In 2009 Max a nine year old girl along with eleven other genetic super soldiers escape the Manticore government research facility. Shortly thereafter an EMP device is detonated over most of the United States sending the country into chaos and a semi-apocolypse situation. The show takes place in 2019 Seattle and follows Max as she tries to keep her identity secret from the government and Manticore while also trying to find the other super soldiers that escaped with her on that day ten years earlier. She eventually runs into Logan Cale a secret undercover journalist who tries to bring attention to corruption in the government. Eventually Max joins his cause and helps him take down the corrupt individuals in power.
Dark Angel is considered something of a cult classic sci-fi show. The show only lasted for two seasons (2000-2002) on Fox but it is generally well regarded. Due to its’ positive reviews I decided to give the show a shot. While it is not a perfect show, it is a pretty entertaining sci-fi show that was cancelled before its’ time.
Overall the first season of Dark Angel was good despite having some growing pains. Most sci-fi shows do take a while to find their footing as we try to get to know the various characters. This means that the first season of Dark Angel has some hit or miss episodes. I think the second season is where the show started to really find its’ groove. After an event at the beginning of season two (I won’t discuss to avoid spoilers) the show actually takes a pretty significant turn in tone. I would say that the first season was more episodic in nature with each episode having for the most part its’ own storyline with some season long mythology sprinkled in each episode. In the second season the show becomes considerably more serialized. Towards the end of season two the show almost became entirely serialized. Being a fan of serialized shows I thought this was a good change for the show.
Overall the characters in Dark Angel are pretty interesting. Max is a little dull at times but she is a strong female character. Logan is your typical “nerd” character. The first season also had a lot of supporting characters mostly revolving around Max’s day job as a bike messenger. These characters are your typical supporting characters. The first season’s villain is interesting since he is more morally gray than completely evil. The second season’s villain is more cut and dry evil. Season two adds two new regular characters: Joshua (Kevin Durand) and Alec (Jensen Ackles). These two characters were great additions in my opinion and were actually two of the better characters on the show.
Back in 2000 when the show first aired, I am guessing that the special effects were considered pretty good or average at the very least. Watching the series now though I have to say that they have not held up well. The flying drones in particular look terrible. These special effects don’t ruin the show but they take you out of the experience. I realize that the show is fifteen years old and TV shows don’t have particularly high budgets but they are just disappointing. This is especially true when they are compared with some of the practical effect work in the second season which is quite good.
As a whole I thought Dark Angel was a pretty good sci-fi show. At times the show was a little corny but you can expect that in most sci-fi shows. What the show did well was create a “realistic” environment. Obviously the show did a terrible job predicting the future (only a couple years from today). What I mean by “realistic” is that the show has a believable world. The show has a personality and is a place I want to explore.
It appears that Dark Angel was a moderate hit during its’ first season so it is curious what happened to the show since in my opinion the second season was better than the first. According to Wikipedia before the second season aired, the show was moved to Fridays which is never a good sign. It was moved in part to give a little show called “24” a better chance at success. Being a huge fan of “24” I can’t blame it too much, but it is disappointing that Dark Angel wasn’t given more of a chance. Dark Angel was really hitting its’ stride at the end of season two and I wanted to see what would happen next.
As far as the series finale is concerned I thought it was pretty good. The series finale works better as a season finale and it doesn’t wrap up a lot. I give it credit for being a pretty good series ending though for a show that was unexpectedly canceled. The good news is that in the commentary for the series finale, Charles H. Eglee gives an idea of what season three would have looked like. After reading the summary on Wikipedia the third season would have been “interesting”. It appears that the show would have once again took a pretty big change in direction. I am not sure how well it would have worked out but since the show was getting better as it went along I am pretty confident the show could have still been good in season three and possibly into a fourth season.
Dark Angel is an under appreciated sci-fi show that was canceled too early in my opinion. It is not the best sci-fi show ever but it was quite entertaining and had some interesting ideas. The show took a while to get going and the special effects are not very good anymore, but the show had interesting characters and was a good blend of a sci-fi and action. If you don’t like sci-fi or action, Dark Angel won’t be for you. If you are a sci-fi fan though and have never seen Dark Angel I think you should give it a shot and you might be surprised.