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Read our Top 10 listing of Buffy episodes.

Read our reviews of spinoff TV series
Angel on DVD: Season One,
Season Two, Season Three

The Slayer Collection:
Buffy The Vampire Slayer - Angel
cast: Sarah Michelle Gellar, David Boreanaz, Nicholas Brendon, Alyson Hannigan, and Charisma Carpenter

creator: Josh Whedon
180 minutes (15) 2003 widescreen ratio 1.78:1
20th Century Fox DVD Region 2 + 4 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Debbie Moon
The Buffy, The Vampire Slayer marketing juggernaut rumbles on: its latest idea, one-disc collections of episodes focusing around one character. For a series with such an strong ongoing plot, this is an idea with as many pitfalls as advantages: four episodes collated from across several seasons may give us some sense of the character, but risk portraying the series as a kaleidoscope of confusing events.
   The Angel collection takes us on a helter-skelter journey through the fall and redemption of the vampire with a soul. From the first season, the eponymous 'Angel' deals with Buffy's realisation that her broody crime-fighting beau is in fact a vampire. Can a vamp ever be a good person? Giles says no; but Angel has a secret, one that sets him apart from the rest of his race... In retrospect, this revelation has lost much of its power, but the sharpness of the writing still impresses. When the man she has just kissed first involuntarily reverts to vampire appearance, does Buffy grab a stake and attack him? No: she screams like a girl. And who wouldn't, slayer or not?
   The inclusion of Innocence is slightly puzzling. The second half of a two-parter in all but name, its primary purpose is to deal with a monstrous villain who will mean nothing to you if this disc is your first experience of Buffy. It does, however, give us our first taste of Angelus - Angel released from the curse which saddles him with a human soul, and therefore empathy, remorse, and morals - in a series of beautifully crafted scenes that still retain their power to shock. David Boreanaz seizes this opportunity to show his versatility, fleshing out a character who is recognisably Angel, and yet so much more. As if that wasn't enough, you also get high comedy as Xander and Cordy break into a military base, and Oz making his first declaration of love for Willow, one of the most tender moments ever committed to film. Oh, and a big explosion!
   If the first two episodes could be a little confusing, the disc redeems itself with two episodes that stand well alone, and also happen to be two of the greatest Buffy episodes. I Only Have Eyes For You is a perfect marriage of ongoing plot and plot-of-the-week. Angelus has already killed one of Buffy's friends, and is tightening the noose around her. An annual school dance triggers an outbreak of psychic phenomena at Sunnydale High, which seem to be linked to a murder-suicide almost 50 years previously. An angry ghost is condemned to endlessly recreate his crimes - but Buffy and Angel's destructive relationship may make them the only people who can release him... Ingenious, tender and moving, this is a classic Buffy episode.
   Amends leaps to the third series: in intervening episodes, Buffy has been forced to allow Angel (soul restored) to be dragged into a demon dimension to prevent the end of the world. He should have been trapped there, suffering, forever - but he mysteriously reappears, shocked and brutalised, with no idea how or why he has been returned. Now, visions of his vampire past, and his victims, torment him, and as his sanity unravels, Buffy struggles to find out who's doing this and why. An evil force wants to return Angel to his evil self - his true self, they say - and the only way he can see to frustrate its plan is to kill himself. But evil is not the only power at work in his life - and if it takes a miracle to save him, then perhaps a miracle is what he'll get... Tremendous performances from Boreanaz and Sarah Michelle Gellar, and a truly magical ending, make this an episode not to be missed.
   DVD extras are minimal: a trailer, and a 'character profile' put together from interviews and episode snippets. This wastes an opportunity by only showing scenes from episodes on this disc, when excerpts from other episodes could have fleshed out the complex plot. It's hard to say who this disc is aimed at. Real fans will already have all these episodes, and newcomers may find the character-focused format confusing. However, the quality of the product cannot be denied. If you have somehow missed out on the Buffy phenomena, get one of these collections, and give it a go.

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