Angel/Smile Time

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Smile Time
Smile Time
Season 5, Episode 14
Airdate February 18, 2004
Production Number 5ADH14
Teleplay by Ben Edlund
Story by Joss Whedon &
Ben Edlund
Directed by Ben Edlund
← 5x13
Why We Fight
5x15 →
A Hole in the World
AngelSeason Five

Smile Time is the fourteenth episode of the fifth season of Angel, and the one-hundred and second episode overall. When Angel goes to investigate a children's program that is connected to a string of hospitalized kids, he is turned into a puppet.

Starring: David Boreanaz (Angel), James Marsters (Spike), J. August Richards (Charles Gunn), Amy Acker (Winifred "Fred" Burkle), Andy Hallett (Lorne)

and Alexis Denisof (Wesley Wyndam-Pryce)

Guest Starring: Mercedes McNab (Harmony Kendall), Jonathan M. Woodward (Knox), Jenny Mollen (Nina Ash), Marc Vann (Doctor Sparrow)

Co-Starring: David Fury (Gregor Framkin), Ridge Canipe (Tommy), Jennie Vaughn Campbell (Tommy's Mother), Abigail Mavity (Hannah)

Puppeteers: Drew Massey (Puppet Angel) Victor Yerrid (Polo) Tim Blaney (Grufus) Julianne Buescher (Puppet) Alice Dinnean Vernon (Puppet) Brad Abrell (Puppet) (voice only) Donna Kimball (Flora) (voice only) Leslie Carrara (Puppet) (voice only)


Plot Overview

A popular kids show named Smile Time is being run by demons in puppet form to steal the life force from children. When Wolfram & Hart draws the connection from a string of hospitalised children, Angel goes to personally investigate where he finds to his horror - and most everyone else's amusement - that he's been turned into a puppet.


Monster of the Week

  • Puppets: The puppets in this episode are actually four demons who dealt with Gregor Framkin after his show, Smile Time, started to fall in ratings. The demons possessed the bodies of four puppets on the show, turned Gregor himself into a puppet and used the television to suck the innocence out of children. They intended to use this as currency to build their own hell.

Body Count

# Whom By Whom How Where
1 Groofus Gunn Decapitated Smile Time Set
2 Ratio Fred Shot Nest Egg Room
3 Flora Gunn Torn Apart Smile Time Set
4 Polo Angel Impaled Smile Time Set


No licensed music was used in this episode.

Arc Advancement



  • Gunn: As hinted in the previous episode, Gunn's legal knowledge is starting to slip. In order to prevent the Senior Partners from completely removing his link (as well as juice it with the permanent version of the imprint), he goes back to the doctor he first saw and agrees to help him work through customs loopholes.
  • Angel and Nina: Angel and Nina go out on something resembling a date at the end of this episode. Although Angel is still a puppet at this point, he does seem to recognize that she has a thing for him and he has those same feelings for her.
  • Wesley and Fred: Similarly to the Angel/Nina romantic relationship, Wesley and Fred also rekindle their own relationship after several episodes of complications between the two.


  • 5x03 - Unleashed: Nina returns in this episode after being transformed into a werewolf earlier in the season. She comes to Wolfram & Hart every month for three days in order to prevent herself from getting out and hurting someone.


The Show

  • Guest star Abigail Mavity previously appeared in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Hell's Bells".

Behind the Scenes

  • Ratings: On its first airing, this episode scored a 4.0/6 in the overnight Nielsen ratings.
  • Director: This episode was originally meant to be directed by Joss Whedon, but he decided to back out and direct the next episode, "A Hole in the World" instead.

