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August 24 2004

TVShowsOnDVD.com Reviews Angel's Fourth Season. Gord Lacey thinks highly of a season that many seem to think is Angel's weakest.

A fairly light review, but it's nice to hear that season four (out on R1 DVD September 7, 2004) will be presented with excellent picture quality and sound.

I really think season 4 will shine on DVD.

I'm a little curious about this. I've seen S4 described on this site as one that "many seem to think is Angel's weakest", but on the site I frequent the most, TWoP, there seems to be an overwhelming (if not universal) love for that season (and quite a bit of distaste for S5). Do people around here really not think very highly of S4?
I've noticed that as well and I don't quite understand it. I credit S4 as AtS's best season and S5 as its worst. S4 dipped into soapy elements more than I would have liked, but that's my only real complaint with the season as a whole. I know a lot of people had trouble with the Cordy/Conner suckfest, which might explain some of the hostility, but the arc itself was easily the series's best, IMO. To each his own, I guess.
Oooooh, the date's almost here! I can't wait.

Personally, I loved season 4 of Angel because there was just constant plot that they made fit together and it was just.. overwhelming. But in a good way. :) I just didn't like Cordelia's turn.

And Faith, Willow, and Gwen didn't hurt either ;)
This is my favorite season as well. I wasn't really freaked out by the Connor/Cordy thing like most people. I just went with it. Do I like the way it turned out, not really. Do I wish they would have worked more with Cordelia during the last 5 eps instead of just writing her off, yes, but these things happen. Except for that, I thought episode for episode this was Angel's best season.

It's sort of like Buffy's 4th season in the way that the main arc might not have had the emotional punch they were going for, but when you look at the pieces, the season definately has some of the best episodes. Plus, i'm a sucker for the big arc-y stuff.
On Amazon.com, there are several reviewers who loathe season four, and who count seasons 1 and 5 as the show's strongest. I happen to think those people don't get the show at all. Season four is among the best seasons of any show ever. It's very unlike anything else on television, and even unlike the majority of genre programming, because it was tightly plotted and as a season, works amazingly well. Sure there were small disappointments, but i'd put Angel four on the top of my TV list.
I'm going to chime in here and add that I also like season 4. I like the nonstop suspense and when I watched it I was always on the edge of my seat, breathless with anticipation. I don't know if I'd say it was the best season, but that's hard for me to choose.

I can't wait for Sept 7! Next month is my happy month.
I'm also looking forward to this release. I wouldn't put much weight on reviews of Joss' work. They vary across the board. Bottom line is, to each their own. IMO, I think that's exactly what Joss wanted.
I really enjoyed S4 the first time through, because the main arc just kept getting bigger and bigger every episode. I enjoy it far less in reruns; when you know what is to come, the gaping plot holes in "Jasmine's Brilliant Nonsensical Plan" sorta ruin much of the season.

I'm a big fan of S2, actually; IMO the Darla arc was one of the strongest in the series, and it holds up well to multiple viewings.
..a season that many seem to think is Angel's weakest.

That statement is perhaps a little melodramatic, but there is a fair percentage of Fang Gang-ers that do not care for the Cordy/Connor/Jasmine arc.

While Connor's hot and cold nature was a bit off-putting—sympathetic one moment, spiteful the next—the greatest injustice of the season was the space between episodes. Because the parts were so interlocked, those one to n week intervals really made it hard to stay in the mood.

Each DVD season has converted its share of naysayers, but season four should benefit the most from the marathon viewing afforded by those shiny little discs.

Season five is more enjoyable after watching its conclusion; knowing where the episodes ultimately lead unifies them, making several seem less monster-of-the-week. Many all-time favorite moments reside in season five: Wes' lack of hesitation in killing his father (if only symbolically) to save Fred; Puppet Angel striding out of his office with his sword across his shoulders, Fang-Gang in tow; Puppet Angel vamping out; Angel answering the phone after his kiss with Cordy; Connor acknowledging Angel as his father; Eve crawling into bed with Lindsay; the Lorne gunman; Fred's passing, Illyria's birth; Sajan getting his just desserts; Harmony's chopstick fight; Spike looking down, realizing he's standing in a desk; The Prince Of Lies; Fred signaling Wes; and Angel rehashing Buffy's cookie dough comments, apparently on the verge of tears.

