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Angel Season One

Fox // Unrated // February 11, 2003
List Price: $59.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Phillip Duncan | posted April 25, 2003 | E-mail the Author
As with any good series, when things become popular, it's time for a spin off show. When you're a fledgling network and your highest rated show is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you decide that twice as much would be better and send Buffy's demon lover to Los Angeles to work out his problems.

Unlike most spin-off shows, Angel performed well and didn't suffer mainly due to the involvement of series mastermind Joss Whedon and the rich mythology he created. Determined to set the show apart from its high school originated counterpart, Whedon aptly enough decided to set the show with the character Angel in the City of Angels.

After being dismissed by Buffy and their relationship on shaky ground, Angel moves to LA, driving a sweet 1968 Plymouth GTX convertible, and tries to decide what to do next. Before long he meets up with a half-demon, precognitive named Doyle (Glen Quinlan of Roseanne fame) and sets out to solve the murders of aspiring actresses in the area. One such actress is Cordelia, from Sunnydale and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the small group that starts the show is born.

More adult than Buffy, Angel tackled darker themes more seriously than its sister show and eventually found a voice of its own. What started as a monster of the week show developed into an exploration of the character of Angel and what made him tick, how he got the way he is and what he must do on the path to further redeem himself. Along the way, the group changes and grows and so do the characters.

1. City of – Angel arrives in LA and meets up with Doyle. The two set out to find the killer who's preying on the actresses in the town and they, along with Cordelia, have their first run-in with the evil law firm Wolfram and Hart.
2. Lonely Hearts – Doyle's next vision (how convenient is that talent) sends the group to a local club where they encounter Kate, a local police detective. A confrontation with the serial killer reveals that he's not what they expected.
3. In the Dark - Oz (Seth Green) pays a visit to Angel and the group and gives him the Gem of Amarra. Its powers would allow Angel to walk in the day, but he decides it's not for him to use. However, Spike (James Marsters from Buffy) and the child vampire Marcus have their own plans for the amulet after they kidnap Angel.
4. I Fall to Pieces – Doyle's visions lead them to yet another female in trouble, this time terrorized by her neurosurgeon. His has a unique talent that allows him to prey on victims without anyone knowing it's him. When the gang receives thanks in the form of a payment, they realize they might be on to something.
5. Rm w/a Vu - Cordelia takes the spotlight in this episode as a ghost with a past confronts her when she moves into her new apartment.
6. Sense and Sensitivity – When Kate enrolls in sensitivity training with her fellow officers, the gang begins to wonder about the training when she is overly nice. Angel looks into the mysterious teacher and is soon under the spell and the rest of the group is left wondering what to do.
7. Bachelor Party – Cordelia is obviously interested in the mysterious half-demon Doyle and things are about to heat up between the two when his wife arrives demanding a divorce so she can marry the true love of her life. Things get weird when her demonic parents show and announce that in order for her new marriage to be successful, they'll have to eat Doyle's brain.
8. I Will Remember You – As a bookend to a episode of Buffy, Angel tries to mask the reason for his return to Sunnydale, only to be confronted by Buffy herself at their office. Angel learns that he has become human once again and after he and Buffy share another night together, he's forced to make a heart-breaking decision.
9. Hero – The group learns of a demonic racist gang that's intent on wiping out the half-demon population with a terrible weapon they have devised. In order to save those near and dear to them, one of the group is forced to make a terrible sacrifice.
10. Parting Gifts – Angel is furious after the Powers That Be refuse to return Doyle and his powers of prophecy. Thinking that the team will be hurt without this power, Angel doesn't realize yet that the power had been passed to another. To make up for Doyle's departure, a former Watcher (who trained Faith) named Wesley arrives on the scene. He's in hot pursuit of a demon assassin after being expelled from the Watcher's council.
11. Somnambulist – When vampire style murders begin happening in LA, everyone suspects Angel. After having a vision, Angel learns it's actually another vampire he sired and confronts Kate with the truth in order to gain her help.
12. Expecting – Cordelia spends the night with fashion photographer William and unexpectedly wakes the next morning to find herself pregnant. Angel and Wesley panic when the doctor discovers she is carry 7 babies and the search is on for the truth.
13. She – After officially hiring Wesley, Angel heads out to stop another murder and encounters a demon named Jhiera. She is attempting to help others like her escape persecution, but may not be doing it in the friendliest way.
14. I've Got You Under My Skin – After saving a young boy, Wesley deduces that a member of his family is possessed. Using a special recipe, they find out who it is and Wesley decides to perform the exorcism, but everything doesn't go according to plan.
15. The Prodigal - This episode reveals many details of Angel's past, including who sired him and his relation with his father. He continues to have flashbacks of his painful past as they seek to find the source of the drug that a benign demon race has become addicted to.
16. The Ring – Angel meets Fight Club as an undercover agent from Wolfram and Hart sets him up to fight in order to save others. He's forced to continue fighting in order to protect the captured slaves. Cordelia and Wesley have figured out how to stop it, but have to make it in time to save Angel.
17. Eternity – At Cordelia's first stage performance, the gang meets an actress named Rebecca who attempts to hire their services to protect her from a stalker. Angel tries to avoid her, and for good reason. It seems that she has ulterior motives for taking a liking to Angel and his alter ego Angelus.
18. Five By Five – More of Angel's past is revealed as Faith shows up in town from Sunnydale, ready to give Wolfram and Hart a hand with their problem. Faith captures her former mentor Wesley and tortures him nearly to death as Angel arrives in time to save him, just as Faith is losing her mind.
19. Sanctuary – Buffy arrives tracking Faith, but disagrees with Angel's commitment to protect her in order to make her better. Likewise, Wesley is tempted with reinstatement into the Watcher's Council if he makes a difficult decision.
20. War Zone – The newest member of the group is introduced as Charles Gunn, Vampire hunter, decides to help Angel and the gang settle a dispute between rival gangs and vampire gangs.
21. Blind Date – Angel agrees to help Lindsay break into Wolfram and Hart's offices in order to stop a blind assassin from killing a group of kids. After Angel finds an important scroll, Lindsay decides he can't betray W&H.
22. To Shanshu in LA – Wesley decodes the scroll that Angel found in the last episode and explains that it foretells the death of a vampire with a soul. At the same time, W&H are developing a plan to separate Angel from all that he holds dear in order to be free of him once and for all. Fining all of his support hurt or slain, Angel confronts the people at W&H before Wesley can tell him that the prophecy means that a vampire with a soul will become human. After defeating W&H, Angel isn't around when the mysterious contents of a crate are revealed to be an important figure from his past.

