Okay, so he's been known to suck a neck or two. So his refrigerator is stocked with bottles of blood. So his idea of drinking a good Merlot would be sinking his choppers into Suzie Merlot or her sister Marge. That doesn't make him a bad person.
You may say that the only good vampire is a dead vampire. But wait a minute; they're all dead, more or less. At least this guy is dead in a lively way. His name, and the name of the series, is "Angel," a spinoff from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" that premieres tonight at 9 on Channel 50.
It's another show mainly for teenagers--and indeed, mainly for "Buffy" buffs--from the WB network, but it has enough imaginative cogitation and dark humor to make it more than just tolerable for adults as well. Women of all ages apparently swoon over the muscle-bound star, David Boreanaz, who looks to the trained eye (don't ask who trained it) like a dead ringer for an actor named Craig Sheffer.
If they swoon, they swoon; you can't argue with swooning. And even though Boreanaz is barely bare at all in the opening show, thus perhaps disappointing the most avid of his fans, he does exude a smoky, throaty (naturally), devilish kind of charisma. There's another Charisma on the show, too: Charisma Carpenter as Cordelia Chase, a campy vamp who, like Angel, lives in Los Angeles (the city of Angel's!) but unlike him loves it and aspires to stardom in the motion picture business.
Naturally but not perfunctorily, the pilot sets up the situation and characters, with a flashback to a "Buffy" of last season that helps explain who Angel is and how he cleaned up his act, so to speak, even though he be one of them there unholy unquenchable undead undergrounders with crazed corpuscular cravings. "To fight evil and atone for his crimes"--and take a bite out of crime--Angel now must lumber and tumble around L.A. foiling bad vampires such as, on the premiere, a corporate magnate with a nasty appetite.
The idea that a subculture of vampires exists in the world, and that they cunningly pass themselves off as normal people, and especially that some of them rise to positions of great wealth and power (such as, oh, running the Fox network?) may not be new, but it's put over here as if it were.
Carpenter provides delicious comic relief. She's a Ritz of a ditz, ironically full of life and giving off plenty of what she calls "positive energy." It was wise of producer Joss Whedon to put her in the show, because she counterbalances the Gothic gruesomeness. Whedon appears to have hit upon just the right recipe for mixing the serious and the facetious. The thrills tend to thrill, and the comic relief's comic. And a relief.
Less amusing than the other two lead vampires is Glenn Quinn as Doyle, some sort of missing-link monstrosity whose face breaks out in spikes when he sneezes and who haunts Angel's abode and needles him into action. This character is a pain in the neck, appropriately enough, but the less seen of him, the better.
If "Angel" is produced on a smaller budget than shows on the big four networks, it isn't readily evident. "Angel" abounds in the kinds of frills, luxuries and extras that make it a cheerfully guilty pleasure--and also, on occasion, a very bloody mess.
CAPTION: David Boreanaz plays a hunky vampire in WB's "Angel."