Dark Angel (TV series)

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Dark Angel
Darkangel logo.PNG
Genre Science fiction
Action
Drama
Created by James Cameron
Charles H. Eglee
Starring Jessica Alba
Michael Weatherly
Alimi Ballard
Jennifer Blanc
Richard Gunn
J. C. MacKenzie
Valarie Rae Miller
Jensen Ackles
Martin Cummins
Kevin Durand
Ashley Scott
John Savage
Theme music composer Chuck D
Gary G-Wiz
Composer(s) Joel McNeely
Amani K. Smith
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 43 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) James Cameron
Charles H. Eglee
René Echevarria
Running time 43 minutes
86 minutes ("Pilot")
60 minutes ("Freak Nation")
Production company(s) Cameron/Eglee Productions
20th Century Fox Television
Broadcast
Original channel Fox
Original run October 3, 2000 (2000-10-03) – May 3, 2002 (2002-05-03)

Dark Angel is an American biopunk/cyberpunk science fiction television series created by James Cameron and Charles H. Eglee and starring Jessica Alba. The show premiered in the United States on the Fox network on October 3, 2000, and was canceled after two seasons. The series chronicles the life of Max Guevara (X5-452), a genetically-enhanced super-soldier who escapes from a covert government biotech/military facility as a child. In a post-apocalyptic Seattle, she tries to lead some semblance of a normal life, while eluding capture by government agents and searching for her genetically-enhanced brothers and sisters scattered in the aftermath of their escape.

The program is set in Seattle, Washington, and was filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia, at Lions Gate Studios.

Overview[edit]

In 2009, a genetically enhanced, 9-year-old female super-soldier who calls herself Max Guevara (Jessica Alba) escapes along with eleven others like herself from a secret government institution, codenamed Manticore, where they were born, raised and trained to be soldiers and assassins. On June 1, 2009, months after Max's escape, terrorists detonate an electromagnetic pulse weapon in the atmosphere over the U.S., which destroys the vast majority of computer and communication systems, throwing the country into chaos.

The first season begins ten years later in 2019, as it follows the life of the now 19-year-old Max as she struggles to search for her Manticore brothers and sisters. In a United States which is now barely more than a Third World nation, she tries to live her life, evade capture, and learn to trust and love. She becomes involved with Logan Cale (Michael Weatherly), an underground cyber-journalist with the alias Eyes Only, who recruits her to help fight corruption in the post-Pulse world, while at the same time she makes a living as a bicycle messenger at a courier company named Jam Pony along with her friends Original Cindy (Valarie Rae Miller), Herbal Thought (Alimi Ballard), and Sketchy (Richard Gunn). Other X-5s are periodically introduced, most significantly Zack (William Gregory Lee), the unit leader. The Manticore hunt for the escaped X-5s is led by Colonel Donald Lydecker (John Savage), who is ousted at the end of the season by the even more ruthless Elizabeth Renfro (Nana Visitor).

In the second season of the show, the tone changes as Max and Logan bring down Manticore and free all the transgenics within. Two others become main characters: Alec (Jensen Ackles), a fellow X-5 who joins Jam Pony, and Joshua (Kevin Durand), a transgenic with canine DNA. Max later learns that Joshua was the first transgenic created by Manticore's founder Sandeman. It becomes apparent that Manticore produced many different animal mixes as well as other experiments with unique abilities. A major theme in the second season is the discovery of an even more deadly enemy than Lydecker or Renfro, namely a millennia-old breeding cult similar in structure to the Illuminati. This has resulted in humans even more formidable than the Manticore-produced transgenics, and even some with strong telekinetic powers. Ames White (Martin Cummins), a government agent introduced early in the second season trying to eliminate the loose transgenics, is revealed to be a member of the cult. When a strange message written in Max's genetic code makes an appearance on her skin, it is revealed that Sandeman is a renegade from the breeding cult and Ames White is his son, who is still loyal to the cult and hates his father's transgenic creations with a passion. The second season ends before Sandeman's plan for Max can be revealed.

