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WB Grounds Angel

The WB Television Network has decided to clip Angel’s wings, ending the show after this season, the show’s fifth.

The decision apparently caught Angel’s cast and crew off-guard because the show had been creatively renovated this year, had seen solid ratings, and was even presented to TV critics at last month’s winter press tour.

"Angel is as strong as it’s ever been, except for that it’s dead. Truthfully, I’m heartbroken," said series creator and executive producer Joss Whedon.

He added, "All we have left on Angel is to end the season with episodes as strong and meaningful as we can muster–but then, we were gonna do that anyway."

"While we’re disappointed in The WB’s decision not to continue the series beyond this season, we’re incredibly proud that the show will end its run at the top of its game," said Dana Walden, president of Twentieth Century Fox Television.

Facing depressed ratings, The WB is looking for ways to improve its fortunes, including adding more unscripted shows to its schedule and repeating dramas less often. Angel is not only a serialized drama that doesn’t repeat well–a problem all networks are having–it also comes with its own deep mythology that limits the show’s ability to attract new viewers.

The WB co-CEO Jordan Levin said he gave Angel’s production staff notice that the show would not be renewed as early as possible so that it could put together an appropriate series finale. The WB also is discussing with Whedon the possibility of doing an Angel movie next year.

Angel was on the bubble last season, and wasn’t assured of renewal until late last season. DVD sales of the show have been surprisingly strong due to the show’s loyal fan base. Angel spun-off from Buffy the Vampire Slayer in 1999. Buffy, also created and executive produced by Whedon,departed the air last May.

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.