If you've yet to see any of Angel, you're in for a treat. I was a massive Buffy fan but I was a bit worried that the spin-off might not be as good. I needn't have been concerned - Angel matches up to (and in my opinion often eclipses) Buffy, and is a complete success. It's aimed at a slightly older audience, and is darker, sexier and more violent.
David Boreanaz does a fantastic job as the tortured vampire Angel, and really comes out of his shell both as a character and an actor. His comedy skills are even put to use on occasion - in the episode 'Sense and Sensitivity', for example, he is laugh-out-loud hilarious. He is supported by Charisma Carpenter as Cordelia, who shines here as she develops from the shallow rich girl that she played in Buffy to a funny, sassy and ultimately very brave character, who I liked much more than I was expecting to.
David and Charisma also have support in the first half of the season from the late Glenn Quinn as the charming, rough-and-tumble, heavy-drinking, half-demon Doyle. He is amazing in the part and sadly missed by everyone. The second half of the season brings back Alexis Denisof as Wesley, who also develops into a much more rounded and likeable character than he was on Buffy, and also gets a chance to be very funny.
The plots of the show are mostly pretty simple in this season, and there is no overarching storyline. It follows the kind of monster-of-the-week format of Buffy Season 1, but it does this very well, and almost every episode is tense, gripping and with fantastic special effects. Also as it's the first season we get to see all the different character relationships emerging, the set-up of Angel Investigations, and the development of the evil law-firm Wolfram & Hart which features heavily in seasons 2-5.
There are also lots of Buffy crossovers. Spike appears in the 3rd episode, Buffy in the 8th, and Faith in 2 episodes towards the end of the season. All these appearances are fantastic (especially the heartbreaking, tearjerking one by Buffy), but they are by no means the only reason the watch the show. Angel is not dependent on Buffy - it's a great show in its own right, and one well worth discovering.
The DVD boxset itself has been rereleased in a plastic amaray-style case, which is more practical but not as attractive as the first cardboard book-style release. Special features include audio commentaries on 'City Of' and 'Rm W A Vu', the scripts for 'Five by Five' and 'Sanctuary' (the 2 Faith episodes), a stills gallery, cast biographies, and 4 featurettes which introduce the characters of Angel and Cordelia, discuss some of the demons used, and give an overview of the series. The featurettes are very short but do include interview snippets from David Boreanaz, Charisma Carpenter and Alexis Denisof, which is good. It's very odd to see Wesley with an American accent! The special features are probably the weakest out of all the series but it doesn't matter - with a show this good, you could probably get away with having no extras at all!
5 stars - exciting, funny, and all-round brilliant, it will have you glued to the screen.
on 25 February 2002
Angel Season One is 'street' in many more ways than one. The most obvious is that it takes two (three when including Wesley, and three + when including the many crossover stars) out of the sleepy suburbs of Sunnydale and place them in the big bad city, and therefore having to deal with darker and more adult issues - metaphors for post one night stand pregnancies, racial issues, and 'street life' (gangs, drugs, etc.) are just a few of the topics touched up on. However, the way the show is produced is also very streetwise and flashy, separating it entirely from sunny Sunnydale. As the interactive menus prove, this is more cutting edge stuff. While I still prefer Buffy to this day, I feel this is the second best show on TV today and has succeeded in carving its own niche. Therefore, DVD - yay!
First of all, I'll give my view on the season and the series as a whole. David Boreanaz, Charisma Carpenter, and Alexis Denisof all have a chance to shine much more than they did on Buffy - and, during the later episodes, these characters and the cast's performances are what make the show. The writing also compliments them, however. Whilst the comedy ingredient is not as apparent as it is in Buffy, there is a fair amount of gigglesome fun and very sharp wit, blended of course with action, suspense, innovative storylines, horror, and drama. The show plays about with the genre, much like its parent show, and proves it is worthy. Whilst not up to the standard of the second season, as the first eight or so episodes struggle to settle on what the show's format should be, there are many astounding episodes - notably the crossovers, especially Eliza Dushku's appearance as Faith, and all the episodes featuring Wolfram & Hart. Also notable are character studies such as Rm W/A Vu, Eternity, etc. The new show also brings in new talent, such as the awesome Elisabeth Rohm as tough cookie Kate, and Stephanie Romanov and Christian Kane as deceitful lawyers Lilah and Lindsey. Credit must also go to, most of all perhaps, to the production team who make the whole thing work!
