31 DAYS OF HORROR REVIEW: DARK ANGEL – BOO

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BOO

MAIN CAST

Jessica Alba (Machete)
Michael Weatherly (NCIS)
Kevin Durad (X-Men Origins)
Richard Gunn (Hemlock Grove)
J.C. MacKenzie (The Aviator)
Valarie Rae Miller (La La Land)
Ashley Scott (Birds of Prey)

GUEST CAST

Sarah Carter (Smallville)
G. Michael Grady (The Tall Man)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Kris Pope (Josie and The Pussycats)

It’s Halloween, and the employees of Jam Pony convince Normal to close early so that they can get busy partying. Honestly, I don’t think Halloween is such a big deal these days, but I can see how that kind of release would be much more important in more depressed times. Max and Original Cindy visit Joshua, who is living in Sandeman’s house (located in “Proof of Purchase”). Joshua thinks he would be able to go to the party at Crash with Max because everyone will believe he is in costume. Max is way too paranoid about what could happen, and convinces Joshua to stay in. Max drops by Logan’s apartment to ask him to go to the party, but he and Asha are trying to track a hitman that is supposedly going to be taking out a good guy sometime soon. Max heads home for a bath before the party. Max falls asleep in her bubble bath, and almost all of the rest of the episode is a dream.  Of course, we as the audience don’t know that it’s a dream, and we get to ride along as things get weirder and weirder.In the dream, Max’s possible-boyfriend Rafer shows up to pick her up for the party at Crash. His mother wants to meet her, so they go by his place. His mother turns out to be a psychic, and she weirds Max out by correctly “seeing” some of Max’s past and telling Max that she’s going to be chased until she’s dead. Joshua follows Max to Rafer’s place, and Max sneaks out to try to convince him to go home. However, Joshua has brought another transgenic that has a problem. This transgenic is superflexible and has somehow accidentally gotten his head turned around 180 degrees and can’t get it back straight. When Max and Joshua try to twist it around, the head snaps off and the body runs off. The head is OK and can speak and think.Max is in a panic to track down the headless body before the public starts to panic. Joshua helps the head call a couple other transgenics to help them. Then Max hides the head, and she and Joshua convince Rafer to drive them on an errand in his paramedic ambulance. (Rafer thinks Joshua is in costume.) They meet Dieter (a lizard guy) and Katarina (with lots of cat traits) in a diner, where it is haggis night. It’s a hoot when the three animal transgenics flip over the idea of haggis. Normal is at the diner, in traditional costume, for haggis night and stops by to harass Max. The head finally tells Max that he had planned to go to Jam Pony to find a package that was supposed to be delivered to him that day, but hadn’t been because the business closed early. The head supposes that that’s where his body has gone. Everyone piles into Rafer’s ambulance and head off, having told Rafer that they are participating in a German scavenger hunt.At Jam Pony, they hardly get started searching when they have to hide because Normal and some other employees show up. Normal tells his minions that he has confirmed that there are mutants around, and hands them all pictures of Max and the others from the diner. (This shows up in Max’s dreams because in real life Sketchy had been talking to Normal about mutants in the tabloids.) He has additional proof from his surveillance cameras at Jam Pony, because a headless mutant showed up and stole a package. Normal orders his minions to track down all the mutants – after they have cake and ice cream. After Normal and friends leave, Max consults the head about where his body might go next. Apparently he had planned to go to Crash, where the Halloween party is. They catch up with the body there and discover he has a sniper rifle, but the body manages to get away. Max breaks up a couple that she thinks is Logan and Asha making out, but it is look-alikes. Max realizes that the head (and his body) is the hitman Logan and Asha are looking for, so they go to Logan’s apartment to try to find his target since he refuses to reveal it.132bf-screenshot2013-07-23at9-43-50amThings had been strange up to this point, but now they get truly bizarre. While Max, the head, and Logan dig for information, the other transgenics and Asha play charades. Logan says that his informant told him the hitman’s target is “a priest, a minister, or a rabbi.”. Max gets fed up with the head’s refusal to help and begins dunking him in the toilet. Just as the head finally confesses the target, Rafer comes in and sees the head. He doesn’t believe Max’s explanation that it’s a “voice-activated fully articulated animatronic head”  and realizes that none of the transgenics are in costume, but they are actually mutants. Max knocks out Rafer and leaves him with Logan and Asha while she and the others go to save one Father McAllister, who is participating in the dress rehearsal of an award ceremony he will be in. Max and the others manage to foil the body and save the Father. As the Father is thanking them, Logan and Asha show up and announce their identities as Eyes Only and the “supreme commandant” of S1W and claim credit for the rescue. Then the police bust in and arrest all of the transgenics except Max. When questioned, Max denies that she is a transgenic.Image result for DARK ANGEL BOOThe episode seems to begin wrapping up with Max lamenting the sad turn of events for Joshua and the others while seated on the Space Needle. Then Original Cindy arrives and chides Max for denying who she is, which is probably really the only serious message in the entire episode. Then to emphasize that the events have been a dream, Max is suddenly naked.  We jump back to real life, with Cindy waking Max up in the bathtub. Max cancels on the party with Rafer, and instead takes Joshua trick-or-treating.This episode was truly bizarre and funny. The writers must have had a lot of fun with this episode. It felt like they took all their ideas that had been deemed just a little to weird for a “real” episode and dumped them into this. Someone must have had quite the imaginations to think of the transgenic losing his head, and setting up a situation with one normal human and a bunch of transgenics playing charades was near genius. It’s a great fun Halloween episode.

