The Twilight Zone: Season 1 (1959) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Mystery / Science Fiction
Image Entertainment || NR - 933 minutes - $99.98 || September 14, 2010
Reviewer: Brad Lowenberg || Posted On: 2010-09-20


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: NA
Writer(s): Rod Serling (created by)
Cast: Various


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • 24 Episode Commentaries
  • Original Pilot
  • Uncut Pilot
  • 3 Featurettes
  • Isolated Scores
  • Interviews
  • Promos


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 5
  • Full Frame (1.33)
  • English (PCM 2.0), English (Dolby Mono)
  • Subtitles: NA

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.::THE FILM::.

Season one of the hit show offers up a selection of some of the best episodes that the show produced over its 5 seasons on the air. That's not to say the show fell apart after the First Season, but that Rod Serling was not writing as many of the scripts, or when he was, he was writing way too many that he tended to re-use plot lines/stories that had occurred in earlier Seasons. Since Season One had such a huge amount written by Sterling (I'm convinced he penned episodes under an alias), he had a bit more control over what could and couldn't happen and was able to craft better, richer stories.

One of the problems with the show (overall) is that not every episode stands the test of time. There is an over abundance of space-themed ones that, while being interesting and new to the late 50's/early 60's generation, just look and feel very corny and fake in today's time. But since America was so heavily interested and astonished by things up in space (remember, this is the 50's), I'm sure these were probably some of the most talked about episodes when they originally aired. But watching now in 2010, it's a bit too laughable (especially after having so many great space-themed shows that follow like "Star Trek"). But there are still a few gems out of the space-themed ones like "Third from the Sun".

Watching this show in syndication as a kid, I remember not seeing some of the earlier "Twilight Zone" episodes. Sure, some of the great ones were replayed often, but it was always episodes from season 3/4/5 that aired over and over (season 4 obviously being trimmed and/or cut since they were hour long). So in some cases, this is the first time I've seen a few of these episodes before.

As a whole, does the show still hold up? Absolutely. Now fifty years later, some of the episodes feel very dated, but others could have easily fit in if they were still being aired today (of course, in color and wish some advances in clothes and such). But watching this show, I am often troubled by things that occurred back then that is perfectly fine, while today it would be a huge uproar if it happened on TV (a man grabbing a young boys hand or sitting down and talking to him, smoking cigarettes etc.). But even with those small things that do shake me out of the episode I am watching, I still found the episodes incredibly enjoyable.

Since I find it nearly impossible that someone has never seen an episode of "Twilight Zone", I'll go ahead and discuss one of my favorites from this season.

"Walking Distance" - One of my favorite episodes of the entire Series deals with a man who decides to take a trip back to the town where he once lived. But when he arrives, he soon finds out something is not quite right when he meets himself as a young child and runs into his parents circa 1930. Being back in time, he is able to relive some of his childhood memories, but a discussion with his Dad quickly sets him on the right path.

A small side note - this was initially one of the first Blu-ray (and HD DVD) titles announced back in 2005. For some reason Image just never released them on either format. I guess that's probably a good thing since they would have used the 2004 DVD re-masters instead of these new ones.

The Episodes: (I've marked off some of the best ones with a small * if you want to randomly skip to some of the better ones)

1. Where is Everybody?
2. One for the Angels
3. Mr. Denton on Doomsday
4. The Sixteen Millimeter Shrine
5. Walking Distance *
6. Escape Clause
7. The Lonely
8. Time Enough At Last *
9. Perchance to Dream
10. Judgment Night
11. And When the Sky Was Opened
12. What You Need
13. The Four of Us Are Dying
14. Third from the Sun *
15. I Shot an Arrow into the Air
16. The Hitch-Hiker
17. The Fever *
18. The Last Flight
19. The Purple Testament
20. Elegy *
21. Mirror Image
22. The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street *
23. A World of Difference
24. Long Live Walter Jameson
25. People Are Alike All Over
26. Execution
27. The Big Tall Wish
28. A Nice Place to Visit
29. Nightmare as a Child *
30. A Stop at Willoughby *
31. The Chaser
32. A Passage for Trumpet
33. Mr. Bevis
34. The After Hours *
35. The Mighty Casey
36. A World of His Own



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

“Twilight Zone” Season One is packaged in a slightly thick Bu-ray case housed in an attractive, shiny Slip Cover with an Episode Guide!

Let me start this off by saying this is probably one of the most packaged releases I have ever reviewed - or watched - on Blu-ray. I will be grouping several things together.

Audio Commentaries from:
(19 New Ones from) Author Marc Scott Zicree (of The Twilight Zone Companion), author and film historian Gary Gerani, author and music historian Steven Smith, music historians John Morgan and William Stromberg, writer/producer David Simkins, writer Mark Fergus, actor William Reynolds and director Ted Post. ** Blu-ray Exclusive** - Probably 70% (pretty much all the good ones) of the episodes in Season One include a Commentary (some of them have several), and all told it appears there are 24 Commentaries (19 Exclusive to Blu-ray). I sampled a few...

