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VINE VOICEon 18 December 2006
One word of warning (ok a few words!) do not watch this season if you have never seen Angel before, it will only confuse and frustrate you. Things will make more sense if you watch the whole series in linear order. This season is only enjoyable if one understands the circumstances surrounding the events that take place within the season; therefore prior knowledge of past seasons is very important. But anyway, on with the review!

Season 4 of Angel was probably the most ambitious and complicated piece of story telling they attempted on the series. Essentially season 4 is a movie stretched over 22 episodes (there are very few stand alone episodes); obviously there are both good points and difficulties in doing this.

The good being the level of detail and character development that comes with executing such an ambitious season, but equally it does suffer in that if you miss an episode it does get rather confusing and the story arc can grow rather tiresome after a certain point; namely Cordelia and Connors contribution, but maybe that's just me.

Despite the negative aspects, if you have the time and patience to watch it you will be greatly rewarded; for the level of continuity running throughout the season and past seasons is lovely, especially if you are an avid viewer, it's like being rewarded for the observance when watching past episodes.

Season 4 does unfold at a steady pace and almost every episode ends with a mini cliff-hanger to help hold ones interest; and believe me it does what it says on the tin. One way to explain the complicated story arc is to break it up into sections: the first section is about resolving the events of the end of season 3, namely finding Cordelia and Angel... which thus leads to the Beast arc, which leads to the Beasts Master, then to Angelus and Faith, then onto Jasmine the `happy shiny' Goddess, and finally the resolve of Connor in the last episode `Home'.

That's the basic season plot (though obviously I didn't give much away), this stretches across the entire 22 episode run and despite having so much continuity and detail to tie in it was handled well by the writers, on the whole this season is very good. Although season 4 is the darkest season which can grate slightly, as one does get tired of having so much angst constantly hanging over the group, but what keeps us going is the knowledge that season 5 is amazing and that season 4 is an entertaining story, even if it is long. Just remember the first viewing of this season is always the best so enjoy it!

Highlights of the season include: `Orpheus' which allows us into Angels mind and sees Willow making a return to L.A to restore Angels soul, while episodes like `Players', `Apocalypse, Nowish', `Spin the Bottle' and `The Magic Bullet' all provide good solid story telling.

8/10 Not the best season, but not the worst: the continuity and creativity of the story is both epic and imaginative, well worth watching.
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on 2 March 2004
Season 4 is very different from previous Angel seasons. There aren't any real stand-alone episodes this time around, it's a bit like watching a very long (and very well-made) film.
The crew have outdone themselves this time around with fantastic make-up, props and special effects. The atmosphere of the sets and the lighting are better than ever before.
I don't want to say much about the story for people who haven't seen it. I watched the season without reading any spoilers and I was constantly surprised and amazed by the turn of events. The storyline is excellent and very deep. It raises philosophical and religious questions towards the end while remaining fun to watch.
The last episode mirrors the opening one in a very surprising ending. There was a lot of controversy amongst Angel fans about the ending when it first aired. However, looking back it makes perfect sense.
The regular cast were all great throughout but it's the guest star Gina Torres who shone as the best villain ever on Angel with brilliant acting. The excellent Eliza Dushku made a comeback as Faith, Alyson Hannigan guest starred as Willow and the story was somewhat linked to events in Buffy Season 7.
I would recommend Angel Season 4 to anyone, even people not familiar with Joss Whedon's universe will find something to hold their interest.
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on 9 March 2004
If you've read some of the other reviews posted here you'll have gathered that season 4 split Angel fans down the middle - it's the TV equivalent of Marmite; you either love it or hate it.
Personally, I love it.
With this Season Angel truly became a programme for grown-ups. The story lines are complex and we see the characters go to places - emotionally and physically - that are new and unexpected. Relationships between some of the main characters continue to be strained with the introduction of a Cordy/Angel/Connor triangle, Wes' reintegration into the crew and the disintegration of Fred and Gunn's romance. In some ways these relationships are every bit as important as the season baddies, although the writers have made some great choices there. The ending is surprising and promises another totally original season to come.
To pull off the season story arc the performances from the main players had to be top notch and the actors do a great job - my admiration for Alexis Denisof grows with every season.
From the beginning of Season 2, Angel the Series has pushed it's format, made brave moves and refused to patronise it's audience by serving up monster of the week stories with a happy ending. Season 4 continues this tradition and is a fabulous piece of storytelling. I hope you buy it and give it a try.
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on 5 October 2007
Following on from the distilled brilliance of series 3 (to my mind the finest series of Buffy or Angel ever to hit our screens) I guess the writers of Angel thought they needed to do something grand and impressive to top it; so far as the grand and impressive part is concerned they succeeded, but not without losing some of the magic. This series, more than any other of Angel, is dominated by one story arc which occupies almost every episode from episode 7 (Apocalypse, Nowish) onwards, and although this storyline is both engaging and exciting, it would definitely have benefited from a few more stand-alone episodes, both to break up the dense plotting and to perhaps provide some light relief from the all-encompassing darkness of the main arc.

