In my humble opinion, its fair
to say "Angel" is the finest show in television
has all the elements for a great show: drama, action,
fine acting, sharp writing and a mishmash of all the
genres that gives it a distinctly original flavour.
With the sad end of the show in site, I felt it was
time to review the fourth season of the show on DVD.
show is about Angel, a vampire with a soul who is redeeming
for his past sins along with a group of private investigators
(Gunn, Wesley, Fred, Conner and Cordellia). Think of
"The X Files" clashing head on with the Ghostbusters
and your halfway there.
rich history of the show, and the arc based stories
that it relies on, is both this seasons greatest strength
and weakness simultaneously. If your new to the show,
dont buy this. Go buy Season
One and work your way up to this. But if youre
a regular, then your in for a treat. Its thoughtful,
deep and dripping with class and oozing with the rich
character development you have come to expect from this
sharp writing team and talented cast. This season is
akin to a novel, each episode a chapter in a long term
storyline, following many twists and turns right up
untill the satisfying conclusion.
season is a lot darker, in tone and look, to the previous
seasons, and it works.
Three was one of the most dramatic television shows
I have ever seen. I had to watch each week; the twists
kept coming and I was so involved in the characters,
you could not help but feel their pain and joy and all
the other emotions in this broad spectrum of a show.
The big bad, Holtz, was not a villain at all, merely
a wronged victim of Angels past, and you empathised
with both the hero and villain
of the piece, which is a rarity. It also backed the
Angel writers into a corner. How do you top that? The
challenge was called; the gauntlet thrown down. Did
they answer this challenge?
bet your ass they did.
watching this season on television was a bit disorientating.
It was designed more to be watched all at once, and
the weekly breaks worked against it. You will not appreciate
its brilliance untill you can watch it fairly
constantly. And now, thanks to DVD, you can.
things are tied up from season threes cliff-hanger
finale in the season opener, Deep Down,
things start to go wrong. The gang try to rescue
Cordellia from a heaven dimension where the Powers That
Be sent her to in Season Three. They eventually do that,
but all is not right with Cordy, and it seems something
came back in her body
add to that, a hellish beast,
looking like the Devil himself, bursts forth from beneath
the earth and readily kicks the whole gangs ass, it
looks like this may be THE apocalypse. The arc concludes
with Jasmine, a former god, coming to earth and promising
to free the world of all pain and suffering, at the
cost of our will. The delicious irony is that the greatest
force team Angel has ever had to face is one of benevolence
does so much right this year, and so little wrong. I
will attempt to iron out the kinks before moving onto
the oasis of quality that was "Angel: Season Four".
major problem is Cordellias character. The actress,
Charisma Carpenter, became pregnant during filming (wonder
who was serving the crews refreshments
that day?). Not literally of course, but it presented
the writers with a problem which they obviously struggled
through, as the writing of Cordy becomes fairly poor.
The writers seem to give up about half way through,
as does Charisma, sleep walking her way through the
typical arch villain set up for her character. Connor
is supposed to be a really conflicted character but,
despite the odd likeable moments and by no means the
fault of the actor, comes off as a fairly dense, easily
manipulated character (though it could be argued, rightfully
perhaps, that was due to the young mans upbringing).
It still does not endear him, however. Gwen Raiden is
a fairly uninteresting generic tough chick character,
but does lend to the enjoyable episode Players.
The only other problem is the series structure; the
only way people could truly appreciate the greatness
of this series is to have it handy and watch all at
acting is, for the most part, spot on, with honours
going to David Boreanaz and Alexis Denisof. Both men
have extraordinary range, and go through the gamut of
emotions. David is especially enjoyable as the reserved
Angel and his evil alter ego, Angelus. Amy Acker and
J August Richards have their moments in the sun, too.
Dushku makes a welcome appearance as slayer Faith, and
the two big bads also make quite the impression, especially
Gina Torres, whos sinister smile somehow works
in the form of a deity expressing her message of peace
(which comes at the cost of a couple of hundred humans
a day entering her stomach). Finally, everyones
favourite witch on Buffy, Willow, makes an appearance
to re-soul Angelus.
series one was noir, the second had a lighter touch,
and the third was a supernatural drama, this series
definitely belongs to the horror genre, with a heavy
dose of drama, as usual.
season is a lot darker than those previously, and there
are a lot more horror based episodes. The Beast is a
demon straight from hell, and tears through the Wolfram
and Hart building where his victims resurrect as zombies.