That was a bit of season five tangent, but season four has its highlights, which will be re-revealed with a weekend DVD-fest ;)
I am really looking forward to the release of season 4. This was the season that I missed the most episodes of during the initial run and when I did get a chance to catch an episode it always seemed to feature the above-mentioned Cordy/Conner suckfest. I have a feeling that it will be much better in weekend marathon-type format though.
Again, chalk me up with the confused over who actually thinks S4 is the worst. Sure, there were problems, but there was also some damn fine things going on as well.
"I wasn't really freaked out by the Connor/Cordy thing like most people."

Neither was I. Loved the storyline, but felt the execution was a little off. Maybe because the actors didn't seem to enjoy it.
It's odd that Gord on tvshowsondvd gave the extras a 4/10 rating but the set is quite rich in features and commentary.

I also liked season 4 and the plot-rich narrative.
It's a toss up for me between season 2 and 4 being my favourite. Season 4 didn't start off well but when it hit its stride it surpassed 24 in terms of plot twists and pace.
I think one of the great things about Joss' work is that no one seems to completely agree on what was good and bad in it. There are many people who loathe Buffy season 1, 4, 6 or 7, yet many who pride one or more of those as their favorite season (Season 6 of Buffy was my favorite out of the whole series, and I enjoyed 4 and 7, but loathe 1)

With Angel it's the same thing, every season seems to have its fair share of devoted fans and haters. Season 4 for instance is considered the best by many, and the worst by many others (both sides seems to believe that they are the dominant one, when truly it doesn't matter.) I am always suprised to hear of someone not loving season 3, as I believe it was the strongest season of television I have ever seen.

What's great about this, is that with all of these wonderful seasons, we're all getting something else from it, some love the romance, other the tragedy, we don't always agree, but the fact that we aren't just sheep speaks volumes for us fans.
There's one major reason that season 4 is the worst. And that reason is Connor. He's really annoying, and a lot of people hated him. That he practically "owned" the season doesn't make it any better..
i didn't really like season four because of cordelia-badness but i liked lilah and wes. i'm actually watching season four of angel on dvd right now! we just watched spin the bottle, it's a good dvd, it's got a lot of cast voice-overs.
Well, while I am one of those that found Connor little more than annoying, I certainly don't see S4 as the weakest. Many elements in there were very strong. Plus, I like the big arcs. They have this epic feel.

'Dark' Wesley, the Beast, Angelus, Faith, the whole Jasmin thing, the 'Talky meat' critters....I thought it was pretty powerful stuff. Probably enjoyed it more than S3 if I'm honest. Holtz annoyed me in the sense that he was practically as evil as Angelus by now, but still acted like he had the moral high ground. I know that was of course the whole point, but I can't help but grit my teeth over that.

And ya know, teeth hurting during the watching....lessens the fun. And hey, Faith in S4: "Break me off a switch, there's gonna be a whuppin'."

C'mon that's the good stuff;-)
Personally, I've felt for a while now that Angel got a little better with each season. Really, the only season I don't completelty love is s1. I love a good season long arc, and s1 was more episodic.
But s4 was fantastic! Connor on his own never bothered me; I figure a kid with a background like his is bound to be more than a little messed in the head. The Cordy/Connor thing, on the other hand, made me want to scratch my eyes out. (It felt incestuous, which ... Ew.) However this was balanced by the extreme hotness that was Wes/Lilah. And then there was Faith's jail break and her meeting Dark!Wes... Man. Good stuff.
But as much as I luuuuurve s4, I adore s5 all the more, for all the reason Ubqtous listed above, and more. Man, that was one hell of a writing team.
Caroline: "Neither was I. Loved the storyline, but felt the execution was a little off. Maybe because the actors didn't seem to enjoy it."

I always felt the relationship between Cordy and Connor, such as it was, felt forced and out of place.

However once you discover that the "relationship" actually was totally forced by Jasmine's manipulations it makes it seem a lot more realistic within the season arc.

