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(Transcript): 'Angel' 4.15 'Orpheus' Audio Commentary by Jeffrey Bell and Terrence O'Hara

16th November 2009 (20:39)

Here's another in one of my very, very occasional series of transcripts of the official commentaries from the 'Buffy' DVDs - or in this case, from the 'Angel ' DVDs. It's an exception because I was given a specific request to make this the next commentary I transcribed - so here it is.

As before, I've reproduced it as faithfully as possible, but left out verbal tics like "like" and "you know " and "sort of". Also, I sometimes found it hard to tell which of the two men were speaking, so I used my best judgement to assign each line to the right person. If you spot any errors please let me know.

JB> lines spoken by Jeffrey Bell, Co-Executive Producer
TO> lines spoken by Terrence O'Hara, Director of this episode.


'Orpheus' Commentary

JB> This is episode 15, 'Orpheus', and we're coming in basically to the second half of a two-parter. At the end of the last episode Faith and Angel were beating the crap out of each other, which they're continuing to do now. I actually believe this was shot by James Contner - is that correct?

TO> Yeah. This was shot by Contner, as I watched.

JB> When we conceived this all we knew was that the one episode would end with Angel biting Faith. Or Angelus biting Faith. And so that would have been the end of episode 14 and now we're kind of officially into 15 where it didn't quite go the way he'd planned. And for those of you keeping score at home: as Faith got knocked down we're sort of doing a flashback thing here to explain when she had the time to do this.

JB> This whole big fight was actually shot in an abandoned bank downtown. We wanted to do a very different fight in 14, something more vertical, so we brought in all the scaffolding and had the fight so it would feel different to what we'd been doing in the past.

[Opening credits]

JB> Hi, I'm Jeffrey Bell, I run this show for Joss, and I'm sitting here with...

TO> Terrence O'Hara. And I'm a director on 'Angel'.

JB> Terrence has done a whole bunch of episodes for us, always great, and I think this is one of the best ones that he's done.

TO> It's probably my favourite just because of the content of the show. And the difficulty - the most challenging.

JB> This was one we really struggled to put together in time. We broke it over Christmas, and we knew we had Eliza for three episodes, we wanted to pay off the Faith episodes really well. We knew we were going to turn Angel back to Angelus, so it as a real watershed episode for us, with -as you'll see - all the moving through time and different periods. It was a really tricky thing to put together and Terrence did a fantastic job.

TO> Thank you, Jeff.

JB> Okay, that's enough of us sort of kissing up to each other; and into the show.

[Gunn brings an unconscious Angelus into the hotel]

TO> The tricky part about the hotel set is that generally all the cast, plus more, are there. And although it may not add up to a lot in page count, it ends up having everybody all over the place making key points in the story.

[Wesley carries in Faith, also unconscious.]

JB> The other interesting thing in this scene was that Alexis does not have a good back. And although Eliza is not very heavy, he couldn't do this very often.

TO> One of the things we were trying to do here also was to cross-cut between this very delicate, gentle treating of Faith's character, and slamming Angelus in and locking him up. And because David's a real person, we didn't slam him around quite as much as we'd originally talked about doing; but just trying to contrast the very delicate care of Faith with the fear and rattling of shackles of Angelus.

JB> Mere Smith wrote this, a lot of great episodes; I think this is maybe her best episode. It's really dense and complicated, really interesting.

[Fred treats Faith's wounds]

JB> And it's not a vampire show unless you show a great close-up of puncture wounds. You know, our big thing on the show: we can cut of somebody's head, but the thing that -

[Terrence O'Hara's credit comes up on screen]

JB> Hey look, it's Terrence!

TO> Hey!

JB> The thing that they don't like is a lot of blood. And so we always fight with showing blood, even if it's appropriate because we are a vampire show. But that's one of the things the networks almost always give us notes on, is the amount of blood.

[Faith mutters "Scratch you out" in her coma.]

JB> "Scratch you out" is actually a reference to something that Faith said in episodes gone by, so you hardcore fans can go dig that one up and find out where that is. But she's actually in a hallucination there. And what we're trying to do here is set up the shared moments between Angelus and Faith that we're going to go to. So they're both having their own mumblings going on.

[Lorne confronts Wesley about his plan]

TO> And I think he looks so cool with his face all bashed up.

JB> Last year he just got the sh- *laughs* the cr- uh... He got really kicked around.

TO> I think he looks like such a badass.

[Cordelia talks to Connor.]

JB> Now, when we talked about the Cordelia/Connor scene, the last time they played together she was all sweetness and light, and we just thought this was the psycho woman who was completely being manipulative, and so when she turns on him it's just one of her tricks to keep him completely off balance.

