I've been debating how to review these complete series sets ever since they were first announced. Since the material on the DVDs (audio, video and extras) are the same, I've decided this review will be about the differences between the season sets, and the complete series release.
I was rather shocked by how small the packaging for this set is. It measures a 5 1/2" square, yet it holds 5 seasons, 30 discs, 105 episodes, and over 4,500 mins of entertainment. Wow! The seasons 1-5 discs are the same as the ones found in the previous box sets, complete with the bonus material.
The box is a replica of a Rambaldi artifact, but getting into it isn't too hard. There are two main pieces to the box, the top "lid" and the rest of the box which unfolds once the top is taken off. The inside of the box contains a velvet material, with various symbols etched into it. There are five "books" which hold each of the seasons, and a small hardcover book, "Alias Revealed." The DVD books are exactly the same ones used for the Friends DVD set, though I have some issues with the way they're designed.
The books are designed to be flipped through like a regular book; the pages turn from right to left. Unfortunately the design of the inside packaging could be a lot better. Each "page" holds a DVD (featuring the same artwork found on the season sets), and a list of the contents/episodes is printed on the flap. The discs alternate which side they're on; discs found on the right-hand side are removed from the right, and the ones found on the left-hand side are removed from the left. The episodes are printed from top to bottom, so you're constantly flipping the packaging from side-to-side so you can read the text. A much better design would have been to have all the discs removed from the top, with the text written on the pouch below. The disc art would have lined up, and the text would have been easier to read. The Friends set was designed with the spine at the top, and all the discs removed from the right - if you flip the book so the spine is on the left then you would have the packaging that the Alias set should have used. I also found the box a bit hard to put together; you have to fold the sides up and put on the top.
The Material Alias is the first complete series set I've looked at that includes additional material on a bonus disc; the others have just been printed material, or nothing at all.
There's a "hidden" compartment (it's actually quite easy to find) that holds the single disc titled "Endgame." The disc contains material that hasn't been released before, including:
Case Closed: A Look Back at 5 Years of Alias (36:43)
A look back at the five seasons of the series, featuring interviews with the cast and crew. There are five sections to this; "Introduction," "Created By," "Alias Undercover," "A Fan Farewell" and "The Final Chapter."
Alias Time Capsule: The Pilot Interviews (6:43)
There are a bunch of interviews with the cast members shot during the pilot.
Learn the secrets of #47. I can't say any more.
Axis of Evil (4:19)
A look at the "bad guys" of Alias.
Deleted Scenes (4:50)
Additional deleted scenes from season 5.
Alias Magazine: Complete Cover Gallery (23 images)
23 covers from the official Alias magazine. I like that they have thumbnails which can be enlarged.
This hard-cover book (it's small) answers some questions you may have about the series. It's a nice thing to include in a set like this.
To Upgrade, or Not to Upgrade?
There's more reason to upgrade to this DVD set than the other complete series sets because there's a disc with bonus material that can't be found elsewhere. The packaging is pretty neat, and it takes up less shelf space than all the seasons together. It really stands out as well, though it's not obvious exactly what the box is to a non-fan (but who cares about them!). The set sells for $150 in stores, which is a great price considering the other seasons are going for about $50 a piece (except season 5). You should be able to ditch the seasons you've already purchased and pick this one up (and possibly make a bit of money). Don't forget this set is limited to 40,000, so don't wait too long to buy it if it's something you want.
Alias: The Complete Series is a great set for fans of the series. Attractive packaging and a disc full of extras (featuring nearly an hour of bonus material) makes the set worth an upgrade if you already own some of the other seasons.
Sorry for the delay in getting this review posted to the site. I was supposed to receive this on the Friday before I left for my Mexican vacation, but UPS didn't come, and the depot wasn't open on Saturday. That meant it had to wait until I got home from the holiday, and I ended up playing catch-up for most of the week. Ugh!