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In every generation, there is a Chosen One. She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness. She is the Slayer...

Well, that’s the theory. The reality, in Buffy the Vampire Slayer is somewhat different. When Buffy briefly snuffed it at the hands of badguy, The Master, a replacement Slayer was activated. Armed with a stake called Mr Pointy and a seriously dodgy accent, Kendra didn’t last long and her death, in turn, activated Faith.

Angel: The Vampire Anthology - Wesley
Faith was a party-girl whose refusal to accept orders from her Watcher, Wesley Wyndham Price, ultimately led to her joining the dark side and fighting against Buffy and her friends. Faith was eventually restrained by a long-term coma, while Wesley was disowned by the Watcher’s council and forced to remodel himself as a ‘Rogue Demon Hunter’. He headed to L.A. and, in the process, switched from Buffy to the spin-off show, Angel. Although Angel tones down the humour that made Buffy so memorable, the shows are similar in that they operated in the same universe, occasionally allowing crossover episodes. The basic demon-fighting gist is unaltered, barring the subtle different that our Vampire-slaying heroine has been swapped for a hero who’s a Vampire.

Angel was cruelly axed before its time in 2004. With one hundred and ten episodes to re-release countless times, Fox has decided to produce a four disc collection that celebrates the best episodes of the show. Here are Wesley’s finest moments, as chosen by series co-creator Joss Whedon.

Episodes
Angel: The Vampire Anthology - Wesley consists of the following four episodes…

Parting Gifts
Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter) discovers that her old friend Doyle has transferred his powers to her so that she may aid Angel (David Boreanaz) in his fight against the forces of evil. Meanwhile, Angel comes to the aid of a demon who is being hunted…only to bump into ex-Watcher Wesley (Alexis Denisof).

Guise Will Be Guise
Since Angel is out of the office, Wesley takes his place on a supposedly straight-forward bodyguard job. Unfortunately, it isn’t long before he finds himself out of his depth.

Angel: The Vampire Anthology - Wesley
 Loyalty
Wesley takes it upon himself to guard Angel’s son Connor from the vampire, convinced that a disturbing premonition will come true.

 Sleep Tight
Continuing the story from Loyalty, Wesley flees with Connor when Angel develops an unquenchable thirst for human blood.

Wesley divides the Buffyverse fans into those that hate him and those who can't get enough of the guy. Like fellow Angel character, Cordelia, we were first introduced to him on Buffy as an irritation to the Slayer and her friends. Many viewers were annoyed by Wesley's haughty demeanour and his fondness for lecturing Buffy and Faith at any opportunity. It's true that, in the early days of the character, he existed to be ridiculed by the Scooby Gang. However, it was all-change for his arrival in episode ten of Angel.

While still very much the same character, the loss of his career as a Watcher meant that the misplaced pride has long-since disappeared. As the first season progressed, viewers were able to warm to Wesley as a far more favourable character. It also strengthened the ongoing theme of redemption in the show; our central trio now consisted of a vampire on a quest to recover his humanity, Sunnydale's queen bitch trying to learn empathy and an ex-Watcher struggling to be more tolerant to people who don't play strictly 'by the book'.

Wesley was technically a replacement for Glenn Quinn's sidekick Doyle, killed off in episode nine of the first season. While one could never discredit Quinn's performance in the early episodes, the character's tortured backstory  too closely mirrored that of Angel's. Wesley was a more pleasing addition to the team both in the way he could relate to Angel and Cordelia,  and the way the character could continue to surprise the viewer by challenging their expectations about him.  

Angel: The Vampire Anthology - Wesley
The four episodes on this disc are an interesting choice. It's a slight annoyance that with all four discs in this collection, Whedon (or possibly Fox) has elected to 'use up' the first choice with the character's premier episode. It's a pointless measure since these discs will mainly appeal to long-term fans of the show that are well-versed in the histories of the characters. Furthermore, none of the four episodes to feature our four supporting characters are particularly outstanding episodes. Parting Gifts, for example, is an awkward transition as the series re-adjusts to accommodate Wesley in place of Doyle. The closing ten minutes are enjoyably fluffy, but it's hard-going for a while.

Guise Will Be Guise is much better; a sparkling comedy episode where Denisof is clearly enjoying himself. Boreanaz is afforded some comic relief as well when Angel goes off to 'find himself' at a retreat.

The final two episodes on the disc represent a short arc in the third season of the show. Unfortunately, they only represent part of that arc as the essential episode Forgiven is uh, unforgivably, absent. Very daft, Fox. While this arc is not one of the greatest moments in the show, it would be nice to see it in its entirety. But then, we have the boxed sets for that, don't we?

Angel: The Vampire Anthology - Wesley
Video
More average picture quality from this collection although it is worth noting that there is a slight increase in quality in the final two episodes which were filmed in 2002. The shadow-strewn sets mask a lot of detail and contrast is not good whenever a cast member happens to walk in front of them, but this is standard for a TV release.

Audio
No surprises here either with a 2.0 Dolby Stereo track that just about makes it worth while switching on your surround system. You know the score with TV releases; no directional effects and a never satisfactory balance between dialogue and action. The theme tune sounds great though, so crank it up for the credits!

Extras
As with the other entries in this Anthology collection, the solitary extra is a character profile that barely skims the surface. Excluding Buffy from the selection of clips also means that we miss out on a great exploration into how the character developed when he switched to this spin-off. Very lazy—and a disappointment considering that this will be the only excuse for hardcore fans to purchase these ‘best of’ DVDs.

Angel: The Vampire Anthology - Wesley
Overall
This is another batch of ‘curious’ choices for this best-of collection, representing a missed opportunity to celebrate a great character in Wesley Wyndham Price. Focusing on episodes from enclosed arcs means that this will never appeal to newcomers to the series, while those that enjoy the show substantially will look towards the boxed sets.


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