Lithe, graceful, and gorgeous, with her second-skin catsuits and blazing onyx eyes, Jessica Alba’s Max – a genetically engineered meta-human on the run in a futuristic dystopia – was, for a while, TV’s hottest kick-butt heroine. But there was more to her than eye candy. An escapee from a secret government lab, Max was a soulfully tortured figure, roaming the squalid streets of a corrupt police state, being hunted by her sinister creator (John Savage), and helping a crusading cyberjournalist fight black marketers, organized crime, and, of course, Big Brother.
Cocreated by James Cameron, the show was ambitiously conceived (Dark Angel: The Complete First Season needs three different ”making of” docs to detail the elaborately imagined world), and only occasionally did it realize its potential. But it had some memorable episodes, usually involving Max’s bittersweet reunions with fellow escapees, or the flare-ups of her assorted programming flaws – like the feline DNA that occasionally put her ”in heat” or the chemical deficiencies that sometimes strung her out like a junkie. That’s when this dark angel revealed the stuff of any good superheroine: her vulnerability, her imperfection, her humanity.