Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Underappreciated Gems: Dark Angel (2000-2002)

As I mentioned in my inaugural post on The Invisible Man, I'm starting a new series here about underappreciated shows from television's past. There are, admittedly, a lot to choose from. As I don't have a limitless amount of knowledge on the subject, I'm afraid these will mostly just be shows I liked that weren't given their due.

Up today: Dark Angel.

Underappreciated Gems: Dark Angel by

Yes, indeed, James Cameron was one of the executive producers, as the DVD so loves to remind us. And I know what you're thinking. Jessica Alba? But she does such terrible movies! It's true, she does. But back in 2000-2002, she was the star of this little show on Fox about a genetically engineered supergirl named Max (aka X5-452) living in post-Apocalyptic Seattle, trying to live a normal life while also trying to find out about her past.

I remember I was skeptical about the show, but being a scifi fan, gave it a chance. And I was hooked straight from the supersized Pilot episode. The first season is pretty much one of the best first seasons of TV I have seen. The story flows from one episode to the next, with emotional stakes and scifi action peppered with some humor, though admittedly the humor was not the biggest part of this show, and was mostly imparted through the side characters Max worked with at her day job - a Jam Pony bike messenger.

Season 1 Cast (L-R): John Savage, Jennifer Blanc-Biehn, Richard Gunn, Alimi Ballard, JC MacKenzie, Jessica Alba, Michael Weatherly, Valarie Rae Miller

What will really draw you in, though, aside from the mystery surrounding the government organization called Manticore who created Max and the other kids (a group of whom escaped when they were in their early teens) is the romance that develops between Max and Logan Cale (played by Michael Weatherly). Logan is sort of a freedom fighter, working against all of the government cover-ups taking place in the post-Apocalyptic world. And, let's admit, the fact that he (spoiler alert!) gets paralyzed in the Pilot and is then forced to be in a wheelchair just gives him that hot guy with issues thing we ladies love. Don't even deny it, ladies. Don't even try it.

Alec, X5-494, played by Jensen Ackles
But here's the thing. The show kind of went off the rails in season two. I will be the first to admit it. While they had one great addition to the cast in the form of another X5 kid who actually stayed back at Manticore when the others escaped (that would be Alec, X5-494), they did two big things that really hurt the show more than helped it.

Joshua, you're sweet, and I love Kevin Durand, but no.
First of all, they let loose all of these other mutants, which included a lotof what they called "nomlies," which are basically less-human and more animal-looking creatures, that ended up bringing a lot of unwanted attention to Max and her human-looking brethren from the public at large. On top of that, though, they introduced this whole other organization that was even older than Manticore that had been secretly breeding their own people, and whom Max was somehow connected to. I can't even remember what this group was called anymore, and maybe it's better that way.

That being said, season two still has its merits. While it can't live up to season one in total, there are certainly good developments, and Alec really brought a breath of fresh air into what could sometimes be a dismal atmosphere when Max and Logan got too angsty. And they could get mighty angsty.

Hopefully, for those who haven't seen the show, I haven't spoiled too much for you. It really is worth checking out, particularly if you are a scifi fan. Below, please find my suggestions for some top episodes and some episodes you should watch if you want to get a little taste of the show to see if you'd like it.

I will tell you, that while it does end prematurely (it was, sadly, only two seasons long, after all) - the ending is not a cliffhanger or anything. It ends on a hopeful note, so you won't be outraged when you get to the end. Trust me, I know how that feels.

Top Episodes:

  • Blah Blah Woof Woof (1x08)
  • Pollo Loco (1x17)
  • Hit a Sista Back (1x19)
  • ...and Jesus Brought a Casserole (1x21)
  • The Berrisford Agenda (2x11)
  • Hello, Goodbye (2x17)
  • Freak Nation (2x22)

Best episodes to get you into the show:

  • Pilot (1x01)
  • Heat (1x02)
  • Prodigy (1x06)
  • Blah Blah Woof Woof (1x08)

Both seasons are available on DVD. Right now they're not on any streaming services, unfortunately, but maybe someday they will be. Enjoy! This was, total honesty, tied for my top favorite show during the same two year period as The Invisible Man. And both only lasted two seasons. I felt like I was some kind of awesome show curse back then!


  1. I agree totally, it was a great show, probably my favourite, but I have to say that Ames white and the breeding cult were kind of interesting, it kind of reminded me of a secret society like the Illuminati which was kinda cool. I think the main mistake was bringing Joshua into the show, along with all those other creatures, it was much to early for them to bring mutants into the storyline, but it also seems that Fox wanted to axe this show, as they did give it the Friday death slot which never turns out good.

  2. I know some people liked the stuff with the cult but it just didn't feel like the same show at all to me. Which can also be said for the creatures, but at least we were hinted at their existence in the first season, whereas the cult came out of nowhere.

    It's weird, because the first season seemed to garner a lot of praise and did decently, so I'm not sure why Fox decided to go in such a different direction with it. That's kind of the Fox thing to do, though, it seems!

  3. They were called the Familiars. And it pretty much *is* a cliffhanger and you *will* be outraged, let's tell the truth. They were renewed for Season 3 and then the execs changed their minds and cancelled them instead a few days later. And put Firefly in their slot, then cancelled it too.