[Cordelia pushes Connor into the wall.]

TO> Like that.

JB> Charisma had a lot of fun with this scene. She worked very hard on it. Tried to bring out the schizophrenia and manipulating woman. Poor Connor. He really couldn't catch a break. You know, he was just so manipulated by her, by everyone. Vincent did such a great job of playing really difficult situations, and really making him, I think, empathetic in the midst of making wrong choices.

JB> I actually think Rob Kral's score's really effective in this episode. Not something you always hear but you really feel, and I think really sets the mood and tone for this whole episode.

TO> Yeah, I have to agree with you. Especially with the inter-cutting earlier. I felt it was very effective.

JB> Yeah, it really helped tie our different time-periods and different areas together.

[Group meeting about Faith. Wesley is still all bruised and bloody.]

TO> Doesn't he look cool?

JB> We also had Connor realise much later, saying "Magic. It's always magic." We had him complaining about magic way too much. But he always did it well.

[Flashback: Ellis Island, 1902.]

JB> Okay! Here we go!

TO> Ellis Island.

JB> This is what, stage number five?

TO> Yes.

JB> This is one of our sound stages, and Terence brought Ellis Island, so I'll let him talk a little bit about the idea of making this real.

TO> We had debated a lot previous to this, previous to shooting, how we were going to stage this. And we thought, "Oh, we'll get a real boat, and go down to Long Beach and shoot there." And of course we ended up building one. And this is a flat set that stretches the length of the stage. The buildings on the end are supposed to be the buildings at Ellis Island, and it worked very, very well.

[Angelus and Faith meet in the flashback.]

JB> Okay, so here we're setting the ground rules for what's going on. It's Angelus and Faith sharing, basically, a memory of Angelus's.

TO> It's 'A Christmas Carol'.

JB> Yeah. Using the orpheus drug to put them here. And one of the things we do as we go along, the rules within this constantly change. And I think one of the tributes to Mere and to Terrence is that you really can follow along and understand the changes as they happen.

TO> The fun thing about these scenes was trying to get David as both Angelus and Angel, and then setting up the split screens. And of course he had to go through full make-up to change, and we had to lock off the cameras. So it took quite a bit of time. Very challenging, and we would try to at least have three cameras set up to do split screens, so we didn't have to bounce back and forth in make-up.

[The flashback moves on to the 20s.]

JB> Moving on to Chicago. Is this the Paramount back lot?

TO> This is actually... no, Universal.

JB> Universal back lot.

TO> And this - this was a lot of fun just because of all the old cars. And there are some occasions you'll see in close-ups cars moving by, where the grips are actually pushing them. 'Cause they were very noisy.

JB> We just thought it'd be funny because you think, "Oh my God, there's going to be this terrible thing Angelus doesn't want to see, this is just the worst thing ever." We tried to set up a little idea of "Oh look, Angel's going to kill himself" or... and then - no, he saved a puppy.

JB> One of the great things about having a character who is several hundred years old is there's lots of stories to tell. And we love doing flashbacks. And so this one was flashbackalicious with the different periods. Really trying to fill in different areas of Angel's past that we've never seen before. We hope to continue to do more of those in the coming seasons. But it lets us show Angel as a very different character.

TL> It's also a great deal of fun for David, because he gets to play really, really bad, and really really good. And for the actor, he just had a ball. And was a pleasure to work with in this.

[Connor says Faith's dead; Wesley says she's not dead yet.]

JB> Very Monty Python kind of line. "She's not dead yet!"

[In comes Willow. "I think you need a witch."]

TO> Well that's a surprise. Look! It's Alyson! Or, Willow.

JB> I think it was Tim Minear's idea to actually... we were trying to think, "Okay, how can we re-ensoul Angel? What's the big way to put Angelus back in the box?" And we kept going to shamans, and he said, "Why not just get the really cool witch we know?"

["Angel's handsome yet androgynous son".]

TO> Great humour in this script. I really love it. Alyson had a time problem because she was doing 'American Pie 3', and also doing 'Buffy'. She was working seven days a week, or seven nights a week. So we had her for... one day?

JB> I think, ultimately two, I think.

TO> Right, we got her, like, two weeks later.

JB> Yeah. It was very tricky to get her to work in. Now, you may or may not know, but Alexis and Alyson are engaged at this period, so it was really fun for them to come and get chance to work together for a couple days. And we tried to play it a little bit like Willow kind of has a crush on Fred.

TO> Without, of course, Wesley knowing.

