Due to the massive size of this review, I have provided a table of contents to assist in navigating the review. You may use the table of contents to jump to specific sections or if you prefer, simply scroll through the review as you please. Also for your convenience, there are links to return to the table of contents at the end of each major section.
Table of Contents
Body of Review
4. The First Season
5. The Second Season
6. The Third Season
7. The Fourth Season
8. The Fifth Season
9. The First Season
10. The Second Season
11. The Third Season
12. The Fourth Season
13. The Fifth Season
18. The First Season
19. The Second Season
20. The Third Season
21. The Fourth Season
22. The Fifth Season
23. Limited Edition Exclusives
24. Final Thoughts
Introduction: The Complete Collection
This review covers Alias: The Complete Collection: Limited Edition. This set contains a total of twenty-nine DVDs, which is comprised of Alias's five seasons and an exclusive bonus disc. The twenty-nine DVDs are packaged together in a Rambaldi artifact box, which is perfect for the hardcore Alias fans. This is limited; there are only 40,000 in existence. So, if you are thinking about picking one up, you might want to do it sooner than later, because they will not be around forever.
The twenty-eight discs that are dedicated to the season content are the exact same discs found in the individual season releases. The discs are the same in respect to episode content, special features, and even disc artwork. Nothing has been modified. I personally think streamlining the DVD menus to fit 'the complete collection' would have been a neat idea, as well as having a similar format that matched the unique box for the disc artwork.
Regardless, Buena Vista has decided to just put the same DVDs from the previous releases into booklet-style slip cases. (Refer to the section in the review about packaging for more details and pictures). The exclusive bonus disc is said to contain hours of extras not found elsewhere. Its full breakdown is provided in a later section of this review.
For those who have been collecting the Alias season sets, investing the asking price of $199.99 (or even less if you find a retailer selling it for less than M.R.S.P., which is very likely) may not be worth it. For the simple fact that this complete collection does not feature a whole lot of additional material or content that I would recommend double dipping. Unless of course, you are a diehard Alias fan. In such as case, simply having this slick looking Rambaldi box on your shelf is a must.
But in the case you are more or less a casual viewer of Alias, the additional bonus features do not provide a whole lot of material to warrant double dipping. If you do fall into this category, you might want to just rent the disc or borrow a friend's. However, if you have not been collection the season sets, fan or newcomer, I highly recommend purchasing this complete collection. Alias is a fun show, and while in its final season the excitement starts to wane, the first four seasons are pretty darn good. And the Rambaldi box is also a pretty cool item to have in your collection.
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For those not familiar with Alias, it is a spy-drama set in present time dealing with the intelligence community, secret agents, cool gadgets, notorious bad guys, and a huge picture about a fictional guy named Rambaldi. The series was created by J.J. Abrams, whose most recent successful television venture has been Lost and he was also responsible for Felicity. The series also includes John Eisendrath, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner, Jesse Alexander, and Ken Olin who are billed as executive producers.
These individuals feature history and background with writing and producing in television series like Hercules: The Legendary Journey's, Xena: Warrior Princess, Beverly Hills, 90210, Felicity, Lost, Profiler, Heroes, and more. The crew has an extensive background in television dramas, and they have with Alias incorporated plenty of drama with mystery/suspense about spies and their unique trade.
The big picture throughout the series' five season run is about a Milo Rambaldi. He was born in the mid 1400s and found to be exceptionally bright. Rambaldi served as the chief architect for the Pope Alexander the 6th. He was an artist and investor, and far too bright for his time. Despite having been five hundred years in the past, he was able to make many technological predictions that came true in present time. His has become the fascination of the intelligence community, both the good and bad guys want to undercover his work and find out his endgame--what Rambaldi was striving for before he was executed for heresy.
The Rambaldi plot is what drives the series and gives the characters and their related organizations a purpose for their actions. This is a huge aspect that some people find too fluffy or too unrealistic to even bother watching the series. I admit, it is a horribly fake concept, but at the same time it puts the show in a fantasy world and the spy-missions the cast goes on are usually very fun. Alias is a series that cannot be taken too seriously to enjoy.
In addition to the Rambaldi plot, the series focus on other subplots that the characters deal with. For instance, the main character Sydney Bristow has an intriguing background that she learns about throughout the season. This is, of course, after her life is turned upside down when she finds out she has been working for a criminal organization (all the time she thought she was employed with a covert division of the CIA). It is an interesting aspect and developments like these give the series the many twists and turns to help keep it mysterious and dramatic.
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Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) is the main character of Alias. In the earlier season, it is established that she was approached by a man who claimed to be working for the CIA. After going through some rigorous testing, she was given a job with a covert black ops branch of the CIA known as SD-6. Eventually, she asked to become a field agent and she was found to have a natural talent for it. Years later, when she revealed her double-life to her fiance Danny Hecht, he was killed for knowing her secret. Soon after, Sidney became aware she was working for the wrong bad guys and started a new life as a double agent with the real CIA. She appears as a regular cast member throughout the entire series, but has a limited role in season five due to Garner's pregnancy.
Jack Bristow (Victor Garber) is Sydney's father. The two have an estranged relationship with limited communication. It is not until after Sydney becomes a double agent that their relationship begins to change. Jack is a double agent himself. Throughout the series, he holds high ranking positions in both the CIA and as a double agent in terrorist organizations. He has a steadfast, determined personality and will do whatever is necessary to protect the wellbeing of the United States and his daughter. His wife is Laura Bristow, which is an alias. She is really a KGB spy. He appears as a regular cast member throughout the entire series.
Arvin Sloane (Ron Rifkin) is leader of SD-6 and many other terrorist organizations. He is a former CIA officer who was fascinated by the works of Rambaldi. His obsession led him to turning his allegiance towards anyone and anything that could help him further his Rambaldi cause. He is eventually captured by CIA operatives and put to work because of his extensive knowledge of terrorist organizations. The thing about this guy is that you never know what he is thinking. He is cold and will do whatever it takes to further his cause. He appears as a regular cast member throughout the entire series.
Marcus Dixon (Carl Lumbly) is Sydney's partner from their days at SD-6. He is a tough field agent. While at SD-6, he believes it is truly a CIA black ops division. Even though Sydney turns into a double agent, she is forced to keep it from Dixon and on more than one occasion, he becomes suspicious of her activities. After SD-6 being shutdown, he transitions to the CIA and becomes an active agent in the war against terrorism. His wife was murdered by Sloane after Dixon accidentally shot his wife. He appears as a regular cast member throughout the entire series.
Marshall Flinkman (Kevin Weisman) is the comical relief for the show. Marshall's role in SD-6 (and later CIA) is operations technology. He makes the gadgets and weapons the field agents use on their missions. He is a very smart guy and his earlier character imbues several anti-social personality traits, which is played off as a kind of a joke. Gradually, he becomes a more confident character and even partakes in a couple of missions of his own. He is a fun character and his eccentric personality and goofy behavior add humor to the show. He appears as a regular cast member throughout the entire series.
Michael Vaughn (Michael Vartan) is a CIA officer. He is a good looking, smart, well-versed agent who has the ability to command and function in the field. Initially, he acted as Sydney's handler when she first approached the CIA about being a double agent. The two developed a romantic relationship. Eventually, he started to play a more active role, partnering with Sydney. Between the second and third seasons, he started a relationship with Lauren Reed, a representative from the National Security Council. She turned out to be a double agent. He like many others in the show has a secret and an alternative agenda. He appears as a regular cast member for the first four seasons and reoccurring in the final season.
Will Tippin (Bradley Cooper) is one of Sydney's closest friends. He was originally a journalist and eventually took a post as a CIA analyst before being put into the witness protection program. After the death of Sydney's fiance, he began looking into places SD-6 would have preferred he did not. He quickly found himself over his head and on occasion assisted Sydney in her efforts. He appears in the first and second seasons as regular cast member and makes guest appearances thereafter.
Francie Calfo (Merrin Dungey) was Sydney's roommate and good friend. In the first season, she acted as a shoulder to cry on for Sydney to deal with all of her personal problems. In the second season, Francie is replaced by Allison Doren. Sark sent Allison in to take Francie's place (she is a genetic clone) to spy on Sydney. She is not a major character, but when the drama and action centers on her, it can get good. She appears in the first and second seasons as a regular cast member.
Eric Weiss (Greg Grunberg) is one of Vaughn's good friends at the CIA. Initially, he worked in command, but soon found himself working the field when he moved over to black ops in APO. Like Marshall, Weiss provides some comic relief with his sarcastic demeanor. He was a reoccurring character for the first two seasons and held a permanent role in season three and four. In the final season, he leaves the CIA to work for a covert ops division in Washington, D.C.
Nadia Santos (Mia Maestro) is the illegitimate daughter of Sloane and Irina's brief indiscretion. She joins the cast in season three as a guest star and becomes a permanent character throughout season four with reoccurring roles in season five. She is just as tough as Sydney. She originally was employed with Argentina's intelligence service, and she switched allegiances to APO. At APO, she got a chance to know her father Sloane, who you were never sure if he cared more about her or Rambaldi.
