THE TWILIGHT ZONE Season 1 BLU-RAY
Rated: Not Rated
Film Length: 15 hours, 30 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: English Uncompressed PCM Mono, Dolby Digital Mono
Release Date: September 14, 2010
"There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call The Twilight Zone."
So began the narration of this series in its first season. The Twilight Zone premiered on CBS-TV on October 2, 1959, and aired for 5 seasons until its cancellation in 1964. This fantasy and science fiction anthology series is revered and well remembered 50 years later for its daring social commentary and the twist endings of many of its episodes. The series was created by Rod Serling, who narrated the episodes and, incredibly, wrote a majority of the scripts during its production. Serling was an accomplished radio and television writer by the time he created The Twilight Zone; Serling had won Emmy Awards for his screenplays for Patterns and Requiem for a Heavyweight earlier in the 1950s, and he would win more Emmy Awards during The Twilight Zone’s run on the air.
Serling was supported in his screen-writing chores by accomplished authors Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson. Serling, Beaumont, and Matheson were the holy trinity of writers for The Twilight Zone; between the three of them, they wrote 127 episodes out of the entire series output of 156 episodes. The high quality and success of this series is undoubtedly attributable in large part to the efforts of these writers who wrote many original screenplays, as well as adaptations of works by other authors.
The Twilight Zone also benefitted from the acting talent that appeared in the series. Actors in this first season included Earl Holliman, Ron Howard, Jack Klugman, Burgess Meredith, Anne Francis, Ida Lupino, Ed Wynn, Sebastian Cabot, Richard Conte, Vera Miles, Gig Young, Nehemiah Persoff, Kevin McCarthy, Roddy McDowall, and others.
The Twilight Zone theme song composed by Marius Constant is recognizable today even to many people who have never seen this series. This popular theme replaced the original theme composed by Bernard Herrmann(Citizen Kane, North By Northwest, Psycho) late in the first season of the series. Herrmann and Jerry Goldsmith(Star Trek, Alien) both composed music scores to various episodes in the first season.
The episodes appear in this 5 disc set in order of airdate rather than production order. The episodes are organized appropriately in this manner, given the fact that the preview of the following week’s episode hosted by Rod Serling is included just as originally aired at the conclusion of each episode and prior to the closing credits. The closing credits also include original network promos for other CBS TV series of the time such as The Danny Thomas Show and Wanted: Dead Or Alive. Each episode also concludes with the original CBS TV logo from 1959 and 1960. A modern CBS Studios logo is also attached but only at the very end of each episode.
All episodes seem to be complete and uncut, and the running lengths of each episode seem to confirm this, with the exception of one episode. The final episode of the first season, "A World of His Own", has a slightly shorter running length, not because anything has been cut, but because there was not a Rod Serling preview of the next episode produced specifically for this episode, since the following episode starting the second season had not yet been filmed. The following week’s episode, if any, would have been a rerun, the preview for which is already included on earlier episodes in this set.
The Twilight Zone appears on Blu-Ray in 1080p in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio as originally filmed and broadcast on CBS-TV. The previous DVD editions of this series from Image were so excellent that one might think that there was little room for improvement. Fortunately, Image has taken advantage of this opportunity to present The Twilight Zone in high definition by creating all new 1080p high definition transfers from the original camera negatives. The result is a film-like image with some grain apparent. The image is so sharp that minor imperfections that were invisible on the previous DVD releases are now visible on a large monitor. When I speak of imperfections, the emphasis is on "minor"; the video quality in these new transfers is as close to perfection as one could hope for on this series. Until high definition adopts a higher standard than 1080p, these episodes will never look better.
The episode of The Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse, written by Rod Serling, included in this set as a special feature, also benefits from excellent video and audio restoration. The original pilot version of the first episode, "Where is Everybody?", with its introduction by Rod Serling directed specifically to sponsors, is the only episode with less than perfect restoration. It is possible that the film elements have been restored so far as is possible. That is not to say that the original version looks bad, it is actually very good, it only pales in comparison to the sublime audio and video on the remainder of the set. The broadcast version of "Where Is Everybody?", also included in this set, fortunately does not suffer from the same imperfections.
