Angel: Season 4
with Amy Acker, Jeffrey Bell, David Boreanaz
by Mike Delano
Yeah, it’s hard to be without a weekly dose of Joss Whedon-inspired brilliance on the tube nowadays, but the Buffy, Angel, and Firefly DVD releases prove that Whedon’s talent shines even brighter taken as a whole season, rather than the wildly varying levels of quality that defined the individual episodes during the final seasons for both the slayer and her hubby.
Whereas Season 4 was a transitional one for Buffy, when weak characters and an overwhelmingly linear storyline put the show in a semi-slump, Angel‘s all over the map the fourth time around, and all the better for it. For the uninitiated, it’s almost complete gibberish, but although the wild new directions the show and its characters take aren’t always terribly affecting, they’re always exciting.
Cordy goes evil, Angelus returns (again), a crazy girl with electrical powers appears: It’s straight madness. But nothing can prepare you for a subplot during the second half of the season that spans several episodes and is just weird beyond belief. Not entirely satisfying, not at all uninteresting, just weird. Things bounce back to reality (ahem) for the finale, wherein Angel takes over the ubiquitous evil law firm Wolfram & Hart, setting up the entire final season of the show, which often felt like one long subplot.
So Season 4 is bonkers, but it’s very much worth it. Angel never had this kind of go-anywhere, do-anything kind of abandon before, and was dusted before he ever had the chance to get it back.