I spent the last week or so watching Dark Angel on DVD and I got to thinking… why don’t people still talk about this?
The gist. An unknown at that point Jessica Alba stars as a genetically revved-up soldier that escaped from her captors as a kid and now tries to survive in a dystopian Seattle without revealing her secret past. She falls for a man named Logan (Michael Weatherly, now of NCIS fame) who uses his massive fortune to undermine the efforts of criminals in Seattle and teams up with Max to do good.
Should you watch Dark Angel?
Yes, there are problems with Dark Angel. It has some cliche storylines but it was ahead of its time on a lot of issues and did a lot right. It’s only two seasons so if the idea of a strong female lead kicking ass and facing off against genetically-enhanced soldiers/monsters/other baddies sounds interesting, it’s not a huge time commitment. If Dark Angel were to come out today, it’d likely be on SyFy but it’d be a hit in that demographic. It aired on Fridays on FOX, so it was setup to fail.
Let me give you some other reasons you might like it. Dark Angel has one of the most heart-wrenching “Will they or won’t they?” love stories I’ve seen on television, even though it only lasted two seasons. There are a few over-the-top obstacles thrown into the mix, to stop Max and Logan from becoming intimate, but it makes you root for them even more.
Also, since Dark Angel aired in the early 2000s, a lot of actors were making their debuts around that time and a few famous faces made appearances that solidified them as stars. One of my favorite episodes stars a pre-The Office Rainn Wilson, in a touching and yet action-packed episode that still impresses me.
Star of Almost Human and the face of the Star Wars: Force Unleashed video games Sam Witwer made one of his first television appearances on Dark Angel as a genetically-altered blood bank (and dystopian version of a vampire).
The second season of Dark Angel introduces Kevin Durand, who’s now famous for being the bad guy in almost every movie/show in existence. In Dark Angel however, he played the soft-spoken Joshua, who happens to be partially canine and is unable to venture out into public. His portrayal is incredibly nuanced and touching, opening up Durand’s later outings that required a vast amount of prosthetic-work (mostly X-Men Origins: Wolverine and I Am Number Four come to mind). He’s one of those faces you’d likely recognize, from things like Lost, Robin Hood, Legion, Smokin Aces, and The Mortal Instruments.
And the last “someone you might recognize now” that I’ll bring up to convince you… If you’re a fan of Supernatural, you can thank Dark Angel for bringing Jensen Ackles onto the radar. Before that, Ackles was doing the rounds on daytime soap operas but on Dark Angel, he was able to show off that witty and yet dangerous character that has managed to keep Supernatural on the air for nearly 10 years now. Ackles and Durand both bring some new chemistry to the show for its second season and it was much appreciated.
So… I repeat. Should you watch Dark Angel?
Yes. It’s a James Cameron project so the production is incredible, especially in their locations and physical effects, though the CGI effects weren’t up to current-day standards. Jessica Alba and Michael Weatherly have an insane chemistry but there’s enough action and explosions to appease all audiences. Season one might have the stronger mythology episodes but some of my favorite arcs were in season two, so it does have some redeeming qualities. Unfortunately a bad timeslot and an audience that wasn’t ready for mainstream science-fiction doomed the show to cancellation. There’s a decent-enough ending to the show though there was a ton of untapped potential.
The only downside is that it isn’t available on Netflix (yet) but you can score both seasons on DVD for probably relatively cheap.
So what are you waiting for?