 

 

 

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REVIEW: DARK ANGEL – SEASON 1 & 2

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CAST

Jessica Alba (Machete)
Michael Weatherly (NCIS)
Richard Gunn (Hemlock Grove)
J.C. MacKenzie (The Departed)
Valarie Rae Miller (Crank)
Jennifer Blanc (The Victim)
John Savage (The Deer Hunter)
Jensen Ackles (Supernatural)
Alimi Ballard (Sabrina: TTW)
Kevin Durand (X-Men Origins)
Ashley Scott (Birds of Prey)
Martin Cummins (Bates Motel)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Stanley Kamel (Monk)
Paul Popowitch (Mutant X)
Douglas O’Keeffe (Sanctuary)
Lauren Lee Smith (Lie With Me)
Sarah-Jane Redmond (Smallville)
Stephen Lee (Quantum Leap)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Garry Chalk (Stargate SG.1)
Fulvio Cecere (Watchmen)
Natassia Malthe (Elektra)
Tyler Labine (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Peter Bryant (Sanctuary)
Christine Chatelain (Final Destination)
Abraham Benrubi (BuffY)
Byron Mann (Arrow)
Tony Perez (Once Upon A Time)
Lisa Rodriguez (Next Friday)
William Gregory Lee (Xena)
Rodney Rowland (Veronica Mars)
George Cheung (Rush Hour)
Robert Gossett (The Net)
Brian Markinson (IZombie)
James Kidnie (Robocop: The Series)
Alex Zahara (The Stickup)
Jodelle Ferland (Kingdom Hospital)
Ryan Robbins (Caprica)
Emily Holmes (Stargate SG.1)
Craig Veroni (Two For The Money)
Rekha Sharma (Smallville)
Ashley Crow (Heroes)
Ian Tracey (Bates Motel)
Rainn Wilson (House of 1000 Corpses)
Nana Vistor (Star Trek: DS9)
Lisa Ann Cabasa (Lies of The Twins)
Sebastian Spence (First Wave)
Steve Bacic (Andromeda)
Nicole Bilderback (Buffy)
Grace Park (Hawaii Five-O)
Nicki Clyne (Saved)
Colin Cunningham (Elektra)
Rob LaBelle (Jack Frost)
Sarah Carter (Smallville)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Meghan Ory (The Memory Book)
Peter Williams (Catwoman)
Sam Witwer (Being Human)
Tracy Ryan (Firefly)
Gabrielle Rose (If I Stay)
Kandyse McClure (Seventh Son)
Jorge Vargas (Power Rangers Ninja Storm)
Rick Worthy (The Vampire Diaries)

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 cat 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.

51RT33G37CLWatching the second season of “Dark Angel” knowing that the show would be cancelled it becomes easier to see that there the fundamental dynamic of the series was just changed way too much. After all, gone is John Savage’s villainous Lydeker, who had at least a proprietary interest in the transgenics. In his place is a Snidley Whiplash type, Agent White (Martin Cummins), who wants to kill all the transgenics, not so much because of orders from the government but because of a much larger ancient conspiracy (e.g, “Exposure”) having to do with the whole eugenics vs. transgenics argument (pretend there is one).

Instead of the super-soliders from the X-5 series trying to blend in with humanity and avoid being killed by their creators, we know have transgenics of every description, which far too often becomes a “freak” of the week. While in the case of Joshua (Kevin Durand), the first transgenic, this has some nice payoffs, the rest of it is just becomes a bit much and you need a program to keep all the transgenic clear in your mind. Then there is the whole romantic relationship between Max (Jessica Alba) and Logan (Michael Weatherly), which starts off the second season with him thinking she is dead. Then he gets the good news, she is alive, but the bad news: she has been given a virus that is genetically programmed to kill Eyes Only. You have to admit, it terms of keeping apart two people who seriously want to get together, this is a rather creative way, and there are a couple of very good episodes dealing with their romantic problems (e.g., “Borrowed Time,” “Hello, Goodbye”). We are supposed to then throw X-5 Alex (Jensen Ackles) into the mix as a love triangle, but I can never believe Sam would be unfaithful to Logan, let along want to go the kissing cousin route. I prefer the problems with the X-6s (“Bag ‘Em”) and the X-7s (“Designate This”).  Perhaps the best proof of how the show was matching steps forwards with step backwards is in the supporting cast. With Alex and Joshua becoming the third and fourth most important characters in the show after Max and Logan, that meant reduced roles for Original Cindy (Valarie Rae Miller) and Norman (J.C. MacKenzie). The latter is reduced to on-going homoerotic shtick with Alex, especially in the Manty Coro bits, and the former is reduced to popping in to episodes for brief moments of clear thinking and moral support. This is underscore by their return to prominence in the series finale, “Freak Nation”

Perhaps the problems with Season 2 of “Dark Angel” is that making things bigger and going the whole “X-Men” route with the public outcry to get the wicked mutants, is just pretty much a complete flip on the more intimate and secretive world of post-Pulse Seattle we got in Season 1. It seems strange to fault a show for moving in new directions, given how often they become stagnant, but all these changes might just have been too much too soon. Then again, the fault might be audiences were not particularly open to so many changes. You certainly cannot say that watching Alba as Max got tiresome

Ironically, FOX’s reasoning for cancelling “Dark Angel” was that they did not want to do two futuristic science-fiction shows (i.e., costly sets and special effects), and decided to go with the highly anticipated sci-fi western “Firefly” from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” creator Joss Whedon. Of course, “Firefly” never had the ratings of “Dark Angel” and never made it to double figures on episodes. If you missed “Dark Angel,” then it is certainly worthwhile checking it out on DVD. The second season is not as good as the first, but still way above average in terms of science fiction shows. And the biggest highlight is the James Cameron directed the finales.