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Angel: The Complete Third Season

Back from Pylea with the brainy, neurotic Fred (Amy Acker) added to an already over-populated cast, the gang at Angel Investigations got back to the business of helping the helpless in Season Three. Cordelia's (Charisma Carpenter) visions start to take a toll on her health in "That Vision Thing," Gunn's (J. August Richards) ex-partners go on a demon-killing rampage in "That Old Gang of Mine," Lilah (Stephanie Romanov) continues to scheme against the good guys, and Angel's sire Darla (Julie Benz) shows up on the doorstep massively — and inexplicably — pregnant with Angel's child. As with creator Joss Whedon's other hit show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the longer Angel was on the air the more inconsistent the writing became, and Season Three stands as a fine example of that problem. There are excellent one-shot episodes in this set, like "Waiting in the Wings," which finds the crew investigating a ballet company that hasn't changed at all since Angel last saw them in the late 1800s, the very funny "Carpe Noctem" in which a creepy old man switches bodies with Angel, and "Double or Nothing" with Gunn attempting to hold onto his soul, having promised it to a casino owner in exchange for a past debt. But on the stupid side of the coin, Darla's pregnancy leads spectacularly to the birth of Angel's son, Connor … and after several episodes that get bogged down by babysitting jokes, Connor's snatched by evil Angel-hater Holtz (Keith Szarabajka), taken to another dimension, and returned as an annoying, whiny, homicidal teen (Vincent Kartheiser), setting the stage for a truly awful overriding storyline in Season Four. Fox's DVD box set of Angel: The Complete Third Season offers all 22 episodes in gorgeous anamorphic transfers (1.78.1) with terrific Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. The surprisingly lackluster extras include optional commentary by Tim Minear, Jeffrey Bell, Mere Smith, and/or Joss Whedon on four episodes, a featurette on Darla, a season overview, and a fairly dull "Page to Screen" production feature. There's also Amy Acker's and Vincent Kartheiser's screen tests, some not-all-that-amusing outtakes, and an extensive still gallery. Six-disc folding digipak.
—Dawn Taylor

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