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Angel: The Complete Series
DVD | Box Set
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* ANGEL SEASON 1 (6 DISCS)
* ANGEL SEASON 2 (6 DISCS)
* ANGEL SEASON 3 (6 DISCS)
* ANGEL SEASON 4 (6 DISCS)
* ANGEL SEASON 5 (6 DISCS)
Angel - Season One
He's hunky, he's brooding, he's a do-gooder, and he was Buffy's first boyfriend. Angel, the tortured vampire destined to walk the earth with a soul, got his own series after three seasons on Buffy the Vampire Slayerand did what any new star might do: he moved to L.A. (the City of Angels--get it?) and set up shop. Angel (co-created by Buffy mastermind Joss Whedon) finds the titular vampire (David Boreanaz) as a kind of supernatural private investigator, fighting evil one case at a time and, like his ex-girlfriend, keeping the world from getting destroyed by vengeful demons and such. This first season features guest appearances by various Buffy characters, including werewolf boy Oz (Seth Green), rogue slayer Faith (Eliza Dushku), deliciously evil vamp Darla (Julie Benz), and Buffy herself (Sarah Michelle Gellar), all of whom helped get the show off and running in style.
Angel - Season Two
The second season of Angel, saw the cult vampire show finally stand on its own from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, assembling all the members of the show's core cast, transferring the action to a fashionably run-down L.A. hotel, and bringing in a few Buffy characters from Angel's history to further establish the moody vampire's own mythology. Moving their Angel Investigations to posher digs, Angel (David Boreanaz), Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter), and Wesley (Alexis Denisof) were soon joined by street fighter (J. August Richards)–-and by street fighter, of course we mean demon street fighter. But just as this group was solidifying, up popped Angel's old love, Darla (the fantastic Julie Benz), freshly arrived in L.A. from a hell dimension… just in time to be turned into a vampire again by her old cohort, Drusilla (Juliet Landau), and lure Angel into abandoning his newly formed team.
Angel - Season Three
In the third season of Angel, the titular vampire with a soul was forced to stand alone thanks to the (temporary) death of his beloved Buffy and her show's move to a new network, with no crossover between the two allowed. He returns from seeking peace in a demon-haunted monastery to find the L.A. Angel Investigations team fighting supernatural crime in his absence. Fred is still haunted by the nightmare dimension from which they rescued her; Cordelia's visions get ever more painful and debilitating. The schemes of the evil law firm Wolfram and Hart become every more imaginative and dragon lady Lilah Morgan becomes even more of an enemy when lusting after Angel. Unbelievably, Darla, Angel's vampire sire and lover, turns up, pregnant with his child and is tortured by inexplicable motherly feelings as well as a raging thirst for human blood.
Angel - Season Four
As the fourth season of Angel, starts, everything is still as we left it: Angel has been sunk to the bottom of the sea in an iron box by his inexplicable and vindictive son Connor and Cordelia has been summoned to higher realms to await orders. Gunn and Fred are left in the Hyperion Hotel, unsure about what has happened to their friends, and Lilah is working hard to seduce Wesley to the dark side. In the first few episodes, some of this is resolved but it's almost immediately replaced by far worse crises: prophesies of doom accumulate more rapidly even than usual in this wonderfully gloomy show and a horned rock-like beast rains fire on Los Angeles. This last year is Angel’s most tightly dramatic season yet--with a story arc of surprising intensity punctuated by the show's usual wit and sexiness.
Angel - Season Five
Lives were upended--and some co-opted--in the fifth and final season of Angel, as the denizens of Angel Investigations found themselves taking on one of their scariest endeavors ever: corporate life. After making a literal deal with the devil (or something distinctly devil-like), Angel (David Boreanaz) moved his team from their crumbling hotel to the high-rise digs of law-firm-from-hell Wolfram & Hart, his reasoning being they could better fight the forces of evil from the inside, and with more resources to boot. Clever maneuvering or easy rationalization? Not a few members of Angel's team accused him of selling out (as did a number of viewers), but as with most of the show's previous four seasons, Angel somehow took a dubious premise and mined it for gold. And with one core cast member gone (Charisma Carpenter, whose Cordelia was immersed in a deep coma), it seemed as if the show, from within and without, would suddenly fall apart--that is, until Angel's longtime nemesis Spike (James Marsters) showed up, fresh from his sacrificial roasting at the series finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Let the vampire games begin!
