Angel as gathered a loyal following over its four-season run, and will now be Joss Whedons flagship show for the 2003/04 season. However, it has attracted just as much criticism, particularly with regards to characterisation.
Season 4 continuously follows on from one episode to the next, meaning that the events are roughly set over a 3-4 week period. This creates a complex, multi-layered story arc similar in style to 24. Although there are some good ideas - and some amazing episodes - the tension and interest is not retained. Season 4 Part 1 is a good example. "Deep Down" is a very good season opener. But the next five episodes are mediocre, due to the fact that the characters are not as fully-realised as their Buffy the Vampire Slayer counterparts. "Apocalypse, Nowish" re-invigorates the show for the rest of this boxset. "Awakening" is particularly good.
Its hard to explain just why Season 4 Part 1 doesn't get five stars. The final five episodes of the set ( episodes 7 to 11 of the season) are some of the best in the entire Buffy/Angel franchise. Others have their moments ("Spin The Bottle"), others are just boring ("Ground State", "Supersymmetry") whilst "Spin the Bottle" is a not-quite-as-good imitation of Buffy's "Tabula Rasa". The lack of character development and believable stories for Cordelia is my biggest complaint. What she does in "Apocalyse, Nowish" is just wrong, purely there for shock value and to add a twist to the tale. The amnesia storyline is poor and the lack of clarification over her between-season hiatus is unsatisfying. This gets only worse over the second part of the season. Sadly Charisma Carpenter will not be a part of the Season Five cast. Draw your own conclusions.
There's plenty of potential, but there is no real sense of chemistry between the characters, and the storyline sometimes just can't hold up. Its a shame, because Angel could be amazing.