Angel: Season 1 (1999)
Director: Joss Whedon & others
Formerly evil vampire “Angel” (Boreanaz) leaves Sunnydale i.e “Buffy Land” to spin off in his own show set in LA. Our self-loathing hero proceeds to seek redemption through helping those in need. How does the dashing, cheekboned-to-the-max loner lend a helping hand? By kicking all kinds of otherworldly bootie, of course! And let’s not forget the impressive display of astounding trenchcoats he showcases while doing it. Angel has arrived. RECOGNIZE!
I wasn’t initially bursting with joy upon having to review this set for the site. I don’t watch the tube much and there’s a reason for that: most TV shows suck goat-cheese and I've got better things to do than waste my life on them. To handle the task at hand, I killed the phone, made mucho coffee, disposed of my noisy neighbor and then watched these 22 episodes back to back. To my surprise, much like my positive "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" experience; once I entered the universe of “ANGEL”, I didn’t want to come back to reality. Here’s what I got out of my trip.
Although I dug Buffy’s shtick, “Angel” appealed more to me due to its darker sensibilities. The moment the sad and poignant opening theme song kicked in (its booming from my speakers as we speak) I knew I was in for something right up my “wrist and razor blade” alley. “Angel” is akin to a hybrid of “Buffy”, “The X-Files”, “Batman”, a “modeling runway show” and “Highway to Heaven” as our sulking, impeccably clothed vampire prowls the menacing streets of L.A. at night to clean house. Each episode had him and his team encountering a slew of different types of demons, vampires, ghosts and other oddities in often enthralling ways. Sure, some of the baddies weren't all that original, especially if you’ve seen lots of horror movies (“Lonely Hearts” ripped off "The Hidden", for example) but they were still fun times at the freak booth.
Cozily wrapped in a stylish, yet gritty, MTV-like blanket of mood and sporting all kinds of hip tunes, “Angel” simply entertained me silly. It went on to add “mayo” on its fries by putting out bang-on choreographed fight sequences, gripping “soap opera like” plot lines, cute lovey-dovey antics and clever “pop culture” quips (loved the Batman nods). I also relished the show’s central themes of loneliness, self-hatred and search for that human "connection”. I related to them big time! Having said that, even with all those mean guns on its side, the whole shebang was still riding on one man and one man only. That man was the uber-photogenic David Boreanaz! The camera loves this guy to death and his presence alone was worth sitting through every episode, even the lesser written ones. I can’t believe Boreanaz wasn’t able to catapult his powerful charisma to big screen success (then again, with subpar stuff like "Valentine", what did you expect?). He should give it another shot though.
Now, I did get some bad hickeys from this quality show as well. On the minor side, how come Angel was sometimes able to walk around in the light of day and other times, not? Was he wearing sunblock or something? I want answers! On the major side, although not as humor-inclined as “Buffy”, I did sometimes feel like the show tried too hard to be funny. Even though I dug on Cordelia’s (Carpenter) and Doyle’s (Quinn) playful banter, I for one would’ve been suckered in more if the slight “goofy” spices spread about would’ve been absent from the episodes. Just give me that strong shot of darkness straight up, barkeep! Don’t water it down!
Another sting I got was in regards to a “lead” character for whom I grew fond, but who was killed off eventually. What was that all about? Having him/her killed off nixed the interesting sub-plots he/she was involved in. To make matters worse, this person’s departure made way for a new character named “Wesley” (Alexis Denisof) to step in. Was this mook for real? What an annoying, tightly wound pancake! Please tell me he gets the axe in Season 2!
Then there were the “Buffy” character cameos. Now I know they came in to help boost the show’s launch and all, but I just didn’t care much about Oz (Seth Green) or Spike (James Marsters) getting in there. Spike, in particular, got on my freaking nerves (stop talking to yourself, dude). I don’t see what the big deal is with that “cult” character; he pestered the shite out of me on Buffy and did the same here. On the flipside of that coin, I did appreciate the episode where “Buffy” and “Angel” were reunited (“I Remember You”) and seeing Eliza “yummy” Dushku as Faith in “Five by Five” was quite a “boning” treat.
Overall, “Angel: Season 1" hooked me and reeled me in like an eviscerated trout fairly quickly. Much like my one season courtship with “Buffy”, “Angel" made that one day I spent watching it a much better one. Now I either need a real life or “Angel: Season 2" slapped my way. Let’s kill some baddies and look smashing while doing it!
Although the show is not a gore-fest, it does deliver enough plasma, creature effects, dismembered limbs, vampire morphings and more to appease the blood lust inside all of us.