Now, time for DVD stuff. First of all, I was a little disappointed by the featurettes (all four of them - how generous they are!). While, of course, a rare chance for UK viewers to see the cast and crew discussing the show, they seemed to run a little short and were made up of clips. However, I'm not one to falter a DVD set which looks so good - niiiiiiiiiice packaging! Meanwhile, we get some cool menus (as stated above), two fun-to-read-once-or-twice-but-still-informative scripts, all new cast and crew bios, photo galleries (including cast photos, demon sketches, and blueprints), and a nice little trailer. During the featurettes, there are also some never-before-seen clips from the Angel demo reel. Although it would have been nice to have the whole thing uniterrupted on here, it's nice to see bits and bobs of what sold the series. The main extras are the two commentaries, however. Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt walk us through the opening episode (City Of). While they are two of the best writers and directors and do seem awfully comfortable, whilst bouncing ideas off one another, there contribution is nothing special - they don't reveal too much we didn't already know and often explain what the story is about. However, queen of comedy, Jane Espenson is an absolute delight whilst talking about her Cordy-centered ep - she reveals fascinating and fun little tidbits, and seems very enthusiastic. All in all, the extras aren't too bad - but this boxset is a little emptier than the Buffy Season 3 set. More commentaries and more fulfilling featurettes next time, please...
However, I'm a very happy chappie! This is a brilliant start to a brilliant series and, while not widescreen, the picture is better than ever as is the sound. Spin these discs now - 22 episodes of pure quality...
Oh, and what a great price! Best I've seen anywhere. Buy now!
on 9 September 2001
I was initially worried at the idea of a spin-off from my favourite show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", as spin-off's do tend to have a curse for failure. However, "Angel" breaks the trend, with a first season that actually equals, if not surpasses it's parent show.
To sum up the show, you basically have to think Buffy for grown-ups. Yes, Angel ditches the angst of Buffy's teen-core, and goes for a much darker, adult theme. In this first season alone, the show deals with unwanted pregnancy, death, and all the cash flow problems us adults are oh so familiar with, however it's sci-fi/fantasy roots still show through, with enough demon and vampire ass-kicking to keep you entertained. The familiar Buffy humour is also present.
Yep, creator Joss Whedon has done it again. Angel is definately a show to be reckoned with. Buffy fans and newbies alike will love it. Order it now!
on 4 January 2006
I have to say that I wasn't a big fan of the whole 'Buffy' thing so was pleasantly surprised to tune into a random episode of Angel and find myself completely hooked. Trying to watch the series on 'normal' telly and not Sky One proved virtually impossible and when the box sets came out originally they were so expensive (£80) I managed to get mine in the sales but still more expensive than Amazon are now offering! However I don't regret buying them early, Angel can be watched over and over again and I'll never tire of the brooding vampire in black...
on 20 February 2007
Angel is for me the 2nd best of three great shows created so far by Joss Whedon (better than Buffy but not quite as brilliant as Firefly). I don't honestly know how many people like me consider Angel to be superior to its parent show, and it is of course a rare spin-off regardless of individual preferences in that it's even held in the same light as the original. It's certainly a lot darker, and I think what clinches it is that the characters are that much more mature than in Buffy - though that's not to say that the show lacks humour or levity.
This first series reminds me a lot of the first season of the X-Files, not so much in terms of content (though the supernatural similarities are of course obvious), but in the way that where later seasons are more about continuous plots and long-running story arcs, this first season is made up mainly of stand-alone episodes, which makes the overall plot less gripping than in later years but also makes individual episodes more obvious.
For a start the gang at Angel Investigations is much smaller than in future series, consisting initially of Angel himself, Cordelia Chase (who's exactly the same person she is in Buffy, at least to start with) and a new character, the half-demon Doyle, who receives visions from the "Powers That Be" which guide the gang to those in need of supernatural assistance (apologies to those who know all this already).
Various Buffy regulars make appearances here and there in the series (and one joins the Angel Investigations team for the long-term), but Angel easily steps out of its older sibling's shadow and becomes a very different animal. The key factor in this seems to be the backdrop of Los Angeles - while the villains (with the exception of unethical law firm Wolfram & Hart) are the usual array of demons and vampires, the city poses a very different set of problems from the smalltown troubles of Sunnydale, and is all the better for it.
This is probably the weakest season in a consistently excellent run, but that only reflects the quality of later seasons, and season 1 is packed full of some of my favourite individual episodes, not to mention being essential if you're going to fully appreciate anything that comes later.