JB> Yeah. Or just not quite...

[Connor acts as a wet blanket.]

JB> See, he always has to be the stick-in-the-mud. He did it so well, but I know it was no fun for him frequently to play this foil role.

[Connor goes to see Cordy.]

JB> And here Charisma is actually way pregnant. She had been for a while, and so it was always a challenge for us to at least keep it away from our people. We have outed her to the audience by now, but not to the other characters - so that's why we were keeping her in the room. So that when she did come down it was a shock. And so the fact that we have her under lots of covers is one of our ways to hide her being pregnant.

TO>And initially between the scene in the lobby where Alyson makes her appearance and this scene, there was another flashback to the 50s. That was...

JB>Yeah, in Season 2 we... Tim Minear wrote an episode called 'Are You Now' which had Angel where he actually for the first time discovered this hotel. And Angelus and Faith walked into scenes from that episode. And Terrence, I believe, shot scenes to tie that together.

TO>But ultimately our show was long, and so we had to trim those out.

JB>Once again Rob Kral's score real quietly, just a little tinkling bells in the background, bringing a little magic to the scene where they're talking about how to do some kind of magic.

[Willow talks to Cordy about cracking the jar holding Angel's soul.]

TO>'Crack' is the key word.

[Cordy throws a knife at Willow just as she leaves the room; it sticks in the door.]

JB>So how'd you do that?

TO>That was a wire gag, actually. And of course you get one try - otherwise you mark the door up for life.

JB>So basically just slide the knife along the wire?

TO>Yes. We had somebody on a ladder, standing up high above, and just sliding it down as fast as they could. It worked very well.

[Angel goes into the diner, in the 70s flashback.]

JB>Right there. Money in the bank.

TO>Great hair. My favourite scene, actually. I had so much fun shooting this. As Angel goes down to play his old standards that he loves, and while we were shooting this we went out and got a real CD of Barry Manilow, which is coming up; and it was just wonderful. Because it really does affect you emotionally, and David just went with it.

JB>On the soundtrack we actually couldn't get approval to use the real Barry Manilow, so we used a sound-alike guy. The guy did a great job.

TO>Yeah. Fooled me.

JB>The other thing I really like is, 'Mandy' is a song that Angel has sung in the past when Lorne has read him. And the fact that it is in fact tied to this particular memory I think makes it much more complex, much more interesting.

TO>And very effective. This set was actually built to match 'Boogie Nights'. We looked at 'Boogie Nights' and tried to set up the same sort of doughnut shop.

JB>This was also something that we hadn't really thought about before. I think it was Joss's idea, the fact that Angelus is actually never completely gone, but sort of trapped inside Angel.

TO>The gunman here is actually Eliza's brother Nate. And he came in and auditioned; it wasn't just "Oh please, give my brother a job."

JB>This was a scene where we really had to work with the network in terms of how much blood, because I think you had a lot of blood pouring out of his back.

TO>Oh yeah, we had a lot on the floor.

[There's a buzzing as Cordelia begins a spell.]

TO>Don't adjust your set. Now what she is holding in her hand is actually nothing. That was put in CGI.

[Willow and Wesley discuss spells.]

TO>It was a lot of fun working with these two together in this scene, since they are a couple. Because it certainly... you could see how much care that Alexis has for her in it. It was really quite nice to see, and they work well together.

JB>I think the scene is beautifully lit, too.

TO>Ross, who was our director of photography, always does a wonderful job at just, really, in the hotel, changing the mood and the feel, and pretty much taking away all the lights; just a warmth; feels like a very small, intimate set when in fact they are standing in the middle of a lobby.

JB>We had fun with this. Wesley feeling that he was so dark, so dark, and he gets off pretty easily.

["I had a woman chained up in a closet once".]

TO>Which was actually also my episode, where he had the woman chained in the closet.

JB>'Deep Down', the first one of the season, yeah.

TO>Nice and fun to do. Jeff and I get to explore all our darker sides also.

["So, Fred. What's her story?"]

JB>Once again just a little thing from Willow.

[Angel and Angelus and Faith in the diner.]

TO>Here's another split screen, of course. Since they do cost quite a bit of money, you have to be judicious in choosing where you can use them. So everything had to be planned ahead of time.

JB>And again back to the music. It's wonderful in this scene. So, now you're dealing in David in a scene with himself, and also going into vamp.

TO>Took a little bit of time.

JB>And our reality has just changed because as Angelus - as Angel bit into that guy, Faith's wounds started to bleed as well. It's another step in the progression. Tying together her reality, where she is lying in bed in the hotel, with her dreams.

