buffy until long after the show was over. Picked up all the buffy dvd’s and watched them, then went and got all the Angel dvds. From watching them seperately I missed some of the crossover events, and the that was the most confusing was the season 5 yoko factor, there was no back story provided in Buffy. So since then whenever I go back and watch the series I will do the rotating disc, easier then changing discs after every episode. Then when the major crossovers occur I will watch them back to back. This is just my preference and a viewer. If I were trying to watch and write about my opinions I might do it differently because the tone of the shows if very different. All I can say is that I have greatly enjoyed the reviews so far and that when I read a great recap on some of my favorite shows I just have to go back and watch it.

  49. Jaina

    Wow, that crossover guide is intense. I like the way my friend had me watch it. We only coordinated specific crossovers so they lined up as necessary. Typically, it was watching a few discs of each, being sure to just stop one disc and flip back to get the crossovers right. That list might work, but seems to be a bit intense on the disc flipping. I have the order we used lying around somewhere if you want it.

  50. I’m honestly surprised at how many people believe the two shows should be watched concurrently, and how vehement they are about it.

    I still strongly believe that you should treat them as separate shows for the purposes of this project. BUT, the outcry from the other side is so strong I’m wondering if I’m wrong.

    If you ARE going to watch them concurrently, B4/A1 is definitely the place to do it. So maybe you should try to watch those two seasons together, and then re-evaluate how helpful or unhelpful it was?

  51. Beth

    I guess I’m not really understanding what important character arcs you would miss from watching Buffy first and then Angel, other than maybe why Buffy is so pissed in “The Yoko Factor” and some Angel Season 4/Buffy Season 7 character impacts. Just thinking about some major ones – In the Dark picks up from Buffy, but there’s really no effect backwards on Buffy that would require you to see it concurrently. I Will Remember You is very powerful, granted, but again, not necessary to understand Buffy. Sanctuary I already mentioned above. All the D**** stuff in Season Two is not necessary for the enjoyment of Buffy Season Five, not even for “Crush” since it really doesn’t matter to the plot much why XX comes back. 2.17 picks up from Buffy and doesn’t go back, so again, does not need to be seen to enjoy Buffy. 2.22 ditto. 3.4 only brief crossover stuff that doesn’t add anything to what Buffy had. With the 4.15 event, I don’t remember enough of Buffy Season 7 to remember if it is necessary to have seen the character’s Angel arc – I’ll concede that it would help. Season 5 is after Buffy.

    Maybe I’m missing something? For a reviewer, I would think that the narrative continuity gained by watching Buffy then Angel, or one Buffy season and then one Angel season, would outweigh the benefits of the few tidbits of information, and a few character updates, that watching back and forth would bring. Again, just my opinion and I’m sure both ways bring much pleasure. 🙂

    • TheDMG

      The 4×15 event that you mentioned, and the way it plays out on Angel definitely affects Season 7 of Buffy. There is significant character arc work between the character’s exit from Buffy and later re-entrance.

  52. Pingback: Cultural Catchup Project: Decision Time (Buffy and Angel) « Cultural Learnings

  53. Bouncy X

    i’m in the “watch all of Buffy and then all of Angel” camp as well. as Beth mentioned, there aren’t any major events or revelations you miss out on by watching them seperately.

    sure when they were both on the WB, you might have a character leave one show and appear on the other but episodes still worked fine as stand alone and didn’t NEED the one before.

    just think of it this way….the characters on Buffy lived their own lives while things went to Angel and vice versa. so if it didnt affect them then why it let affect you, you know?

    but if the whole continuity thing is really an issue that might bug you then just treat it as if one show was off the air while you’re watching the other. i mean i think of Season 5 of Angel, it aired after Buffy was gone but there were still a few Buffy related things happening, like things the characters were going through that viewers werent seeing. but we weren’t any more lost than if the show had been airing an 8th season.

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