A quick word of warning to those altogether new to the Buffyverse - deep and comprehensive knowledge of Buffy isn't necessary for understanding what's going on, but a basic awareness of the main players definitely helps - also, if you're going to watch both shows, then it's probably useful to know that plotlines from this series run roughly parallel to series 4 of Buffy and you'd probably benefit from watching the two concurrently.
on 18 February 2002
Six discs of pure entertainment, this compilation would be a welcome addition to anyone's DVD collection. The scripts were witty and the special effects kept both myself and others gripped for many an enjoyable night. The extras that the DVD package provide are adequate and offer appealing photographs of the cast, a definate advantage. The case is aesthetically pleasing, as are the graphics of the internal, informative pages. I recommend series one Angel in any format, but expecially in the chosen DVD style. 5 stars all the way!
on 26 October 2001
When the premise of Angel was first delivered it sounded briliant. Taking several underused characters from Buffy, transporting them to LA where they are no longer protected by an 8pm time slot or cosy Sunnydale. Risky? Yes. Angel was quite a 2D character when good, and many considered Cordelia nice in small doses. Could the two carry it off? Surprisingly yes. With the addition of Doyle it looked like a winning formula. But there's a big BUT...
The writers attempts to go adult were ruined by the second episode, when production was shut down because Angel was getting TOO adult for the teen friendly WB channel. In 'Lonely Hearts' we are introduced to Kate, policewoman who is greatful for Angel's help. In the original script, Kate was a cop undercover as a hooker, who also had a coke problem. How different things would have been!
...The show looked in trouble, until the arrival of Wesley, and the show really takes off.
Initial episodes make it clear how the writers are trying to make Angel different from Buffy. Stories are stand alones, with little continuity with Angel entering stranger's lives and helping them. But in the first half of the season, some episodes failed to hold. The writers quickly learnt that it was the main cast's characters that we were interested in, and soon stories started effecting Angel, Cordelia and Wesley, as well some characters from the 'Buffyverse'.
The obvious highlight of the series is 'Five By Five' and 'Sanctuary', when 'Buffy's nemesis Faith arrives in Sunnydale. It is this cross over with Buffy that makes Angel shine. It is here where the adult theme is pulled off. But it is sad that the series needed Buffy herself to reach this kind of emmy award winning material. And the final episode draws together all the themes that the series touched upon and establishing the cast as a family.
Overall, the show starts off on shaky ground but eventually finds its wings to make Angel possibly the best spin-off from a show.
on 18 July 2016
The first season of the buffy spin-off angel that manages to grow in it's own right into it's own style of show within the Buffy universe, Has more characters, demons, fresh stories, humour that develops throughout the first season, of 5 seasons of this show. Created by Joss Whedon this show takes a more darker grittier approach to Buffy and Angel has to learn how to be a hero to people while constantly Battling his own inner demons.
The premise of the show then leads him to create a supernatural detective agency, trying to help people. Creates some quite impressive storytelling this show is well written, acted, funny engaging and has a huge cult fan base.
on 5 September 2015
He's lovely as Angel, and the stories are just as enjoyable, though most of them not really believable. I loved the episode with Buffy, when she visits him and he is able to experience life as a mortal, even for just a few hours...so nice to see him eat ice cream and watch Buffy lick the spill off his chest !!!. It's funny and it's sad and it shows how things could have been if only he didn't have a responsibility to the rest of the world to keep them safe from ghosties and ghoulies and long legged beasties etc etc etc. and it was worth every penny to me. Was there a season 2, I wonder?
on 11 October 2005
And so, finally, Angel gets his own TV show. After being the best thing about the Buffy the Vampire Slayer show it was about time the character got rewarded with this.
Not only that, but actor David Boreanaz gets to take the limelight, instead of skulking in the shadows. It is here, for the first time, that we discover that David can actually act. Angel, in his own show, is not about moody, brooding, forehead wrinkling, but stretches the character with a bit of lighthearted relief. Angel makes jokes, essentially.
This series starts off with a cracker of an opening episode, with lots of rooftop lookouts, jumping from high buildings and super-cool fight moves. Sadly, this style does not continue throughout the series, but the quality does remain.
There's a wide range of episodes which can really be watched on their own, without the baggage of knowing what went on before. they are singular stories, dealing with vampires, to ghosts, demons and all sorts of supernatural villains.
But that is what loses this season it's fifth star - the fact that there is no season long storyline. In Buffy, you have separate stories within episodes, but each episode also contributes to a season long storyline. Not so here. So by the time this series ending episode comes around, there's real no sense of accomplishment. Angel has just down an average day.
That's not to say, though, that the episodes are dull. Full of entertainment, the scripts are ingenius with thier storylines, often striving to do something different. Cordelia is a nice addition, totally opposite to Angel, and Wesley makes a surprisingly welcome return. There is also the short and sweet introduction and dismissal of Doyle, who while a great character, was not fully explored thanks to behind the scenes shenanigans that meant the actor couldn't continue to play the role. Still, the show managed to work its way around that.
Guest appearance from Oz, Buffy and Faith are always welcome, and a particular highlight - but this is Angel's show from the get go. Dark, violent and intelligent, it's not t obe missed, and just gets better from here.