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I recently watched a great documentary about the women stunt double's Jeannie Epper and Zoë Bell. The latter was Lucy Lawless's stunt double on XENA, though she is now perhaps best known for her work as Uma Thurman's double in KILL BILL and her amazing work playing herself in DEATH PROOF (she was the New Zealand chick on the hood of the Dodge Challenger). The extras included an interview with Quentin Tarantino and one of the things they asked him was his thoughts on XENA, the show on which Bell first performed (as Lucy Lawless points out, two women portrayed Xena, but only one really got credit). His analysis of XENA was, I think, really profound. The central idea was that Xena was someone who had committed crimes so extensive and so extreme that even though she had turned to the path of doing good, she was never going to be able to balance things. No matter how many good things she did, the bad would still overshadow them. As he puts it, not matter what she does "she'll only be paying ten cents on the dollar." The second I heard this from Tarantino, I realized that he was describing not only Xena but also Angel. If anything, Angel's crimes were worse than Xena's because he not only killed his victims, but also robbed them of their souls. Rarely has television seen such an extended examination of the possibilities of personal salvation.
XENA and ANGEL had one other thing in common. Both were among the most successful spin offs in TV history. Though XENA never garnered the critical acclaim that either BUFFY or ANGEL achieved, it far surpassed HERCULES in both popularity and critical acclaim. ANGEL never eclipsed BUFFY as XENA did HERCULES, but it nonetheless became one of the most critically acclaimed shows on TV. Its cancellation following its fifth season, when it was one of the highest rated shows on the WB, remains one of the most mystifying of the past decade. The fan campaign to save the show far surpassed the successful campaign to save JERICHO this year. And although Joss Whedon has recently announced that he intends to produce ANGEL Season 6 in comic form, just as he is currently undertaking BUFFY Season 8 on Darkhorse Comics, ANGEL continues to be missed by its fans.
One of the many things that made ANGEL so great was that the show not only focused on the central arc concerning Angel, but also featured fully developed arcs for all the major characters. The show was not simply about Angel, but almost equally about the other characters as well. Although Angel was clearly the central character, the show was very much about the chosen family that was created around him. Cordelia, Doyle, Wesley, Gunn, Fred, Lorne, and finally Spike and Illyria managed to form a caring if frequently dysfunctional family. Ironically, the one person who was not able to become a part of that family was Angel's own son, who never really meshed either with the overall narrative or with the other characters.
But at the center of the show from beginning to end was Angel's quest to try and be a force for good despite all the evil he afflicted. He wasn't in the least convinced that he could make amends ("Amends" was, in fact, the title of possibly the greatest of the Angel episodes on BUFFY) and he was pretty much convinced that in the end good might not win out over evil, but something he tells Detective Kate Lockley in the Season Two episode "Epiphany" gets to the heart of the show. Although she never invites him into his house, he nevertheless is able to enter her apartment when he realizes that she has attempted suicide. He helps save her life and afterwards they are talking. He explains that he has to strive to do what is right not knowing if he will be successful, knowing that "there are no big wins." This is similar to the idea expressed in the very last line in the series, when Angel tells his friends, faced with fighting an overwhelming army of evil creatures, "Let's get to work." The whole idea is to not worry about results, but only worry about intent, to make sure you are striving to do good, to not give up or into despair.