David Boreanaz (Angel) WAS the show. He had the look, the athletic ability and the low-key nature required. He was an all-around kool cat and put out a character that men will want to be and women will want to bed. Glenn Quinn (Doyle) did fine as the comic relief while Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia) nailed her somewhat “flaky” role. Elisabeth Rhome (Kate) managed to convey a strength and vulnerability that kept my eyes on her throughout the episodes in which she appeared. Her blue eyes were spellbinding!
T & A
Watching Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia) in tight tops and pants for hours is "all good" in my book of hobbies; baby looks good! Elisabeth Rhome (Kate David) is also pleasant to the eye in a more classy way, but let’s face it...this show is all about ladies nights with Boreanaz (Angel) constantly shirtless, going the tank top way or the open shirt way. Dude is buff and chicks will salivate. Enjoy gals, you deserve it.
The various directors here kept a constant vibe between them. We get mucho slick images, lots of “fabricated” mood, colorful lighting, an able smoke machine, some slow motion and stylish “quick flash” scene transitions. The show takes place in LA’s nightlife and the peeps behind the cam succeed in capturing its slick aura.
The opening credit tune by “Darling Violetta” ruled and I never got sick of it. WOW! We also get an onslaught of hip tunes throughout the episodes with my favorite being “Touched” by VAST from “Lonely Hearts”. That ditty has one of the best “choruses” ever put to music. GOOD SHITE!
Distribution: Twentieth Century Fox Home Video
Release Date: February 11, 2003
IMAGE: Somebody in the morgue was lazy. The ANGEL show was shot in 1.78:1 (hence Widescreen) but the transfer is in 1.33:1 full frame. Why? On the bright side, the image itself was sharp, the colors were solid and grain was absent.
SOUND: The Dolby 2.0 soundtrack hit the mark in terms of music, dialogue and surround sound territory.
Selected Audio Commentary by Joss Whedon, David Greenwalt and Jane Espenson (45 minutes each): Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt come in the “City of Angel” episode with high energy and solid chemistry to talk about the pilot, their cast, the night shoots, the many locations and the roots of the pop culture references. On her end, Jane Espenson's comes in the “Room with a View” episode with her screenwriting background as backup. She talks shop in regards to her work on both Buffy and Angel. Both commentaries were very entertaining in their own ways. The Wheadon/Greenwalt one was high on energy and jokes while the Espenson one was very informative, especially from a screenwriter’s point of view.
Season One Overview (~ 12 minutes): This tight reel basically mish mashes snippets of cast and crew interviews and scenes from the show (even the following seasons…SPOILERS). It’s amusing but again, it spoils the later seasons. You’ve been warned.
Introducing Angel (~ 3 minutes) / I’m Cordelia (~ 5 minutes)/ The Demons: (~ 7 minutes): All three featurettes sport lots of clips from the show (even Buffy), David Greenwalt blabbing and the main cast addressing the show and their roles. The third feature explores the various demons in the show. All three features were tightly edited and somewhat informative. Candy for the brain.
We also get Scripts (for “Five by Five and “Sanctuary” with a special appearance by a “Buffy” character), the “Angel” Trailer, a Still Photo Gallery and standard Biographies.
And there you have it; this DVD set more than satisfied me with its slew of extras, commentaries and its great box design. The only drawback I see here is that we can’t watch the show in Widescreen and being that it was initially shot in that format it makes me wonder what the hell they were thinking when they did the transfer. Other than that...I had a blast!
Armed with his many trenchcoats (I can’t get over them), tank tops, slick shirts, gadgets, his hot car, sad puppy dog stares and able fighting skills, Angel is an anti-hero to be reckoned with. Think "Blade" but with better hair and a stronger fashion sense. Yes, some of the humor in this fang-fest didn’t do it for me, the killing of an endearing lead did grate me and some episodes were weaker than others, but on a whole, I had a riot watching the eye-candy images, got touched by the deeper aspects of the show, grooved to the hip tunes, captivated by Charisma Carpenter’s tight derriere and envied Angel’s wardrobe. Now I’m going to shut the lights and sit in the dark…to brood FOREVER. LONG LIVE ANGEL! He’s my kind of hombre.
Here are the 22 episodes in the DVD Set. Please note that I got all 22 episodes in one pack, but I've heard that it’s sold in two packs in certain outlets: City of Angel/ Lonely Hearts/ In the Dark/ I fall to pieces/ Room with a View/ Sense and Sensitivity/ The Bachelor Party/ I Will Remember You/ Hero/ Parting Gifts/ Somnambulist/ Expecting/ She/ I’ve got you under your skin/ The Prodigal/ The Ring/ Eternity/ Five by Five/ Sanctuary/ War Zone/ Blind date/ To Shanshu in LA.
Joss Whedon co-wrote & directed the pilot “City of Angel” and had a hand in writing "Sanctuary" and "I Fall to Pieces".
David Boreanaz was discovered by an agent while walking his dog. He is now married to actress Jaimee Bergman, with whom he has a son.