It is with this second series that Angel
, the darker Los Angeles mean-streets spin-off from Buffy
, comes entirely into its own. Angel, the vampire with a soul and rather too much hair gel, is driven partly by his need for atonement and partly by his anger at the manipulations of the satanic law firm Wolfram and Hart, especially the morally equivocal Lindsey (Christian Kane). At the end of the previous season, they set his emotional destruction in motion by bringing back from hell Darla, the vampire who turned him, whom he loved for centuries and then killed to save Buffy. Julie Benz's soft-voiced passion--"God doesn't want you, but I still do"--makes her a perfect tragic foil for David Boreanaz's "billowy coat King of Pain" hero and mid-season offers further cause for Angel's despairing rage at his failure to save Darla from being turned vampire again.
There is a nice balance of comedy, horror and the starkly tragic here--fake swamis, accursed shrouds, sexually abused telekinetic assassins all come into the mix along with Angel's gang of sidekicks--pedantic Wesley, abrasive Gunn, flighty clairvoyant Cordelia--and a new and wonderfully improbable character who starts as a running joke and becomes so much more--the Host (Andy Hallett), a green demon with red horns, eyes and hair, who sees into the souls of those who sing karaoke at his bar. And in a four-part finale, the group's friendship with the green karaoke demon Lorne sends them off to his home dimension to rescue Cordelia, right wrongs and acquire an important new character.
On the DVD: Angel, Season 2 on disc presents all the episodes in their original 16x9 widescreen format (2.35:1), which enables viewers to see shots as they were originally conceived, for example in impressive moments like the march of the four vampires through a burning Shanghai or the climaxes of the mediaeval Pylea sequence. The sound is a sumptuous Dolby Surround 2.0. The first Pylea episode, "Over the Rainbow", has a commentary by its director Fred Keller; the 1959 flashback episode "Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?" has a commentary by writer Tim Minnear. There are also featurettes on the set designs--specifically concentrating on the huge hotel set which dominates Season 2. --Roz Kaveney
The complete second season of the 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' spin-off. In 'Judgement', Angel inadvertently slays the guardian of a pregnant woman being hunted by demons. 'Are You Now, or Have You Ever Been' is split between the present day and the 1950s, when Angel was helping a woman who was attempting to hide from her violent past. 'First Impressions' finds Cordelia troubled by a dream in which Gunn is in danger. 'Untouched' sees Angel attempting to protect a girl with telekenetic powers. 'Dear Boy' has Dara try to drive Angel back to the dark side of his nature. 'Guise Will Be Guise' finds Angel taking steps to end his obsession with Darla. 'Darla' sees the femme fatale work her spell on Lindsey. 'The Shroud of Rahmon' has Angel go undercover with Gunn. In 'The Trial' Angel sends Gunn to find Darla. 'Reunion' finds Drusilla and Darla back on the streets of L.A. 'Redefinition' sees Angel intervene when the deadly duo begin holding try-outs for would-be havoc wreakers. 'Blood Money' has Angel discover that Wolfram and Hart are stealing substantial amounts of money from a teen shelter. 'Happy Anniversary' finds Angel on the trail of a scientist who plans to put a stop to the flow of time. 'The Thin Dead Line' sees our hero looking for evidence of an undead police force. In 'Reprise' the arrival of Wolfram and Hart's demon partner causes much trouble for Angel. 'Epiphany' has Cordelia, Wesley and Gunn suspect that Angel wants to team back up with them. 'Disharmony' finds Cordelia on the receiving end of a visit from an old undead school friend. 'Dead End' sees Lindsey become the lucky recipient of a new hand, but unfortunately one which has a will all of its own. 'Belonging' has Angel go head-to-head with an otherworldly demon. 'Over the Rainbow' finds the gang passing through a magical portal into a land where humans are slaves. 'Through the Looking Glass' sees the newly-crowned Princess Cordelia facing up to some of the unpleasant tasks her royal position requires of her. And finally, in 'There's No Place Like Plrtz Glrb', the gang do their best to overthrow the government which has enslaved them.