Slayer Faith has a tense knock down drag out with Angelus
in an abandoned warehouse, and the gang descend upon
the Beast only to be handily defeated. The gore and
effects come in plentiful as the Beast handily smashes
through a whole lot of extras and some of the main cast.
series is not afraid to tackle big issues, either. The
main theme of this series is the nature of free will.
This has been done several times by many movies, but
never this witty, never this smart and the series never
condescends or talks down to its audience. Jasmine,
a former power, a Power that Was, so to speak, comes
to Earth with a message of peace. Only one problem...it
is at the cost of free will, and she gets to eat a couple
of ( seemingly willing) victims each day for sustenance.
Team Angel have a lot of questions to ask them selves...are
the lives of thousands of happy, willing sacrifices
(considering that Jasmine overtakes free will, they
have no qualms or worries about it) worth avoiding wars,
murders, rape and pain? Angel decides, reluctantly,
that people have to make their own destiny, and that
man was made to have free will, and thats the
way they should remain for better or worse. Its
up to people to change, not a deity promising an easy
answer. Effectively, as lawyer Lilah Morgan tells them,
You ended world peace. Congratulations.
good as the main arch is, the finale, Home
remains one of the series best episodes. It provides
closure for the series, yet sets up endless possibilities
for the next season, as, for a reward for ending world
peace, Team Angel are handed the keys to the evil Wolfram
and Hart. Deciding that they can change the system from
the inside, Angel accepts the offer. And the arc to
Conners story is, albeit temporarily, resolved
in a way that is emotionally satisfying as Conner gets
the life he deserves due to Angels noble sacrifice.
are other pluses to the season, too. The special effects
team really went to work, and produced quality demons,
monsters and miscellaneous special effects, such as
the reign of fire and amazingly creepy dimension rip
in the episode Apocalypse Nowish. The fight
scenes this season are amazing, they seem to be more
thought out, less rushed and generally better shot and
edited together, plus the cinematography increased tenfold.
Almost every fight feels epic.
season is a true television novel, and one every fan
of the series should digest and enjoy. I could not recommend
this higher to "Angel" fans.
I was disappointed at the lack of deleted scenes, as
a few really good ones were placed on the Season Three
DVD. To add insult to injury, the featurettes here dont
really have much depth to them.
trailers are nothing special, being on every other "Angel"
and "Buffy" DVD release.
featurettes are all fairly disappointing. Far too many
clips of the show footage, not enough stock footage
and interviews. We get snippets here and there of several
sound bytes from the cast, but no where near enough.
The best of a fairly mediocre bunch is "Angel and
The Apocalypse". Though it is nice to see the whole
of the main cast participate, even the lead, unlike
another show about a certain vampire slayer
for Fox to try and do in the future : the making of
a specific episode, audition scenes, deleted scenes,
more interviews, more on the special effects. Will it
happen? Doubt it, but I am hoping they will go all out
for the next and final "Angel" DVD release.
not a total disaster though, as there are seven commentaries,
all fairly entertaining. I say again, its annoying
to hear about cut scenes that arent on the DVD.
It makes you wonder what other cool stuff Fox is holding
back on. The best of the bunch is Joss Whedon and Alexis
Denisofs effort on Spin the Bottle,
but the rest are fairly good as well and worth a listen
to, although there are the odd patches of long silence
cant give this display of extras much, although
the amount of commentaries are rather gracious. Lets
hope Fox turns the quality of the extras around for
the final year.
Cerebral, fantastically entertaining show of the highest
quality. If youre an Angel fanatic, what are you
doing without it? However, I cant fully give it
top marks because its let down by mediocre extras,
and I wouldnt recommend people who have never
heard of Angel to buy this before viewing the other
seasons, but in fairness, that should be common sense
(5 out of a possible 5 Dracs)
2 1/2 out of a possible 5 Dracs
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