Angel-Season 2 Box Set Part 1 (2000)
Audio Commentary-Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been? - Tim Minear (Writer)
Featurette-Making Up The Monsters
Featurette-Inside The Agency
|Year Of Production||2000|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (3)
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||
James A Contner
Twentieth Century Fox
J. August Richards
|RPI||$79.95||Music||Robert J. Kral|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Pan & Scan||
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||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
French Audio Commentary
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, out-takes|
For those who came in late, Angel is a fabulous Buffy the Vampire Slayer spin-off. If you didn't know that, then you don't want to start here - you should start with Season 1, which you'll find reviewed here. This is Season 2, and it makes no allowance for people who haven't seen the earlier episodes, so I suggest you see them (and all of Buffy, if you want to be really thorough).
Angel Season 2 has 22 episodes. The first 11 are included in Angel Season 2 Part 1 - that's this review. This volume contains:
This season starts rapidly - a demon confrontation before even the credits of the first episode. We meet some important players for this season in the first episode - Merle the snitch, The Host at Caritas (trust Joss Whedon to think up a demon karaoke bar!). We even see the abandoned hotel, although it isn't until the second episode that we get more of a view of it. And it isn't until the second episode that Gunn appears in the credits.
If you are an avid fan, with memory of Buffy the Vampire Slayer as well as Angel, then you'll appreciate the occasional throwaway reference to past events - I particularly liked the reference in Untouched, where Angel remarks to Cordelia "Do you know how hard it is to think with a rebar through your torso?" and Cordelia replies "Actually, yes - the benefits of a Sunnydale education". There are references to Season 1 of Angel, too, including Dennis the ghost in Cordelia's apartment, and Faith. I really loved the scene in which a vampire is boasting to Darla about being a vampire since '92 (she confirms that he means 1992) - he has no idea who he's talking to.
Have you ever noticed that the lawyers at Wolfram and Hart all have surnames beginning with 'M': Lindsey McKenzie, Lilah Morgan, Holland Manners? Given the attention to detail in this show, I rather suspect this is deliberate.
These episodes are complete, with "previously on Angel, ..." flashbacks, opening and closing credits, even the Mutant Enemy "grr, argh", and momentary black-outs where the advertising breaks are. The occasional episode has out-takes under the closing credits - always worth watching, even if they seem to be chosen to poke gentle fun at David Boreanaz. I guess that's understandable, given the ultra-cool persona he portrays.
I remarked in Season 1 about the colours in the credits. David Boreanaz's credit is blue, Charisma Carpenter's is green, Alexis Denisof's is yellow; now J. August Richard's is orange. Next season (currently being broadcast here in Australia) adds the credit for Amy Acker, and hers is purple - very cool.
There are no crossover episodes amongst these - I guess they were anticipating the third season, when there are no crossover episodes at all.
I hadn't realised quite how often we visit the karaoke bar. Julie Benz is the only one (other than The Host) who can sing: her effort is rather a good smoky torch song. I thought Angel's effort was the worst, until we were subjected to a trio of awfulness.
In one of the extras we get to hear Alexis Denisof's natural voice - he has a hideous American accent (humorous that he plays an English character). There are moments in these episodes when a trace of his accent comes through - interesting slip. This is even more jarring than hearing James Marsters' real voice.
It seems that Joss Whedon sets up a season as though it were two shorter sequences, matching the way it is presented on DVD - he builds up to a finale and cliff-hanger around episode 11 of a season. It makes these parts feel more complete.
More controversy over aspect ratios: this series was produced in widescreen format (1.78:1, for widescreen TV), but it is released here in 1.33:1. Given that Buffy Season 4 is apparently being released in widescreen, and it was produced at the same time as Angel Season 1, you'd think they'd have released this season in widescreen. Ah, well, at least this is no worse than the way it was broadcast.
The image is sharp and clear (the broadcast was never this good) - it is quite obvious that this show uses film, not video tape. There are moments when clarity suffers a little, but these are low-light situations, and the film is struggling to capture any image, so it gets a little grainy. Even then, the picture is rather good - far better than earlier episodes of Buffy. Shadow detail is impressive. There are moments of what look like low-level noise, such as 34:17 in Judgment, but I suspect this is really grain, because this was not video, and therefore not susceptible to low-level noise.
Colour is gorgeous - deeply saturated tones, where they make sense. Angel's habitual black attire doesn't lend itself to a polychromatic display, but Cordelia is wearing more attractive and colourful clothes, and Drusilla is wearing more colour these days, and The Host (of the karaoke bar) is always bright. There are no traces of over-saturation or colour bleed.
