Saturday, November 18, 2006

Dark Angel Season Two

I waited and waited to find a cheap copy of Dark Angel Season Two and I finally found one at the end of the summer. Yes, that is quite a while ago but I only finished watching all 21 episodes earlier this week. I like to savor my DVDs and I also have a life beyond watching Dark Angel. OK, some of that involves watching other things too but, either way, it took me a while to finish the whole series.

I have written before about my enjoyment of Season One but I didn’t like it enough to spend nearly $40 on season two, especially since I heard that the first season was significantly better. Then, before she went back to college, Meredith started watching Season Two long before I got a chance to start (typical). She didn’t like it much. She was a big fan of the first season but found the substantial change in the series between one and two to be enough to turn her off.

So, when I started watching it I had no illusions of brilliance. I was pleasantly surprised and Meredith should have kept going – it got better.

The first season was all about Max (a genetically enhanced woman who was bred to be the perfect fighting machine) finding out about her past and staying away from the bad guys who made her in a covert government organization called Manticore. At the end of the season (and the beginning of season two) Max returns to Manticore, frees all the other transgenics (many of whom are freakish mixtures of human and animal DNA) and destroys Manticore. The freed transgenics, not all of whom are pleasant, are let loose on an unsuspecting world, which sets up the whole season.

The producers play a bit with the weird looking creatures that Max frees and it gets a bit silly at times but, as things settle down, the season continues on and gets progressively better. I found that, while at first I wasn’t terribly excited about getting to the next episode, by the time I reached the halfway point things were moving along very nicely and I had a great time, especially with the last two discs in the six-disc set. The producers expected there to be a season three when they filmed the last episode and they had set up a nice potential story arc for another season but the show was canceled just after filming stopped. The end of the season is therefore also the end of the series.

Once again, Jessica Alba, who plays Max, turns in a less-than-award-winning performance but, let’s face it, there’s a limit to how well she could do with some of the dialogue she was given. The futuristic slang and hip-hop soundtrack that bugged me a bit in season one is toned down a little bit in this season. And many characters are done away with or their role is minimized while new characters take their place. Overall, the new characters, especially Alec, work well.

So, I got my copy for under $20 (perhaps even under $15 – I’m no longer sure) and, for 21 episodes, it was a great way to spend some time with my DVD player. Don't expect Shakespear or even Sorkin but if you go into Dark Angel expecting a light-weight (but dark) escapist series you won’t be disappointed.

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