The Twilight Zone: The Complete Definitive Collection
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For the first time ever, find all 156 complete episodes of Rod Serling's groundbreaking series in one box set, packed with exciting extras! Travel to another dimension of sight and sound again and again through these stellar remastered high-definition film transfers. Extras include the fascinating Serling bio-documentary Submitted for Your Approval, compelling interviews with the show's writers, the series' unaired pilot, audio commentaries with Martin Landau, Leonard Nimoy, Cliff Robertson and much, much more!
The Twilight Zone - Season 1 (The Definitive Edition)
Submitted for your approval: The Twilight Zone's inaugural season, all 36 episodes complete with Rod Serling's original promos for the following week's episode, not seen since their original broadcast. To discuss television's greatest anthology series whose title has become pop culture shorthand for the bizarre and supernatural is to immediately become like Albert Brooks and Dan Aykroyd in Twilight Zone: The Movie; a can-you-top-this recall of famous shocks and favorite twists. Several essential episodes hail from this season, among them, "Time Enough at Last" starring Burgess Meredith as a bespectacled bookworm who is the lone survivor of an atomic blast; "The After-Hours" starring Anne Francis as a department store shopper haunted by mannequins; and the profoundly disturbing "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street," in which fear and prejudice turns neighbor against neighbor (and, by the by, whose alien observers inspired Kang and Kodos on The Simpsons).
From an unsettlingly persistent hitchhiker to a malevolent slot machine, The Twilight Zone's first season did plumb "the pit of man's fears." One forgets how moving the series could be. Three of this season's most memorable and enduring episodes are the poignant and primal "stop-the-world-I-want-to-get-off fantasies, "Walking Distance," "A Stop at Willougby" and "The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine," in which desperate characters seek refuge in a simpler past. Serling's few stabs at comedy ("Mr. Bevis," "The Mighty Casey") have not aged well, but the series finale, "A World of His Own," starring Keenan Wynn as a playwright whose fictional characters come to life, has a brilliant capper. The episodes are more deliberately paced than one might remember. Less patient younger viewers might be anxious to get to the payoffs, but once they settle into the rhythm, they will savor the literate writing and the performances by such veteran actors as Ed Wynn, Everett Sloan, and Ida Lupino, and newcomers such as Jack Klugman. The extras, including the unaired version of the pilot episode, "Where is Everybody?", audio commentaries and recollections, and a Serling college lecture, truly take this six-disc set to another dimension. --Donald Liebenson
The Twilight Zone - Season 2 (The Definitive Edition)
The middle ground between light and shadow just became a whole lot sharper and detailed with this stellar five-disc set, which compiles the entire second season of Rod Serling's classic television series, The Twilight Zone, and gilds the whole package by including a treasure trove of supplemental material. TZ's second season (1960-61) is a stand-out in the series' history thanks to its sheer number of memorable stories; among the episodes that have achieved pop culture landmark status are the chilling "Eye of the Beholder" (a disfigured woman undergoes surgery to appear more "normal") and "The Silence" (Franchot Tone wagers that Liam Sullivan cannot silent for a year); "The Invaders" (Agnes Moorhead is pitted against tiny space travelers), "Long Distance Call" (Lost in Space's Billy Mumy converses with a deceased relative on his toy phone), and the more light-hearted "Night of the Meek," in which department store Santa Claus Art Carney gets a chance to fulfill the real St. Nick's duties. As always, the combination of sharp, intelligent scripting (mostly by Serling, but with notable contributions by Charles Beaumont, Richard Matheson, and George Clayton Johnson) and superb casting (guest stars include Cliff Robertson, Dennis Weaver, Burgess Meredith, William Shatner, John Carradine, and Don Rickles) produces television that remains as thought-provoking and entertaining today as it was over 40 years ago.