Irina Derevko (Lena Olin) was married to Jack Bristow under the alias of Laura Bristow. She is Sydney and Nadia's mother. She is a KGB agent who married Jack because of his affiliation to the CIA. Despite being dubbed as one of the bad guys, she works on occasion with Sydney and Jack. She is one of many Derevko sisters who make appearances in the series with a plot revolving around Rambaldi.
Julian Sark (David Anders) is the guy you love to hate. He appears throughout the series as a reoccurring character. Sark is a bad guy, but he is also very charming and witty. He also has an accent that only adds to his charm. He works with various terrorist organizations towards unlocking the secrets of Rambaldi. He had a romantic relationship with Allison Doren and Lauren Reed.
Lauren Reed (Melissa George) was a double agent who worked at the CIA on behalf of the National Security Council. She plays Vaughn's wife, but of course, has her own agenda. Her father is a United States senator. She is the kind of girl you love to hate. She attractive and has a very dark side. Lauren appears in the third season.
Rachel Gibson (Rachel Nichols) is a character who finds herself in a life much like Sydney's. She is introduced in season five. Rachel was recruited into what she thought was a black ops CIA operation. However, as luck would have it, she was employed with a group of bad guys. She is captured by real CIA agents and is recruited into their ranks.
Thomas Grace (Balthazar Getty) is another new character introduced in season five. Grace was brought into APO to replace both Weiss and Vaughn as Bristow's new partner. His background is not fully revealed, but he is on a quest of his own. He wants to find the man who was responsible for his wife's death. He makes a decent field agent, but is no replacement for Vaughn or Weiss. He lacks the chemistry the other actors had. But given time, I think he could have grown into a stronger character.
Renee Rienne (Elodie Bouchez) is introduced in season five as a new ally for the CIA, who oddly enough is on the CIA's most wanted list. Despite being wanted, she works alongside Vaughn to track the mystery behind his father. In addition, she teams up with Sydney on occasion. While she is not necessarily a good guy, she has a personal beef with Prophet Five and hopes to take them down.
Kelly Peyton (Amy Acker) is a bad girl introduced in season five. She worked along with Rachel Gibson in the terrorist organization that posed as a CIA branch. When the organization was shut down, Kelly and Rachel's boss was captured, but Kelly got away. She took over his duties in Prophet Five and became a new nemesis for the good guys at the CIA to face. She works along with the dynamic duo, Sloane and Sark.
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Review of The First Season
The inaugural season of Alias was a major breakthrough (in my humble opinion) for television. The sheer concept that Alias brought to its viewers was action-packed, high-paced, dramatic, suspenseful, and just a lot of fun. The series has been nominated for many different Golden Globe and Emmy Awards for its cast, writing, production, and overall series. It has been a huge success. This first season features some of the most exciting episodes of the series.
What I love most about season one is the initial setup of the series and getting to know the cast. The major focus of the episodes deals with the main character Sydney Bristow getting accustomed to her most recent transition in life. For the last seven years, she has been working for a black ops division of the CIA called SD-6. However, when her boyfriend of two years, Danny, proposes to her and she decides to tell him the truth about her life as an operator, he reacts poorly. While drunk, he reveals knowledge about SD-6 and Sydney's role in the organization. Unfortunately, company policy is swift and immediate action, permanently silencing the parties involved.
SD-6 sends out cleanup crews to terminate both Sydney and Danny, and while Sydney escapes death, her fiance does not. It is after this attempt on her life she came to realize SD-6 were not the people she thought they were. Afterwards, she wins back SD-6's trust and goes to the real CIA. The CIA assigns her to a young officer named Michael Vaughn and her life as a double agent begins. To add more to the fire, she also finds out there is another double agent in SD-6. Oddly enough, it is her father Jack Bristow. A man she hardly knows.
Throughout the rest of the season, Sydney struggles with the varying aspects of her life, on three fronts. Firstly, she has to keep up the charade at SD-6 that she is a faithful agent to their cause and knows nothing about SD-6 being a criminal organization. At SD-6 she has her partner Marcus Dixon, a strong-willed officer who believes he has been serving the United States government and fears Sydney's recent behavior indicates she has turned, Marshall Flinkman, the geeky and humorous operations technology supervisor, and Arvin Sloane, the SD-6 director who is as cold as a fish, the guy you love to hate. It is hard for her to work side-by-side with people she cares about and not be able to tell them the truth about SD-6's dark nature.
At the same time, Sydney has to deal with the CIA aspect of her job. As a double agent, Vaughn gives her counter-missions in response to the mission Slone gives her. Sydney has to manage the work for the CIA and maintain their trust, which comes into question on a couple occasions. There are some decent subplots to come from CIA officers who work against Sydney, the Department of Special Research (a covert division developed in World War II to analyze the paranormal), and FBI counter-intelligence.
The work aspects withstanding, Sydney is also faced with life on the personal front. She is in a graduate program in literature studies. She runs into small problems as she attempts to complete her master's degree while traveling around the country trying to the save the world. On the home front, she is constantly lying to her friends Will Tippin and Francie Calfo about her whereabouts. It is an intersecting aspect, really adds to the show's dramatic appeal, to help define Sydney as more than just a spy. But the most interesting story to come from this deals with Will. He is a journalist who uncovers more information about SD-6 than they want after he gets overly curious about Danny's mysterious death.
In short, what makes the first season so much fun is watching Sydney develop as a character and deal with life on these three fronts. Specific storylines include Sydney uncovering her past and getting to know her dad. Jack is an awesome character. He is cool and reserved, yet confident and strong. He makes the perfect double agent with the capability to be bad like a terrorist and good like a loving father who never had the chance to know his daughter. Other aspects of the characters are generally intriguing.
In regards to acting performances, the actors and actresses do a fine job with their roles. Jennifer Garner fits into her role well--the personality she gives her character and the grace and beauty she provides to the action sequences. Victor Garber is simply fantastic as Jack. I love this guy. He carries Jack with perfection. Ron Rifkin is also a delight. While you hate this guy, you also love him. He is devilish, yet likeable. The other actors and actresses provide strong support to the show with their performances.
However, while I greatly praise season one of Alias, I understand it has its limitations. I know several people who think the show is so unbelievable and unrealistic they refuse to watch it. In truth, the show is both unbelievable and unrealistic. The underlying plot about Milo Rambaldi seems farfetched (and as the show progresses it really gets outlandish). Rambaldi was Pope Alexander VI's chief architect. He was a technological genius and many of his predictions in the 1400s came true. Everyone in the intelligence community wants to know where his work was leading too; they want to know his endgame.
For me, Alias is one of those shows I am willing to let reality fly out the window, because it is so much fun. The unrealistic storylines provide some great action scenes mixed with bits of comedy and lots of drama. It is an exciting, intriguing, suspenseful, and simply amazing.
|| Highly Recommended
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Review of The Second Season
The second season of Alias changes things up by adding a new major player and restructuring the criminal world in several different ways. Sydney's mother enters the show and continues to play a huge role in the Rambaldi side of the story, as well as the development of the Bristow family. SD-6 takes a crushing blow that leaves Sloane joining forces with Sark and all of the SD-6 employees learning the truth about the fake CIA organization. Sydney and her friends' home lives are upset when Will has to drastically change his way of life to keep SD-6 from killing him and Francie becomes a victim of Sark's latest scheme to gain intelligence directly from Sydney. Overall, the second season is filled with just as much action, suspense, and excitement as the first season. The only real noticeable change is the increase in drama with a number of changes for the cast.
In the close of season one, Sydney's mother made a brief appearance. Her name is Irina Derevko. She's a diabolical mastermind behind the criminal organization that has been giving SD-6, CIA, and every other major player in the intelligence biz a run for their money. In season two, Irina willfully submits to the CIA and is taken into custody. What is interesting about this development is how Irina is able to manipulate the big picture from behind bars. Despite that she appears to genuinely want to help, you just know that she has a hidden agenda under that smile. At first, the only person who can see it is Jack. Everyone thinks his judgment clouded when it comes to Irina because of how she betrayed him.
Another fascinating aspect of this season is the development of Sydney as a character. There is a lot of background information about her child life that relates to both her father and mother. Since both are key players in her life now, there is some exciting drama from their history. On a related note, there is further development between Jack and Irina, as the two are forced back into each others' lives.
With Irina behind bars, Sark assumes command of Irina's operation and gives both the CIA and SD-6 something to think about as he becomes a key player in the Rambaldi hunt. Sark is a cool customer with a natural boyish charm. He becomes a very important character to this season and the dark underbelly, working side-by-side with Sloane.
Sloane finds himself in a predicament throughout the season. His wife Emily had been diagnosed with cancer and was nearing her death. Fortunately, she was found to be going into remission. Unfortunately, this news came after she had admitted knowledge of SD-6 and the Alliance had asked Sloane for her death. In return, he would prove his allegiance and be granted full partnership into the criminal organization. Sloane complied in the end of season one. However, in the early parts of season two, he is being taunted and provided various clues that she may not actually be dead. It is a ghostly and very well done aspect of the season.
