Shiny Shelf


Angel: Season Three DVD Collection

By Mark Clapham on 05 March 2003

The third season of ‘Angel’ builds on the second, carrying forward many of the plot threads from that year and developing them in wilder and more dramatic directions. From ‘Offspring’ onwards each episode, no matter how seemingly standalone, adds to the ongoing narrative. Twists pile on top of turns, and the whole thing ends with a mighty cliffhanger in ‘Tomorrow’. Characters grow and change, subjected to horrible pressures. There’s a real sense of evolution as alliances are broken and reformed, and the season as a whole forms a satisfying arc. As such, it’s a season perfectly suited to being available in a lovely DVD slipcase, to chew through as fast or as slow as you like. The only problem is that you can’t then go straight on to Season Four, which is shaping up to be even better. Well, you can’t have everything. While readers are advised to delve straight into the episodes and avoid spoilers, those wishing for a more detailed opinion of some of the individual stories before buying could do worse than read our reviews of season highlights such as the arc that begins with the episode ‘Offspring’, or Joss Whedon’s homage to ballet ‘Waiting In The Wings’. Those wishing for further affirmation are welcome to dredge through the Shelf archives for further reviews, while the rest of us discuss the DVD package.

This being Fox, the picture and sound quality are great, with the episodes themselves in widescreen (although some of the special features are not). Unfortunately, as with the previous ‘Angel’ collections, the menus are distinctly lo-fi compared to the ‘Buffy’ collections. However, the features list is more generous than we’ve come to expect, with a decent selection of goodies. Aside from a handful of commentaries (including a typically amusing turn from Whedon on ‘Waiting’), along with the usual trailers and the season overview featurette, there’s a ‘Page To Screen’ featurette shot during production of ‘Tomorrow’. The access on this doc is excellent, taking us behind the scenes to see the writer’s room, and many other aspects of production, with quotes from most of the key players in front of and behind the camera. There are some interesting snippets from the writers and producers, who across all the features in this box set are perfectly willing to admit the extent to which ‘Angel’ is developed on the fly and under extreme deadline pressure.

The outtakes reel is amusing, while two deleted scenes showcase comedy fantasy sequences for the lead characters. Both deleted scenes have optional commentary tracks, always a nice touch, although you can see why both were cut. A featurette on the character of Darla threatens to become an exercise in back-slapping for Julie Benz, but develops into an interesting take on the development of a character over time. Best feature of all, though, are the screen tests for Amy Acker and Vincent Karthesier. Out of continuity and not derived from any existing script, these short scenes demonstrate the character dynamics the production team were aiming for, allowing the existing cast to spark against the newcomers. Acker’s screen test is a comedy piece where Fred deals with a Shakespearean-cursed Wes and Gunn, while Karthesier’s includes a more normal teenage version of Connor bashing heads with Angel. Both are interesting, and the former is highly entertaining in it’s own right.

This is an excellent presentation of an excellent season. Whedon loyalists will of course be rushing out straight away, but for casual viewers this is still a definite worthwhile purchase.


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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 markclapham.com.




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