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Lonely Hearts is a middle of the road episode so yeah of course I would like something better than that. I'm not saying I wouldn't change certain things in Corrupt, but it probably would have been a better episode.
As for should Angel the show have been darker? No. I think they went dark enough. The problem is being darker has nothing to do with quality. If something is badly written it doesn't matter how dark it is. The same in reverse.
Not sure I've taken the time to read Corrupt before, and just forgotten about it, but I really liked it. It would've been way better than Lonely Hearts. Lonely Hearts isn't the worst thing TV has ever seen, but much like Dollhouse's Stage Fright, it's one of those episodes that just makes me cringe. It's just... awkward and not very well planned out.
I thought "Lonely Hearts" was, at the very least, a noble attempt to explore intimacy and loneliness in the "Wasteland" of early adulthood in the big city. Which is what Angel was supposed to be about, but never really embraced it. I mean, I wish my twenties were about pretending to be Batman while tricking my Ex into eating my enemies, but they weren't. I don't think "Corrupt" was a viable concept for a Network whose purpose was airing teen friendly programming on religious broadcasters. Granted, I enjoy watching "Pretty Little Liars" then "The 700 Club," then hitting it, but I doubt anyone else does.
It's not an obscure reference, it aired for three episodes.
In brief, Corrupt is "Reptile Boy" but with prostitutes instead of high school girls, and Kate makes her first appearance, as an undercover drug addicted vice-cop who has gone native. It was rejected by the Network, and it was apparently retooled into lonely hearts.
I do wonder if they had gone down the Corrupt route how it would have affected Kate later on? Also in the transcript Cordelia calls Doyle demon-boy, would you have liked her to know about Doyle being half demon from the beginning?
I kinda like that idea, her knowing about him, less secrets between them, however it would mean we don't get the amusing scene in Bachelor Party!
Re: Kate; That's a good question. E.R. would have to had been booked fairly early in production, because with a recurring guest star, they are looking for other work. She appears in nine episodes, that's a lot of rewrites to go from corrupt vice cop to ... Blonde Cop?
Yeah I could afford to go darker. It was still a WB show so their version of dark would still be pretty 'lite'. I'd have loved it though. I still enjoy Lonely Hearts for its tone and atmosphere, very noir setup for the show's beginning. I still remember watching it the first time and feeling like it had really separated itself from Buffy. I just wanted it to go a bit further.