Angel-Season 3 Box Set Part 1 (2001)

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Released 18-Mar-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Vampire Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Billy; Lullaby
Featurette-Darla: Deliver Us From Evil
Outtakes
Deleted Scenes-1 +/- commentary
Trailer-Buffy Season 2; Buffy Season 3; Buffy Season 4
Trailer-Buffy The Vampire Slayer Movie;Angel Season 1;Angel Season 2
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 455:30
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (3)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By David Greenwalt
Fred Keller
James A Contner
Skip Schoolnik
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring David Boreanaz
Charisma Carpenter
Alexis Denisof
J. August Richards
Amy Acker
Julie Benz
Stephanie Romanov
Daniel Dae Kim
Keith Szarabajka
Andrew Hallett
Case ?
RPI $79.95 Music Robert J. Kral


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (96Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Danish
Dutch
English for the Hearing Impaired
Finnish
French
Norwegian
Swedish
French Titling
English Audio Commentary
French Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

By the time Angel reached Season 3 it was fairly well separated from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Oh, they heard about the big events in Buffy ((SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) Buffy's death and resurrection qualified...), but the two shows were being screened on different TV networks, so there weren't any big cross-over episodes (which was a shame, as I really liked those). Before you read this review, you might want to read my reviews of Angel Season One (Part I and Part II), and Season Two (Part I and Part II).

If you haven't seen the earlier seasons of Angel and Buffy, I strongly recommend you not read any more of the plot synopsis.

This is Angel Season 3 Part I, the first three discs out of the six that make up the season. The episodes on these discs are:

Episode Time Writer Director
Heartthrob 40:36 David Greenwalt David Greenwalt A pair of vampires from Angel's past appear in LA.
That Vision-Thing 40:42 Jeffrey Bell Bill Norton Cordelia's visions start to have even worse side-effects
That Old Gang of Mine 41:57 Tim Minear Fred Keller Gunn's old gang aren't sticking to their old haunts
Carpe Noctem 40:17 Scott Murphy James A Contner If you have had three heart attacks, would you want a new body?
Fredless 42:07 Mere Smith Marita Grabnik Fred's parents come looking for her, but there's something else looking for her, too
Billy 42:26 Tim Minear
Jeffrey Bell
David Grossman The boy who Angel freed from Hell is on a rampage
Offspring 40:49 David Greenwalt Turi Meyer It's impossible for one vampire to make another pregnant, right?
Quickening 41:07 Jeffrey Bell Skip Schoolnik Lots of parties are interested in an unborn child
Lullaby 41:53 Tim Minear Tim Minear Things are rendered much more complex by the appearance of an 18th century vampire hunter
Dad 41:51 David H Goodman Fred Keller Angel and crew protecting a baby from all manner of forces trying to get him
Birthday 41:45 Mere Smith Michael Grossman Cordelia is being killed by the visions some birthday present!

The first episode is a gentle warm-up. They make it clear that Fred (the beautiful Amy Acker) is having a bit of trouble adjusting to life back in our world after five years stuck in Pylea as a fugitive and slave. Angel has been away for three months because Buffy died (this season is concurrent with season six of Buffy, so Buffy's death at the end of season five is where we start). It's only in the last few minutes that we get a glimpse of the major plot arc for the season: (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) Darla's pregnancy (and its consequences).

The second episode makes a big point of the secondary major plot arc for the season: Cordelia's visions, and the toll they are taking on her physically and mentally. She takes a bigger part in this season, being far more than the simple foil for jokes that she played in Buffy and the first season of Angel. This Cordelia is a deeper and far more interesting character than she used to be. I really like her.

I think it's amusing that we see the character Skip more than once. My theory is that his make-up was far too costly (that ring piercing his chin must have cost a fortune) for use in a single episode.

Perhaps the most important new character this season is Holtz, the vampire hunter. He is played with considerable gusto by Keith Szarabajka. We see him in flashbacks to Angel's past in the first episode. Actually, we've seen events from Holtz's pursuit of Angel and Darla in Season 2, but we didn't see him.

In an early commentary on Angel, one of the writers pointed out Charisma Carpenter's tattoo (across the small of her back), and said that it was out-of-character for Cordelia, so they tried to hide it. They've stopped trying now maybe the new and more empowered Cordelia is entitled to show off a tattoo, or maybe it's just unavoidable given the fashions (particularly low-slung jeans) of the day?

It's cool to watch Fred develop into a full member of the team. She starts off awfully thin, but that's appropriate for a character who has been starving in a cave in Pylea. Her parents are rather interesting people, and make the others feel their lack of parental love.

Lilah (Stephanie Romanov) and Gavin (Daniel Dae Kim) are struggling for power (or sometimes just survival) at Wolfram and Hart Gavin's a more effective opponent than Lindsey was, and rather more ruthless. This season we get more insight into Lilah she's a complex woman. I really enjoyed the confrontation between Cordelia and Lilah in Billy.

The only episode out of this lot that I consider a bit weak, or poorly written, is the third one, That Old Gang of Mine. The basic idea is sound, but the dialogue is not well-written, and Rondell's depiction just doesn't gibe with earlier appearances. All the other episodes are more strongly written, with the trademark combination of humour and horror.

In all, I think this is the best season yet of Angel.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

It is good to see this series being released in widescreen on DVD. This season was screened here in 1.33:1, but it was produced in widescreen. Buffy is now being broadcast in Australia in widescreen (on digital TV, at least), but Angel is still broadcast in 1.33:1. These DVDs are in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and they are 16x9 enhanced.

