"Dark Angel" is a cyberpunk / science fiction television series
created by the famous director, James Cameron, in 2000. The series is set
in Seattle (Washington) in 2019. It is centered around a genetically enhanced
female super-soldier called Max who escaped from her military experimental
laboratory and went into hiding. Now, she is fighting for the good cause
in a post-apocalyptic America...
The role of Max is portrayed by Jessica Alba. The series was her breakthrough
which made her a star. Jessica had already trained one year for her role,
before shooting begun. Besides motorcycling, she learned various martial
arts and did a daily fitness training for several hours. Since at the time
of casting just one page of script existed about Max' character, the role
was virtually tailor-made for Jessica. With this series, she won the People's
Choice Award (2001), the TV Guide Award (2001) and the Teen Choice Award
(2001) amongst others.
StoryMax is a very special girl: Being part of the X5 series of the secret military project "Manticore", Max has been made and drilled in a genetic laboratory - with the aim to create perfect, quasi-invincible soldiers with superior intelligence, strength and reflexes. However, after some years it turned out that this aim was not fully reach. A fatal "construction error" in their nervous system forces all children of this series to regularly take the medicament "Tryptophan" in order to avoid torturous death. When they all were to be killed for that reason, the nine-year-old Max and eleven other children managed to escape from the research facility in the hills of Wyoming. However, they had to split up during their escape and lost contact.
Short time after their escape in 2009, the USA became victim of a terrorist attack. Due to a electromagnetic pulse, all computers and means of communication were destroyed and the country descended into chaos. In the general confusion, the escaped children could disappear.
Ten years later, violence and the law of the strongest rule in post-apocalyptic Seattle. Here of all citys, Max succeed in setting up her own business. She earns her living as a nondescript bicycle courier at "Jam Pony" messenger service. None of her friends suspect her to be something special. After she had realized herself who and what she is, Max desperately tries to find her "fellow sufferers" that escaped with her from "Manticore". However, the people behind this secret project, especially the ruthless Colonel Lydecker, have still not yet given up their chase...
Even though Max is forced to live as inconspicuously as possible at
the fringes of society, she uses her special abilities as a sneak thief
in order to scare up the money necessary for her investigations. As fate
would have it, Max encounters the idealistic cyber-journalist Logan Cale
during one of her nightly break-ins. The young man form a rich family made
it his own business to fight under the pseudonym "Eyes Only" agains corruption
and the suppressive establishment in order to save the society. Logan get
curious for the extraordinary girl that intruded into his home. With ultra-modern
technology and persistence, he succeeds in finding Max and discovering
her secret. He finds the right way to get Max on his side. He promises
to discover more of Max' past and the whereabouts of her "siblings" while
she supports his activities in return. In this way, Max become a fighter
for the good cause against her beliefs. However, in doing so she gets more
and more into the focus of her haunters that are chasing her mercilessly.
The fight for her freedom and the future of America begins...
Cancelation of the SeriesDespite having a strong fan following (and a second season final directed by James Cameron himself), "Dark Angel" was canceled after only two seasons in 2002 due to too high production costs and too low US viewer numbers during the second season. On the other hand, the series was very successful outside of the USA.
Loyal fans of the series put the viewer losses down to a misjudgment by the US channel FOX which decided to air the second season on Friday evening instead of Tuesday evening. Additionally, the changes in atmosphere and background of the series were held responsible for its downfall. However, many of the changes were inevitable due to budget worries, quitting actors and the September 11 attacks. The latter forced the series to downplay its post-apocalyptic scenario. Nevertheless, the portrayal of the own country as former superpower vanquished by terrorists and fighting for survival might have been in conflict with a patriotic self-perception of americans viewers.
Initially, however, the third seemed to be "done deal", but when Joss Whedon rewrote his pilot for the series "Firefly" according to demands of the TV channel, FOX prefered the production of "Firefly". This was the definite end of "Dark Angel". ("Firefly" was canceled after only eleven of the fourteen produced episodes were aired.)
As small consolation for fans, two official books were released in 2003
reputed to be based upon the story planed for the third season. They finish
important open plot strand and conclude the series.
Background InformationAlthough the series is set in Seattle (Washington, USA), shooting was actually done at the "Lions Gate Studios" in Vancouver (British Columbia, Canada). The location used as the "Manticore" base is the Riverview Medical Center, a psychiatric hospital in Coquitlam (Canada). This set is frequently used in movie business. It is visible in some other Vancouver productions such as "The X-Files", "The Butterfly Effect", "Smallville" or "Supernatural". The used building is the Crease Building which is concidered to be uninhabitable since the 1980s, but it is still used for shooting movies.
While the characters of Max and Logan fall in love with each other during
the course of the storyline, both leading actors, Jessica Alba and Michael
Weatherly, also became a couple in real life while shooting the series.
Hence, it is not surprising that their falling-in-love is also convincingly
within the series. In 2001, both actors announced their engagement, however
two years later they broke up again.
Press Comments and ReviewsMatt Roush for "TV Guide", 8-14 September 2001
"Max is a great heroine."
Gary Levin for "USA Today", 24 August 2001
"Tiger Beat", September 2001
David Zurawik for the "New York Post", 4 August 2001
David Zurawik for the "Baltimore Sun", 29 July 2001
J. Max Robins for "TV Guide", 5-11 May 2001
"Teen People", May 2001
"Jump", Spring 2001
David Bauder for the "Associated Press", 10 April 2001
Alan Johnson for the "Chicago Tribune", 23 March 2001
Benjamin Svetkey for "Entertainment Weekly", 16 March 2001
"Dreamwatch", March 2001
"Glamour", February 2001
Awards2000: Saturn Award for Best Actress on Television - Jessica Alba in "Dark Angel"
2001: People's Choice Award for Favorite Television New Dramatic Series
2001: TV Guide Award for Breakout Star of the Year - Jessica Alba in "Dark Angel"
2001: Teen Choice Award for Choice Actress - Jessica Alba in "Dark Angel"
2001: Canadian Society of Cinematographers Award for Best Cinematography in a TV Series
Dark Angel on DVD
Of course, there is also an official soundtrack of the TV series, containing 13 tracks.
Dark Angel - The Original TV Series Soundtrack
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