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Jessica Alba as Max the genetically engineered super soldier,
This review is from: Dark Angel: Complete First Season [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
I do not remember why I missed "Dark Angel" when it originally aired, but now that I have seen the first season I am willing to admit I made a big mistake (Mea Culpa, James Cameron). The story is set in Seattle, Wasington, in the year 2019, which is afer "The Pulse," an electromagnetic bomb that basically pushed reset on the United States. However, that is only the setting, because the star is Jessica Alba as Max Guevera, who at first glance has a day job as a bike courier, and at second glance works as a cat burglar at night, bit at third glance and closer examination turns out to be a genetically enhanced superhuman created by the government who escaped from a military training school ten years earlier.
"Dark Angel: The Complete First Season" has a couple of plot lines that make Max both the hunter and the hunted. Max is always on the lookout for her "siblings," the other kids who escaped from Manticore, while Lydecker (John Savage), the head of the secret program is trying to find both them and Max to return them to government service. Meanwhile, Max's days as a cta burglar are over when she tries to rob Logan Cale (Michael Weatherly), a rich kid who is the secret cyber-journalist known as "Eyes Only," who enlists her into his idealistic crusade to clean up corruption in Seattle. Of course, the two are made for each other, but we have to wait for them to catch out to this rather obvious fact. What really makes "Dark Angel" work is the extent to which this futuristic dystopia has been worked out. This is not so much a series where the mythology emerges over time as it is one where the premises are so strong that they sustain multiple episodes and provide compelling sub-text for the rest. Compare this to similar series that take a while to find themselves, and you can see why these solid premises allowed this one to be able to have so many solid episodes early on.
Creator James Cameron's imprint is clearly on this production, but mention should be made of the show's Vancouver crew, which obviously includes a lot of "X-Files" veterans. The production values on "Dark Angel" are pretty striking in creating the seedy world of post-pulse Seattle and its icon Space Needle where Max likes to go and contemplate existence. But the sense of style comes as much from the characters as the setting. Alba is truly stunning as Max, able to play hard, soft, or whatever the scene demands. Weatherly has one of the squarest jaws in television history, and Savage has fun milking everything out of the bad guy (he really does care for his children, but duty never gets in the way of such emotions). The supporting cast has some compelling texture types, from Normal (J.C. MacKenzie), the overbearing dispatcher at Jam Pony ("Bip! Bip! Bip!"), to urban philosopher Herbal Thought (Alimi Bllard), and everybody's favorite, Original Cindy (Valarie Rae Miller), Max's roommate and co-worker, who basically has the right attitude for every occasion.
After watching the complete first season of "Dark Angel" you will want to move on to the complete second season, which just came out and you will be disappointed that there were only two seasons of the series. However, when you see the overall drop in quality during season two, you will not be that surprised (it takes half of that second season for the series to really get going). But "Dark Angel" is one of the better science fiction series to be produced in the last ten years, and the first season does provide a complete story arc.