Life at SD-6 also undergoes a major change. In the second half of the season, the CIA leans that there is a way to shutdown all of the SD cells at once. Server 47 is a special computer that contains all the information the U.S. government needs to put them out of business. It is a pretty big change because, well, everyone finds out the truth. Dixon, especially, takes the news hard and is reluctant at first to continue he work for the real good guys. One might think the shutdown of the Alliance and its SD branches might impact the series, but it doesn't. There are plenty of other bad guys afloat to keep the criminal world going and keep Sydney and her friends busy.
Outside of CIA/SD-6, Sydney's personal life becomes upset. Throughout season one, Will got too close to the truth about SD-6 and it ended with his life in jeopardy. In order to save him, Jack had to set Will on a course of ruination that made him look like a fraud as a reporter. The events left his life completely upset. He was made to look like a junkie who wrote fictional stories while high. The idea, the existence of SD-6 was not to be taken at face value because of this. The unfortunate part is that as a once promising writer, Will is now in shame as a heroin drug addict. The good news is that since he knows Sydney's secret, he provides someone Sydney can confide in.
Francie also undergoes a big change. She decides to go into business and start a restaurant. This development on the home front is a decent part to her development, as she overcomes her most recently bad relationship. Francie and Will also pursue a romantic relationship that ends with a big twist. In the later half of the season, Francie is no longer Francie, but Allison Doren. This season sees the concept of a "double", people who are genetically/physically altered to look like someone else. Francie/Allison adds another secretive, dark character and another unrealistic factor to the show, but at the same time heightens the drama.
What is good about this season is the nonstop action, mystery, and suspense. Like the first season, season two continue to offer lots of unbelievable action that is played out well and exciting. While there are some hokey moments/aspects scattered throughout the storylines (e.g., genetic duplicates), the big picture offers a lot of intrigue with engaging storylines, riveting action, and plenty of drama. There is also a lot of solid character development. For instance, Marshall starts to play a stronger role in the series and even goes on his first mission in the episode "A Higher Echelon". He is a fun character that almost everyone loves. Overall, season two continues to offer the same kind of excitement (with more drama) that season one had.
|| Highly Recommended
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Review of The Third Season
In the third season, the show focuses upon a major mystery, covering the details about Sydney Bristow's past. At the end of the second season, she awakens without memory of the last two years. This season uncovers the truth of those missing two years and the truth is far from what Bristow expected. There are also some stories that touch upon the previous seasons. But it's not specifically these stories that make the season entertaining, but rather the characters.
The cast of the previous season is the same, with the addition of Lauren Reed. But since this season is set two years after the previous season, the characters return with slightly different roles. Nothing is the way it was before. I enjoyed this change, because it gave this season a slightly different pace from the previous seasons. There's also a lot of focus on these characters, which give new insights, making old enemies friends, and friends enemies. In a few cases, old enemies who became friends once again become enemies, which shouldn't be too much of an eye-opener. This is done in a manner that makes it almost difficult to like or trust most of the cast. For this reason, you're repeatedly left in suspense, wondering if this character will backstab our hero or someone close to her.
Despite that I enjoyed this season it wasn't nearly as gripping as the earlier seasons. The high-paced and intense action, drama, mystery, and suspense felt a little too much like the earlier seasons. For that reason, the show just doesn't feel like it really grew and developed a great deal. For instance, the earlier seasons produced the suspense and mystery with their shady characters and this same effect was provided in the third season. In general, this season simply plays off the same concepts as the previous seasons. However, this isn't necessarily a bad thing, because it works. One of the reasons is that the show is slightly different. The two year gap between the second and third season allowed the series to change a bit. There are a number of changes to the cast, in terms of their roles and personalities. This change simply allowed the third season to be somewhat new, providing our main character with new interactions, new missions, new friends, and new enemies. However, this change made the first half of season three seem a little too slow for my tastes. We're still given some high-paced action and drama, but there's also a lot of focus on laying the foundation for the third season. I really didn't find this portion of the season to be overly gripping.
Some of these stories covered a sordid and twisted love affair. There's also the introduction of the National Security Council's (NSC) involvement with daily interactions of the CIA. This adds an interesting development, simply because the CIA and NSC do not always "play" well together. It's your basic struggle for power. There's also the development of older characters with new faces. The big bad guy of the previous two seasons, Arvin Sloane isn't such a bad guy anymore. The development of his character adds a new layer of mistrust. With the earlier seasons seeing the major terrorist organization in the can, some new faceless bad guys have surfaced. It's no surprise that the weasel of the earlier seasons, Julian makes his bed with them. This pretty much gives the season a purpose to continue. Someone has to stop them and it might as well be Sydney and her friends at the CIA. There were also some more stories that occurred in the first half of the season, some of the interesting and some of them not. But really, it's not until the second half of the season do things get really exciting.
With the foundation of the season three laid out, the intense high-paced entertainment of the earlier seasons returned in the second half. At this point, there were some really great stories that made this an intense season. With the new characters defined and the new roles of older characters laid out, there were plenty of opportunities for their faces to change. In this portion of the season, the excitement came from watching the two face characters reveal their true colors. Also the show's focus returns to the pursuit of Rambaldi. On its own, it isn't terribly exciting, but we get plenty of twists and turns with our characters mixed in. This makes for some gripping episodes, as we learn a few secrets about the Bristow family.
Overall, I felt that the third season of Alias did not have the same punch or rather, the same level of excitement that the earlier seasons had. Perhaps after watching the earlier seasons, I expected too much in the third season, but I really do not think that it was nearly as gripping or entertaining. However, I'm not saying that season three was bad, because it was entertaining. There were enough interesting stories that trickled throughout the season that held my attention. I also enjoyed how this season continued to twist the characters, making some of the good guys into bad guys and bad guys into good guys. The entire cloud of mistrust kept me on my toes with suspense. The bottom line is that anyone who has enjoyed the sordid tales of Alias should be happily entertained with this addition to Sydney Bristow's life. However, if you've never cared for the series, this season isn't much of an improvement over the previous seasons. Finally, newcomers to the series should definitely start with the first season to get a full swing of things.
Please note, this review is a direct replication of my season three review.
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Review of The Fourth Season
In season four we see the cast Alias come back together as one happy family. In the earlier seasons the cast worked together in an odd mish of double agents between SD-6 and CIA. Now we find them all working together on the same team for a black ops CIA organization called APO, which stands for Authorized Personnel Only. It is an odd arrangement to see Sidney, Jack, Vaughn, Weiss, Marshall, Dixon, and a few others working along side each other and under the command of none other than Sloane.
The first two episodes "Authorized Personnel Only" parts 1 and 2 has the cast being put back together with Sloane acting as director, Jack the second in command, Marshall in charge of tech, and Sydney in the field with Dixon. Vaughn and Weiss also return to take a more active role. No longer are they the voice behind the microphone as we have seen them in the past. Instead we find them along side Sydney and Dixon more often than not. There is also an episode when Marshall gets put in the field and the combination of his comical geeky personality and the high pace seriousness of the situation make it pretty entertaining to see him working along side Sydney in this fashion. The major addition to the cast this season is Nadia Santos, who was introduced as Sydney's half-sister (Sloane and Irena's daughter) in season three. She joins the rest of the crew working for APO.
The whole idea about the old SD-6 group (and a few others) getting together for another twenty-two episodes of fun is quite odd. It is this single aspect of season four that makes it beyond unreal and unbelievable. Let's think about it. Despite Sloane has been working for years as the head of an international criminal organization and a known terrorist, the government gives him a director position of a new secret spy organization that works off the books with full government disclosure and accesses to CIA resources. It is believable he would be an asset in chasing bad guys, because of his extensive knowledge and whatnot, but to put him in charge and expect people like Dixon and Sydney who have lost loved by his hands to work alongside him is unreal. This was the one thing that made me roll my eyes over and over again.
Now the questions remains, is this season exciting? Well, it lacks the same punch the first two seasons had and it rivals season three in excitement, but as explained it is by far the most unrealistic and hard to accept season of them all. However once past the unrealism, there is still plenty of action, suspense, and drama to keep you tuned in. This season uses the same tact previous seasons do, plenty of misdirection and dramatic shifts. The episodes do well keeping the characters, whether from the main cast or supporting roles, hard to make out. You just can't tell if they are good or bad. Their loyalties seem to shift enough throughout the stories to keep you second guessing who will betray who and whether or not the betrayal really happened. Mix that well worked angle of suspense with plenty of action, some corny drama, and the ever-so-goofy Marshall and you've a pretty exciting addition to the Alias series.
Since Nadia is a new character, a majority of the season is about her relationship forming with the rest of the cast. It is a slightly odd setup as Sydney is her step-sister, Sloane is her father, and Jack is the man who was married to her mother. The general get-to-know-you details aren't too interesting, but the back stories that tie into Nadia are. She becomes an integral part to the Rambaldi dream and there are a few other great tie-ins to other stories. The Rambaldi story found in the previous seasons comes to the fore and plays a big role in the season with the Derevko sisters acting as the villains. There are also familiar faces like Sark and Doren who make several appearances. We also see another back story with Vaughn trying to unravel mysteries about his father. This season has many other stories to keep you hooked and they do a pretty good job at building suspense and leaving you on the edge of your seat!
