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The Complete 1st Season

Angel - The Complete 4th Season Review




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Rating
Video:   9/10
Audio:   8/10
Extras:   4/10

Best Season!
by Gord Lacey (All reviews)
8/23/2004

Angel, the vampire with a soul, wasn't always a good guy. As Angelus he slaughtered hundreds, if not thousands of people until he was cursed by Gypsies and forced to atone for his sins. On Buffy he lost his soul in a moment of pure happiness and wrecked havoc on Sunnydale. When his soul returned he fled to LA and met Doyle, a demon that receives visions from "The Powers That Be." Doyle is long gone, but Angel has a great team that stands behind him; Cordelia, Wesley, Gunn, and Fred back him up when the going gets tough, and it gets tough!

Season 4 sees Cordelia and Angel missing in action; Wes is an outcast, and Lorne has stars in his eyes. Can the group come together to battle the evil forces they'll encounter in season 4, or will they get more accomplished working alone?

If I had to label a season as "the best," then I think I'd have to go with season 4. The show really came together in these 22 episodes. The "big bad" was big, and very bad, and there were some great guest characters, and excellent stories. Yup, I'd have to say that this one was a great season; the best.

Video

Angel's aspect ratio has gone through some interesting changes since the show was first released. Season 1 aired as 1.33:1 and was released that way on DVD; season 2 was aired in 1.33:1 but was released on DVD as 16:9 (it was composed that way), but season 3 and on aired in widescreen and are presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) on the DVD sets. Like all Fox releases, the video quality is extremely good. Colors are nice and vibrant, and the picture retains the dark look it had on TV. Each episode contains 15 chapters, including one placed after the opening of the show so you can easily skip over it. It's a shame Fox doesn't provide a "play all" for their hour-long shows.

Audio

While it doesn't contain the oomph that a DD 5.1 track would have, this is a very nice Dolby Digital Surround track (English, French and Spanish). Most of the audio comes from the center channel speaker and the front speakers are used for sound effects and panning. I liked the use of the rear speakers for the sound effects that happen when there are quick flashes of video, as well as some other ambient effects.English and Spanish subtitles are also included.

Extras - How we rate extras

Commentary tracks
There are 7 commentary tracks for season 4:
Episode 4 - "The House Always Wins" - David Fury (writer) and Andy Hallett (Lorne)
Episode 6 - "Spin the Bottle" - Joss Whedon (writer/director) and Alexis Denisof (Wesley)
Episode 7 - "Apocalypse Nowish" - Vern Gillum (director) and Steven S. DeKnight (writer)
Episode 15 - "Orpheus" - Terrence O'Hara (director) and Jeffrey Bell (co-executive producer)
Episode 17 - "Inside Out" - Steven S. DeKnight (writer)
Episode 19 - "The Magic Bullet" - Jeffrey Bell (co-executive producer)
Episode 22 - "Home" - Tim Minear (writer/director).

Angel and the Apocalypse (6:50)
Mike Gasper (special effects coordinator), Vern Gillum (director of "Apocalypse Nowish"), Kelly A. Manners (producer), Steven S. DeKnight (writer of "Apocalypse Nowish"), Mike Massa (stunt coordinator) and Jeffrey Bell (co-executive producer) talk about how they brought on the apocalypse (in the show).

Prophecies: Season 4 Overview (39:08)
This wonderful featurette serves as a summary of the events that took place during season 4. It's not worth watching if you just went through the entire DVD set, but it's perfect to watch right before your season 5 set arrives. Features interviews with Joss Whedon (creator/executive producer), David Fury (writer/director/consulting producer), David Boreanaz, Steven S. DeKnight (writer/director/co-producer), J. August Richards, Alexis Denisof, Jeffrey Bell (writer/director/co-executive producer), Amy Acker, Vincent Kartheiser, Andy Hallett and Gina Torres.

Unplugged: Season 4 Outtakes (3:04)
Hardy-har-har. Watch as the cast members flub their lines and laugh about it. Don't you just love gag reels? I know I do.

Last Looks: The Hyperion Hotel (5:42)
Stuart Blatt (production designer) takes us on a tour of the Hyperion Hotel set.

Fatal Beauty and the Beast (6:06)
Joss Whedon, Vladimir Kulich (the Beast) and Gina Torres (Jasmine) speak about the "bad guy" characters in season 4.

Malice in Wonderland: Wolfram & Hart (7:58)
Joss Whedon, David Fury, Steven S. DeKnight, Stephanie Romanov (Lilah), Alexis Denisof and Jeffrey Bell talk about the law firm of Wolfram & Hart.

Summary

Now that the show is over it's a bit hard to watch some of these old episodes because the outcome of the series is known. Like I said earlier, I think this is probably the best season of the series. Everything came together nicely during the season, and this set is great. Fox has given us 7 commentary tracks, a wonderful overview of the season (remember to watch this before season 5), outtakes and featurettes. This is a great set, and one I'm sure many of you are itching to pick up when it's released.


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