The image is beautifully sharp and clear. Shadow detail is quite good (and just as well, given how dark this show is). There are a few scenes showing noticeable film grain, but it's normally not visible. There is no low-level noise.

Colour is superb - nicely rendered, with lots of subtleties of shade. There are no colour-related artefacts.

There is some mild aliasing (see 29:08 in That Vision-Thing), some minor moire (such as at 12:03 of That Old Gang of Mine), and a touch or two of shimmer.

I didn't see a single film artefact worth mentioning, which is impressive. This is somewhat to be expected given how recent this production is, but it is still impressive.

There are subtitles in seven languages. I watched the English for the Hearing Impaired ones. They are not bad, being easy to read, well-timed, and mostly accurate (although abbreviated). I spotted several small mistakes, such as at 6:38 in That Vision-Thing, where Wesley says "Certainly", but the subtitle reads "Circling".

The discs are single-sided and dual layered, but there's no visible layer change. Each episode is placed entirely on one layer two on one layer, two on the other.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

Both the English and French soundtracks are Dolby Digital 2.0, surround encoded. I only listened to the English soundtrack. Parts of it are pure front and centre, but the mix does use the surround-encoding occasionally.

The dialogue is clear and easy to understand, so you can understand the excellence of the writing. There are no visible audio sync issues. There is some distortion, though it sounds like clipping, even though the sound is not particularly loud: listen to 7:46 or 20:11 in Dad, for example, or 19:10 in Birthday (that's probably the most obvious).

Robert J. Kral is responsible for the score again. He doesn't show a whole lot of originality, but the score does its job of supporting the action.

As I mentioned above, the surround-encoding gets used occasionally, but not to any huge extent. The only thing directing sound to the subwoofer is the bass-management; there's some decent bass in the soundtrack, so your sub will get something to do if your bass-management sends it there.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

There is a reasonable selection of extras in this volume, but I'd rather they got someone other than Tim Minear to record commentaries...

Menu

The menus are static, with snatches of music behind all of them. The main menu features Angel on Disc 1, Cordelia on Disc 2, and Gunn on Disc 3.

Commentary: Tim Minear and Jeffrey Bell (writers)

Both writers commenting on the episode Billy. This is a rather rambling, disorganised effort, a bit incoherent, even self-indulgent. Tim Minear admits "this may be the lamest commentary ever" (he's wrong, but not by a lot) I wish he'd either give up recording commentaries, or make notes beforehand.

Commentary: Tim Minear (writer/director) and Mere Smith (script coordinator)

A commentary for the episode Lullaby another effort from Tim Minear, but somewhat better than his effort above. It does contain a major spoiler for later in the season, so don't listen until you've seen all of the episodes. Mere Smith spends a fair part of the first few minutes giggling, but she pulls herself together and makes a number of useful comments, including some about the effort of ensuring that scripts from different writers don't contradict one another that was particularly important in this episode. The commentary runs out of steam before the episode is over, and degenerates, unfortunately.

Featurette Darla: Deliver Us From Evil (12:09)

Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, this piece looks at a character who appeared in the first episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Played by Julie Benz, she has been dusted, resurrected as human, then killed and made vampire again quite an eventful life.

Outtakes (4:51)

Fairly normal outtakes, mostly flubs, presented in rather grainy form. There are a couple from later in the season, so you shouldn't watch this until you've seen all of the episodes.

Deleted Scene (4:02)

This is somewhat amusing it's actually a much longer version of a scene that is in Birthday. You can watch it with the original soundtrack, or with a commentary by Tim Minear (were all the other commentators off sick that day?) and Mere Smith. It is actually worth watching it twice, both with and without the commentary.

Trailers

Just about every Buffy and Angel trailer they could scrape up, although I suspect many of these are actually TV spots rather than true trailers. All of them are 1.33:1, except the trailer for the Buffy movie.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

Season 1 of Angel is about to be released in Region 1 we're way ahead of them on this series.

Season 3 of Angel is scheduled for release in Region 2 on the 3rd of March, and two weeks later in Region 4. As far as I can ascertain at this point, the Region 2 and Region 4 discs will be the same, and the packaging differences will be the same as for the first two seasons: Region 4 will get two cardboard slipcases, each holding three plastic keepcases, while Region 2 will get a compact album format, with each disc held in a separate page. I hope the album is better quality than the one used for Buffy Season 5 that was a distinct drop in quality from the previous ones. I have found that it is a little easier to damage the discs, sliding them in and out of the album pages, so maybe Region 4 is getting the better (albeit bulkier) deal on this issue.

Summary

Possibly the best season of Angel yet, presented rather well on DVD.

The video quality is excellent, and widescreen, too.

The audio quality is very good, save for a few moments of distortion.

The extras are reasonable, but far from overwhelming, and I'm hoping someone else does commentaries in the second half of the season.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Tuesday, February 25, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

Other Reviews
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The DVD Bits - Lorraine A

Comments (Add)
widescreen! - orangecat (my kingdom for a decent bio) REPLY POSTED
Widescreen: Joss Whedon's Thoughts - Craggles (Behold the mighty bio!!)
You Think Season Three is Bad ? - Kaiser Soze (I'm not stupid. You're not interested. But my bio is here anyway) REPLY POSTED
woohooo - aapac (check out me bio over 'ere)
Royal Decree - Zod (Bio of Power) REPLY POSTED