All together season four is an enjoyable season. While it is clearly not one of the series' best, it is still a cut above other television series. The stories keep a fine level of suspense by keeping you second guessing about the character's loyalties and whatnot. There is also plenty of kick ass fight scenes, humor from Marshall, and high-tech gadgets to keep you amused.
Please note, this review is a direct replication of my season four review.
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Review of The Fifth Season
During the fifth and final season of Alias, the series was cancelled. The show ended for a variety of reasons, J.J. Abrams moving onto bigger and better things (e.g., Lost) and the Rambaldi storyline just felt like it had been played out enough. (The show itself had enough unbelievable aspects that the farfetched Rambaldi plot in all its glory was too much for me.) For me, it was no surprise when I first heard the series had been cancelled. On that note, I was glad the writers/producers were able to give the show closure by wrapping up Alias' big picture. (Recall, some television series are cancelled or pulled from network with almost no notice and storylines are left unresolved.)
When I first started watching season five, which was during its initial broadcast, I was less than thrilled. I sat through the first three episodes before I decided to completely give up. The suspense, the drama, and the fun that was Alias was not present in season five. The show lost its spunk and what made it fun (along with several of the key characters). But I gave season five another chance and I found my opinion of it to be better. Still, it was clearly not as strong as previous seasons.
Season five sees several changes in the cast and how APO does their business. First off, Vaughn leaves the show. In season four's cliffhanger, it was revealed that Vaughn was not exactly who he said he was. He was someone named Andre Michaux. Vaughn has a back story that ties into the bigger picture. After the season premiere, his character disappears after being shot several times in the chest by agents from the Shed, a rogue operation that is similar to SD-6 in nature. Another change is Weiss. While he has been a main character for the past two seasons, in the early parts of season five announces he was offered a job in Washington, D.C. heading covert ops for the NSC. He decides to take the job. Without Vaughn and Weiss, some new faces are brought into APO to replacement them.
There are two new characters in APO. Thomas Grace joins the cast in the season's second episode. Grace is not your average going guy. He is tough, has a temper, and we first meet him as he is getting his ass kicked in a bar fight. Everyone in APO is hesitant to accept him into their ranks (due to APO's risky business--trust in your fellow is earned, not given). Grace has his own back story that includes his family and an assassin. Rachel Gibson is a computer genius who has been in a situation much like Sydney. She has been working for the Shed, a criminal organization that pretends it is a black ops division of the CIA. Rachel had been working with the impression she was on the good guy's side. When she found out the Shed was not part of the real CIA, she turned coat. Rachel and Sydney connect on a personal level, because Sydney understands the torment she is going through.
Another new face to this season is a well-known criminal named Renee Rienne. She is number eight on the CIA's most wanted list. Vaughn has been working with her to gain information about his father and Prophet Five, which is the main season five storyline. Renee unofficially works with APO in their efforts against Prophet Five. Her back story ties directly into Prophet Five and she has sworn on her life to see it end. Kelly Peyton is the final addition to the season five line up. In the later half of the season, she is listed as a main character. Kelly worked with Rachel at the Shed under Gordon Dean. While Rachel did not know about the Shed's true intentions, Kelly did. She is a bad girl.
As for the storylines, the season five introduces Prophet Five, which is filled with lots of mysterious and intrigue tied into all of the old and new players. Prophet Five is a criminal organization that is much like the Alliance. It houses smaller cells like the Shed. The APO team sets their sights on Prophet Five and stopping them from reaching their endgame. Another interesting aspect that continues to bring intrigue to the show is Sloane and his story. In season four, he was imprisoned for his crimes. He cuts a deal with some bad guys to be a mole in APO, which continue to give his character intrigue as you never know whose best interests he has in mind. Other storylines revolve around the characters, Rachel getting accustomed to her new life as an APO field agent, Grace fitting into the group, Sydney overcoming the loss of Vaughn and being pregnant, etc.
Overall, season five of Alias is not nearly as strong as the past seasons. The season five network ratings were the lowest and it was pretty clear it was time to end it all. The Rambaldi plot, in addition the general unrealism of the series, was getting out of hand and way too farfetched. So, I was not disappointed that this was the final season and I was pleased how the series ended with many of the show's loose ends tied together. In the end, I think season five of Alias is best reserved for the fans. The season is not quite as a good as the series' past seasons, but it also does provide more entertainment in the form of action, drama, minor comedy, and suspense better than many other shows out there.
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Episode Guide: Season One
1. Pilot - Truth Be Told: A graduate student (Jennifer Garner) reveals that she is working for the CIA, endangering both herself and her boyfriend.
2. So It Begins: Sydney travels to Moscow to recover stolen files, then to Cairo to face a deadly foe.
3. Parity: Sydney encounters her nemesis while retrieving a 500-year-old sketch in Madrid.
4. A Broken Heart: Francie confronts her boyfriend about a rendezvous with another woman; Sydney reaches out to her estranged father. jeopardy...
5. Doppelganger: The questionable identity of a biotech engineer stokes Sloane's suspicions about Sydney.
6. Reckoning: Sydney goes under cover in a mental hospital to get information from a man who doesn't know he is programmed to be an assassin.
7. Color Blind: Sydney helps Shepard (John Hannah) escape from the asylum; Sloane learns that moles may have infiltrated SD-6.
8. Time Will Tell: Sloane's search for a mole forces Sydney to take a polygraph test; Sydney searches for a device's connection to a 500-year-old sketch.
9. Mea Culpa: Sloane's superior tells him that Sydney is the mole; Dixon is shot while on a mission.
10. Spirit: Vaughn gives Sydney an unexpected Christmas gift; Jack acts to save Sydney when Sloane orders her tortured and killed for being a mole.
11. Confession: Vaughn uncovers evidence suggesting Jack may be responsible for the deaths of CIA agents years earlier.
12. The Box, Part 1: An ex-agent (Quentin Tarantino) leads armed intruders in a takeover of SD-6.
13. The Box, Part 2: Vaughn disobeys orders to help Sydney and Jack save SD-6 headquarters from McKenas Cole (Quentin Tarantino).
14. The Coup: Sydney and Dixon seek an agent in Las Vegas who has ties to the group that attacked SD-6.
15. Page 47: Vaughn asks Sydney to use her friendship with Sloane's wife (Amy Irving) to gain access to a book in Sloane's home.
16. The Prophecy: The DSR tests Sydney to discover her link to a 500-year-old Rambaldi prophecy.
17. Q & A: While the FBI questions Sydney about her connection to a mysterious Rambaldi prophecy, Vaughn and Jack try to clear her name before her cover is blown.
18. Masquerade: While tracking Khasinau, Sydney encounters her ex-lover (Peter Berg); Jack sees a CIA psychiatrist (Patricia Wettig) for help in dealing with the revelation that his wife may be alive.
19. Snowman: Passion ignites between Sydney and Noah (Peter Berg), while Sloane questions Noah's allegiance; Sydney continues to uncover startling information about her mother; K-Directorate dispatches an assassin to eliminate Khasinau.
20. The Solution: Sydney and Vaughn arrange the sale of a Rambaldi artifact in order to catch Khasinau, but an SD-6 agent may thwart the mission.
21. Rendezvous: Will searches for the person responsible for revealing information to him about SD-6; Dixon becomes suspicious of Sydney's activities; Sloane awaits the news of his wife's fate.
22. Almost Thirty Years: Sydney and Vaughn must destroy a Rambaldi device in order to save Will's life; the Alliance comes to a decision regarding the fate of Emily Sloane (Amy Irving).
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Episode Guide: Season Two
1. The Enemy Walks In: Sydney comes face to face with her mother, who has something sinister in store for her daughter; Sydney continues to hunt for Vaughn, not knowing if he is dead or alive.
2. Trust Me: Sydney must decide whether to accept her mother's goodwill gesture at face value; Sloane is made a full partner in the Alliance of Twelve.
3. Cipher: Sydney must outwit Sark in order to find a crucial piece of intelligence; Jack faces Sydney's mother for the first time in 20 years; Sloane is haunted by his wife's death.
4. Dead Drop: Jack takes drastic measures to protect Sydney from her mother; a mysterious woman confronts Will about his story on SD-6.
5. The Indicator: Sydney discovers a terrifying secret while searching for a cache of weapons; Vaughn suspects Jack is setting up Sydney's mother for a fall, while Sloane tells Jack the truth about Emily's death.
6. Salvation: Sydney's trust in her father begins to fade, prompting him to make a great sacrifice.
7. Counteragent: Sydney must make a deal with Sark for the antidote to Vaughn's potentially fatal illness; Will's research uncovers troubling inconsistencies involving 20-year-old IQ tests.
8. Passage, Part 1: Jack, Sydney and Irina go under cover as a loving family to seize nuclear warheads from an unfriendly nation.
9. Passage, Part 2: Sydney and Jack learn where Irina's loyalties lie when she meets up with Gerard Cuvee (Derek de Lint); Sloane informs the Alliance that Emily may still be alive.
