It's interesting to look at the success of Avatar: The Last Airbender when you consider where it started and ended in the Nickelodeon timeline. The golden and even the silver age of the network in many people's eyes had come and gone, the company's budget had changed under Viacom and things had been cut, the physical Nickelodeon Studios at Universal was shut down, and with the exception of SpongeBob SquarePants the company was running off the fumes of nostalgia.
It needed something new to jumpstart a new era of kids programming after everyone else ran off to places like Cartoon Network. The show came in at just the right time to spark interest in the network again and become a runaway hit on TV. Now, 13 years later, we're looking back as Nickelodeon has released The Complete Series on Blu-ray.
When it comes to the content of the show, you're getting as best of a version as you can. The show wasn't presented in HD at the time, so you still have an old-school 4:3 aspect ration for the animation. That being said, every episode appears to have been given a clean update so that the art pops off the screen and feels like a brand new series. The audio has been given a little bit of a cleanup as well, as I can remember watching episodes with music that didn't sound as clear as what I've experienced with this new set. Granted, Avatar: The Last Airbender was recorded in 2.0 audio, but this is a clean and crisp version. Basically, they went out of their way to make sure the quality of these stood the test of time after network airing, and they did a superb job of it.
The entire series is here spread out across three "books" with three discs to each book for a total of nine discs with the complete series and some bonus content. Getting right to the heart of the matter, you're getting a ton of behind-the-scenes featurettes ranging from casting to the creation of the show to thoughts on the writing for specific episodes and story arcs. This is basically your all-in-one-collection for learning everything you've ever wanted to know about the series from the very people who created it and lived it. They even threw in a couple bonuses to this section of the content like a couple audio books and some thoughts from M. Night Shyamalan.
You also get featured audio commentary on select episodes. Not everything, mind you, which we were kind of curious about as we didn't understand why they chose to go through only a few episodes here and there when they could have done commentary for everything. But you're getting some very specific viewpoints about episodes like "The Blind Bandit" or "The Avatar of the Firelord", which have become fan-favorite episodes. So the crew knew their audience to a degree and went for episodes that would mean something when they chose to speak about them.
Overall, we really enjoyed checking out our copy of Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Complete Series on Blu-Ray, as it is basically the most complete collection on the show you're going to get. Well, you know, until the day comes they put it on a new format. But if you're a diehard fan, this is a set you can't pass up as its everything you wanted from the series and more.