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Angel - Season 4  (2002-03)


Rating: NR

Distributor: Fox Home Entertainment

Release Date: September 7, 2003
Review posted: September 9, 2004


Reviewed by Liz Gaston




The vampire Angel (David Boreanaz) has a human soul, but committed terrible crimes in the past. Seeking forgiveness and trying to redeem himself, he moves from Sunnydale (and a relationship with Buffy Summers) to Los Angeles, where he helps the downtrodden by thwarting the supernatural creatures that prey on them.


The third season of Angel ended with two major cliffhangers: while Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter) was ascending to a higher plane, Angel (David Boreanaz) was sinking to the bottom of the ocean, trapped in a metal coffin by his unstable son Connor (Vincent Kartheiser). Season Four picks up three months later with Fred (Amy Acker) and Gunn (J. August Richards) running Angel Investigations and taking care of Connor while searching for Angel, unaware of Connor’s part in Angel’s disappearance.


Meanwhile, Wesley (Alexis Denisof), still estranged from the gang, has developed his own band of demon fighters. More interesting than this, though, is his hot “relationship” with Angel’s nemesis Lilah (Stephanie Romanov), a top lawyer at the evil law firm Wolfram & Hart. Angel’s summer was spent hallucinating, while Cordy’s summer was spent as a higher being, a very boring higher being. Luckily for her (sort of), she soon returns to Earth—but stricken with amnesia.




This season throws more twists at the viewer than any other season of a Joss Whedon show than I can think of, and that’s saying something. Relationships change continually; nothing you think you know can be taken for granted. Whedon is a master of character development and puts his skills to good use this season. Each character arc is surprising and interesting, including those of recurring characters, like Gavin Park (Daniel Dae-Kim) and Lilah Morgan. The season is described with great accuracy by one of its own characters, Charles Gunn: “I’ve spent most of this year trapped in what I can only describe as a turgid, supernatural soap opera” (“Players”). Even with various monsters hacking (or burning, stabbing and eating) their way through the City of Angels, the main action is all emotional. The physical action is simply a backdrop for this—Angel discovers the girl he loves having sex with his own son amidst a rain of fire (“Apocalypse, Nowish”). This is when Angel is at its best—when the focus is on the people and their emotions, and the monsters are secondary.


Apart from the brilliant character arcs, Angel Season 4 has a lot to offer, including one very different sort of demon. He’s green. He’s horned. He’s Krevlornswath of the Deathwok Clan. Andy Hallett began portraying the karaoke-singing demon known as Lorne (and for a time The Host) in the premiere of the show’s second season, and late in the fourth season he was finally given his rightful place as a series regular. Lorne had appeared in almost every episode in the third and fourth seasons, so this was very satisfying to his fans. Lorne plays an integral part in the fourth season, if not as a major player then as a breath of fresh air. With his pop culture quips and his styling fits, Lorne always manages to bring levity where it is most needed.  Indeed, the light nature of the character makes him a useful tool: when Lorne gets serious, things have clearly reached a new level of bad.




Fox presents Angel in 1.78:1 fullscreen. Colors look good, black levels are fine, the print image is pretty decent, and lack of clarity is not an issue here.




Fox presents Angel in English 2.0 Dolby Surround Sound. This is a decent soundtrack presentation. Dialogue is clear and easy to understand. Sound effects are presented well but not very crisp. There are also French and Spanish Dolby Surround dub tracks, plus English and Spanish subtitles.




As usual with Buffy and Angel, the commentaries on this set are positively rockalicious. That’s right, rockalicious. Season Four has a good number of commentaries, some highlights being the commentary on “Spin the Bottle” with Alexis Denisof and Joss Whedon and the commentary on “The House Always Wins” with David Fury and Andy Hallett. The featurettes are the same as usual—entertaining for their cast and crew interviews, but nothing ground-breaking. The outtakes, on the other hand, are quite hilarious especially the ones involving door problems. Door problems are funny. Overall, the special features are quite enjoyable.




All I can say is I love the DVD. It’s very good stuff.




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