10. The Abduction: Ariana Kane (Faye Dunaway), the head of counterintelligence for Alliance, meets with Jack in her investigation of the disappearance of Emily.
11. A Higher Echelon: Marshall's life is put in danger; Ariana Kane (Faye Dunaway) suspects Jack is behind the disappearance of Sloane's wife.
12. The Getaway: Ariana Kane (Faye Dunaway) tracks Sydney in hope of catching Jack; a romantic dinner may have compromised Sydney and Vaughn's cover.
13. Phase One: The new director of SD-6 (Rutger Hauer) confronts Sydney and Jack.
14. Double Agent: The identity of a CIA agent (Ethan Hawke) is in question after his deep-cover mission is compromised.
15. A Free Agent: Sydney must make a decision about her future with the agency; Dixon reveals the truth of his occupation to his wife.
16. Firebomb: Renegade Sloane has the secrets to a mysterious Rambaldi device; Vaughn begs Dixon to assist the CIA in rescuing Sydney.
17. A Dark Turn: Sydney learns that the agency is investigating Vaughn; Irina and a manuscript are the bait to trap Sloane.
18. Truth Takes Time: Sydney faces off with her mother; Emily Sloane (Amy Irving) must decide whether to side with her husband or betray him.
19. Endgame: Sydney defies her father in order to rescue a kidnapped scientist (Christian Slater).
20. Countdown: The agency races to stop an apocalyptic event prophesized by a Rambaldi artifact; a Nepalese monk (David Carradine) makes a life-changing revelation to Sloane.
21. Second Double: Sydney questions Will's identity when he is arrested for espionage; Sark and Irina plot to recover the Rambaldi heart.
22. The Telling: Sydney confronts her mother, who reveals her true motivation; Will struggles to figure out who is behind the setup.
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Episode Guide: Season Three
1. The Two: As Sydney struggles to recall the past two years, she gets CIA clearance on a case that might help her regain her memory; Sydney confronts Vaughn about his marriage.
2. Succession: A new terrorist organization demands the release of Sark in exchange for two scientists they have kidnapped; Vaughn wrestles with the decision to return to the CIA even though it will mean working with Sydney.
3. Reunion: Sydney and Vaughn are reunited to stop Sark from destroying the nation's satellite communications system; Jack conceals a murderer's identity.
4. A Missing Link: Sydney meets a dangerous man (Justin Theroux) who might hold the key to her missing two years; Vaughn struggles with feelings of jealousy while Sydney is on her mission.
5. Repercussions: While Vaughn's life hangs by a thread, Lauren confronts Sydney about his stabbing; kingpin Kazari Bomani (Djimon Hounsou) kidnaps Sloane; Jack queries Simon (Justin Theroux) about Sydney's missing years; Marshall poses as a high-stakes gambler.
6. The Nemesis: Sydney comes face-to-face with someone who was presumed dead, but is now a prominent member of The Covenant.
7. Prelude: Jack takes drastic measures to ensure that the NSC never learns about Sydney's murder of a Russian diplomat; Sydney agrees to go on a mission with Sloane.
8. Breaking Point: Jack and Vaughn are forced to ally themselves with Sloane in order to rescue Sydney from the NSC; Lauren must choose to side with the NSC or her husband.
9. Conscious: An eccentric doctor (David Cronenberg) performs an experimental procedure on Sydney designed to retrieve her lost memories.
10. Remnants: After Sydney pulls Will out of the witness-protection program, they come face to face with Allison; Lindsey arrests Jack and Vaughn; Dr. Brezzel (David Cronenberg) has an unpleasant encounter with Sark.
11. Full Disclosure: Sydney learns the truth regarding her missing two years from an unlikely source.
12. Crossings: A woman (Isabella Rossellini) asks Jack to assassinate Sloane in exchange for saving Sydney and Vaughn from a North Korean firing squad.
13. After Six: Sydney and Vaughn try to determine who is killing members of the Covenant; a security expert (Vivica A. Fox) is asked to break into a lethal response system; Sloane is urged to see a psychiatrist (Patricia Wettig).
14. Blowback: Unknown assailants ambush Sydney and Vaughn; Lauren and Sark continue to solidify their new partnership; Sloane divulges a dark secret to Dr. Barnett (Patricia Wettig).
15. Facade: Sydney and Vaughn try to locate a bomb by convincing the maker (Ricky Gervais) that they are part of the Covenant.
16. Taken: Dixon turns to Sydney for help when his children are kidnapped; Lauren proves her worth by framing Sloane as the mole in the CIA.
17. The Frame: Sydney and Vaughn pursue Covenant kingpin Kazari Bomani (Djimon Hounsou) to obtain an important piece of the Rambaldi puzzle; Jack discloses his suspicions about Lauren's allegiances to her father, Sen. Reed.
18. Unveiled: Vaughn is reluctant to believe Lauren is a CIA mole; Bomani and Sark take possession of the Rambaldi machine; Sydney and Vaughn must stop a Covenant virus from crippling medical facilities around the world.
19. Hourglass: Vaughn is told to keep tabs on his wife's activities, then he finds out the shocking truth about his mother-in-law (Peggy Lipton); a monk (David Carradine) discloses the identity of the ``Passenger'' to a stunned Sydney.
20. Blood Ties: Sydney and Jack ask Sloan to help them track down Sydney's half-sister, Nadia (Mia Maestro); Lauren and Sark kidnap Vaughn, then torture him.
21. Legacy: With the aid of Katya Derevko (Isabella Rossellini), Sydney and Vaughn try to find Sloane and his daughter, Nadia (Mia Maestro); Vaughn's obsession with tracking down Lauren begins to consume him; Sydney and Vaughn turn the tables on an old foe.
22. Resurrection: In a stunning betrayal, Lauren steals classified documents from the CIA; Vaughn must face his demons as he searches for his wife; a shattering revelation makes Sydney question everything and everyone she thought she could trust.
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Episode Guide: Season Four
1. Authorized Personnel Only, Part 1: Sydney, Vaughn, Jack and Dixon are stunned to learn the identity of their new boss; Sydney learns an appalling secret about Jack that threatens to destroy their relationship; Nadia is reluctant to return to the spy game since learning about her father.
2. Authorized Personnel Only, Part 2: see part 1
3. The Awful Truth: Sydney goes under cover to learn the location of a stolen NSA code-breaker; Vaughn fears that Weiss has been killed on a mission; Sydney and Jack argue over whether to tell Nadia the horrible truth about her mother.
4. Ice: Sydney goes under cover as a social worker, and Vaughn, as a lascivious priest, in their search for the new bioweapon; Nadia turns to reluctant Jack to learn the truth about her mother, Irina.
5. Welcome to Liberty Village: Sydney and Vaughn pose as a married couple in suburbia to track down a weapon that could send society back to the Dark Ages, only to find that marriage is a strain on their relationship and the community is not as innocuous as it appears.
6. Nocturne: Vaughn and Jack search for a cure when Sydney is infected with a mind-altering and potentially deadly hallucinogen, causing her to slowly lose touch with reality.
7. Detente: Sydney and Nadia argue about Sloane, who worries about Nadia as she and Sydney go under cover as wealthy, irresponsible young heiresses to reveal a hidden deadly chemical.
8. Echoes: With Nadia's life on the line, Sydney must race to bring down former nemesis Anna Espinosa (Gina Torres).
9. A Man of His Word: Vaughn agrees to a despicable request from Sark (David Anders) involving Lauren's buried corpse, so that he will help Vaughn and Sydney track down Anna Espinosa (Gina Torres) and save Nadia.
10. The Index: Sydney's theory that Sloane is trying to re-form the Alliance jeopardizes her relationship with Nadia, who refuses to believe that her father could be double-crossing the CIA.
11. The Road Home: Sydney inadvertently places an American civilian in jeopardy while on a mission in Germany.
12. The Orphan: Nadia fails to disclose her tainted past with a man who is the focal point of the agency's mission, putting her, Sydney and Weiss in grave danger.
13. Tuesday: When a mission goes awry, endangering Sydney's life, Marshall is the only one who can help.
14. Nightingale: While searching for the truth about Vaughn's presumably deceased father, Sydney and Vaughn put their lives and careers on the line.
15. Pandora: Sydney's aunt, Katya Derevko (Isabella Rossellini), gives her devastating news; Vaughn steals a device to use as a bargaining tool in order to learn more about his father.
16. Another Mister Sloane: Sydney must work together with Sloane in order to catch the man (Joel Grey) who has been impersonating Sloane.
17. A Clean Conscience: Sydney and Nadia learn that Sophia, the head of the orphanage that cared for Nadia as a child, was badly beaten, and when Sloane learns why she was beaten, he fears for Nadia's safety.
18. Mirage: Sydney discovers that Jack is terminally ill and that he chose not to tell her; Sophia (Sonia Braga), Nadia's orphanage caregiver, continues her convalescence at Sydney's apartment.
19. In Dreams: The mysterious man (Joel Grey) who has been impersonating Sloane resurfaces, and he is hot on the trail of Rambaldi; shocking revelations about the real Sloane come to light, making everyone question his true intentions.
