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  Starring
  Specs
  • Full Frame
  • Dual Layer (RSDL )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • French: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
    French, Dutch, English - Hearing Impaired
  Extras
  • 3 Featurette - I'm Cordelia, Introducing Angel, The Demons
  • Animated menus
  • 2 Original screenplay - Five By Five, Sanctuary

Angel - Season 1 - Volume 2

20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 451 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

The ever-so-broody one is back, still seeking redemption in the second instalment of his first season out on his own - if you missed the review of the first part you may wish to check it out here for more of an idea what it's all about.

Things continue much as they began, in a much more episodic format than Buffy. Towards the end, though, plots tend to veer off into the more familiar continuing storyline territory with lawyers Wolfram & Hart coming to prominence - and it is safe to say we haven't seen the last of them, either.

Characters continue to develop nicely, with Cordelia in particular becoming more and more 3D as things progress - which is much needed, as there is less of a core ensemble cast than the parent show has to rely on. Gunn is introduced, as are some other characters we'll be seeing more of in seasons to come, and Wesley - well, Wesley is basically the same annoying twat he has always been.

Expecting
Most of us can no doubt claim to have had nightmare one night stands, but none like what Cordelia has to endure - and he seemed like such a sweet guy! Oh well, another day, another big slimy demon. Oh, and Angel doesnít hum.

She
Angel and Wesley, party animals? Well, not for long, as there's a bringer of chaos from another dimension to be dealt with, and one very hot female demon. Angel's diplomacy skills are tested, and it's just as well he has some as he certainly canít dance...

I've Got You Under My Skin
One of Cordie's visions leads to Angel saving a little boy from becoming road squish, however that's just the beginning for a rather troubled family in this tale of exorcism, spelunking and brussels sprouts. Angel is not unflappable.

The Prodigal
Angel and Kate are at each other's throats again (although in this case it probably should be pointed out that it isn't literally), and we are privy to some Angelic history (well, hello Darla!). Meanwhile, just what is Kate's Dad involved in?

The Ring
It's bloodsport for all after Angel is hoodwinked by a would-be client and subsequently captured as a contestant in a dodgy underground kill-or-be-killed demon fighting ring.

Eternity
Angel does The Bodyguard. After saving a television star from becoming a pancake she develops quite the crush, ah, but what are her motives? Is she really being stalked, or does she see our Mr Broody as some sort of beauty product?

Five By Five
Let the games begin, as L.A. gets a wild visitor from Sunnydale whose name isnít Spike (yum, Spiky Wiky!) Teaming up with Wolfram & Hart, could this rogue element cause the sun to go down on Angel for good? It's torture time...

Sanctuary
Tensions run high in the office due to somebody Angel has taken under his wing - especially when Buffy pops by for a quick visit. Slimy lawyer types Wolfram & Hart are getting rather frustrated, and is Kate Mulder, or is she Scully?

War Zone
On the case for a hyper-nerdic software tycoon, Angel becomes embroiled in a typically Angel flavoured gang war between a gang of rogue vampire hunters and a pack (Herd? Swarm? Flock? Phalanx?) of vampires. Gunn and Angel get things sorted...

Blind Date
Angel takes on Wolfram & Hart in a bid to stop a rather nasty assassination, and that old adage about 'the whites of their eyes' takes on new meaning. Meanwhile, Lindsay may want out of the law firm, Willow dons her helpdesk beanie and MMMmmmÖ scroll!

To Shanshu in L.A.
The importance of the scroll becomes clear, as Wolfram & Hart raise a rather nasty cloaked figure in their bid to make L.A. Angel-free. The oracles are having a bad day, Wesley's having a bad day, Cordie's having a bad day and Lindsay's having a bad day, yet there's still some time for some office redecorating...

  Video
Contract

What can be said that wasn't in the review of the first part of season one? It's all much the same, with superb shadow detail and depth for such a predominantly dark show, good colours and detail, very little in the way of grain or speckles and no discernable layer changes due to the episodes being placed two per layer.

Two somewhat large bugbears do remain - presentation in 1.33:1 rather than the 1.78:1 ratio it was shot in, and the slashing of the 'previously on Angel' segments from the beginnings of episodes, which often causes them to start with a rather abrupt jolt in the soundtrack. Very disappointing.

  Audio
Contract

There's not much more to report here that wasn't covered earlier either, the Dolby 2.0 soundtrack works quite well, giving a little surround action and it is always clear and easy to understand - with the exception of the occasional demon with pronunciation skills akin to those of Rocky Balboa. Christophe Beck and Robert J. Kral's score work continues to impress, and some of us still havenít tired of that fabulous theme.

  Extras
Contract

Naturally enough the same style menus as feature in the first part of the season remain in use here. While nothing spectacular, they do fit the tone of Angel suitably, and donít take ages to sit through like some earlier Buffy releases. There are only a few extras contained within the second season one box set, and they are...

2x Scripts - Five By Five, Sanctuary: A two-part episode of sorts, with the appearance of somebody from the Buffyverse who shall remain nameless so as to avoid spoilers - although fans will no doubt have an inkling who it is from the first episode's title. Both scripts are included in a fairly legible Courier type font, and are very thorough with cast and location listings included. With very little included per page for clarity's sake, it will take quite a while to plough through these, however the more anal fans will no doubt be in heaven with these inclusions.

Featurettes - Introducing Angel (3:40), I'm Cordelia (5:27), The Demons (7:41): Let's just group these together, as they all follow very similar formats. These three somewhat disappointingly brief features all include a lot of footage from the show, occasional clips from Buffy, plus rapid-fire interview snippets with producers, writers, creator David Greenwalt and the main actors. They are pretty self-explanatory - the first tells us about the broody one with a voiceover by David Boreanaz, and specially shot sequences in 1.78:1 that provide an annoying 'nyahh nyahh look what you should have had' effect; The second is a quick look at the world of Cordie and the third is a kind of spotters' guide for demons, including all those good old party faves such as the Haxil, Mohra, Vocah and Ethros varieties.

  Overall  
Contract

Anybody who is following the exploits of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel via these DVD releases should be forewarned that this first season runs in parallel with season four of Buffy, which isnít out yet. As such there are some minor spoilers to be had on occasions, although nothing too sinister and soul destroying...

Value-wise, much the same can be said for this as the first part of the season - the lack of the original 1.78:1 ratio is an incredibly bitter disappointment, and the chopping of the episode recaps is also rather annoying. On the plus side however is an otherwise fantastic transfer, that has been marked down only for the aforementioned faults, and, of course, the fact that you get eleven more episodes of another top quality Joss Whedon creation to savour.

Sadly those outtakes advertised all over the first box set donít show up here either, and to be honest with two scripts included that are of minimal interest to all but the most obsessive of fans or budding screenwriters, and just three very short featurettes, the extras collection on offer here isnít up to standards previously set with the Buffy releases - and in this case comparisons seem fair due to their sibling relationship (the shows, not the characters - duh!)

Basically, if you dig Buffy you should also find much to love about Angel. Whilst not as out and out humorous in favour of an aptly darker tone, Angel does still have its own line of often wicked humour that let's you know Joss Whedon is well and truly still on the case - and we canít ask for more than that, can we? Well, except of course for lots and lots more Spik... (Editor's note: That's it - we have had to enter Amy into a 12-step Spike rehab program - it's for her own good, really it is.)


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      And I quote...
    "Angel goes from strength to strength in this culmination of the first series - it's just a shame about a couple of DVD presentation issues..."
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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