It was not a perfect show. It was, in fact, a fairly unlucky show. There were also a couple of ill-advised story arcs. In Season Three there was the absolutely bizarre idea of Angel's son Connor, easily the most unpopular character in the Slayerverse, rivaled distantly by Dawn on BUFFY. Even worse was the decision to make Cordy evil in Season Four. And even worse was the abuse of the magnificent Gina Torres as Jasmine in Season Four. The result was that the last quarter of Season Three (in what was otherwise a magnificent season) and most of Season Four were possibly the worst thing that ever happened on a Joss Whedon show. Even worse than all of this was the brief sexual pairing of Connor and Evil Cordy in Season Four, a sequence that registered as high on the Ick-o-meter as anything ever seen on prime time television. Things were also hurt by Charisma Carpenter's unanticipated leave of absence towards the end of Season Three (which caused some rapid rewriting of several episodes) and her delay in informing Whedon and Co. that she was pregnant in Season Four. This resulted in her being written out of the show, though she did make a wonderful farewell appearance in a single Season Five episode.
But despite the problems with the end of Season Three and the myriad of problems in Season Four, the show never ceased to be less than fascinating. Even Season Four had some marvelous episodes, including the haunting season premiere, the marvelous comic episode "Spin the Bottle," and the three-part Faith sequence in the middle of the season. There were also some amazing special effects in Season Four as well as the Beast, an absolutely haunting Big Bad. The show did manage to rally for a wonderful Season Five, complete with the addition of Spike from BUFFY. By the end of the season Spike and Angel had come to form a great team and had the show returned for another year the show would have become something of a buddy show centered on them.
Speaking of Season Six, we know something of what would have happened thanks to producer Jeffrey Bell, who shared some of the ideas they were developing. There was, for instance, talk of an episode in which Angel and Spike would have undertaken a case that would have required them to go in drag. But the most fascinating arc definitely centered on Illyria. Although the goddess Illyria had taken over Fred's body, supposedly destroying her soul, in Season Six we would have found that this was wrong. Allyson Hanigan would have guest starred as Willow and would have performed a spell that would have allowed Fred to come back. Illyria, however, would not have disappeared. Instead, Amy Acker would have played both characters. When Bell in interviews shared all this my anger at the WB (good riddance to a bad network) reflamed. Wesley would not, of course, have died had there been a Season Six, and I can just imagine the dynamics between Wesley and Fred on the one hand, and an intensely powerful Illyria who had something resembling a crush on Wesley.
Still, the good on the show dramatically outweighed the bad and even at its worst it remained one of the best shows on television. And although one can be angry at it being cancelled when there were still some wonderful story arcs to be told, one can also be grateful that we got five full seasons. It definitely goes on the list of the best shows on television of the past twenty years.
Since, I have the Chosen collection, I cannot help but compare the two. Angel the series comes in a (obviously) box, with 5 separate DVD holders that layer to make the face of our lovely brooding Vamp-hero-person guy. The sturdiness of the DVD holders caught my eye right off, they are much better than those in the Chosen collection (which were basically bonded with a weak adhesive) The box kinda folds apart, when you lift the lid, a panel falls down so you can see all the DVD season holders, the panel that falls down has a color pic of the Angel Cast. (this is similar to the Chosen collection)
The set includes a color-print booklet that outlines each episode with a short description. Each page highlights 3-4 episodes (the same number of eps. on the corresponding disc) and on the opposite page is a breakdown of the chapters in each show.
The most exciting feature (for me) is the letter from Joss Whedon to the "Angel Fan". A full letter comes folded in a blue envelope in which Joss Whedon discusses Angel, they whys and hows, and highlights some of his favorite moments. In comparison to the letter in the Chosen collection, Angel takes the cake.
The set is a bit pricey, but if you don't already have the individual seasons and like me, have been thinking and thinking that you MUST watch Angel in order to feel like a true Buffy-verse fan, then go ahead, indulge yourself! ;)
Though I am technically a new fan (not even through the 1st season yet!), for this past show, it has already made me laugh and cry. Some old and new faces to fall in love with.
So sit back, and let the dark mysterious stranger that is our beloved Angel entertain you, I don't think he will disappoint, he hasn't me yet!
A better title for Angel would be "The Lonely Losers No Luck Club".
The tired theme is "LA is Hell and lawyers are demons".
Two good episodes out of five seasons from my estimate.