20. The Descent: An agent's life hangs in the balance as the team races to track down Nadia's childhood caregiver, Sophia (Sonia Braga); Sydney and Nadia question Sloane's trustworthiness now that his obsession with Rambaldi has been renewed.
21. Search & Rescue: Jack, Sydney and Nadia learn that Irina Derevko (Lena Olin) is alive, and they head out to find her to thwart Elena Derevko's (Sonia Braga) Rambaldi scheme.
22. Before The Flood: Only Sydney, Jack, Irina, Vaughn and Nadia can save the world from the plan put into motion by Elena Derevko (Sonia Braga); the Rambaldi prophecy regarding Sydney and Nadia comes one step closer to being reality.
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Episode Guide: Season Five
1. Prophet 5: After learning Vaughn may be a double agent, Sydney begins to question her relationship with him and vows to learn the truth.
2. ...1...: Sydney must team up with a fugitive on the CIA's most-wanted list in order to track down the murderer of a close friend before the killer can strike again.
3. The Shed: Sydney and Thomas discover that Rachel Gibson, a spy suspected of being involved in activities against the U.S., has a shocking link with Sydney.
4. Mockingbird: Sydney's life hangs in the balance when Gordon Dean discovers that Rachel, aka Mockingbird, is still alive.
5. Out of the Box: When Sydney and Tom find themselves under siege by mercenaries who want the cryogenic-type container, they discover that Renée stole it.
6. Solo: Sydney must guide a nervous and pensive Rachel on her first solo mission; Sloane contemplates honoring his agreement with Gordon Dean.
7. Fait Accompli: Sydney and APO attempt to discover whom Gordon Dean is working for and what their objective is.
8. Bob: After Rachel inadvertently compromises a mission, she and Sydney must team with Julian Sark to prevent a deadly micropulse bomb from getting into the hands of a dangerous mercenary.
9. The Horizon: Sydney reunites with Vaughn after being kidnapped and put into a hypnotic state to retrieve information from her mind.
10. S.O.S.: Jack needs former agent Weiss and the APO team to search for Sydney after she sends him a distress call; Irina Derevko is a surprise partner to Jack and pregnant Sydney, but her allegiances remain in question.
11. Maternal Instinct: Irina, Sydney, and Jack go to Vancouver to retrieve The Horizon.
12. There is Only One Sydney Bristow: Sydney cuts her maternity leave short to rescue Will, who has been abducted by Sydney's archnemesis, Anna Espinosa; Sloane gets one step closer to obtaining a cure for Nadia.
13. 30 Seconds: Sloane learns that Prophet Five's cure for Nadia may kill her; the search for Anna Espinosa continues; Rambaldi's prophetic Page 47 resurfaces; Sydney offers Renee a job at APO.
14. I See Dead People: Sydney must beat Anna Espinosa to the punch when a mysterious implant in Renée is tied to Vaughn; ghostly visions trouble Sloane while he works for Prophet Five.
15. No Hard Feelings: Sydney must remain under cover and work with Sark (David Anders) to track down Rambaldi's final clue before Prophet Five finds it.
16. Reprisal: Sloane takes Marshall and Rachel hostage to try to discover a crucial clue to Rambaldi's game; Sydney and Jack must stop Sloane and Irina from putting their deadly plan into action.
17. All the Time in the World: Sydney and Jack must find a way to keep Sloane and Irina from putting their deadly plan into action.
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Alias: The Complete Collection: Limited Edition contains the entire collection of episodes for Alias. In other words, there are twenty-eight DVDs for the season episodes and an additional bonus DVD for exclusive extras; making a grand total of twenty-nine DVDs. Despite having so many DVDs, this collection fits into a small compact cube with dimensions of 5.75 inches in length, width, and height. The exterior of the case looks like it could be some kind of metal, but it is not--it is cardboard with a printed/raised design. The cube represents the Rambaldi artifact box.
The cube opens up by removing the top piece, after which, the sides fold out. The top piece holds the sides together with a magnetic charge. Each of the season sets are held inside the cube in cardboard foldouts. The foldouts have slipcases for the DVDs. This is an unfortunate aspect of the packaging. While the cardboard slipcases hold the discs nicely, there is a good chance every time your take a disc out (or put one in) it will get scratched. All of the discs I had were visibly scratched. I am now afraid to remove the DVDs. Underneath the season set foldouts, there is a "secret" compartment. Inside the compartment is the bonus disc with exclusive content.
Overall, Alias: The Complete Collection: Limited Edition has a slick looking package. I loved how they managed to cram in twenty-nine DVDs into such a small, lightweight package. The problem is how the method of DVD storage affects the discs; scratches! However, keep in mind that if you register your set with Buena Vista Home Entertainment DVD, you become eligible for a disc replacement program, or at least according to the register your DVD information supplied on one of the discs.
Here are several pictures I took of the box set.
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The video in this release is given in anamorphic 1.78:1 ratio widescreen color. The picture quality is generally good with detail looking sharp and no issues with colors. However it does have a slight grain, which is more noticeable during darker scenes. There are also some minor traces of edge enhancement.
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The audio track in this release is in English 5.1 Dolby digital surround sound. The sound quality is top notch and delivers a strong an audible experience by taking advantage of the 5.1 setup. The dialogue is easy to hear over background music and sounds effects.
The release also has subtitles in the English and Spanish languages.
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Alias: The Complete Collection: Limited Edition contains all of the extras found in the individual season releases. In addition, exclusive content not found on the season sets is included in this limited edition. The extras are provided broken down by season or exclusive as relevant. The types of special features include audio commentaries, behind the scenes featurettes, DVD-ROM enabled content, bloopers, interview featurettes, deleted scenes, TV spots, image galleries, and more.
Please note the information about season three and season four extras come from the respective reviews that I wrote.
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Season one comes with a collection of audio commentaries, featurettes, and other assorted extras. The commentaries cover the episodes "Truth Be Told" with J.J. Abrams and Jennifer Garner, "So It Begins" with Michael Bonvillain, Sarah Caplan, Ken Olin, "Q & A" with John Eisendrath, Alex Kurtzman-Counter, and Roberto Orci, and "Almost Thirty Years" with Jennifer Garner, Michael Vartan, Victor Garber, Bradley Cooper, Carl Lumbly, Ron Rifkin, Merrin Dungey, and Kevin Weisman.
Alias ScriptScanner, which is found on disc 1, is a DVD-ROM enabled feature (only accessible on home computer) that provides access to a script that you can read while watching the pilot episode.
Alias Pilot Production Diary (18:52) a featurette about the production of the pilot episode. It features Sarah Caplan, J.J. Abrams, and David Morizot providing dialogue, as well as various behind the scenes footage of the cast and crew.
Inside Stunts (10:27) is a featurette that focuses on the action sequences and stunts in the series. It stars John Eisendrath, Alex Kurtzman-Counter, Jennifer Garner, David Morizot, Jesse Alexander, Jeff Pinkner, Jeff Habberstad, Erica Messer, and Debra J. Fisher. First the discussion is about fight rehearsals and general stunt choreography. Midway, the featurette focuses on specific events in specific episodes. The episodes include "The Solution", "Q & A", "Time Will Tell", "Mea Culpa", "The Coup", "The Prophecy", and "The Snowman".
Deleted Scenes (9:47) is a collection of six deleted scenes. The scenes include Shipping Off Kevin - "Doppleganger", Christophe Threatens Sloane - "Color-Blind", Remembering Danny - "Color-Blind", Drowning His Sorrows - "The Confession", Discussing Sydney - "The Confession", and A New Look - "Rendezvous". Gag reel (2:47) is your basic bloopers reel. It has the cast captured in a different light, acting goofy, messing up, etc. It is a pretty short clip, but has a few fun moments.
Alias TV Spots (2:19) is a collection of television spots for the episodes "Truth Be Told", "Reckoning", "The Confession", "Rendezvous", and "Almost 30 Years". Alias Video Game Preview (1:22) is a trailer for the Acclaim video game that was released on the home P.C., PlayStation 2, and Xbox. Season Two Sneak Peek (1:37) is a short teaser for the next season.
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Season one comes with a collection of audio commentaries, featurettes, and other assorted extras. The commentaries cover the episodes "Phase One" with J.J. Abrams, Jennifer Garner, Jack Bender, Greg Grunberg, Michael Vartan, and Victor Garber, "A Dark Turn" with Ken Olin, John Eisendrath, Jesse Alexander, and Jeff Pinkner, "Second Double" with Ken Olin, Bradley Cooper, Carl Lumbly, and Terry O'Quinn, abd "The Telling" with J.J. Abrams, Merrin Dungey, Ron Rifkin, Ken Olin, and Kevin Weisman
Alias ScriptScanner, which is found on disc 6, is a DVD-ROM enabled feature (only accessible on home computer) that provides access to a script that you can read while watching the episode "The Telling".