Most couples in the slayerverse come together naturally over time because of true feelings for each other. This was nothing like that, merely a means for Jamine to get what she wanted, and so the fact it felt wrong actually is the point i guess.

Reading too much into things again ain't i! ;)
There were only a couple weak points in Angel Season 4 for me. First and foremost, the disappointment that was the return of Angelus. All talk, no action, so why bother? It was fun seeing David have that much fun with the character again though. The other weak point was EvilCordy. I believe Charisma's even said in interviews that she wasn't happy with the way she was told to play her character in Season 4 (and I wonder if they let her know far in advance that she was supposed to be possessed and not merely an evil version of her character). It shows on screen, she's really not into it. Although I will say, with the combination of the creepy music, creepy Connor, and Darla's ghost/Powers That Be interference, EvilCordy was perfect in "Inside Out".

I think Season 4's incredibly strong though. The Jasmine plotline was genius, I thought it took balls for the writers to give us spoofing of religious fanaticism/celebrity worship plus questions of right/wrong, free will and whether any of that means anything. The writers probably didn't have much of it in mind since Angel Season 3 (and I doubt they'd decided it'd be a Power That Was' influence that transferred Doyle's visions to Cordelia all the way back in Season 1), but it was nice to finally get an explanation for mystical-vampire-pregnancy. And I appreciated that Cordelia's whole transformation since Season 1 was made out to be a part of Jasmine's grand plan, that worked for me. Did we ever find out why Angel was returned from the hell dimension in Buffy Season 3's "Faith Hope & Trick" ? Was it implied in "Amends" that it was The First Evil's doing, or can I fanwank that Jasmine knew who her grand-daddy would be all the way back then and rescued him from torture for it? (since we're never going to get an explanation for a mystery from that far back).

Angel Season 4 also has my favorite Angel season finale, "Home" (although "To Shanshu in LA" is a serious contender in my eyes).

If not for the weak Pylea arc that ended Season 2 (yeah, I had fun with it too, but it wasn't up to the calibre of the rest of the year and that's not the kind of story you end a season with), that year would probably be my fave, but as it stands I think Season 4 is it. It's hard to choose though, 'cause there were a bunch of great standalones in Season 1 and 5 had Fred's death/Illyria, Puppet Angel, "Origin", and some other great stuff. My opinion could change when I some day see the complete series again on DVD.
"I am always suprised to hear of someone not loving season 3, as I believe it was the strongest season of television I have ever seen"

I really don't like Season Three of Angel, I think its just the general feel of the Season as a whole. I love some episodes from it such as "Birthday" and "Sleep Tight" but all together it doesn't fit right for me. I do however love Season Four, and on DVD (UK) it has incredible picture quality, which makes the whole season seem so much better.

"There are many people who loathe Buffy season 1, 4, 6 or 7, yet many who pride one or more of those as their favorite season"

Season Four is overall probably my favourite. Season One is really cool, I love Stand - alone episodes (probably why I love Season 5 of Angel so much) and Season Six is just overall a great Season.

But when it comes to Season Seven....They could have done so much more with that!. I love it from "Lessons" to "CWDP" and then from "Storyteller" to the eventual end. I found the middle a waste of time. I think also, it being set in the house so much, dragged it on, and the addition of so many new characters.......I know that the Season wasn't for me, but that some people love it. I've still bought it on DVD, because it does have some great episodes on there, but they could have done so much more.

Oh Well each to his/her own
It's kind of funny. I can't pick a favourite season of Angel as easily as I can with Buffy. (season 3 kthx) There are a lot of things I really liked about each season and a lot of things I didn't like about each season. I just really like the show and someone above commented that it got better with each season and that I would agree with. :)
Well I guess I am one of the season 4 offenders - I always felt it was my least favorite Angel season; however when it aired the episodes were spaced far apart, sometimes I missed an episode and I lost the story a bit so I couldn't really get into it. I do remember being disappointed with evil Angelus, I felt he wasn't that scary - in season 2 of Buffy he was a threat! But all I remember him doing was talking in Angel season 4 (made The First look more threatening). I think this season will fair much better with me when I get to see it on dvd and I'm looking forward to seeing it again.