With that, the first impressive season of Angel is over. Intentionally spoiler free, these recaps are meant to serve as a starting place for your enjoyment of the season. The episodes continually get stronger as the season progresses. The move away from the monster of the week and development of Wolfram and Hart as a reoccurring opponent strengthen the show immensely. Pay close attention to the last episode, as it may have components that play into upcoming series finale of Buff the Vampire Slayer as Angel makes it back to Sunnydale for one last visit.

Video: The full frame presentation is nice and crisp. Despite the dark elements of the series setting, everything is continually visible and the contrast and blacks are balanced.

Audio: The stereo track from the original episodes is reproduced crisply and cleanly for the entire 22 episodes. Vocals are always audible and for a stereo mix, it's surprisingly full.

Extras: Similar to the Buffy sets, the extras are spread out over the 6-disc set and contain a two episodes with commentary, co-creators Whedon and David Greenwalt on City Of and one by writer Jane Espenson on Rm w/a Vu. There are two complete scripts and a few photo galleries. There are also four promo pieces that entitled Season One, I'm Cordelia, The Demons and Introducing Angel. Similar to the original Buffy sets; these offer little interesting information, especially after watching the entire season.

Overall: Fans of the show will know what to expect, especially if you've picked up any of the other sets. The focus is on the episodes and despite being a spin-off, Angel stakes out its own voice in the Buffy mythology without becoming stale.

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Highly Recommended

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