Twilight Zone: The Definitive Seasons 1 and 2
I love The Twilight Zone. I love
it a lot actually. Growing up, it was one of my all-time favorite
television shows. I wasn't alive during the initial broadcasts, so I was
only able to devour the show in syndication, but I never missed it. It
has a special place in my heart as a life marker as well. The night I
met my wife, I was watching one of the first DVD releases with my buddy
Johnny B. when she and a bunch of her friends came over to my apartment
for a party my roommate was throwing. Forever will The
Twilight Zone be linked in my heart and mind as background
noise when I first laid eyes on my wife.
enough of that mush, you're here to read my first review in a
loooooooooooong while. Bill pulled me out of DVD retirement so I could
wrap my eyes around Image's deluxe treatment of one of the most
important TV shows to ever come across the cathode ray nipple.
Image is planning to release all five seasons in five deluxe packages,
and if the next three are anything like the first two, I can't frickin
wait. These sets are completely badass. I thought the original random
collections Image released were fun, but they were complete garbage
compared to these sets.
What makes these sets so well-done isn't just the improved image and
sound, which are both leaps and bounds better than the original
releases. It's in the presentation and the volumes of extras heaped onto
Season One is the stand out. It
comes with a very nice paperback book: The
Twilight Zone Companion by Marc Scott Zicree. It's a hefty
and well-researched tome, offering just about everything you could ever
wonder about Twilight Zone. Zicree
also provides his library of audio recordings as a virtual commentary
track spread over these new DVDs. If you read the book, you won't really
learn anything by listening to these recordings, but it's neat to hear
them anyway. Keep in mind, these aren't exactly archival quality. Just
treat them as the curiosity pieces they are.
Season One contains traditional
audio commentaries as well. Participants include Earl Holliman, star of
the very first episode, Martin Landau, Rod Taylor, Martin Milner and Joe
Dante fave Kevin McCarthy. All these commentaries are interesting, some
more than others. They aren't the end all be all, but if you're a fan,
you'll dig them. Also included are three additional audio features. One
is a small collection of newer radio plays based on original scripts for
Twilight Zone. They're just okay,
nothing to write home about, but still a neat extra that illustrates
just how good the originals were. Next are a series of lectures that
show creator Rod Serling gave at Sherwood Oaks College. They're gappy,
but worth a listen. Finally, we have here a selection (20 actually, a
bit more than a selection) of isolated scores from the show. Who
wouldn't pay just for scores featuring the work of Bernard Herrmann and
Jerry Goldsmith at the height of their talents? Joining all those audio
extras on the first five discs are two video extras. One is a Drew
Carey Show excerpt riffing on the seminal episode Time
Enough at Last, while the other is a short photo gallery
featuring Paul Douglas, who was originally cast in the episode The
Mighty Casey but passed away during the production and was
Disc Six is where you'll find all the other "Whoo-hoo!"
extras. There's an original pitch pilot with a different narrator, a
silly opening sequence, a long introduction with Serling selling
the show and then a longer version of Mr.
Denton on Doomsday. On that pitch is commentary by CBS
executive William Self, more Serling lectures and an alternate show
narration with Serling as an isolated feature. You also get a sales
pitch by Serling for the show in the Netherlands, a complete episode of
Liar's Club which was hosted by
Serling, a blooper reel, award show clips, a DVD-ROM comic book,
advertising cards featured in the original broadcasts, a picture gallery
and another radio show. Not bad, huh?
It also should be said that the episodes themselves are presented as
close to original broadcast as possible, with outro/previews featuring
Serling and promos of upcoming CBS shows like Father
Knows Best and Wanted Dead or
Alive. I didn't go into episode review because, let's face
it, this is THE best show of its kind. Most of the episodes are classics
in their own right: Where Is Everybody?,
Time Enough at Last and The
Monsters Are Due on Maple Street are just a few of the
must-sees in this season. All hyperbole aside, The
Twilight Zone: The Definitive Season One was THE best TV DVD
of 2004, and that's saying a lot because there were MANY great TV
packages that came out last year.
Take away the heavy paperback, and Season
Two fares just about the same as Season
One in terms of extras and presentation... setting it up as a
must own collection.
Featuring 29 classic tales (including The
Howling Man, Eye of the Beholder,
The Invaders and Long
Distance Call), these episodes look and sound really, really
good on DVD. A few of these episodes were filmed on videotape (a
regrettable cost-cutting measure that didn't pay off), so they don't
fare as well quality-wise as the traditionally-filmed episodes, but they
look as good as can be expected.
At this point, I'll chime in with my only peeve about both of these
sets. I was hoping it was a problem with Season
One and wouldn't follow into Two,
but it did so now I'll complain... there is no 'Play All' option on any
of these DVDs, which really sucks. You are forced to watch an episode
and click through the menus to watch the next. It gets annoying and I
hope someone out there complained in a timelier manner than I am at this
point, so many the Season Three
set that streeted yesterday actually has one.
Alright, back to the praising.
Commentaries on this set include tracks with Donna Douglas, the ugly
chick from Eye of the Beholder,
Bill Mummy and writer William Idelson (on Long
Distance Call), Cliff Robertson, Dennis Weaver and Shelley
Berman. All are fun and well worth listening to. We also get 6 more
radio dramas, more interview records from Zicree, isolated scores for a
whopping 22 episodes (more Herrmann and Goldsmith, hell yeah!),
production slate footage from the video episodes, a selection of color
photos and a DVD-ROM accessible draft of the script for Twenty-Two,
with handwritten notes by Serling.
Disc Five brings up the rear with another fine selection of additional
supplements. There's a Mike Wallace Interview
with Rod Serling, a funny little clip from the Tell
It to Groucho television series, an additional clip from The
Jack Benny Show, as well as product ad cards, stills and
another DVD-ROM comic book.
I have to say, I've been watching these sets off and on since they came
out and I've loved every minute of them. Both are must-own. In fact, all
the forthcoming sets (if they're anywhere close to the quality of these
two) should be well worth your time.
I'll chime back in as I pick up the newer sets and make this review a
full report of all five seasons. Bill will let you know when amendments
And next week I'll be back with a look at samurai flicks that have come
out in the last few months.
Keep spinnin those discs!