Filmed in Vancouver: Dark Angel


Over the next while I will be looking at a few of the good, not-so-good and great shows that have been filmed in Vancouver over the years. This is by no means an exhaustive list.

Title: Dark Angel
Stars: Jessica Alba
Canadian Content: The show is set in Seattle, which is sort of like Canada.
Lasting Impact: Jessica Alba’s career.
Good or bad: I’ll leave that up to the comments to say. I’ve never really gotten into the show, and so I have no opinion on it either way.

So far I’ve been focusing on shows that I have watched, and so can write about with some authority. Some, such as 21 Jump Street [mbv], might be a little clouded by time and memory but Dark Angel is the first show where I have only watched a few episodes, and though that’s as much screen time as a feature film it’s not the same. As such this feature will not be as extensive as some of my other ones, however if you have anything you want to add as a viewer (or even a cast/crew member) on Dark Angel feel free to either leave a note in our comments of email me [jks].

Dark Angel came at a time when everyone was still convinced that James Cameron was the next Steven Spielberg, and that everything he touched turned to gold. A few years after Titantic came the announcement that he was turning his attention to a new television series set in a post-apocalyptic future, kind of like The Terminator but the Terminator would be played by a hot chick. It was meant to be the ultimate geekgasm, science fiction nerdery married to an attractive chick and James Cameron’s directorial know-how (Cameron directed the second season’s finale which would turn out to be the show’s last episode).

Set in a post-Pulse (no I don’t know what that means either) the show never looked like the Terminator, nor any of Cameron’s screen work. Even with a fairly healthy tv budget it never even achieved the visual quality of the later Star Treks, or even other Fox shows like 24 and Firefly which would later replace Dark Angel. Star Jessica Alba seemed to spend most time on post-apocalyptic soundstages or in post-apocalypitc Stanley Park (which because it was filmed before the wind storm looks better than pre-apocalyptic Stanley Park) wearing clothing that was less from the future and more from Zellers.

None of which would matter if the show’s story drew you in right away and kept you hooked. The original Star Trek was made with wood, cardboard and duct tape and yet still holds up today. The trouble I always had with Dark Angel is that unless you started watching the show from episode one it was nearly impossible to understand. Having a mythos and an ongoing plot is fine, but if the show isn’t new viewer friendly it’s never going to have a life beyond being a cult DVD favorite. Whereas you might not have been following the ongoing alien abduction plot on The X-Files [mbv] you could always watch a single episode and get what was going on since largely there were only a few mythos episodes a season. The few times I’ve tried to watch re-runs on Space I’ve been lost within ten minutes as to who and what is going on.

Still Dark Angel‘s fans were dedicated, and despite getting the usual dickish treatment from Fox who kept shuffling the show around the schedual until it died, it lasted two seasons and has done well on DVD and re-runs. Eventually Fox decided not to renew the show because they were taking on a new science fiction show from Buffy The Vampire creator Joss Whedon called Firefly which Fox managed to kill even quicker than Dark Angel.

The lasting impact to Vancouver’s film industry is fairly minimal. By this point Vancouver had already established itself as being able to hold big budget television productions with shows like The X-Files and Stargate SG-1 which was already shooting locally before Dark Angel ramped up. Vancouver passed itself off as Seattle well, something that is never particularly difficult for the city. The only real lasting impact the show had was that it gave Jessica Alba’s career a jump start, which would later lead to her role as Susan Storm in the two Fantastic Four movies filmed here. I’m not quite sure if we can consider that a positive or a negative, the jury is still out on that.

4 Comments so far

  1. David Hayes (unregistered) on August 1st, 2007 @ 11:54 am

    Dark Angel (like so many other promising shows) was just starting to get really good when Fox killed it. Just like Firefly. Stupid Fox…

  2. Hummingbird604 (unregistered) on August 1st, 2007 @ 4:42 pm

    Well, Season 1 of Dark Angel was awesome. Season 2 was ok up until the second episode. I think that they really messed up with killing Tinga and brainwashing Brin (two of the original X5 escapees). William Gregory Lee was another X5, as was Jensen Ackles (who now is a star in his own show, Supernatural, along Jared Padalecki).

    You can tell I loved Dark Angel. Check my previous comment to your Smallville post on a little bit of Canadian content in the show :)

  3. David D. (unregistered) on August 12th, 2007 @ 10:28 am

    I’d have to say that Dark Angel was my second favourite Vancouver-based series (Dead Like Me was first).

    It’s true that you had to watch from episode 1, but if you did, you were hooked. I liked the idea of a diaspora of ‘super’ kids from a government installation. Hated what they eventually did with the show to make it more palatable to a younger audience (which meant dumbing it down).

    Oh, and the idea of Jessica Alba (or her feline-genetic character) ‘in heat’, is something to ponder….

  4. Justin (unregistered) on August 16th, 2007 @ 5:57 pm

    Post pulse is in reference to an E.M.P. that was set off by terrorists (I think it was terrorists).
    ~ Electro-magnetic Pulse” which when set off will fry anything electronic…which is why in the remade version of war of the worlds Tom Cruise had to go look for a car that was older..hence less electronics
    Just thought you might want to know that.

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