Allusions and References

  • The Joker: The Joker is Batman's archenemy in the DC comics universe. In his various appearance since he was first introduced in the pages of Batman, Joker often kills people using his "Joker Gas," a gaseous compound which destroys a person's central nervous system and literally uses laughter to kill them. His victims die with a twisted grin after being exposed to the gas.
Knox: Right. Could be the Joker.
  • Papa Smurf: On Smurfs, Papa Smurf was the leader of the village and was distinguishable by his white beard and red clothes (whereas the other Smurfs wore white). Lorne likely refers to Framkin by this name because of his beard.
Lorne: Well, a fight suits us just fine, Papa Smurf.
  • Flowers for Algernon: In Daniel Keyes' novellette "Flowers for Algernon" (1959, later expanded into a novel and also adapted for the screen), Charlie, a mentally retarded janitor, takes part in an experimental intelligence-enhancing treatment. He becomes a genius, but the procedure does not prove to be permanent and Charlie experiences his intelligence fading away again.
Sparrow: Oh, acute "Flowers for Algernon" syndrome.
  • Happy Days: Happy Days was a popular sitcom that aired on ABC between 1974 and 1984. The last three seasons were notable because Ron Howard, a long-time cast member, left the show as well as several other billed members of the cast who went on to other projects or the short-lived spinoff Joanie Loves Chachi. These seasons are typically regarded as the worst of the series because many of the new characters failed to create the same chemistry and many felt that the series had gone stale after so many years on the air.
Gunn: You see the last few seasons of "Happy Days"?

Memorable Moments


  • Fred: Oh my God! Angel, you're... cute.
Angel: Fred, don't!
Fred: Oh, but the little hands. And the hair.
Angel: Hey! You're fired.
  • Wesley: It's clearly some sort of hex or a powerful warding magic.
Lorne: Maybe it's some type of puppet cancer.
Angel: I do not have puppet cancer!
  • Angel: Spike!
Spike: Look at you.
Angel: Just turn around and walk away.
Spike: You're a--
Angel: Spike!
Spike: You're a bloody puppet!
  • Harmony: Oh my God. Angel you're a--
Angel: Shut up! What are you people looking at? Well?!
Spike: They're looking at the wee little puppet man.
  • Angel: Harmony, get my call list.
Harmony: Um...
Angel: And Spike needs a car.
Spike: You heard the puppet.
  • Gunn: We're onto you, understand? We're gonna shut you down.
Framkin: Oh, my. On what grounds?
Gunn: Well, for starters, violations of the provisions of section 5... 5... 68-C... set forth in Chapter 15 of the children's... TV thing! (beat) You turned my boss into a frickin' puppet!
  • Gunn: Come on, Lorne. We're through talking to this hump of garbage.
Framkin: No name-calling at Smile Time.
Lorne: Bad person!
  • Groofus So tomorrow's gonna be a pretty big show, huh?
Polo: The biggest.
Groofus: Cool. 'Cause I've been workin' on this great new song about the difference between analogy and metaphor.
(Polo throws his coffee mug at Groofus, hitting him in the head)
Groofus: Man!
Polo: Are you out of your mind?!
Groofus: Well, we want it to be good, don't we?
Polo: We eat babies' lives!
Groofus: And uphold a certain standard of quality edutainment. Screw edutainment! The life force we're pulling out of these snot-nosed kids is one hundred percent pure innocence, dickwad!
  • Angel: Lorne!
Lorne: My little prince! What did they do to you?
Angel: Nina... tried to... eat me.
Lorne: Medic! You're gonna make it, Angel. Just don't stop fighting. Doctor! Is there a Gepetto in the house?
  • Polo: I'm gonna tear you a new puppet-hole, bitch!


  • Overall Grade: B, 1 reviews
  • Review Breakdown: A+: 0 A: 0 A-: 0 B+: 0 B: 1 B-: 0 C+: 0 C: 0 C-: 0 D: 0 F: 0
  • This is one of the more strange episodes ever produced from the buffyverse, and certainly the most strange one on Angel (a show that is supposed to be noir). For me the idea that Angel was a puppet just didn't work. I have no idea why given what it takes to believe anything about this show in the first place. But Angel as a puppet.... you just have to have the actor in order to believe his character. It's in the mannerisms that doesn't work with puppetry. I think this episode was almost certainly supposed to be satirical; I can't imagine them writing the scenes with the werewolves serious. But there is enough absurdist comedy here to make it a fun episode to watch; even if it makes little sense to the show in general. The scene with Spike confronting Angel the puppet is too good to miss. --MateoP 18:04, 23 June 2006 (EDT)