Though The Twilight Zone has received numerous home video releases over the years, the aptly titled Definitive Edition is arguably the finest presentation of this series to date. Each of the episodes have been digitally remastered from original camera negatives (even the episodes filmed on videotape look good) and magnetic soundtracks; Serling's previews for upcoming episodes and advertising "billboards" (sponsor spots) have also been included, as have commentaries by Rickles, Weaver, Robertson, Shelly Berman, and other performers. Clips of Serling on The Jack Benny Show and in conversation with Mike Wallace, audio interviews with cast and crew members by Twilight Zone Companion author Marc Scott Zicree, radio adaptations of classic episodes, and even the script for "Twenty-Two," complete with Serling's notes, round out the set, which belongs in the collection of anyone who's ever been enthralled by this landmark series. Now, if only the same treatment could be afforded to Serling's other anthology program, Night Gallery… --Paul Gaita
The Twilight Zone - Season 4 (The Definitive Edition)
Despite major changes in personnel and the ill-advised switch to a full-hour format, Twilight Zone (with "The" removed from its title) began its fourth season on a promising note. Written by series veteran Charles Beaumont, the premiere episode "In His Image" maintained the high standards that Rod Serling had established throughout the first three seasons, and the story--about a man (George Grizzard) who builds an exact robot replica of himself, with dire consequences--fit well into the hour-long format that Serling reluctantly went along with. Twilight Zone struggled with its expanded length, resulting in some episodes that lack the consistent punch of earlier half-hour episodes. Exhausted by three seasons of prodigious creativity, Serling and Buck Houghton vacated their roles as producers (with Serling's involvement limited to script feedback, writing nearly half of the season's episodes, and on-screen hosting), and TV veteran Herbert Hirschman became the new show-runner (departing mid-season, he was replaced by Bert Granet), promising not to tinker with the series' proven success. But Twilight Zone was inevitably becoming a shadow of its former self, and the involvement of proven TZ writers like Richard Matheson, Earl Hamner, Jr., and Beaumont could not entirely compensate for Serling's growing detachment.
Still, these 18 episodes include some fine examples of enduring quality, such as Matheson's "Death Ship," starring Jack Klugman and Ross Martin in a recurring nightmare scenario, and featuring the same spaceship model used in the 1956 sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet. Beaumont's "Miniature," starring Robert Duvall, was the only hour-long episode pulled from initial syndication (due to a plagiarism lawsuit that was ultimately dismissed), so its inclusion here (along with color scenes from its eventual syndication) is a welcome treat. Serling lampoons the medium of television with "The Bard" (with an early appearance by Burt Reynolds), and his teleplay for "On Thursday We Leave for Home" is the season's highlight, ranking among Twilight Zone's finest science-fiction episodes. It remained clear, however, that Twilight Zone was past its prime, and when the series was renewed for a fifth season in the spring of 1963, a return to its original half-hour format was a belated step in the right direction.
Of course, season 4's overall strengths and weaknesses won't matter to collectors of The Definitive Edition DVD sets, and a wealth of archival bonus features make this a must-have addition to anyone's TZ collection. Image Entertainment and features producer Paul Browstein deserve extra credit for their diligent assembly of supplements that render all previous TZ releases virtually obsolete. Nothing has been overlooked, from the commentary (on "Death Ship") and interview clips by acclaimed TZ expert Mark Scott Zicree to the inclusion of a vintage TZ spoof from Saturday Night Live, radio-show adaptations starring Blair Underwood, Jason Alexander, Lou Diamond Phillips and others, and a vintage Twilight Zone comic book, accessible on computers with Adobe reader installed. There's even a brief Rod Serling blooper taken from a scratchy 16-millimeter print, proving that no stone was left unturned in making this a truly definitive TZ collection. --Jeff Shannon
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Many of the episodes involve some kind of tragic irony, or a cruel twist of fate at the end. In "Time Enough At Last", Burgess Meredith is a bookworm who tries to find time to read, but to no avail. In "The Hitchhiker", a young woman tries to escape from a stalker, only to find that...she can't escape. "One More Pallbearer" is about a man who hides in a bomb shelter as the world ends. In "The Silence", a man bets that he can remain completely silent for a specified period of time; he wins the bet, but still loses.
Some episodes have subtle or obvious, mostly liberal, progressive themes. "The Obsolete Man" is about an old man on trial for being obsolete in a totalitarian state. In the fantasy episode "A Quality of Mercy", Dean Stockwell is a World War II soldier who physically turns into a Japanese and gets the enemy's point of view. "The Encounter" tackles racism head on, and it's a rarely shown episode where a Japanese-American (George Takei) is locked in a room with a virulent bigot. I recall at least a couple of episodes involving Adolf Hitler. And quite a few episodes promote tolerance of various kinds.