Planned storylines[edit]

In the DVD commentary for the series finale episode "Freak Nation", executive producer and co-creator Charles H. Eglee detailed what was planned for season 3. It was to bring together the storylines of season 1 (Manticore) and season 2 (ancient blood cult) and reveal the mythology of Dark Angel. As detailed by Charles H. Eglee:

Many thousands of years ago, Earth passed through a comet's tail which deposited viral material that killed 97% of the human race. Some people survived that had a genetic predisposition, some kind of antibody or immunity. The great pyramids in Egypt were actually genetic repositories, preserving the DNA of the survivors, built by an ancient blood cult that passed on this genetic immunity to selected members to keep this antibody against the return of the comet (which was due to happen in Season 3). Everybody else would perish, and the members of the cult would inherit the earth and rebuild civilization.

Sandeman, Max's creator, jumped from the cult to give this genetic immunity to the rest of humanity, believing that everybody deserved the cure. The other cult members deemed Sandeman a heretic and a threat, undermining their goals of rebuilding humanity in their own image.

Max was going to be the savior of the human race. Sandeman finally found out how to give this genetic immunity to everyone through Max. There were multiple ideas of how to spread Max's immunity to humanity, including an air burst that would disperse the antibody through the atmosphere, or attaching the immunity to a common cold virus (he detailed how a scene would show Original Cindy sneezing as part of the beginning of the immunity spread).

Series writer Moira Dekker also spoke on the DVD commentary that Logan's transfusion that allowed him to use his legs once again at the end of season 2 would begin to fail during season 3.

Cast and characters[edit]

Main characters[edit]

The following characters were featured in the opening credits of the program.

Character Starring Recurring Actor/Actress Notes
Max Guevara (X5-452) Season 1–2 Jessica Alba Genetically enhanced transgenic super-soldier, Jam Pony courier
Logan Cale ("Eyes Only") Season 1–2 Michael Weatherly Cyber-journalist
Cynthia "Original Cindy" McEachin Season 1–2 Valarie Rae Miller Jam Pony courier, best friend (and later roommate) to Max
Calvin "Sketchy" Theodore Season 1–2 Richard Gunn Jam Pony courier
Reagan "Normal" Ronald Season 1–2 J. C. MacKenzie Head of Jam Pony
Herbal Thought Season 1 Alimi Ballard Jam Pony courier, Rastafarian
Kendra Maibaum Season 1, Episodes 1–13 Jennifer Blanc Max's first roommate
Col. Donald Lydecker Season 1 Season 2, Episodes 1–3 John Savage Head of Manticore
Alec McDowell (X5-494) Season 2 Jensen Ackles Genetically enhanced transgenic super-soldier, Jam Pony courier
Ames White Season 2 Martin Cummins Government agent, conclave member
Joshua Season 2 Kevin Durand Human-canine experimental creature
Asha Barlow Season 2, Episodes 5–18 Season 2, Episodes 1–4 Ashley Scott Member of the S.1.W. resistance movement, friend to Logan

The 12 original escapees[edit]

The following characters escaped in the original 2009 escape from Manticore. They were only featured throughout season 1. Ben (from episode 1x18) and Alec (from season 2) were twins. Max also has a clone Sam who appeared in episode 2x19.

  • Max (X5-452) (Jessica Alba) (all episodes)
  • Zack (X5-599) (William Gregory Lee) (episodes 1x6, 1x8, 1x9, 1x14, 1x20, 1x21, 1x22, 2x1, 2x7)
  • Ben (X5-493) (Jensen Ackles) (episode 1x18) (deceased)
  • Brin (X5-734) (Nicole Bilderback) (episodes 1x8, 1x20, 1x21, 1x22) (recaptured/retrained)
  • Tinga (X5-656) (Lisa Ann Cabasa) (episodes 1x14, 1x19, 1x20, 1x21, 1x22) (deceased)
  • Zane (X5-205) (Unnamed Actor) (episode 1x14)
  • Syl (X5-701) (Nicki Aycox) (episode 1x22)
  • Krit (X5-471) (Joshua Alba) (episode 1x22)
  • Jondy (X5-210) (never shown as an adult)
  • Seth (from the book Before the Dawn) (deceased)
  • Vada (from the book Before the Dawn) (deceased)[1]
  • Kavi (from the book Before the Dawn) (recaptured)[2]

Three other characters were mentioned as being in Max's group but didn't participate in the escape for various reasons. These included:

  • Jack (X5-417), who died after suffering from seizures
  • Eva (X5-766), who was shot during the escape
  • Jace (X5-798) (Shireen Crutchfield in episode 1x15), who turned back at the last minute

Other recurring characters[edit]

  • Peter Bryant as Bling (Season 1; 14 episodes)
  • Geneva Locke as Young Max (Seasons 1–2; 11 episodes)
  • Fulvio Cecere as Sandoval (Seasons 1–2; 9 episodes)
  • Craig Veroni as Otto (Season 2; 9 episodes) (Veroni also appears as an airport security guard in the season 1 episode "Art Attack")
  • Byron Mann as Det. Matt Sung (Seasons 1–2; 8 episodes)
  • Brian Markinson as Dr. Sam Carr (Seasons 1–2; 6 episodes)
  • Nana Visitor as Madame X/Dr. Elizabeth Renfro (Seasons 1–2; 6 episodes)
  • Jade C. Bell as Sebastian (Season 1; 5 episodes)
  • Gabrielle Rose as Moorehead (Season 2; 5 episodes)
  • Fred Ewanuick as Luke (Season 2; 5 episodes)
  • Rekha Sharma as Dr. Beverly Shankar (Seasons 1–2; 5 episodes)
  • Robert Gossett as James McGinnis (Seasons 1–2; 4 episodes)
  • Stephen Lee as Dan Vogelsang (Season 1; 4 episodes)

Music[edit]

Soundtracks[edit]

Score[edit]

The score for Dark Angel was composed and conducted by Joel McNeely.

The pilot episode's score was available in part on the original official website darkangeltheseries.com. A few tracks were later released by Joel McNeely on his blog. The track "Bicycle Ride" was used in the end credits for the duration of the series.

The aforementioned pilot score was released in full as part of the original publicity press kit, titled Dark Angel: Complete Score from the Dark Angel Pilot. This 37-track CD was for promotional use only and not for resale.

Production[edit]

Background to series[edit]

Director James Cameron had planned to make a film of the comic book character Spider-Man. Unable to do so, Cameron moved to television and created the story of Max, a new superheroine. Dark Angel was influenced by cyberpunk, current superhero genres, and third-wave feminism.

Broadcast history[edit]

The first season of the show premiered on Fox on Tuesday, October 3, 2000. The show aired on Tuesday nights after That '70s Show and Titus during the 2000–2001 television season

The following season, however, Fox moved Dark Angel to Friday nights preceding the network's new series Pasadena in order to try to reverse their string of bad luck with the Friday night death slot curse and to give the network's new series 24 a better time period during the week. Their efforts to improve Friday nights were unsuccessful though as Pasadena failed to find an audience and was canceled before the end of its first season on the night, while Dark Angel saw its second season audience drop by nearly 4 million viewers and was subsequently canceled. The final episode of the series aired on May 3, 2002 as a special 90-minute episode (which also marked James Cameron's dramatic TV directing debut).

Though canceled due to sagging ratings in its second season, Dark Angel has been syndicated on the Sci-Fi Channel in the United States and E4 in the United Kingdom; the series has also been shown in the UK on Syfy and the Horror Channel. In 2003, both seasons of the show were released on DVD.

U.S. ratings[edit]

Season Timeslot (ET) Premiere Finale U.S. ratings Network Rank
1 2000–2001 Tuesday 9:00 pm October 3, 2000 May 22, 2001 10.1 million[3] Fox #70
2 2001–2002 Friday 8:00 pm (2001)
Friday 9:00 pm (2002)
Friday 8:30 pm (Series finale)
September 28, 2001 May 3, 2002 6.00 million[4] #114

Episodes[edit]

DVD releases[edit]

20th Century Fox released Seasons 1 and 2 of Dark Angel on DVD in Regions 1 and 2 in 2003, as six-disc sets packaged in cardboard sleeves containing three DVD cases each of two discs. Both seasons were re-released in Region 1 on June 5, 2007, with slim packaging consisting of one plastic case containing all six discs (which were unchanged in content and cosmetics).[5] Region 2 also saw both seasons released in the new slim format.