It's obvious that the writers still have what it takes to write a good stand-alone episode, as Spin The Bottle (it's telling that this is Joss Whedon's contribution to the series) is one of my all-time favourites, but others are practically non-existent (apart from maybe Players) once the main arc kicks in. Don't get me wrong, however; the arc provides some of the most impressive and exciting "plot" episodes of Angel's run, my favourites being Soulless, Orpheus and The Magic Bullet (where Fred gets a welcome chance to take centre stage).

The character drama is another slightly weak point for me in this series, as the whole Cordy-Connor thing, while essential to the story arc, is also rather irritating (though believable, at least from Connor's point of view), and the downturn in Fred and Gunn's relationship (starting from the episode Supersymmetry) is well-written but difficult to watch, and typifies the underlying feeling of frustration which pervades this series.

I ought, however, to draw special attention to the brilliance of Alexis Denisof in this series, as for my money there is no greater achievement in the Joss Whedon canon than Wesley's tragically convincing descent into darkness; to look at the excessively uptight and rather clownish figure who arrives in Sunnydale in Buffy series 3 (a version of Wesley brilliantly resurrected in Spin The Bottle) and then at the tortured husk of a man who's made his mistakes but been unfairly punished for them one would hardly believe they were the same person, and yet never once did I question the writing or the performance which got us from one to the other.

Looking back on what I've written thus far I realise that it sounds as though I don't really like this series, which is not the case at all, as it's still an excellent addition to the Buffy/Angel cannon with some classic episodes and a gripping central storyline.
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on 30 June 2006
This season came so close (IMO!) to being consistently the best of the entire show, but just fell short at the end. After a slow start, the first two thirds of the season is generally great, with the introduction of the Beast as a big bad carried off very well (Reign of Fire in my top 3 Angel episodes ever !), and the succeeding episodes as the team try to bring him down being terrific viewing (we even get the return of Angelus for a few episodes). Unfortunately, it is the treatment of the Cordelia character that badly lets down the last third of the season. Even taking account of the fact that Charisma Carpenter was pregnant at the time, her performances sit uneasily with the tone of the season up to that time. She is way over-the-top, and frankly slighly cringeworthy as her plotting is slowly revealed. It looks totally out of place and unbalances the rest of the show. I was waiting for her to put on a fake moustache, give it a little stroke now and then, and give off a long "mmmuuuuuhhhhaaahhhhaa" cry. Even the (long overdue)return of Faith can't rescue the episodes.

