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Angel - The Complete 5th Season Review




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

It's Smile Time!
by Gord Lacey (All reviews)
2/15/2005

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. He's been in LA for a few years, and managed to assemble a loyal team to back him up. He's pissed off demons, vampires, and the senior partners at Wolfram and Hart, but now the game has taken a turn; now he's fighting from within the beast.

The fifth season of Angel was much different than the previous four. Angel was always scrounging resources, getting tips where he could, but now he's in charge of a multi-million dollar law office, and has everything at his disposal. His team, Fred, Gunn, Wes and Lorne, head up the various divisions of their new digs, giving them the resources they only dreamed of before. Will Angel be corrupted by his new power, or will he use his resources to fight his new clients?

This season had some highs and lows for me. I liked that Spike was brought over to Angel, but I didn't like the corporate environment of Wolfram and Hart. I thought some of the episodes were weak, but the second half of the season was great. Season five also featured one of the best episodes; "Smile Time." Puppet Angel was awesome! I was sad to see the show end, but all good shows have to air their final episode sometime.

Video

The previous Angel 3 releases have been anamorphic widescreen, and that's what we're treated to for the final season. 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
Yippee, a whole bunch of commentary tracks on the set, and they're darn good.
"Conviction" (Part 1) - Commentary by Writer/Director Joss Whedon
"Destiny" - Commentary by Director Skip Schoolnik, Writers David Fury and Steven S. DeKnight and Juliet Landau.
"Soul Purpose" - Commentary by Director/Actor David Boreanaz, Writer Brent Fletcher, Christian Kane
"You're Welcome" - Commentary by Director David Fury, Christian Kane and Sarah Thompson
"A Hole In The World" - Commentary by Writer/Director Joss Whedon, Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof
"Underneath" - Commentary by Director Skip Schoolnik, Writer Elizabeth Craft, Writer Sarah Fain and Adam Baldwin
"Not Fade Away" - Commentary by Co-Writer/Director Jeffrey Bell

Hey Kids! It's Smile Time (7:01) A featurette on one of the funniest episodes of the show; Angel is turned into a puppet while investigating demonic forces behind a children's show. Ben Edlund (writer/director), Victor Yerrid (puppeteer), Flora, David Boreanaz ("Angel"), puppet Angel, Groofus, Mike Massa (stunt coordinator), Drew Massey (puppeteer) and Julianne Buesher (puppeteer) are interviewed.

Angel Choreography of a Stunt (6:07)
This featurette focuses on a student performed on the show. Mike Massa, the stuntman, is interviewed, and explains what they're attempting to do (don't worry, they pull it off).

Angel: The Final Season (27:14)
An excellent look at the final season of the show . Joss, the actors, and crew are interviewed. I love featurettes like this; most excellent.

To Live & Die in LA: The Best of Angel (8:53)
Joss Whedon looks at the best episodes of the series.

Halos & Horns: Recurring Villainy (9:23)
Angel has featured a number of recurring "baddies" over the 5 years, and they're featured here. Juliet Landau ("Drusilla"), Stephanie Romanov ("Lilah"), Julie Benz ("Darla") and Christian Kane ("Lindsey") are interviewed.

Angel Unbound: The Gag Reels" (6:11)
I love gag reels, and there's some great stuff from the 5 seasons in here.

Summary

It's all over now. 110 episodes is a good run for a series, and Angel had some wonderful episodes in there. I thought the run to the end was very well done, and I enjoyed the various paths the characters took. The final episode was both exciting and sad, and I thought the final scene was great.

I had the pleasure of meeting Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain during a visit to The Shield offices in October. The writing team landed over at The Shield after the show was cancelled, and they both looked happy to be there. Shawn Ryan, the creator of The Shield, worked on the first few seasons of Angel. They're both extremely nice, and mentioned that they had recorded the commentary for this set. Maybe it's because I had met them, but I thought their commentary track was one of the better ones for the set.

I find it's better to have a show finish before you want it to, because the alternative seems to be running a show into the ground. Angel went out with dignity, and the team went out swinging.


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