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HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Twilight Zone Season 2 Blu-ray

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#1 of 14 Timothy E

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Posted November 15 2010 - 06:49 AM

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THE TWILIGHT ZONE Season 2 BLU-RAY


Studio: Image

Year: 1960-1961

Rated: Not Rated

Film Length: 749 minutes

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Audio: English Uncompressed PCM Mono, Dolby Digital Mono


Release Date: November 16, 2010


The Series


            You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and

            sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that

            of imagination. This is the dimension of imagination. That’s the signpost up

            ahead. Your next stop, The Twilight Zone.


So began the narration of The Twilight Zone in its second 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.


Rod 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 won an Emmy Award for dramatic writing for this season of The Twilight Zone. Director of Photography George T. Clemens also won an Emmy Award for his work on this season. This is also the season that the Twilight Zone also won the Hugo Award for best dramatic presentation for the second year in a row.


Rod Serling was supported in his screen-writing chores by accomplished authors Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson. In the second season, they were joined by George Clayton Johnson. Between the four of them, they wrote 135 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 second season included William Shatner, Robert Cummings, Art Carney, Burgess Meredith, Donna Douglas, Russell Johnson, Agnes Moorehead, Dick York, Billy Mumy, Cliff Robertson, Dennis Weaver, Buddy Ebsen, Shelley Berman, and others.


The Twilight Zone theme song composed by Marius Constant is recognizable today even to many people who have never seen this series. Bernard Herrmann(Citizen Kane, North By Northwest, Psycho), Jerry Goldsmith(Star Trek, Alien) and Fred Steiner(Perry Mason) composed music scores to various episodes in the second season.


The episodes appear in this 4 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 Andy Griffith Show and Gunsmoke. Each episode also concludes with the original CBS TV logo from 1960 and 1961. 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 on disc 1, Nick of Time, has a slightly shorter running length, not because anything has been cut, but because there apparently was not a Rod Serling preview of the next episode produced specifically for this episode. There was a 2 week gap between the original airdate of Nick of Time and the following episode, The Lateness of the Hour. It appears that a preview for The Lateness of the Hour was never produced, or else it may have been lost in the intervening years. The Lateness of the Hour was the first episode to be produced on videotape rather than film, which may also explain why a Rod Serling preview may not have been produced for this episode. The final episode of the season, The Obsolete Man, does not run shorter because there was a Rod Serling preview produced for a rerun of the first aired episode, Where Is Everybody?, the preview for which is included in this episode.


I reviewed this set, as well as the first season set, on a Panasonic DMP-BD60 with the most recent firmware updates. This information is offered because a number of purchasers of Twilight Zone Season 1 on Blu-ray have had difficulties with playback of discs in that set. All 5 discs of the Season 1 set played through flawlessly on the Panasonic player. I did have a problem initially with Disc 3 in this Season 2 set. The disc repeatedly froze up and "pixellated" in the latter half of the episode The Odyssey of Flight 33 and there was some audio "popping" as well. I examined the surface of the disc and there were no dust nor scratches perceptible to the naked eye. I was convinced I might have a faulty disc on my hands since the firmware in the player is up to date and I am aware of complaints that have been made about playback problems with the first season set. Even though the disc appeared to be pristine, I cleaned the disc surface with a soft lint-free cloth and inserted the disc back into the player. The disc now plays flawlessly. Is it possible that the disc replication process leaves microscopic particles on the surface of the disc that interfere with playback? I have occasionally had this problem with discs from other companies as well; the last time was Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty on Blu-ray. Fortunately, the remedy for that disc worked as well for this one.


Video


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 of this second season from the original camera negatives. As with the first season set, the result on the episodes produced on 35mm film 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.


Six of the episodes in the second season were produced on videotape rather than film. In 1960, James Aubrey became the CBS network executive in charge of production on The Twilight Zone. Aubrey pushed for a smaller budget on The Twilight Zone and cut costs by having 6 episodes produced on videotape and by ordering fewer episodes for this season than for the first season. (This season had only 29 episodes as compared to the 36 episodes in season one.) The six episodes produced on videotape are The Lateness of the Hour, Static, The Whole Truth, The Night of the Meek, Twenty-two, and Long Distance Call. These episodes unfortunately do not show the same improvement over the DVD releases as the filmed episodes. The reality is that these videotaped episodes will probably never look much better than they do now, regardless of any further restoration efforts. These episodes do look much better, however, than the episode of Suspense, produced in 1953, and included as a special feature in this set.