So all-in-all, so close but not quite...
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on 17 March 2004
Whilst Angel Season One is more than likely the best introduction to this show, Season Four is arguably the best...
Full Stop
.
With the emphasis on high drama, and a surreal, almost Dynasty like soap opera air to the proceedings Angel outrips his origins and proves he is a worthy successor to Joss Whedon's original vision.
Forget Buffy. She's gone now.
Angel offers a darker, more sophicticated and adult interpretation of the eternal struggle of good against evil. The show consistently blurs the lines of what just is truly good; of what is evil; leaving the viewer in the position of making that distinction for themself.
Looking for a show that challenges your preconceptions?
Then look no further.
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on 10 March 2008
It took me a few years to appreciate how good season 4 of Angel actually is. When it originally aired I wasn't sure how I felt about it--I didn't like the Jasmine storyline, or what they did to Cordelia's character, and I thought the whole thing was slightly confusing.
I know now it definitely needs a second and even third viewing to be properly appreciated. The complexity of the storyline, the descent into darkness, and the numerous changes and surprises are all brilliantly done. It shows the planning that must have gone into the whole thing-- more planning than was given to Buffy Season 7 anyway...but that's a different story...

The season begins with the show's best opening episode, ever-- Angel trapped under the sea, put there by his mentally unstable son; Cordelia mysteriously serving time as a "higher being"; Fred and Gunn manning the Hotel and searching for Angel and Cordy, with the help of a fake-innocent Connor; and Wesley continuing his affair with Lilah, the poster girl for Evil law firm Wolfram and Hart. Events move along pretty quickly, and end up at the beginning of an Apocolypse with the gang in serious trouble. They stoop so low that they decide to bring back Angelus-- who I adore because, after all, we can only take so much of Angel's goodness. I was always surprised that they didn't properly bring back Angelus before now, although it's interesting that they managed to make Angel "dark" without doing it so clear cut as using Angelus.
That's really the brilliant thing about this season; it's not all black and while/ good and evil. There are layers, and when each is stripped back we get a brilliant surprise. We learn that not just this season, but possibly the last two were not what we thought, but planned by a seemingly rogue Power that Was who wanted to come down and control the world.
The writers manage to keep character development high while unravelling the story, which involves one of the gang taken over by an evil stranger; Connor continuing his descent into possible madness; Angel desperately trying to hold everyone and thing together, and Wesley helping without actually being back in the fold. I do think the way they developed Wes's character is one of the best in any show I've ever seen. It's hard to write three and four dimensional characters on TV I think, but they've done it here very well.
I also love Connor, he's a brilliant character. Which is why I was slightly disappointed with the season's finale-I kind of wanted (maybe foolishly) for Connor to finally make peace with Angel and join the family.
The whole season is like a long film, broken down into sections. The whole thing is brilliant-- there are flaws, but I recommend repeated viewings the catch the full scale of what this season means.
Slightly disappointed with the DVD extras, but the episodes are good enough that I'm not complaining about that too much!
It's so good to sit down and watch a series that gets better and better with each season-- unlike most shows lately, that decline after the initial greatness. Which makes it even more perplexing that they cancelled Angel. Guess we'll just have to make do with the comics-- and the re-runs.
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on 19 March 2004
Angel in general, is an epic concept, which outdoes Buffy in terms of creativity, originality and downright excellence. Angel has a varied range of characters to focus on, such as street-talking Gunn, mild-mannered Fred, wise-cracking Lorne and troubled tearaway Connor. Unlike Buffy which has the ever boring and pathetic dim witted cheerleeder types that only popular morons at high schools can identify with, Angel has a large scope of interesting individuals which reflects life much more effectively, thus making the series as a whole much more enjoyable.
Buffy appeals to children, Angel is for adults.
Series 4 of Angel is very much different from the previous series.
Series 1 focused on individual episodes in order to get an introductory feel to the show
Series 2 introduced more interaction with outside parties to develope a large scale series which heavily focused on Darla and Woolfram and Hart