My favorite type of episodes are the ones about dreams and illusions that play tricks on the hero(ine)'s mind. "Perchance to Dream" -- a man dare not go to sleep because the woman in his nightmare would kill him. "The Midnight Sun" -- the Earth is moving towards the sun and the heat-stricken heroine is...seeing things. "Shadow Play" -- this is the famous episode where Dennis Weaver has to go through the same nightmare over and over again. "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" -- an Oscar-winning episode, though not made by Serling and company, about a Civil War soldier's illusion. And, of course, the very first episode, "Where is Everybody?", where the hero finds himself in a strange place without knowing who or where he is.
And I've only scratched the tip of the iceberg. This legendary, 3-time Emmy-winning series that spans 5 glorious seasons is filled with gems that will continue to fascinate viewers for generations to come, just as it did the first time it aired.
TZ has been a perennial fixture on home video. VHS, laserdisc, and DVD galore of various "episode collections" have been released in the past. But only TWO serious attempts at releasing the whole series have been made: The "Definitive Edition" DVDs from 2004-5, and the Blu-ray editions of 2010-11, both from Image Entertainment.
Both editions offer uncut, full episodes in great-looking restored black-and-white picture. The high-def 1080p picture on the Blu-ray is, however, stunning. The series was shot on 35mm film, and the Blu-ray's almost pristine-looking picture shows beautiful fine grains and great details and clarity that indicate great efforts in preservation and restoration. Both editions offer fine audio mono tracks, while the Blu-ray also offers "remastered audio" (still mono) tracks that have less noise.
Season 1 of the Definitive Edition DVD does not have subtitles nor closed captioning, while Season 2-5 have closed-captioning only. All seasons of the Blu-ray editions come with optional English subtitles shown all-caps in a large font. All the supplements, however, have no subtitles nor closed-captioning.
Supplements are quite fully-loaded on both editions, and even more so on the Blu-ray. Almost all from the Definitive Editions were carried over to the Blu-ray, but some weren't.
Bad news first. The wonderful 90-minute documentary "Submitted For Your Approval" from 1995 was not carried over to the Blu-ray. Neither was the 45-second clip of "The Drew Carey Show" paying homage to "Time Enough at Last". Also gone are all five PDF files of the vintage "Gold Key" Twilight Zone color comics. The colorized sequences in Season 4's "Miniature", used for syndication in 1984, is not on the Blu-ray (!). Also gone is the hilarious 5-minute comedy bit that Serling did on "The Jack Benny Show" ("I'm the Mayor of this town. They named it after me. I'm Mr. Zone. You can call me 'Twi'."). A PDF script of "Twenty Two" with Serling's annotation is also not included. Also not on the Blu-ray is the 3-minute clip of the episode "It's Still a Good Life" from the 2003 Twilight Zone TV series that reunites Bill Mumy and Cloris Leachman. Photo galleries, running 2 minutes for each season, are also gone. ALL these pretty memorable bonuses are on the Definitive Edition DVDs only, and NOT the Blu-ray.
Some great features DID get carried over to the Blu-ray, fortunately: Mike Wallace's 21-minute interview with Rod Serling in 1959; a 15-minute clip of Serling's appearance on the talk show "Tell it to Groucho"; all of Serling's audio-only lectures at Sherwood Oaks College; Serling's sales pitch to producers in Netherlands; footage from the Emmy Awards ceremonies where the series won its 3 awards; Saturday Night Live's spoof of the series; clips from two episodes of the 1980s Twilight Zone series.
Then there are features where the Blu-ray offers improvement over the DVD. The Definitive Edition DVDs come with 27 audio commentaries and 29 radio dramas, which is already a decent amount. But the Blu-ray keeps all of them and adds a whole lot more -- to a total of 100 audio commentaries and 84 radio dramas. One would think the extra commentaries might not bring anything more to the table, but they are actually QUITE GOOD. They were recorded by several experts of the series, such as Marc Scott Zicree (without whose tremendous contribution, as many fans know, we probably wouldn't even be watching these discs), Gary Serani, Jim Benson, Scott Skelton, and others. Their tracks are informative and a pleasure to listen to. Some of Zicree's tracks seems to contain even more details than his own seminal work, "The Twilight Zone Companion Book".
