As you may or may not know, the Pylea arc only existed due to scheduling conflicts terminating a big blow-out for Lindsey, Darla, Dru and Kate. Admittedly, it does feel a little jarring to see characters who anchored so much of season two suddenly peter out. But one of the factors that strangely makes this storyline so much fun is that very feeling of the writers making it all up as they go along. It's like a bunch of really funny dudes throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks. It's all very Xena, very Army of Darkness; but crazily entertaining. Ordinarily this would result in disaster, but I've always liked this series of episodes. Sure, it falls apart towards the end, but it feels so fresh and different that you can't help but get swept away by it.
Maintaining that formula of the writers just running with it, Over the Rainbow works better as a collection of great comedy moments. There's Angel gleeful over being able to walk in the sunlight, there's Lorne's ridiculous family and their anger that he abandoned his Pylean existence to fraternize with 'cows', the monster-dog-thing licking Cordy, and then there's that great fight sequence between Angel Investigations and the Pylean army, which seems to be going well until... it's not.
It's also neat seeing Cordelia pushed center stage again, and she conveys real strength of character when being held captive in Pylea. There's also that palpable feeling that the show is trying to push Angel and Cordelia together, especially after Angel's passionate determination to rescue her in those opening scenes. I know a lot of people dry heave at the thought of these two together, but I never thought it was too bad in principal. There's obviously none of the breathless romanticism that he had with Buffy, but this is a far more grown-up world we're in right now...
Over the Rainbow is a radical new venture for Angel, something so out-there but also remarkably entertaining. This episode takes a while to get interesting, but once the Angel team smash into Pylea, it's fun all-round. B+
Guest stars Andy Hallett (Lorne); Amy Acker (Winifred 'Fred' Burkle); Susan Blommaert (Vakma); Persia White (Aggie Belfleur); Daniel Dae Kim (Gavin Parks); Michael Phenicie (Silas)
Writer Mere Smith Director Fred Keller