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WB's "Angel" explores the life of a young vampire with a soul. 

On the Dark Side

OK, let's take WB's "Angel" and use it as an example of broadcast economics in action. Here's how to tell who's watching a show just by looking at the commercials you see while it's on the air: If you're 60-plus with gray hair and you find yourself watching a show that advertises the Ridge Racer 2 video game, you're grazing in somebody else's pasture. This is not your show. Try "Masterpiece Theatre."

On the other hand, if you're 12 years old and watching a program that advertises Depends undergarments, you're way mature in your tastes. Time to go channel surfing.

That's if you're an "average" viewer — and who is?

Here's a test to see if you're keeping up. The show you're watching has commercials for Coke, M&M's, the aforementioned Ridge Racer 2, Wendy's, the Joycam brand Polaroid camera, a soft drink called "Splode!" and Crunchy Graham Flipz. What's your psycho- and demographic?

Right. (And for extra credit, what does "Splode!" taste like?)

And that's the audience the WB network and the advertisers on "Angel" think is watching. (And with its 1 a.m. time slot in Richmond, right after "Saturday Night Live," WWBT is further targeting a specific audience.) Because "Angel" is a spinoff of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," on which you'll also find products advertised that appeal to young male teens and twentysomethings.

Only instead of being with Buffy in the brightness and sunshine of "Sunnydale," Angel — who is known to friend and foe alike as "the vampire with a soul" — has moved to a place of night and darkness and dread and doom.

Now he lives in Los Angeles.

The big question is this: Can Angel the vampire (you know he doesn't tan well, right?) keep his soul in L.A.? Can he make a fresh start, or will he fall in with new friends who'll bring out his dark side? And since that's the big question, it's never answered: Each story is about Angel's struggle within himself.

That's not such a bad premise for the Ridge Racer 2 and M&M's set, is it?

David Boreanaz keeps his role of Angel in the spinoff and proves he's capable of carrying his own show on the strength of his looks and his muscles. He's joined in the series, in which all men are ruggedly handsome and all women are hot, sassy and brassy, by the aptly named Charisma Carpenter (as Cordelia Chase) and the equally adroitly named Glenn Quinn as Doyle.

Giving Angel his own show wasn't a bad idea at all. "Buffy" drew the audience WB wanted, and the execs have stayed with their strength. But about those slimy demons Angel has to fight each week? It's unfortunate that there's apparently not enough money for better makeup and costumes.

"Angel" is a fun show, full of melodramatic, creepy vampires and monsters, and clear-cut, cartoonish icons of good and evil. And if that's not enough, as Cordelia says, "There's always
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