Joss Whedon — creator and executive producer of the WB's Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel — has a bone to pick with 20th Century Fox, the studio behind Angel as well as the freshman smash Dark Angel. Fox's decision to pit Dark's sci-fi siren Jessica Alba against vampire sire David Boreanaz on Tuesday nights has resulted in a steep ratings decline for the Buffy spinoff, and Whedon's out for blood.

"The fact that they put [Dark Angel] on opposite a show that they produce, thereby hurting it, shows that they really don't care," Whedon tells TV Guide Online. "Their big picture is clearly so big that whatever I think and whatever I am doing doesn't matter, and I resent that. But I am not the 'Big Picture Guy.' I'm just making my shows."

Marc Berman, TV analyst for Mediaweek, feels Whedon's pain, calling Fox's scheduling of Dark Angel "one of the less logical moves last fall." In fact, he believes that both shows are suffering. "Although Dark Angel has carved a comfortable niche for itself, had Angel not been in the competitive mix, Dark Angel's ratings might even be stronger. By splitting the young adult audience, Angel is down and Dark Angel is probably not the real hit it should be."

Despite his frustration, Whedon insists that he has not asked Fox to move Dark Angel to another night next fall. "I don't deal with that," he says. "I have no control over that. I am not someone that can say, 'Work your schedule.'

"Ultimately I am not going to ask them to do anything," he adds. "As long as I get to make my shows, the people who want to watch them will."

Adding another wrinkle to the debate — not to mention Whedon's forehead — is Alba's so-called alias. "I watch [Dark Angel], and her name is not 'Angel,' and she's not an angel, so why the [expletive] would they call it that?" he seethes. A 20th Century rep was unavailable for comment.

Female foes notwithstanding, Whedon points out that the "basic core [of Angel's audience] has stayed there." But another menace looms: If 20th Century makes good on its threat to relocate Buffy to another network (it's currently embroiled in heated renewal talks with the WB), Angel could lose its cushy lead-in. Whedon isn't alarmed, though. Assures the auteur: "I believe Angel's audience will [stick with us] wherever Buffy is."