[Lorne and Connor tend to Faith.]

JB>You know, the other thing we played through the three Faith episodes was Connor's intrigue with her. You know, here's someone his age who had similar strengths, and he clearly had a crush on her as well as his feelings for Cordelia.

TO>And if you look at Eliza you can understand why.

JB>Yeah, there's no shortness of attractive people on our show.

TO>No, not at all.

[Willow tells Fred she has good bells.]

TO>Again, trying to keep the attraction she has with the fact that she is doing a job, and try to be subtle about it. Amy had a lot of fun walking around ringing a bell for half the morning.

[Cordelia versus Willow: magical duel.]

JB>So, what, somebody was jerked across the room on a rope? Or just threw themselves?

TO>This was on a ratchet. And for those of you who want to know how it works, it was three guys on a ladder jumping down as hard as they could, and yanking the stuntwoman across the entire hotel. And of course the wire was erased.

JB>One of the things we played with a lot over these episodes was what does Angel's soul looks like? How do we keep it in a jar? We want it to be kind of white and kind of fluffy, without being too white and too fluffy. And how bright should it be? There's a lot of visual effects in this episode as well. All very complicated stuff, like this.

TO>Right. Again, she was holding nothing in her hand at that point.

JB>Now, is she wearing black contacts? Or is that a post thing?

TO>That was post. We were initially going to put her in black contacts, but she was having trouble with them.

JB>Yeah. Another thing secret about Alyson is she hates Latin. And as the witch on 'Buffy' and on here, she's had to do so much Latin. And she just sees it, and it's like the high school student going "Oh no, not more Latin!"

TO>And this is not quite real Latin. It's sort of Latvian and Latin.

[Faith and Angelus are out in an alley now.]

TO>This was on a crane that we brought into an alley here.

JB>So once again the rules of our flashbacks are changing here. Sort of homage to old Dracula movies right here, with him coming up like that. For all you Hammer film fans.

[Angel eats a rat.]

TO>*laughs* Great sound effects.

JB>It's all about the sound effects. So this is one of the things we wanted to establish, was Angel really separated himself from people, couldn't handle the temptation of people, and pretty much just banished himself from society. Which goes to the theme here of what we're doing with Faith, which is her really wanting to just quit and be done with it. The way Angel has kind of quit and be done with it.

JB>And here's the big twist: that Angel in the flashback knows that Angelus and Faith are there.

TO>The rules have changed again. They can talk to each other.

[Cordelia is still fighting Willow.]

TO>Now I think those are contacts.

JB>Could be. We've done both with her.

TO>But I can't remember.

JB>Now, I love earthquakes on our show. They look huge, and it's pretty much you shake the camera and someone with some little dust drops it. Okay, for all you video game fans, we apologise for the big, stupid floaty head. We had really great hopes for it and it jus became something that you'd see on 'It's A Small World' in Disneyland. Just not quite as scary as we had hoped.

TO>This was also a tough effect to do, simply because the camera is moving as they bring the effects in.

JB>Effects team did a great job. Oops.

[Back to Angel versus Angelus in the alley.]

JB>So indeed if Angelus is trapped inside Angel all the time, then Angel would also be trapped inside of Angelus.

[Angelus hits Faith.]

JB>And that's different, because if you remember the first time on Ellis Island, he went right through her. Now he can in fact affect her.

JB>And we've been waiting to do this for four years. Angel versus Angelus. So how'd you do that?

TO>That was a split screen, a lock-off, and we played back to try to match shot by shot.

JB>So there was nobody else he was hitting, he was just hitting space?

TO>He was hitting space.

JB>So you shot this whole fight in one night?

TO>We shot the first meeting in the alley, the crane shot, the first night. And then the next night, from 5 o'clock till 6.30 in the morning, we shot the rest of this fight. It was brutal. A lot of fun, tough to do. As this goes on we cut back to it many, many times.

[Cordelia tries to persuade Connor to kill Angel.]

JB> Of course, it's always funny to hit somebody over the head with a lamp. Now here's a really hard thing we're trying to do here that I think Vincent pulls off. Connor is going to be manipulated into doing the one thing he would never do by Cordelia. And a very tricky scene to write.

[Willow is preparing to re-ensoul Angel.]

JB>'Orb of Thesulah' was set up on 'Buffy', was Willow's first spell.

[Back to Cordelia and Connor.]

JB>I love this scene. It's her Lady Macbeth scene. And she really does convince him. They both do a very good job.

[Angel and Angelus are still fighting.]