The Making Of "The Telling" (45:14) is a lengthy featurette about the making of the episode "The Telling". The content includes footage and discussion with cast and crew about production, filming, production meetings, the episode and its relation to the series, difficult stunts and fight scenes, visual and special effects, etc. The individuals who participate in the dialogues include J.J. Abrams, Scot Chambliss, Brian O'Kelly, Sarah Caplan, Mike Haro, Jeff Habberstand, David Morizot, April Littlejohn, Jennifer Garner, Kevin Blank, Lena Olin, Suzanne Geiger, Merrin Dungey, Tamara Bossett, Shauna Duggins, Benny Urquidez, James Avelar, Roosevelt Larks, Maryann Brandon, Michael Giacchino, and Nicole Carrasco. The most interesting portions deal with the stunt scenes and visual effects.
The Look Of Alias (11:58) is a featurette about the different aliases, e.g., costumes, hairstyles & wigs, make-up, and identities, that Sydney Bristow uses in her missions. It stars J.J. Abrams, Jennifer Garner, Sarah Caplan, Michael Reitz, Renate E. Leuschner, Erica Messer, Debra Fisher, Angela Nogaro, and Laura Goldsmith.
Deleted Scenes (6:47) is a collection of season two deleted scenes. They include "The Indicator" - The One Constant, "Double Agent" - Growing Old Together, "Double Agent" - Jack's Warning, "A Free Agent" - The Kiss, "A Dark Turn" - A New Identity, "The Telling" - Sloane's Advice, and "The Telling" - Irina Is Gone.
Season Two Blooper Reel (4:20) is your basic bloopers reel. It has the cast captured in a different light, acting goofy, messing up, etc. It is a pretty short clip, but has a few fun moments.
KRQQ's Kevin & Bean Radio Show Interviews is an audio-only feature. It contains clips with J.J. Abrams, Victor Garber, Kevin Weisman, and Jennifer Garner (from season one) and interviews they had with the Kevin & Bean Radio Show. The interviews can be played individually or in a sequence.
Alias TV spots (2:43) are a collection of TV promos for the episodes "Passage, Part 2", "A Hgiher Echelon", "The Getaway", "Phase One", "Looks Can Kill", "Truth Takes Time", and "Countdown". The promos can be viewed individually or in a sequence
The Making Of The Video Game (4:22) is an advertisement from the Acclaim video game. It includes J.J. Abrams, Jennifer Garner, Michael Vartan, Barry Jafrato (Senior VP Acclaim Studios), and James Sheahan (Brand Manager Acclaim Studios).
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This DVD release of Alias has some pretty exciting and not-so-exciting extras. The first set is four audio commentaries. They cover the episodes "The Two" with fans Erin Dailey and Jennifer Wong, "Conscious" with Jennifer Garner, Melissa George, and Ken Olin, "Full Disclosure" with Lawrence Trilling, Jesse Alexander, and Scott Chambliss, and "Facade" with J.J. Abrams, Jack Bender, Greg Grunberg. I found that the fan commentary was the most entertaining. It was nice to hear the thoughts from a couple of diehard fans. Additionally, they had some humorous comments to make about the show.
The next extra The Museum of Television & Radio (9:34) is a featurette that I did not find too interesting. It was a portion of a panel with J.J. Abrams, Matthew Reeves, Jennifer Garner, and Keri Russell. During which, they discussed about the development of the characters in both Felicity and Alias.
The next extra, The Animated Alias: Tribunal (7:24) was pretty cool, but I really would like to have see it expanded. It's a short seven minute animated featurette with a brief look into Sydney's missing two years. Yet, it still doesn't really explain much.
Continuing along with featurettes, Alias Up Close (56:05) is six featurettes that cover some of the vital portions of this series: "The Guest Stars", "The Assistant Directors", "The Stunt Team", "The Effects Team", "Creating Props", and "Set Dressing".
Then we have Burbank to Barcelona (9:31), which is a short featurette about sets used for show. The previously mentioned extras are best suited for the fans looking to learn more detail about the series. I personally didn't find them too intriguing.
There are also seven deleted scenes (7:17). There is no reference to which episode they were deleted from.
Next we have the extra that is typically my favorite, the Blooper Reel (7:28). I really enjoy these, because we typically get to see the comical side of the cast and with a series as serious as Alias, it's a nice change of pace. However, this blooper reel wasn't entirely funny.
The final extra is Team Alias, which has two promotional items: "Monday Night Football Teaser", promo that Jennifer Garner did for Monday night football and "Michael & the Stanley Cup", a very short featurette with Michael Vartan doing a promo for the Stanley Cup. Overall, there was a nice variety of special features, enough to appease both the fans and casual viewers.
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Like past DVD releases, this season of Alias comes with a number of extras. Found on the first two discs are four audio commentaries. They include episodes "Authorized Personnel Only, Part 1" and "Authorized Personnel Only, Part 1" with J.J. Abrams, Jennifer Garner, Ken Olin, and Sarah Caplan, "Ice" with Jeff Melvoin, Drew Goddard, and Jeffrey Bell, and "Nocturne" with Lawrence Trilling, Jeff Pinkner, and Jesse Alexander. The commentaries are pretty standard, although the ones with Garner and Abrams can get interesting. On occasion the two get a little goofy together.
The remaining extras are located on disc 6. They include several featurettes, deleted scenes, and a bloopers reel. A Chat With Jennifer Garner (5:55) is a one-on-one conversation with Ken Olin about Garner's impressions/experiences/reflections about the series and some other related thoughts.
Meet Mia: Syd's Little Sister (3:37) features Mia Maestro talking about her experiences as the new person on the cast.
Alias Bloopers (11:46) is a non-standard bloopers reel, or so it seems. It has a cute opening with some babies. Once the intro is over, the reel goes into blooper mode with several minutes of goofs. It's a nice change of pace to see these serious actors laugh and let go.
Anatomy of a Scene is about eleven minutes of two different visual effects breakdowns of "The Train Fight" (6:40) from the season premiere episode and "The Chopper Escape" (4:07) from episode "The Index" with supervisor Kevin Blank. Blank reveals some interesting details about the making of. There are also eleven
Deleted Scenes (11:16) "Choices", "End of An Era", "Taking It Slow", "Ghosts", "Six In The Corner", "Stood Up", "Innocent", "Checking On Jack", "Off The Mountain", and "A Sister's Escape".
Director's Diary (13:40) stars various crew members in production meetings, behind the scenes footage, etc.
Guest Stars of Season 4 (11:38) is a featurette with words from guest stars Joel Grey, Gina Torres, Angela Bassett, Sonia Braga, and Lena Olin.
Marshall's World (17:36) is a goofy seventeen minute tour with Kevin Weisman. He takes us to his trailer, on the set, interviews the other cast members, on location, the writer's office, and concludes with a clip of him playing in a band called Train Wreck.
The last item we have is Agent Weiss' Spy Cam (6:41). It has Greg Grunberg giving commentary while he shows off various behind the scene pictures he took with his digital camera.
Overall the extras are entertaining. The audio commentaries with Garner and Olin are worth listening too, the segments of "Anatomy of a Scene" are interesting to learn how some of the visual effects are done, "Marshall's World" is a goofy adventure and there is a part with Maestro that is an absolute riot. Overall not a lot of replay value, but definitely plenty of material to keep you entertained when you are done watching the season.
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The final season of Alias comes with four audio commentaries and five featurettes. Oddly enough, deleted scenes are omitted from the season five discs. I say this is odd be they are present on the limited edition's exclusive content DVD. The commentaries cover episodes "Prophet Five" with Ken Olin, Jeff Pinkner, and Victor Garber, "Bob" with Monica Breen, Alison Schapker, David Anders, and Rachel Nichols, "The Horizon" with Tucker Gates, Josh Appelbaum, and Andre Nemec, and "There's Only One Sydney Bristow" with Sparky Hawes, Brian Studler, Cliff Olin, and Chris Hollier.
Celebrating 100 (9:36) is a featurette that captures the celebration of the 100th episode. It was directed by Robert M. Williams Jr. and includes commentary from him and others. They talk about the episode being difficult in general to put together, bringing back Bradley Cooper, the night club scene, the water tank scene, and finally the celebration party. The other individuals who provide commentary include Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Garner, Ellis James, Drew Goddard, Rachel Nichols, Balthazar Getty, Benjamin Spek, Gina Torres, Dave Pahoa, Amy Acker, J.J. Abrams, Kevin Weisman, Greg Grunberg, Merrin Dungey, Ron Rifkin, and Stephen McPherson.
The Legend Of Rambaldi (7:31) begins with a narration about Rambaldi's history. Afterwards, Kevin Weisman, Rachel Nichols, J.J. Abrams, Jennifer Garner, Chris Call, Robert W. Williams Jr., Michael Vartan, Parker Swanson, Breen Frazier, and Ron Rifkin talk about Rambaldi, the role in the show, and Rambaldi artifacts.
The majority of the focus is on the latter with show and tell of Rambaldi props.
Heightening The Drama: The Music Of Alias (8:52) stars cast and crew discussing the music composition. It provides a behind the scenes aspect into the development of the music scores that Michael Giacchino conducts. It also stars Jeffrey Bell, Tucker Gates, J.J. Abrams, Jennifer Garner, Ron Rifkin, and Jeff Pinkner.