Story arcs are good, I like em; however the thing I also enjoy about these shows is their sense of humor. I don't remember season 4 having much of that. I did like Jasmine and the Beast.

Remember favorite or least favorite season all these shows are in a league of their own - way higher in quality than other shows.
Okay, I'm not one who usually posts and argues about plot points (I usually just lurk and "grr" quietly to myself), but I've gotta express my opinion here.

Firstly, with Buffy Season 1, I think people judge it unfairly. It was a mid season replacement with only 12 episodes, a limited budget, mostly different writers aside from Joss and David Greenwalt.....but to loathe it? I find all the episodes enjoyable, and that's how I got into the series in the first place.

And honestly, Seasons 1 and 4 are the only seasons I can pick and watch at any time. Mostly because they're lighter.

Well, it's not exactly as light as the others, but I can watch Season 7 whenever too, actually. And I agree with the wavering middle. Though for me, it started after "Potential." They had great Scooby Gang episodes in the first 6 eps (and set up them "turning on" Buffy later in "Selfless"), then from CDWP to Showtime the tension was amped and it was a nice mini arc that ended on a strong note. Then "Potential" was a nice epilogue to it, giving Dawn a great episode, and the last scene with Xander was wonderful (also foreshadowing the eye-loss).

Then from 13-17 (though I like the eps well enough in general) they were in a "we have to get the end slump." And Joss has since admitted he bit off maybe more than he could chew having to manage the Potentials, and it's a shame he didn't get to do what he wanted when he couldn't get all the actors and actresses he wanted, back. But still, compared to other shows' slumps? Really not all that bad.

I love the angst and drama (and that includes Season 6), but I have to be in the mood a lot of times, even though I know it turns out all right in the end (uh, except for Season 2, Season 5, and arguably Season 6....damn your cruel evilness Joss!).

Secondly, Angel. Seasons 2, 3 and 4 of Angel were amazingly well done in my eyes, and feel like three really interconnected chapters in a novel (with Season 1 and Season 5 serving like a prologue and epilogue). You introduce Darla at the end of 1, she carries through the majority of 2, there's even a Holtz reference, she and Angel sleep together.

Carries over into Season 3 which I love. She's pregnant, kills herself to have the baby (*tear*), Holtz becomes a primary character and his arc is crazy good (then at the end when he sets Angel up, yeouch. That's good TV.), Cordelia really matures and unlike a lot of people, the Cordy/Angel development seemed really natural to me.

Like people who'd been friends for a few years and cared for each other, and since Cordelia was the only one who could get Angel to open up over those years, I dunno. It felt good. Then of course, Joss wrecks it. Angel gets waterlogged, she dodges 747s on her way to higher-beingness (and even I went, "WHA-HUH? Cordelia's a nice half-girl/half-demon and all, but, higher being?)

Then Season 4 rolled around, and my questions were answered in the most epic Joss season ever. Of which there was a teenage regression, an apocalypse, a damn cool rock dude, the slaughtering of Wolfram and Hart, a shocking death and an even more shocking beheading. Angelus, Faith, Willow, the beautiful Gina Torres as Jasmine, and most importantly, we learn of Angel's love for "Raiders of the Lost Ark." Sigh. Made me happy.

Then there's Connor. Because as even as much as I wanted to throttle him, I never stopped feeling sorry for him. His whole life he was continually manipulated. By Holtz, then by Justine, then by Cordelia. He never knew which end was up, or who to trust, and the one person he did trust had become inhabited by a deceptive, seductive goddess and started what? Manipulating. And lets leave what was manipulated unsaid, shall we? Whew.

But with the Cordy/Connor thing. One, it never bugged me because I knew it was never Cordelia doing those unsaid things. Two, people seem to forget that in Season 4, Connor was supposed to be of legal age, and Cordelia's the same age as the Scooby Gang, so that means 21, 22 depending on when her birthday is. That's four years! And three, yes, I know Cordelia helped take care of Connor when he was a baby....but she wasn't his mother! There was no actual incest! And shame on you for your minds going in that direction. ;-)

And lastly, my only issue with EvilCordy is that I didn't really buy Charisma's acting ability then. I know she didn't much care for it, but hey, Sarah had issues with the space Buffy found herself in in Season 6 (I think we all wanted to see her bounce back quicker, but I understood it, and seeing as Buffy's never stopped being my favorite character, I was feeling her pain), and the difference? Sarah brought her A-game regardless. Well, I bought it, anyway.

