Alias: The Complete First Season

Alias is the best network show on television; its first season arrives in time for newbies to catch up on what they've missed so far, but this Alias shares little in common with the show's upcoming third season, because creator J.J. Abrams has a penchant for reinvention unheard of in episodic television. In its first season, the spy show follows double agent Sydney Bristow (rising action star Jennifer Garner) and her father Jack (stellar Canadian Victor Garber) working for SD-6, a secret bad-guy organisation posing as a secret CIA branch. From the outset, Alias balances costume-oriented undercover work, intense parental issues, ass-kicking world-travelling and a 500-year-old myth about a techno-prophet named Rimbaldi. Abrams, who co-created hair-as-storyline show Felicity, balances the spy-babble and the personal is so intricately, it really is Thirtysomething meets Bond. The show has been overhauled completely twice since (in a complete surprise during the second season's Super Bowl episode, and again at the end of season two), something already hinted at in this year's twists, which end with the arrival of super-guest-star Lena Olin as Sydney Bristow's supposed-to-be-dead mother. Four episode commentaries reveal the challenges of growing an audience for such a serialised show, and the shortcuts that keep it under budget and on-track, while deleted scenes, production diaries and gag reels offer glimpses behind the scenes. But it's in the show's remarkable construction, its balance of the intimate and elaborate, and the burning hot talent of Garner that this set truly shines. Extras: commentaries by cast and crew; pilot production diary; "Inside Stunts" featurette; deleted scenes; gag reel; more. (Buena Vista)