"Walking Distance" with Author Marc Scott Zicree
- Since it's one of my favorite episodes of the show, I decided this would be one of the Commentaries I would listen to. Marc discusses on how this is not only one of his favorite episodes of the Series as well, but Serling's. He goes on to say exactly how many scripts Serling wrote (92 out of 156, wow) and how the idea came to Serling (walking through the sets of MGM). Not only that, we get an idea how Serling actually wrote these scripts and how changes were made to them. We get hit with all these facts within minutes of the opening, and Marc never seems to take a breath.

"The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" with Author Marc Scott Zicree
- I chose to stick to another Marc Scott Zicree Commentary and was once again not disappointed. Marc discusses how Serling found ways to right about things that were rather taboo in the 50's, but by giving it a supernatural twist he was able to get away with it. This is probably one of the most famous episodes of the Season (if not the Series) and Marc really loves to talk about how each character is very important to the episode.

"The After Hours" with Author Marc Scott Zicree
- I just can't shake this guy who just explodes with so much information. Here he discusses the rare 'eye opening' segment (which reminds me of Dawn/Day of the Dead opening titles). This is another one of my favorite episodes where a young women buys a gold thimble (talk about 50's) from the Ninth floor and discovers that floor actually does not exist. Marc goes into great detail (as he did in his book) about how Serling found ideas by walking the MGM lot and deciding what stories would be written based on a single location or prop (in this case, a mannequin).

Also carried over are Five Commentaries from the Definitive DVD Release of season 1 by Actors Earl Holliman, Martin Landau, Rod Taylor, Martin Miller, Kevin McCarthy and CBS Executive William Self.

Isolated Scores - 34 out of the 36 episodes include the option to watch and listen to only the score for that particular episode (by legendary Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith and others). ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

"The Time Element" Pilot (55 Minutes; HD) - This is the original Twilight Zone pilot (which was done before "Where is Everybody?") that has been seen before in other incarnations...but this is the full, uncut version with an alternate Opening and Closing. Overall it's a great episode and it becomes clear that Rod Sterling knew how to write and produce a fine piece of entertainment. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

"Where is Everybody" Uncut Pilot (35 Minutes; SD) - Alright, so this is the 'Pilot' most know about, and it's available uncut for this first time. It also includes an interesting pitch by Rod Sterling to the networks to get the show picked up for an actual season.

Tales of Tomorrow: "What You Need to Know" (30 Minutes; SD) - Before "Twilight Zone", there was "Tales of Tomorrow". This is just an episode from that series available to watch. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Radio Dramas (45 Minutes) - Back in 2002, 18 of these were produced and are now available on Blu-ray. It's simply a retelling of an episode in Audio form. Too bad these are not available on a separate DVD so I could listen to them on my iPhone. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Rounding out the Discs is Promos for next week's episode (which are very cool in themselves and last maybe 20 seconds), Four Rod Sterling Lectures at Sherwood College which play like Audio Commentaries, some additional Video Interviews with various Actors (lasting only a few minutes each and honestly not all that interesting), Sponsor Promos for various brands (Sanka Coffee) that last mere seconds, a clip of Rod Serling accepting an Emmy and various other Promos for the syndication market.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

“Twilight Zone” Season One is presented in 4:3 (1080p; VC1) on five 50GB Discs. ALL 36 First Season Episodes are Present plus the bonus ones mentioned above. Blu-ray has only seen a few shows/movies that were in Black and White, and "Twilight Zone" is now one of the best looking. Even though we got the definitive version on DVD a few years back, Image has once again restored and cleaned up the show for Blu-ray and it looks fantastic. Blacks are very sharp and the detail being shown rivals even some newer films hitting Blu-ray. That's not to say its perfect - there are still some marks/dirt/hair that show up on occasion, but c'mon, this show was shot with an incredibly low budget in its first season and its fifty years old. I can't wait to see how season two looks as the budget was slightly higher (even though six episodes were filmed on tape and not film).

Image has included the original 2.0 Mono tracks and well as lossless 2.0 PCM tracks for this release. Purists will be thrilled by the inclusion of the 'original' tracks, but swapping back and forth between the two I only really noticed a little bit more 'oomph' with the lossless versions. Dialog is well placed with only an occasional hiccup, but much like the picture quality, I doubt it’ll ever sound as good as it does here.



.::OVERALL::.

Anyone who gives this a score of a 4.5 lower is nuts. This is how all classic TV and movies on Blu-ray should be treated. While there might be a few small hiccups in the picture quality, it's not ever going to look so good. Packed with hours (days?) worth of features, this is such a great value for consumers. I can't wait for season two!!!