The Uncompressed PCM Mono track is excellent, with none of the crackle, hiss, or inconsistency of sound volume that can still persist after digital cleanup. This is the default audio track unless Dolby Digital Mono is selected from the menu. One cannot imagine the original audio sounding any better than it does on this release.
The special features are comprehensive and include all of the following:
The Time Element: This episode of The Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse written by Rod Serling aired originally on November 24, 1958, and is the unofficial pilot episode of The Twilight Zone. The story centers on Peter Jenson (William Bendix), a man visiting a therapist (Martin Balsam) to address his recurring nightmare in which he wakes up in Honolulu, Hawaii, on December 6, 1941, one day before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and brought the United States into World War II. Jenson believes he is traveling through time while the psychiatrist attempts to persuade Jenson (and himself) that it is only a dream. Desi Arnaz appears as host, as he did in every episode of The Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse. The positive reviews received by this episode persuaded CBS to hire Serling to create The Twilight Zone. This episode has never been included in any of The Twilight Zone DVD collections, that is, until now. This episode also includes optional commentary by Marc Scott Zicree, author of The Twilight Zone Companion, which is widely accepted as the definitive book about the series. Also included are optional syndicated versions of the opening and closing of the episode sans the Westinghouse logo.
Emmy Awards: Clips from the 1960 and 1961 Emmy Awards ceremonies in which Rod Serling accepted awards for The Twilight Zone.
Marc Scott Zicree Audio Interview With George T. Clemens (Part 1): This is the first part of an interview done by Zicree in 1978 of cinematographer Clemens. The remainder of the interview will appear on subsequent season sets of The Twilight Zone on Blu-ray.
Almost every episode in this first season has special features, with one exception. Here is a list of all 36 episodes with the special features indicated:
Where Is Everybody?(25:55):(Audio Commentary by Earl Holliman, Isolated Music Score by Bernard Herrmann, Sponsor Billboard for Sanka, and The Twilight Zone radio drama starring John Schneider-this radio series narrated by Stacy Keach began airing on radio stations in 2002)
Original Pilot Version of Where Is Everybody? with Rod Serling Pitch (34:44): This includes a rarely seen pitch by Serling to potential sponsors in which Serling discusses the plotlines of other upcoming episodes of the series, Audio Commentary by producer William Self, alternate opening and closing narration by Rod Serling, Rod Serling lecture concerning the episode given in 1975 at Sherwood Oaks College.
One For The Angels (25:55): Interview with Dana Dillaway, audio commentary by author Gary Gerani, isolated music score, sponsor billboard, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring Ed Begley, Jr.
Mr. Denton on Doomsday (25:55): Audio commentary by Martin Landau, isolated music score, sponsor billboard.
The Sixteen Millimeter Shrine (25:56): Isolated music score by Franz Waxman, sponsor billboards.
Walking Distance (25:57): Audio commentary by Marc Scott Zicree, audio commentary by Steven C. Smith, John Morgan, and William T. Stromberg, Rod Serling lecture concerning the episode given in 1975 at Sherwood Oaks College, alternate audio mix, isolated music score by Bernard Herrmann, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring Chelcie Ross.
Escape Clause (25:58): Isolated music score, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring Mike Starr.
The Lonely (25:55): Audio commentary by Marc Scott Zicree, audio commentary by Steven C. Smith, John Morgan, and William T. Stromberg, audio commentary by Gary Gerani, isolated music score by Bernard Herrmann, sponsor billboard, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring Mike Starr.
Time Enough At Last (25:57): Audio commentary by Marc Scott Zicree, Marc Scott Zicree interview with Burgess Meredith from 1978, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring Tim Kazurinsky.
Perchance To Dream (25:56): Interview with Suzanne Lloyd, isolated music score by Van Cleave, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring Fred Willard.
Judgment Night (25:56): (no special features)
And When The Sky Was Opened (25:54): Audio commentary by Rod Taylor, Marc Scott Zicree interview with director Douglas Heyes from 1978, isolated music score by Leonard Roseman, Rod Serling lecture concerning the episode given in 1975 at Sherwood Oaks College.