And that's that, I suppose. Time for me to take a nap.

P.S. I like humor, too. But if it doesn't really fit in with the mood of an episode, or even several, then I don't want them to force it for us the viewers. I'll go watch comedy afterwards if I need to. I guess what I'm saying is, I'm all for Joss-humor, but if it's not there, I don't hold it against him or the story.

[ edited by pat22_btvs on 2004-08-24 14:43 ]

[ edited by pat22_btvs on 2004-08-24 15:03 ]
I'm also in the Angel season 4 being of the good category. In fact it was the 1st time since s2 of Buffy (which is when Buffy became my favourite tv show, a crown that it still holds and with the cancellation of Firefly, is unlikely to ever relinquish)that a show other than Buffy was my favourite season currently airing. That's a bit of a garbled sentence but I hope you all understand what I mean :)
I'm happy to read these comments. I was starting to think I was on my own in thinking season four was the high point of the series. Mostly because of Wesley, who was right up there in the Dale Cooper class of coolness all year - and then lost at least some of his coolness with the loss of the memories that brought him there in S5. (Which is why his little freakout after killing robot-dad was so perfect...he's still Dark Wesley but without the "life-history" to deal with it. But I digress...) S4 was the only season when I absolutely could not wait to see what zaniness they were going to come up with next week. Sure, part of the reason it was so unpredictable was because it didn't make a whole lot of sense, but I felt like the show knocked me off-balance in mid-season, and I never fully gained that balance until the end of the season.
Well, I have to say that I'm one of the few who regards season 4 as the weakest. But it's also the season that I haven't seen in the longest time, and one I haven't had a chance to rewatch and reconsider. I'm hoping that seeing them on DVD will change my mind.

Passion -- I agree exactly with what you said regarding the humor of the series. That's probably my biggest issue with seasons 3 and 4 of Angel -- the humor and joy of these characters has been sucked away. Say what you will about the excellent 6th and 7th seasons of Buffy, but that show never lost it's balance of wittiness and pathos. Angel tipped too much into blahness for me, only to be rescued again in season 5.
(SPOILER WARNING, I SUPPOSE!!!)
As a whole, I'm excited. Best season or worst season? Doesn't matter. It's ANGEL, so I'm a happy camper. And the coolest part that gives me the bumpies is that Faith is reintroduced, Willow shows up, and these appearances break the WB-induced taboo of not traversing from one network to the other after season 5 of Buffy. (Her death was so understated by Angel's character at the beginning of Season 3 of ANGEL.) Obviously, the networks and the "Powers That Be" were well aware of the fact that most, if not all, of ANGEL and BUFFY fans were watching both Season 7 of BUFFY while watching Season 4 of ANGEL...(Even though UPN's episodes were out of sync with the WB, and Faith showed up in Sunnydale about two weeks after she left L.A.)

This traversing was best demonstrated by Angel's appearance on UPN's Series finale of BUFFY, during the last two episodes. I think that's the reason for Boreanaz's discontent that SMG wasn't invited to to the finale of ANGEL. He has said that he felt she should have been there. (She was invited to do an episode that she wasn't available for, or something to that effect. When she became available, they didn't want her in the final story, apparently.)

Anyway, back on topic here: Season four is part of the ANGEL series, so I will be thrilled to see it!

[ edited by toontimer on 2004-08-24 16:49 ]


Angel Season 4 is also my favorite. Two words: Dark Wes. But then we also have Faith, Willow, The Beast, Jasmine, Darla's speech to Connor(heartwrenching), and the spectaular finale Home. I can't wait until the DVD comes out, but TNT is starting season 4 on Wednesday August 24 at 4PM ET. So I'm debating whether or not to start watching it on TV or wait for the great picture quality of the DVD. Because honestly with the picture on DVD it feels like a brand new show. Can't wait to watch the fight in Apocalypse Nowish. Angel Season 4 was either you love it or you hate it I loved it, but I can understand why some people don't neccessarily hate it but they think it is the weakest season of Angel. The whole Connor/Cordy thing didn't surprise me all that much and I didn't think it was like I have to go throw up now gross or anything.And that is just part of the season building up to the whole Jasmine story arc.
Mindpieces seems to be where I am on the humor front.