There are a few traces of aliasing, and moire, but they are well-controlled. There are no film artefacts, and no MPEG errors. There's some film grain, but it is not frequent. In Reunion, there are a couple of shots, particularly 17:41-17:42, that are slightly out of focus; I find this quite surprising, given the show's attention to detail.
There are subtitles in eight languages. I watched the English ones. They are disappointing - heavily abbreviated, rearranged, and not accurate. Still, they are clear, easy to read, and well-timed.
The discs are single-sided and dual layer, but there's no visible layer change. Each episode is placed entirely on one layer - two on one layer, two on the other.
Both the English and French soundtracks are Dolby Digital 2.0, surround encoded. I only listened to the English soundtrack, but I checked the presence of the French soundtrack - it sounded French.
The dialogue is easy to understand, and that's important - there are some delightfully witty throwaway lines. There are no visible audio sync issues.
This season, Robert J. Kral handled the score by himself. He shows his versatility in handling episodes like Are You Now, Or Have You Ever Been?, where he produces quite different incidental music.
Although the soundtrack is marked as surround encoded, there's no truly notable sound from the surround speakers - they add a little depth to the soundfield, but that's all. The subwoofer isn't used. The soundtrack includes some fabulous deep bass - Redefinition contains some of the best examples. If you have mains that can't handle deep bass, then you might want to enable bass management to redirect the bass to the sub.
|Surround Channel Use|
Disappointingly few extras in this volume.
The menus are static, with music behind all of them. At least they've attended to the spelling error that they had on the menus of the previous season.
We get the original script for Darla. Just the one script.
On the episode Are You Now, Or Have You Ever Been? we get a commentary from writer Tim Minear. He has a lot to say, and talks pretty much continuously. It is an interesting commentary, explaining where he was forced to make cuts - nine minutes were removed, and the episode is still one of the longer ones. Recommended. Shame we didn't get commentaries on other episodes.
This featurette has a different title on it: The Make-up of Angel - that's what it is about. Nothing startlingly new - we've seen most of this in featurettes on Buffy discs - but the process of building up the make-up for The Host is quite interesting. The discussion of Cordelia's hair suggests to me that the title in the video is more accurate than the title in the menu - I've never thought of Cordelia as a monster (well, maybe in Buffy Season 1...). I suggest you wait until you've seen every episode, because there are spoilers for some episodes in the second half of this season.
The name on the video for this featurette is The Sets of Angel. We get a tour, guided by production designer Stuart Blatt - he really cares about his work, and he makes this quite interesting. I suggest you wait until you've seen every episode, because there are spoilers for some episodes in the second half of this season.
This is divided into a still gallery of 39 photos (not particularly good ones), and a blueprints section with 12 images of blueprints for various sets.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Angel is not yet released on DVD in Region 1. In Region 2 it gets released a week later than here in Region 4. Region 2 is reportedly getting Angel Season 2 in widescreen, which makes our full screen release look bad. However, there's a suggestion that the R2 may be slightly censored (the hanging scene might get cut, for example). That makes it really tough to decide which version to get.
Region 2 usually get the most innovative packaging, too. They got the novel crucifix packaging for Buffy Season 1, for example. Region 4 gets the reliable (spelt B O R I N G) plastic cases in cardboard sleeve packaging. Sure, it's more durable, but it is far from inspiring.
You make up your own minds. I've ordered both versions for my collection, but I'm a fanatic. Keep an eye out to see if the R2 version is censored.
For those who don't read the comments, I have confirmed that the R2 version appears un-cut. The episodes have slightly different run times, but the difference lies in the strangest place: the black space where the commercials go - the R2 and R4 versions have different amounts of black space. I have only confirmed this on two whole episodes (running the two synchronously takes quite some doing), but have spot-checked others.
If your system allows you to play R2 discs, you can buy the R2 version, and get Angel Season 2 in widescreen. I can testify that it makes a difference - you definitely get more picture, not less. The non-widescreen version has the edges trimmed off, and sometimes there are interesting details there. I know for a fact that the next time I choose to watch an episode of Angel Season 2 it will be from the R2 discs - I really like widescreen.
We have had word from the distributor that all future seasons of both Buffy and Angel will be widescreen on DVD in Region 4.
More Angel on DVD. Cool!
The video quality is excellent - wish it was widescreen, though.
The audio quality is very good.
The extras are fine, what there is of them, but they're a bit sparse - maybe they're saving up for Part 2?
|DVD||Pioneer DV-S733A, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Front Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5|