Dark Angel (Fox, 2000-2002)
I must admit that I’m not a big fan on American TV dramas but this was one that caught my eye from the first time I saw it. Dark Angel was an ambitious science-fiction post-apocalyptic show set in the future that was co-created by James Cameron who has directed lots of successful films including The Terminator.
Dark Angel starred Jessica Alba as Max, a genetically-enhanced supersoldier with a distinctive barcode on the back of her neck who in 2009 along with 11 other children escaped from a government military facility codenamed Manticore where she was being trained. In the same year an electromagnetic pulse was released which destroys modern technology and places America into chaos.
Dark Angel is set ten years later in 2019 where Max tries to live a regular life in the post-pulse Seattle although it is clear that there is something different about her with her super abilities, and the first series consists of the attempts by various government agents to recapture Max and her quest to track down her other escapees. Max works as a bicycle courier at a company called Jam Pony and doesn’t like her temperamental boss Normal but becomes friends with her colleagues including Original Cindy (who Max later moves in with), Herbal Thought and Sketchy who were also great characters.
The other main cast member is Logan Cale, he is the heir to a fortune and confined to a wheelchair in the earliest episodes but does eventually regain the ability to walk. He is only known to people as the mysterious figure “Eyes Only” describing himself as “the only free voice left in the city” who hacks into various TV programmes to pass on secret information that the government don’t want people to know and help fight corruption. After a while he gets to know Max well and they often work together to help people out. Max also likes to often ride around on her motorcycle whilst thinking about her next move.
The second series had a change in format where Manticore is destroyed and all of the people in there are released, including all sorts of strange characters such as Joshua who was an experiment who had canine DNA. The second series concluded with an exciting extended episode called “Freak Nation” which was intended to set up the third series but unfortunately at this point the show was cancelled.
The dates at the start reflect when Dark Angel was shown on American TV, in the UK the show has appeared on various channels over the years including Channel 5, Sci-Fi, E4 and Horror. Dark Angel wasn’t a big success in America, it ran for 43 episodes which seems a lot but was only two series worth, but it did win a few awards and after the show ended there was a video game released, and every episode is available on DVD. Pleasingly though Jessica Alba in more recent years has gone on to be a successful actress in various films and Michael Weatherly has gone on to appear in about 250 episodes of the crime drama series NCIS.
I did enjoy watching every episode of Dark Angel because for some reason I seem to like bizarre post-apocalyptic dramas with unusual and creative characters and I’ll be looking back at another memorable show in this genre next.