Thursday, September 02, 2004

Angel Season 2 Part 1

As promised here is another Buffy related spiel.

I never liked Angel the TV show as much as Buffy the TV show, but I always found Angel the character much more interesting than Buffy the character. Buffy almost never makes mistakes, or does anything wrong, she's always super-competent and very rarely suffers from moral dilemmas. Despite being a bit too perfect and infallible as a hero (kind of like Superman*), she remained appealing to the audience by being perky and entertaining as a character. At least for the first four seasons. Part way through season 5 things changed, but I'll write about them at a later date.

Angel, in contrast, spends most of his free time brooding about the terrible misdeeds he's committed in the past. While the writers certainly overdo this from time to time, by and large it makes him a more interesting character. The second season of Angel is the one where they really bring out his dark side. At the start of the second season we've never seen Angel do anything bad (except in flashbacks to when he was evil, and I guess when he's been turned evil again by his gypsy curse), but in the second episode of this season we see him leave a hotel full of people at the mercy of a demon that encourages fear, paranoia and insanity. Sure, the people did just try to hang him, but they were under the influence of the demon, and the whole scene leaves the viewer thinking 'Hey, this isn't the mopey, puppy eyed Angel we're used to!'. Of course, this all occurs in a flashback, but as the season goes on we see him progressively get darker and more ruthless, until finally he locks a bunch of people in a room with a pair of hungry vampires. Sure, they were evil people, and it's not like he killed them himself, but it's not exactly heroic behaviour.

The first season of Angel wasn't especially great, there were occasional good episodes, but by and large it was all a little repetitive and obvious. The second season is a lot better, possibly because the writers introduced a real plot arc for the season, whereas the first one just meandered on from episode to episode.

Best episodes in this set: 'Guise will be Guise', Wesley (the dorky British guy) has to impersonate Angel while he's away.
'The Shroud of Rahmon', Angel infiltrates a gang of demons trying to steal an ancient artifact, unfortunately the artifact makes anyone in proximity go crazy...
'Reunion' The one where Angel locks the lawyers in with the vampires. Totally sweet.

Bad episodes: Most of the ones on the first disk. Possibly they were a few dull story ideas left over from the first season.

DVD extras: I didn't listen to the commentaries, but there are two featurettes on the last disk. They're pretty standard stuff. 'This is the guy that does the makeup. He's amazing!'. 'This is the guy who does the sets. He's amazing!'

Seven chainsaws out of ten.

* There was a good article in Time called 'The Problem With Superman', about how the Superman comics have not been very popular for years. After all, how many interesting stories can you tell about a guy who is almost omnipotent and doesn't have an immoral or flawed bone in his body? I'd link to the article but it appears to have vanished forever into Time's archive that you have to pay for.

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