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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Dark Angel - The Complete Second Season
Dark Angel - The Complete Second Season
Fox // Unrated // October 21, 2003
List Price: $59.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Shannon Nutt | posted October 25, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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THE EPISODES

I had never seen an episode of Dark Angel before it became available on DVD, and while the show does have an interesting premise, I can see why FOX pulled the plug on this one after only two seasons.

I think one of the problems with Dark Angel is that it has a very attractive cast, nice visuals…but not much else. The stories are only so-so in quality, as is the acting from the cast members. Star Jessica Alba (who plays Max) is certainly "easy on the eyes", but when it comes to being the lead of a television series, she just doesn't have the range of some of the other young female actresses I have seen on other sci-fi episodic television (for example, Sarah Michelle Gellar from Buffy The Vampire Slayer).

But perhaps I'm being too hard on the actors, since they aren't given much to work with by the writers. Season Two tries to add a little more "freak" quality to the show than Season One had, by blowing up the Manticore facility (where the government is breeding a race of "super soliders", of which Max is one) and having all the inmates escape…including some of the failed experiments early in the project…each of whom have something odd about their appearance. Included among these escapees is a new character called "Joshua", who seems to be a total rip-off of Ron Perlman's Vincent from the old TV series Beauty and the Beast.

So while Season Two sets up a situation where the writers could really tackle some hard issues about racism and prejudice, these ideas are only really glossed over and the show never really takes the kind of risks that you'd see on other similar series. Now don't get me wrong…Dark Angel is both watchable and, at times, quite entertaining. But none of the shows are good enough that you'd want to watch them a second or third time…which, of course, is the mark of an above-average TV show.

Other than the fact that this second season was the last for Dark Angel (Fox actually renewed the show and then changed their minds about it when it was decided the network needed the extra money to produce Firefly, a show that also got the network axe.) the other interesting thing about this set is that acclaimed director James Cameron (who co-created and produced the show) directs the final episode of Season Two…which was intended to be only a season-ending episode and not a series-ending one.

THE DVD

Video:
The video is presented in full-frame, which to my knowledge was the way the program was shot (as opposed to some shows that are shot widescreen these days). The quality of the picture is about on par with other FOX releases of TV shows, and comparable to both Buffy The Vampire Slayer and the early pre-widescreen season releases of The X-Files. I did noticed what looked to be either compression artifacts or grain from the source material visible in the backgrounds of many scenes. But this shouldn't be a distraction unless you have a really big television set, and it isn't any worse than I've seen on most other TV show DVD sets.

Audio:
The audio here is presented in 2.0 Dolby, with the option of watching in 2.0 Spanish or French, if you so choose. There are also English and Spanish subtitles offered. The audio sounds pretty good for a 2.0 track and I don't have any real complaints with the sound.

Extras:
At first glance, it appears as if Dark Angel has a decent number of features, but then you discover the length of each one and really feel short-changed by FOX. Four of the 21 episodes come with a Commentary Track, but mostly by the writers and producers of the show. Only two of the four shows (the season opener "Designate This" and Episode 17, "Hello, Goodbye") include commentary from the director. James Cameron doesn't lend commentary to his episode, and no cast members contribute to any of the commentary tracks.

The rest of the extra features appear on Disc Six. Max Resurrected is the longest of the featurettes at about 15 minutes and gives an overview of Season Two. Making The Manticore Monsters runs 4 minutes and covers some of the different creature make-up in Season Two. Manticore On The Loose is a short (under 2 minutes) vignette showing off some of the monsters of Season Two, but with no comments about them. Finally, there's a Blooper Reel that runs a few minutes and provides a few (but only a few!) laughs.

THE BOTTOM LINE

While I'm sure die-hard fans of the show will want to add this to their collection, I can only recommend Dark Angel: The Complete Second Season as a rental. The shows are just not good enough to warrant replayability, and there are not enough bonus features to make this set worth a spot on your DVD shelf.
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