TO>As Jeff said earlier, this is Eliza wanting - or, not Eliza - but she wants to quit. She wants to die. It's easier.

[Connor's off to kill his father.]

JB>I think this is a beautiful shot, beautiful sequence. We have an inordinate amount of magic in this episode, mainly because Willow is here. We always have a little bit of phlebotnum - we use the word 'phlebotnous', it's not the correct word but it's a word we use for the magic nonsense that we do. But this episode is wall-to-wall with it, mainly because we have a witch in the house.

[Angel's trying to get Faith to fight.]

JB>Here's what a little sound effect will do. Pick up the metal pipe, and then this sound right here.

TO>Yes, adding that little 'clink'. Rules change again.

[Bright red light spills out of Angel and Angelus's eyes and mouths.]

JB: Now that's not an effect, we just actually had David do that. We had him spew light out of his mouth and eyes and...

TO>And it worked pretty well.

JB>It did. I think that was the third take of him doing it.

TO>And since we didn't have enough battle in the alley, we needed one more.

JB>We were fightalicious in this episode.

TO>Lots of wirework. Lots of people flying around the rooms. Eliza is very good with the physical.

JB>There's a joke to be made there that I'm not making. Poor Connor.

[Epilogue.]

TO>Now on this day Eliza came into work in the morning and couldn't talk. She had laryngitis. And this scene was supposed to be first up, but... and of course Kelly Manners said, "Well, shoot it and she'll loop it." And I begged Kelly to keep it to the end of the day and try to let her recover. And she did, because she could not utter a word.

JB>I think this scene is a real hallmark of a Joss Whedon show. It's the goodbyes and all the sentiment without anyone ever getting sentimental.

["I'm seeing someone."]

JB>They're paying off the whole crush thing here with this scene.

TO>And hats off to Amy. She is able to get dialogue out that most people would just stumble over.

JB>You know, what we're setting up here is the crossover of Faith now going to 'Buffy' for the last five episodes of the season. Fighting the big battle up in Sunnydale. We actually shot, on 'Buffy', a phone call that they get, that Willow gets from Fred; but the 'Buffy' episode ended up getting pre-empted one night when we went to war. And so a week later it was on, so it no longer matched up. But we had actually planned it very carefully. And like all great plans, it fell apart.

[Pregnant!Cordelia's grand entrance.]

JB>Now I'd like to apologise to all of America for this. I picked this dress out based on an email. I didn't see it in person, but we wanted to show here's the big reveal of Charisma pregnant. And we wanted it to be a little sexy. I had no idea there were tassels and belly dancers, and that she was going to be stuck wearing this dress for the next three episodes. I apologise to Charisma, and all the people of the world.

JB>That's it. This is Jeffrey Bell saying see you next bat-time, same bat-channel.

TO>And Terrence O'Hara, and I hope you enjoyed the show.

[Grr. Argh.]

.

Comments

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 16th November 2009 22:06 (UTC)

JB: Now that's not an effect, we just actually had David do that. We had him spew light out of his mouth and eyes and...

TO>And it worked pretty well.

JB>It did. I think that was the third take of him doing it.


I'm not sure why, but I think this is one of the funniest things on any of the commentaries. :-)

Thanks for your effort with these!

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 16th November 2009 22:42 (UTC)

It is funny. All the Mutant Enemy people seem to share a similar sense of humour (and language). :-)

Thanks!

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 16th November 2009 22:43 (UTC)

He can shoot lasers out of his eyes (and mouth)! All he needs now is purple hair...

Posted by: candleanfeather (candleanfeather)
Posted at: 17th November 2009 12:50 (UTC)

Hum, there must be telepathy at play, I was thinking yesterday it had been a long time since you had posted any transcript of a commentary and today this. :) Thank you for doing it.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 17th November 2009 21:41 (UTC)

Clearly, the power of your mind compelled me. :-)
Please be careful about anything else you might imagine me doing...

Thanks!

Posted by: candleanfeather (candleanfeather)
Posted at: 18th November 2009 13:52 (UTC)

Wipes tears of laugh.

Now you're giving me ideas...

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 18th November 2009 21:27 (UTC)

Uh-oh...

Posted by: none of the above (frogfarm)
Posted at: 23rd November 2009 17:42 (UTC)
willow wesley fetal pigs

I can't even remember if I was the one who requested this. But thanks anyway :)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 23rd November 2009 20:15 (UTC)
cordelia-yourewelcome

No, it was someone else who saw the last commentary I did and asked if I'd do 'Orpheus' next. But if you specially wanted this one too, happy to oblige. :-)

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