The New Recruit: On Set With Rachel Nichols (7:43) is a featurette with contents as described by the title. Rachel Nichols provides a candid behind the scenes look into her life as an actress. The camera follows Rachel into her trailer and shows filming of selected portions of her scenes. It also features Jesse Alexander, J.J. Abrams, Robert M. Williams Jr., and Jeffrey Bell who talk about her performance and character. The featurette also contains footage from her audition tape and bloopers footage.
The Bloopers Of Alias (5:30) begins with J.J. Abrams and Jennifer Garner in a phone conversation. It supposedly took place six and a half years ago with Abrams initial approach to hiring Jennifer for the show. It's a sketch. Goofy, but not laugh-out-loud-funny. The last four minutes is traditional goofs caught on tape.
Farewell From The Crew of Alias (2:53) is an Easter egg. While on the bonus features menu, when "Bloopers Of Alias" is selected, press right on your DVD remote twice. The featurette is a montage of clips of the crew waving goodbye. There is no dialogue.
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If you happen to be one of the 40,000 people to invest in the Alias: The Complete Collection: Limited Edition set, then you will have access to exclusive extras not found on the DVD releases. First of all, the packaging is unique and exclusive itself. But I have already talked about that in length. The real exclusive, tangible extras come in the form of a hardcover book entitled Alias Revealed and a DVD entitled "Endgame" with almost two hours of bonuses you won't find anywhere else.
Alias Revealed is a small color booklet. It begins with a letter from J.J. Abrams that introduces the limited edition box set. The remainder of the booklet contains answers to questions many Alias fans have had over the show's five year run and screen shots of the cast from the season episodes. Most of the questions focus on Milo Rambaldi and the unanswered aspects of the show. For example, "How does Rambaldi influence the world of Alias" or "What is Rambaldi's endgame?". There are a total of twenty-four questions and many more answers than that provided from cast and crew (some questions have more than one answer). The booklet is a nice addition to the set. It is pretty slick looking and interesting enough to look through.
"Endgame" is the bonus DVD that the advertisement/slip cover claims there are hours of unseen footage. However, there aren't hours. According to my calculations, the entire "Endgame" bonus DVD has one hour and eleven minutes of content. The shame is that the advertisement implies there is more (hours is plural and implies two or more hours, or at least in my perspective). But I guess it is just semantics and the fact of the matter is under two hours of exclusive content on "Endgame".
Case Closed: A Look Back At 5 Years Of Alias (36:41) is a featurette divided into five parts: "Introduction", Created By", "Alias Undercover", "A Fan Farewell", and "The Final Chapter". The parts can be watched individually or all at once via a play all option.
"Introduction" (1:40) has cast and crew introducing key aspects of Alias in brief statements.
"Created By" (7:42) is a behind the scenes interview featurette about the show's creator J.J. Abrams. It features commentary from J.J. Abrams and his experience with Alias. Steven Spielberg, Ken Olin, Sarah Caplan, Jesse Alexander, Michael Bonvillian, Kevin Blank, and Jennifer Garner also provide their opinions about him and past experiences.
"Alias Undercover" (5:59) begins J.J. Abrams introducing one of the problems the show tackles; character posing in many different roles (the aliases). Jennifer Garner also provides her perspective on the matter, as well as Greg Grunberg, Carl Lumbly, Jesse Alexander, Laura Goldsmith, and Rachel Nichols. Series fans Eddie Medina and Chrispin Webb talk about their favorite aliases.
"A Fan Farewell" (9:24) is fan-based featurette. It begins with Victor Medina giving a narrative to what he thinks the represents to the American Patriotism. Then the meat of the presentation follows. J.J. Abrams, Jennifer Garner, Merrin Dungey
Patricia Wettig, Josh Appelbaum, and Andre Nemec provide some comments, along with comments from fans Jenifer Medina, Megan Johnson, Jimmy Kimmel, Sheri E. Files, Adrienne Katzman, Jennifer Walden, Rachel Lane, Lori Vinoverski, Spencer Straub, Victor Medina, and Joshua Stewart. The fans discuss what they like about the show, favorite characters, and best episodes. At the end is a compilation of fan video submissions of "thank yous" for the show.
"The Final Chapter" (11:56) contains cast and crew: Greg Grunberg, Terry O'Quinn, Ken Olin, Michael Vartan, Carl Lumbly, Lena Olin, Jeff Pinkner, Kevin Weisman, Rachel Nichols, J.J. Abrams, Marlo Hellerstein, Mia Maestro, Donald Thorin Jr., Victor Garber, Richard Coad, and Jennifer Garner. They provide final comments about their experience and perspectives about being on the show, lots of "I'm going to miss everyone" comments, and their relationships with each other. The interviews are provided with behind the scenes footage of the last day of footage.
Alias Time Capsule: The Pilot Interviews (6:42) stars Jennifer Garner, Ron Rifkin, Michael Vartan, Merrin Dungey, Victor Garber, and Victor Garber. The featurette contains a montage of interview clips with the cast members during the filming of the pilot episode. They talk about their experiences with the pilot episode script and how they first became interested in the show.
Forty-Seven (4:47) is a featurette that unlocks the secret of the number forty-seven and its role in the show. Well, when I saw secret, I don't really mean the details. They more or less talk about the mysterious of the number, along with many clips from the show that used the number forty-seven (dialogue or on props). There is a lot of speculation from the cast and crew, but the bottom line is no one knows what it means. J.J. Abrams shows up at the end and gives his prospective and take on the number. It stars Michael Vartan, David Anders, Merrin Dungey, Greg Grunberg, Jesse Alexander, Kevin Weisman, Robert M. Williams Jr., and J.J. Abrams.
Axis of Evil (4:19) is a featurette with cast and crew talking about the various bad guys in the show. It stars Jennifer Garner, Gina Torres, Ron Rifkin, Jeff Pinkner, Lena Olin, David Anders, Merrin Dungey, Rachel Nichols, Amy Acker, and Jesse Alexander. The discussion includes SD-6, The Alliance, K-Directorate, The Covenant, Prophet 5, Irina Derevko, Arvin Sloane, and Julian Sark. Overall, it is a fairly informative recap of the series' bad guys from start to finish. However, there are a couple portions with individuals like Garner and Anders who have problem recalling specific details.
Deleted Scenes is a small collection of deleted scenes from season five. They include Protection from episode "Prophet Five" (0:44), Jack & Elizabeth from "Bob" (1:51), and Testing from "All The Time In The World" (2:10). I personally think this deleted scenes should have appeared on the season five extras (considering people who only purchase the season sets individually won't see these deleted scenes).
Alias Magazine: Complete Cover Gallery is an image gallery. It has twenty-three different covers for the Alias Magazine.
Secrets From The Set (7:57) is an Easter egg. From the "Endgame" menu while "Axis of Evil" is highlighted, press left twice and down on your DVD remote to find the bonus featurette. It stars cast and crew: Mia Maestro, Kevin Weisman, Patricia Wettig, Merrin Dungey, Alison Schapkur, Monica Breen, Ellis James, Frederick E. O. Toye, Lawrence Trilling, Sam Humphrey, J.R. Orci, and Matt Moriarty. The featurette is supposed to have a central theme with various cast and crew providing their opinion about the best kept secret in Alias. But it does not really unfold or feel that way. Basically, the cast and crew provide short interviews about one thing or another related to the characters or the show. One interesting comment came from J.R. Orci talking about applying counter-intelligence techniques to handle scripts being leaked out on to the Internet.
Spielberg Speaks About Abrams (1:38) is an Easter egg. From the "Endgame" menu while "Cased Closed: A Look Back At 5 Years Of Alias" is highlighted, press left and then up on your DVD remote. Steven Spielberg talks shortly about J.J. Abrams and his work. It is basically an additional segment that fits into the "Cased Closed: A Look Back At 5 Years Of Alias: Introduction".
A Fan Farewell with Jimmy Kimmel (1:03) is an Easter egg. From the "Case Closed: A Look Back" menu while "A Fan Farewell" is highlighted, press left three times to see more footage of Jimmy Kimmel.
A Hidden Deleted Scene (2:35) is an Easter egg. From the "Deleted Scenes From Season 5" menu while "Bob: Jack & Elizabeth" is highlighted, press left twice to see rough footage with Jennifer Garner.
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Alias: The Complete Collection: Limited Edition is collection of twenty-nine DVDs that represent the show's entire five season run and an exclusive bonus disc in a slick looking package that represents a Rambaldi artifact box. This release is limited, with only 40,000 in existence. This set is perfect for the diehard fans of the series and newcomers looking to see plenty of action, drama, mystery, suspense, intrigue, and minor bits of comedy. The series, overall, is done well in regards to writing and acting. While the overall plot has several hokey aspects in terms of realism, it still proves to be a lot of fun.
However, those who have been collecting the Alias season sets. I am not entirely convinced that double dipping would be in your best interest. Unless you are dying to have this slick looking package on your shelf, then it is probably not worth the extra cash to double dip. The exclusive content does not feature a whole lot of material that makes it worthwhile. In such a case, you might be better off borrowing a friend's or renting the bonus disc (if you can).
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