What You Need (25:55): Isolated music score by Van Cleave, episode of What You Need from Tales of Tomorrow.
The Four Of Us Are Dying (25:57): Interview with Beverly Garland, audio commentary by Gary Gerani, isolated music score by Jerry Goldsmith.
Third From The Sun (25:56): Audio commentary by Marc Scott Zicree and David Simkins, isolated music score, Marc Scott Zicree interview with director Richard L. Bare from 1978.
I Shot An Arrow Into The Air (25:53): Isolated music score, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring Chelcie Ross.
The Hitch-hiker (25:58): Audio commentary by Marc Scott Zicree, isolated music score, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring Kate Jackson.
The Fever (25:55): Isolated music score, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring Stacy Keach and Kathy Garver.
The Last Flight (25:56): Isolated music score, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring Charles Shaughnessy.
The Purple Testament (25:54): Audio commentary by William Reynolds, interview with Ron Masak, isolated music score by Lucien Moraweck.
Elegy (25:53): Isolated music score by Van Cleave.
Mirror Image (25:54): Audio commentary by Martin Milner, isolated music score, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring Morgan Brittany and Frank John Hughes.
The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street (25:57): Audio commentary by Marc Scott Zicree, isolated music score by Rene Garriguenc, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring Frank John Hughes.
A World Of Difference (25:56): Audio commentary by director Ted Post, isolated music score by Van Cleave.
Long Live Walter Jameson (25:55): Audio commentary by Kevin McCarthy, audio commentary by Gary Gerani, isolated music score, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring Lou Diamond Phillips.
People Are Alike All Over (25:56): Isolated music score, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring Blair Underwood.
Execution (25:55): Isolated music score.
The Big Tall Wish (25:56): Isolated music score by Jerry Goldsmith, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring Blair Underwood.
A Nice Place To Visit (25:55): Isolated music score.
Nightmare As A Child (25:55): Isolated music score by Jerry Goldsmith.
A Stop At Willoughby (25:55): Audio commentary by Gary Gerani, Marc Scott Zicree interview with producer Buck Houghton from 1978, syndication promo from 1977, isolated music score by Nathan Scott.
The Chaser (25:54): Marc Scott Zicree interview with director Douglas Heyes from 1978, isolated music score.
A Passage For Trumpet (26:10): Audio commentary by Marc Scott Zicree and Mark Fergus, audio commentary by Gary Gerani, isolated music score by Lyn Murray.
Mr. Bevis (25:57): Isolated music score.
The After Hours (25:55): Audio commentary by Marc Scott Zicree, Marc Scott Zicree interview with Anne Francis and Douglas Heyes from 1978, syndication promo from 1977, isolated music score, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring Kim Fields.
The Mighty Casey (25:54): Rod Serling lecture concerning the episode given in 1975 at Sherwood Oaks College, isolated music score, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring Paul Dooley.
A World Of His Own (25:21): Isolated Music Score, Marc Scott Zicree interview with Richard Matheson done in 1978.
Also included is a foldout illustrated booklet with a list of the episodes on each disc with original airdates, plot descriptions, and lists of special features associated with each episode.
The episode of The Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse included with this release has never been available on any of the previous DVD releases of this series. Likewise, the episode of "What You Need" from Tales of Tomorrow has never been included on DVD with its namesake episode from The Twilight Zone. The Twilight Zone radio dramas, isolated music scores, and many of the audio commentaries are also new to this release.
This new release of The Twilight Zone on Blu-ray brings to mind Michael Corleone’s statement in The Godfather III: "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in." Even if you have purchased any of Image’s previous releases of The Twilight Zone on DVD, you may find it impossible to resist being pulled back in and buying this new edition. The video and audio transfers are sublime and definitely a big step up from the previous versions. The special features, many of which are new to this release, may be considered essentials for fans of this series. I was especially pleased to see the inclusion of the unofficial pilot "The Time Element" and have the opportunity to see this episode for the first time. This set comes about as close to perfection as one might hope. The Twilight Zone Season 1 on Blu-ray comes highly recommended.