Dark Angel
Season Two Collection

Starring: Jessica Alba
Twentieth Century Fox
RRP 59.99
Certificate: 15
Available now

Logan, alias cable-hacker Eyes Only, believes Max to be dead. In fact the transgenic cat burglar is alive - but far from well - back in the clutches of Manticore, the secret scientific organisation that created her. When she attempts to escape, Max discovers that Manticore's previous experiments spawned far more frightening creations than enhanced humans such as herself...

The second season of James Cameron and Charles Eglee's Dark Angel also turned out to be the last, as the series has been cancelled. That is a pity, though to be fair this season is not of the same consistently high quality as the first.

The previous season ended up with the two main characters, Max (Jessica Alba) and Logan (Michael Weatherly), on the verge of consummating their "will they, won't they" relationship. Such events have been the death knell of series such Moonlighting and The New Adventures of Superman, so Cameron and Eglee take steps to prevent their two leads from getting jiggy. Max is injected with a bio-toxin keyed to Logan's genetic profile, which means that the lovers cannot touch without risking Logan's life. This plot device successfully maintains a tangible sexual tension, although the number of times that Max declares the relationship to be over because she can't stand the heartache any longer does grow rather repetitive.

Other developments in this season take the form of replacements for characters from the first one. Now that Lydecker (John Savage) has redeemed himself of his bad guy role, a new villain is introduced in the shape of Ames White (Martin Cummins), a government agent who is intent upon tracking down all the transgenics. But White's true agenda is far more complex than it initially appears, and the plot twists concerning him keep on turning throughout the series.

Another replacement character is Alec (Jensen Ackles), the new recurring male X5 transgenic, who sort of takes over from William Gregory Lee's Zack. However, Alec is much more of a lovable rogue than the zealous Zack ever was. Alec is played by the same actor who appeared in the previous season as the deranged X5 Ben. It is explained in the opening instalment, "Designate This", that Alec and Ben are clone brothers, which actually becomes a plot point later in the year.

Probably the biggest change for this season is the introduction of a diverse array of weird and wonderful Manticore mutants, which Max releases into the big wide world. These part-human part-animal creations include a lizard man, a mermaid, and the dog-like Joshua, who becomes a regular character. Sympathetically portrayed by Kevin Durand, Joshua provides much of the series' comic relief, such as when he frequently strays among the public against the advice of Max, or when he raids the contents of Logan's fridge in Borrowed Time. But things take a more serious turn towards the end of the series, as the stakes are raised during the final five episodes, in which Joshua faces heartbreak while public hostility towards transgenics reaches its flashpoint.

It's not all doom and gloom, however. A couple of earlier instalments are predominantly light-hearted: the Halloween episode, Boo, and the mafia tale, Fuhgeddaboudit, which features a transgenic called Mia (Tracy Leah Ryan) who is able to manipulate the minds of others. Humorous situations abound as the deceptively ditzy Mia encourages Max and Logan to reveal their innermost feelings for each other and persuades Alec and Logan to hug!

The hour-long finale, Freak Nation, offers some sense of closure, although it is clear that the series still had some way to go in terms of explaining Max's intended role according to the plans laid out by the mysterious Manticore founder, Sandeman.

The first season DVD box set was not exactly brimming with extras, but we get even fewer of them here. Apart from a trailer for the video game (again), all we have is a six-minute featurette discussing the processes that contributed to the visualisation of 2020 Seattle.

As I said before, Season Two of Dark Angel is not as good as the first. Nevertheless, the 21 episodes in this box set remain far more entertaining than a lot of shows on air at the moment. So get down to the stores, people - bip, bip, bip!

Richard McGinlay

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