Dark Angel (TV series)

Dark Angel (TV series)
Dark Angel
Genre Science fiction
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
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 43 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) James Cameron
Charles H. Eglee
René Echevarria
Running time 43 minutes
86 minutes ("Pilot")
60 minutes ("Freak Nation")
Production company(s) 20th Century Fox Television
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. The show premiered in the United States on the Fox network on October 3, 2000, and was canceled after two seasons. Set in a post-apocalyptic Seattle, the show chronicles the life of Max Guevara (X5-452), a genetically enhanced super-soldier, portrayed by Jessica Alba as an adult and Geneva Locke as a child, who, after escaping from a covert government biotech/military facility as a child, tries to lead some semblance of a normal life and constantly try to elude capture by government agents, while 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.



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 utter 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 and eldest brother. 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 human/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

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, a comet came through the atmosphere of the earth, and it 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 repositories of DNA, preserving the DNA of the survivors. This cult was an ancient blood cult that passed on this genetic immunity to selective members to keep this antibody against the coming of the comet again which was going to happen in season 3. So that they'd survive because they're genetically select. Everybody else on the planet would perish and the members of the cult would be there to rebuild civilization. They would inherit the earth.

Sandeman, Max's creator, out of the Manticore X-5 mythology was a man that jumped from this cult to implement this immunity genetic technology into the rest of human society to save all of humanity. He believed that the rest of humanity deserved the cure. The other cult members deemed Sandeman a heretic and a threat to 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 spread the antibody and dispersed through the human race and save everyone from the comet or, the immunity would be attached to the viruses associated with the common cold and thus spread through the common cold (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

Main characters

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 5–22 Season 2, Episodes 1–4 Ashley Scott Member of the S.1.W. resistance movement, friend to Logan

The 12 original escapees

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) (Every Episode)
  • Zack (X5-599) (William Gregory Lee) (Episode 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)
  • 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 (X5-751) (from the book)
  • Vada (from the book)
  • Kavi (from the book)

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 got shot and never got a taste of freedom,
  • Jace (X5-798) (Shireen Crutchfield in Episode 15), who turned back at the last minute.

Other recurring characters



Included as part of the original publicity press kit was the score for the pilot episode, titled Dark Angel: Complete Score from the Dark Angel Pilot. This 37-track CD was for promotional use only and not for resale. This promo CD is the only known publication of the Dark Angel pilot score in its entirety and is extremely rare.


The score for the series was composed and conducted by Joel McNeely. The score for the pilot episode 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 as the end credits for the duration of the series.


Background to series

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

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 and did well with both critics and audiences, averaging 10.1 million viewers during its first season on the air.

The following season, however, Fox made the bold decision to move Dark Angel to Friday nights preceding the network's new series Pasadena in order to try and 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 between the first and second seasons, resulting in its inevitable cancellation as well, despite a strong and vocal fan base and a finale directed by series creator James Cameron.

Though fans of the show attribute Dark Angel's decline in ratings to Fox's decision to move the series to a lower-rated night of the week, many also cite changes in the show's format and tone during its second season as reasons for the large decrease in viewership. These changes were said to be a result of budgetary concerns—any high-concept television series that heavily utilizes special effects is expensive to produce—and the departure of several actors, as John Savage, Alimi Ballard and Jennifer Blanc had all left the series as regulars and popular recurring actors William Gregory Lee and Nana Visitor had been written out of the show prior to its cancellation. The final episode of the series aired on May 3, 2002.

After the end of the show's second season, a third season appeared to be close to getting the green light, but Fox instead canceled the show at the last minute in order to make room for Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon's new science fiction series Firefly on the network's schedule. Incidentally, Firefly suffered the same fate as Dark Angel and was subsequently canceled the following season as well.

Though canceled due to sagging ratings in its second season, Dark Angel has high availability with most on-demand services as the Sci-Fi Channel in the United States and E4 in the United Kingdom regularly air reruns of both seasons. As of 2003, both seasons of the show are also available on DVD.

U.S. ratings

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[1] 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[2] #114


DVD releases

20th Century Fox released Seasons 1 and 2 of Dark Angel on DVD in Region 1 & Region 2 in 2003. Both seasons were re-released in Region 1 on June 5, 2007, with slim packaging.[3] The Region 1 releases contain several special features, including commentaries, bloopers, deleted scenes and featurettes. However, Region 2 releases are in 16:9 widescreen, while Region 1 releases are 4:3 fullscreen.

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

  • 2000: Saturn Award for Best Actress on TelevisionJessica Alba
  • 2000: Nominated for Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama — Jessica Alba
  • 2001: People's Choice Award for Favorite Television New Dramatic Series
  • 2001: TV Guide Awards for Breakout Star of the Year — Jessica Alba
  • 2001: Teen Choice Award for Choice Actress — Jessica Alba
  • 2001: Canadian Society of Cinematographers Award for Best Cinematography in a TV Series
  • 2001: International Monitor Awards for Best Visual Effects in a TV series


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.


External links

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