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Twilight Zone, The: The Complete Series
DVD | Box Set
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All 156 episodes of Rod Serling's classic television series in one special box set. This episodes-only collection includes all 5 seasons of the groundbreaking TV series. Guest stars include Art Carney, Burgess Meredith, Cliff Robertson, Dennis Hopper, Bill Bixby, Leonard Nimoy, Burt Reynolds, Don Rickles, Jack Klugman, Robert Redford, Lee Marvin, Martin Landau, Telly Savalas, William Shatner and many more.
PLEASE NOTE: Season 1 not closed captioned and not subtitled.
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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 have spent the last few months watching the entire series and save for a handful of clunkers found the overwhelming majority of the episodes to be thoughtfully written and highly entertaining. It was fun to see so many stars from the golden age of television as well as up-and-coming young actors like Jack Klugman, Robert Redford, Burt Reynolds and William Shatner to name but a few. Then there all of those terrific character actors you have seen a million times. You recognize the faces but are hard pressed to come up with the names. Great stuff! The writing is almost always superb and the camera work top notch. Meanwhile, depending on the episode creator Rod Serling's clever introductions add a welcome touch of intrigue or humor. I was quite surprised at the large number of these episodes that I had never even seen before. I was especially impressed by a chilling episode from the fifth and final season entitled "Number 12 Looks Just Like You". "The Twilight Zone" is one of a handful of TV shows from that period that hold up well even to this day.
If you are a fan of science fiction or classic television then "The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series" would be the perfect choice for you. This set is very reasonably priced and would be a great gift for that Baby Boomer in your life. A truly outstanding series. Very highly recommended!