Shiny Shelf

Angel: Season Two DVD Collection

By Mark Clapham on 15 May 2002

AAngel logofter a shaky first year, it’s in this second season that ‘Angel’ steps out of the shadow of its Big Sister show and establishes itself as an entity in its own right. The plots and characters begin to gel, and at points the show gains a momentum close to Whedon’s senior franchise.

Season One ended with the introduction of a new character, Gunn, and the revival of an old one, Darla. The start of the season sees Gunn integrated into the group as Darla begins to assert her influence at Wolfram & Hart. We also meet another new character, The Host, a camp karoake singing demon who bringsa much needed sense of showbiz to the LA setting. Camp and silly humour has always been the main antidote to the bleak subject matter in ‘Angel’, and The Host soon makes himself essential in this role. ‘Are you now or have you ever been?’ introduces Angel’s new home, a beautiful art deco hotel, and sees some of the show’s finest direction as we slip between the present day and the 50’s, often in one shot. Another highlight of this early part of the season is ‘Untouched’, an episode dealing with difficult subject matter in a very measured way, at least partially due to sensitive direction by Joss Whedon.

Episodes like ‘Dear Boy’ and ‘Darla’ see the plot surrounding the return of Angel’s old flame kick into high gear. ‘The Trial’, ‘Reunion’ and ‘Redefinition’ are a shocking trilogy that sends Angel into a very dark place and shatters the comfort zone of the core characters. After three standalones in which Angel (accompanied by three different characters from the ranks of the show’s occasional recurring cast) and his estranged friends operate separately, things get even worse, leading to a devastating ‘Epiphany’.

Unfortunately things fall apart shortly after, with most of the recurring but none-regular cast disappearing. With the ongoing plot having run dry four episodes before the end of the season, we get a trilogy of ill-conceived episodes set in another dimension which try and mix heroic fantasy, fairytale iconography and so forth only to miserably fail to acheive anything much. It’s a shame to see such a spectacular downturn in quality, but it doesn’t undermine the rest of this otherwise excellent season.

Features are a bit sparse on this box set. A couple of commentaries are included, one on ‘Are you now…’ and another on, unfortunately, the diabolical ‘Over the rainbow’. Some nice little featurettes are included, the one covering the vast hotel set being particularly inciteful, but compared to the list of extras on the Buffy Season Four Collection (two! joss! commentaries!) the goodies here are a tad weak.

Nevertheless, this is a great season of a great show. Click through the flat and uninspired menus, try and ignore those duff last episodes, and you’ll find a great set of stories here. Go buy it.

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By Mark Clapham

Mark Clapham is a Devon-based writer and editor. You can find out more about him at the egotistically named

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