Pat22_btvs - Great post - I hope you decide to post more often!

OK- I am excited about Angel Season 4 out on DVD here in the states next month. I can't wait to watch it uninterupted (of course there will be sleep and stuff!). All the episodes always get better, and I like them more, the more I get to watch them so once I have 4 on dvd I will be in a better position to be a lot more opinionated on season4.

I know I love season 5 as I taped all the episodes and have gotten to re-watch them.

Caveman vs. Astronauts who will win?
I think BtVS needed humor a lot more than AtS. I hate to say that the latter is in any way more mature than the former, but the mood in AtS has always been darker. I don't think you can do much in the way of humor with, say, the Jasmine arc, but it is, nevertheless, a fantastic story, but one that demands a more serious tone.

I remember rewatching "The Magic Bullet" a little while ago and totally connecting the parellels between Jasmine's appearance and Bush's case for war in Iraq. A lot of people, the media especially, dove into the idea without much consideration. Now we have a pile of dead bodies for a cause that turned out to be false. While some people feel that the larger cause is more important than the existence of WMDs or a terrorist connection, too many people refuse to believe that they were wrong, at least on those points. That makes me, at least, very uncomfortable, all the more so because it took me far too long to recognize it.

Similarly, in AtS the Fang Gang say they would have preferred Jasmine's deception to the truth. And even after they dealt with that truth, at least one person, Conner, was willing to live with the ugly reality of what Jasmine was. His decision is the wrong one, I think, but it is as difficult as the one made by the other members of the Fang Gang because he accepts the positives and negatives, whereas the rest of Jasmine's followers can't/won't consider the evidence on both sides.

All of this is to say that "The Magic Bullet" is a masterful look at cognitive dissonance and what happens when people start to deal with it. It is uncomfortable, it isn't fun, but it's very important to recognize that it exists, and to recognize that most people don't deal with it. I hate to deal in universals too hastily, but I'd probably consider that episode to be the most important story ME ever told.
think one of the great things about Joss' work is that no one seems to completely agree on what was good and bad in it. There are many people who loathe Buffy season 1, 4, 6 or 7, yet many who pride one or more of those as their favorite season (Season 6 of Buffy was my favorite out of the whole series, and I enjoyed 4 and 7, but loathe 1)
I couldn't agree more! It's one of the things I love about Joss's shows that the fans can disagree so vehemently on individual points, or episodes and seasons they loved/loathed, and yet agree on the overall greatness of the shows. I'm always interested to read about people's favorite seasons/episodes, partly because they're so often different from my own. And sometimes, a well-explained opinion can make me go back to rewatch an episode and discover something new or revise my earlier opinion. (other times I just think: to each his own... :-) )
I've always been among those who aren't huge fans of Angel S4 I missed the humor, wasn't crazy about Connor/Cordy/Jasmine arcs, etc., etc. but it's also the season I've missed the most episodes in, and i'm eager to get the DVDs and watch it all as an arc (and perhaps revise my earlier opinion). And even as one of my least favorite of the angel seasons, i still think it has marvelous moments. Weaker buffy/angel is still leagues ahead of most of what's on TV.
Same with Buffy I feel so-so about S1, very mixed on S6 (contains both genius and total failure), and definitely down on S7, but I'll own all of them, enjoy rewatching all of them, and always love hearing from those who count 1, 6, or 7 as their favorite seasons.
Just makes you appreciate the great diversity of Whedon fandom....
As the proud owner of the R2 Seson 4 DVD I was able to re-watch the entire season over the course of a weekend, and if anything I enjoyed it even more than I did when I watched the Episodes on Sky. It holds up as one long Storyline, even more so than other Buffyverse arc plots.

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