Series 3 was different. Here, especially half way through, we are introduced to what will be the focus of series 4. We have the Angel group effectively splitting up, and Angel being dumped in a box by his son Connor, and we leave the series striving to find out what the hell will happen next!
Series 4, I don't want to spoil it, but it is like Lord of the Rings, it is one long adventure crammed with cliff hangers, and is better watched on dvd as you do not have to wait until the following week to see what happens! Angeleous returns and we see more of David Boreanaz's acting skills taken to the limits as he truely shines when in this character mode. Cordelia is very different after returning from the clouds, and Gunn and Freds relationship is pushed to the nth degree. There is also an episode which stands out like no other, Apocolipse Nowish, which makes use of excellent special effects and forces each actor to contribute to the very serious nature of the story lines. The finale of this series is a true twist which no one will see coming.
The features are mediocre, as they added to many Buffy trailors which were given in the 3rd dvd installation. However, there are some interesting interviews with the creator, Joss Whedon and several cast mmembers, and a short collection of some pretty funny out-takes.
To sum up, this is time well spent, a journey of epic proportions, and a series deserving of 5/5 if ever there was one
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on 10 April 2006
Personally, Season Four of 'Angel' is one of my favourite seasons of this series- I feel that it was the only season ever to live up to the grandeur of it's parent program 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer'. The problem that most fans have with this season is that Cordelia is suddenly and alarmingly OOC and has a disturbing relationship with Connor- they seem to have missed the point that Cordelia is meant to be OOC- she's been taken over by a malevolant being for God's sake! Likewise, the producers and script-writers intended her relationship with Connor to be disturbing, as evidenced by the reactions of the other characters.
Compared with other seasons of 'Angel', I personally feel that this is the first season with a proper 'Big Bad' as the two first seasons had very disappointing climaxes. The rapid succession of villains can get confusing, and its hard to see The Beast as really threatening, but his apparent indestructablity does add a bit of tension to the show, as did Glory's role in BtVS. It is a nice 'spine-tingling' moment when Cordelia's part in the villainy is revealed, even for 'spoiled' fans like myself.
Season Four is also notable for a number of really strong episodes and some cracking character development: the relationship between Wesley and Lilah being one example and the characterisation of Wesley being tremendous overall. The season does suffer from the loss of Cordelia as a sympathetic character- Fred is simply too nice to really carry the burden of being the only female protagonist, although she does get some good moments towards the end of the season. My favourite episode has to be 'Spin The Bottle', which was both written and directed by Joss Whedon and is a welcome spot of comic relief amongst all the tension and gloom. Some other individual episodes are lifted by guest appearances from Alyson Hannigan and Eliza Dushku (real fans will enjoy looking for signs of the romance between Alyson Hannigan and Alexis Denishof, who were engaged at the time).
Overall this season gets four stars, as it was a good attempt at the kind of epic action and plot that 'Angel' had lacked from the first season.
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on 11 May 2015
Season four of Angel continues a tradition of excellent story telling with great performances from the cast and intriguing twists and turns in the elaborate plots from the writers. The special effects are of the highest quality and make the impossible seem real with great make up, sets, props, camera work and a stellar cast to boot. Joss Whedon's team are like a family who gel perfectly to create a big budget movie feel on a T.V. program level which is no mean feat! I have been a fan of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel since the inception of the shows because the shows have something for fans of all ages. The show deals with social issues like poverty, inequality, discrimination, corporate corruption, heroism, exploitation, terror, self reliance, charity and other philosophical endeavours and uses the context of monsters to play out ethical scenarios in a humorous, heart warming, dramatic and in depth manner. Many people knocked the shows until they actually sat and watched and episode and most of them changed their minds because of the overall quality that Joss Whedon and co had achieved and became fans themselves. In a time of "Reality T.V." Angel and Buffy The Vampire Slayer DVDs are a perfect way to spend a rewarding evening at home with friends and family enjoying top notch entertainment that is intelligent and thought provoking. If you are tired of sub standard T.V. treat yourself and your loved ones to Angel DVD sets that will bring you pleasure for many years to come.
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