The radio dramas are another phenomenon created by the great love of the series. A group called the Falcon Picture Group started producing radio plays in 2002 by adapting Twilight Zone episodes. All 156 episodes have been adapted into radio plays that run about 40 minutes each, with expanded storylines, performed by actors like Jason Alexander, Stacey Keach, Jane Seymour, Kim Fields, etc. As I mentioned, the Blu-ray only has 84 of them. You can buy the rest at iTunes or at the official site TwilightZoneRadio dot com for two dollars per episode. Or you can find your local radio stations that air them. These are decent adaptations with writings and performances that are in the true spirit of the series that Serling would no doubt approve.
The Blu-ray contains some NEW extras. The first thing is something that seems to have gone unnoticed, but is quite important. On the Definitive Edition DVDs, some of Serling's "next week's promo" segments are audio-only, apparently missing the video; and some segments are absent entirely. The Blu-ray RESTORES the video of those audio-only segments, and adds those missing segments, so now all episodes have their "next week's promos", except, of course, the season finales.
The Blu-ray contains NEW video interviews of Dana Dillaway from "One for the Angels", Suzanne Lloyd from "Perchance to Dream", Beverly Garland from "The Four of Us are Dying", Joseph Ruskin from "The Man in the Bottle", H.M. Wynant of "The Howling Man", the still yummy-looking Morgan Brittany of "Valley of the Shadow", Paul Comi from "The Parallel", John Furia, Jr. from "I Dream of Genie". These interviews were all shot in SD, and they were apparently made around 2004 for the Definitive Editions, but for some reason were not included there. They are in the Blu-ray editions only.
Another significant addition on the Blu-ray are audio interviews of Emmy-winning cinematographer George T. Clemens done by Marc Scott Zicree in the 70s. Every season has about half-hour of interview, a total of about 3 hours. This is fascinating stuff for those who want to know more about the show's camera work, which is not dealt with in depth anywhere else on the Blu-ray.
The Blu-ray also adds a "Tales of Tomorrow" episode of "What You Need" from 1952, which serves as a comparison to the Season 1 episode of "What You Need". It was originally a live broadcast recorded in Kinescope, so the video quality is understandably poor.
Another major addition on the Blu-ray is the 1958 pre-series pilot episode "The Time Element", starring William Bendix as someone with a recurring dream. This 1-hour episode has a nicely restored 1080p picture. Serling had to wait until 1959 for the series to be picked up by the network.
Season 3 episode "Cavender is Coming" originally had an ill-advised laugh track that was later removed in subsequent broadcasts. This track is included only on the Blu-ray.
Regarding packaging, if you buy the individual seasons of the Definitive Edition DVDs, each disc is put in an individual slim case. But in the complete Season 1-5 Definitive Edition DVDs, discs of each season are cramped inside one case, with some disc-stacking that requires you to take out one disc in order to get to another. The Blu-rays for the individual seasons and complete series also have each season's discs cramped inside one case, but each disc can be accessed without affecting other discs.
I was gonna finally order these Blu-rays, but was a bit hesitant because
==> the hour episodes pretty-much suck (but ony last ONE season);
==> the video-taped episodes don't improve (just a dozen episodes as I remember) very
much on Blu-ray;
==> The $400 set was hovering around $230 for so long I thought it was the final price.
Well, anyway, I finally hit the SEND button on America's Birthday.... then noticed it
was only $179 !!
At THAT price you'd be NUTS to get the complete set on DVD --- Blu-ray all the way!!
Which is better---it's a WALLET decision---isn't it?
The series is great.
The series is ONE OF A KIND.
Buy it, you'll like it.
Try The Twilight Zone: Fan Favorites [Blu-ray] (see it on BLU-RAY first, t-h-e-n decide!)
I took the jump today!
God Bless America!