The Region 1 releases contain several special features, including commentaries, bloopers, deleted scenes and featurettes. Region 2 releases contain fewer bonus features, but the episodes are presented in anamorphic widescreen, while Region 1 releases are fullscreen.[6]

Season Episodes Region 1 Region 2
Season 1 22 May 20, 2003 February 24, 2003
Season 2 21 October 21, 2003 June 2, 2003

Awards and nominations[edit]

Alleged plagiarism[edit]

After the show's release the Argentine artists Carlos Trillo and Carlos Meglia, creators of the Argentinian comic book series Cybersix, filed a lawsuit against Cameron and Fox for plagiarism.[7] Cybersix was created by Trillo (writer) and Meglia (penciler) in the early 90's for the European market, and appeared in Spanish in November 1993.[8] Trillo and Meglia accused Dark Angel of stealing most of the plot from the comic and its most recognizable elements.[9] In a 2007 interview Trillo stated that he and Meglia weren't able to carry on with the lawsuit due to lack of financial resources, so they dropped it, although the issue is still a matter of controversy:

Meglia and I were sure we had been plagiarized. Cybersix readers who watched Cameron's TV series were sure as well. We tried to move forward with a lawsuit against Cameron and Fox. It wasn't possible for us to continue because the comic book world does not give you the financial possibility of confronting a showbusiness multinational company. We couldn't afford lawyers in LA to carry on with the attempt to claim our original story.[10]

Spinoffs[edit]

Written by Max Allan Collins, a trilogy of novels expands upon the Dark Angel television series.

  • Dark Angel: Before the Dawn (2002) is a prequel to the television series, taking a detailed look at Max's past between 2009 and 2019. It introduced another '09 escapee, Seth. After Max and her siblings had escaped, Seth slipped out in the confusion and eventually ended up in Seattle, where he worked for Logan as a personal agent. The book is listed on Amazon.com as "Before the Dawn (Dark Angel)".
  • Dark Angel: Skin Game (2003) immediately follows the events of "Freak Nation," the final episode of Season 2, describing the days in May 2021. Skin Game focuses on a killer terrorising the streets of Seattle and the growing suspicion and evidence that the killer could possibly be a transgenic. As the killings escalate, the US Army and National Guard prepare themselves for an invasion of Terminal City.
  • Dark Angel: After the Dark (2003) follows Skin Game, describing the days in December 2021. Relationships are torn apart after Logan reveals a shattering truth about his past to Max, but when Logan is kidnapped, questions are set aside as Max's investigation into the capture leads to an old enemy, The Breeding Cult members of the Conclave. With the aid of a team of Transgenics, Max vows to find those responsible for the kidnapping, unaware that the Conclave are not only anticipating her arrival, but the arrival of The Coming. After the Dark answers many questions raised in the second season; The curing of Max's virus, the Conclave's agenda, the return of Lydecker and C.J. Sandeman, and Max and Logan finally getting together. (ISBN 9780345451842)
  • Dark Angel: The Eyes Only Dossier (2003) collects documents pertaining to four ongoing Eyes Only investigations, tangentially related to Manticore and the Dark Angel universe.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Collins, Max Allan; Eglee, Charles H. (2002). Before the Dawn (1. edition. ed.). New York: Del Rey. p. 177. ISBN 978-0-345-45182-8. 
  2. ^ Collins, Max Allan; Eglee, Charles H. (2002). Before the Dawn (1. edition. ed.). New York: Del Rey. pp. 176–177. ISBN 978-0-345-45182-8. 
  3. ^ "TV Ratings 2000-2001". 
  4. ^ "How did your favorite show rate?". USA Today. May 28, 2002. Retrieved May 1, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Dark Angel is Re-Released in Slim Sets". TV Shows on DVD. March 14, 2007. Retrieved July 14, 2008. 
  6. ^ "Dark Angel: Season One (2000-2001)". DVD Compare. Retrieved February 28, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Cameron always steals ideas" - Meglia talks about the plagiarism on "Dark Angel" to "Cybersix"". Página/12 (in Spanish). February 6, 2002. Retrieved June 22, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Cybersix (comic book character)". Comic Vine. Retrieved June 22, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Cybersix vs. Dark Angel: A court battle" (in Spanish). Axxon.com.ar. November 26, 2011. Retrieved June 22, 2012. 
  10. ^ "New profile. Interview with Carlos Trillo" (in Spanish). Tebeosfera.com. September 20, 2007. Retrieved June 22, 2012. 

External links[edit]