Audio


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 these episodes.


Special Features


The special features are comprehensive and include all of the following:


Suspense(29:27): This episode of Suspense aired originally on August 18, 1953, and was written by Rod Serling. Although as written it would never have aired as an episode of The Twilight Zone, it is thematically similar to certain Twilight Zone episodes and is an interesting example of Rod Serling’s writing for other anthology series during the golden age of television. The video and audio elements on this episode do not rise to the higher standards of the restored episodes of The Twilight Zone on this set.


Marc Scott Zicree Audio Interview With George T. Clemens (Part 2): This is the second part of an interview done by Zicree in 1978 of cinematographer Clemens. The first part of the interview appeared on the first season set of The Twilight Zone on Blu-ray.


Marc Scott Zicree Audio Interview With William Tuttle: This is an interview done by Zicree in 1978 of The Twilight Zone’s award-winning makeup artist.


Every episode in this second season has special features. Here is a list of all 29 episodes with the special features indicated:


King Nine Will Not Return(25:55):(Audio Commentary by Martin Grams, Jr., Marc Scott Zicree interview with director Buzz Kulik from 1978, Isolated Music Score by Fred Steiner, Sponsor Billboards for Sanka and Halo Shampoo)


The Man In The Bottle (25:56): Interview with Joseph Ruskin, isolated music score, sponsor billboards, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring Ed Begley, Jr.


Nervous Man In A Four Dollar Room (25:55): Audio commentary by Gary Gerani, audio commentary by Scott Skelton and Jim Benson, Marc Scott Zicree interview with director Douglas Heyes from 1978, isolated music score by Jerry Goldsmith, sponsor billboards, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring Adam Baldwin.


A Thing About Machines (25:54): Audio commentary by Len Wein and Marc Scott Zicree, isolated music score, sponsor billboards.


The Howling Man (25:57): Interview with H.M. Wynant, audio commentary by Gary Gerani, Marc Scott Zicree interview with director Douglas Heyes from 1978, sponsor billboards, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring Fred Willard.


The Eye of the Beholder (25:58): Audio commentary by Donna Douglas, audio commentary by Joseph Dougherty and Marc Scott Zicree, audio commentary by Steven C. Smith and Jon Burlingame, audio commentary by Gary Gerani, Marc Scott Zicree interview with Maxine Stuart and Douglas Heyes from 1978, isolated music score by Bernard Herrmann, Alternate End Title, Rare Color Photos, sponsor billboards.


Nick of Time (25:20): Audio commentary by Matthew Weiner and Marc Scott Zicree, sponsor billboards, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring Marshall Allman and Jamie Brown Allman.


The Lateness of The Hour (25:55): Original production slate, sponsor billboards, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring Jane Seymour and James Keach.


The Trouble With Templeton (25:55): Marc Scott Zicree interview with director Buzz Kulik from 1978, isolated music score by Jeff Alexander, sponsor billboards, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring Michael York.


A Most Unusual Camera (25:55): Isolated music score, sponsor billboards.


The Night of the Meek (25:56): Audio commentary by Len Wein and Marc Scott Zicree, audio commentary by Gary Gerani, original production slate, sponsor billboards, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring Chris McDonald.


Dust (25:56): Marc Scott Zicree interview with director Douglas Heyes from 1978, isolated music score by Jerry Goldsmith, sponsor billboards.


Back There (25:55): Isolated music score by Jerry Goldsmith, sponsor billboards, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring Jim Caviezel.


The Whole Truth (25:53): Original production slate, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring Henry Rollins.


The Invaders (25:55): Audio commentary by Michael Nankin and Marc Scott Zicree, audio commentary by Gary Gerani, audio commentary by Jon Burlingame and Gary Gerani, Marc Scott Zicree interview with director Douglas Heyes from 1978, isolated music score by Jerry Goldsmith, sponsor billboards.


A Penny For Your Thoughts (25:54): Audio commentary by George Clayton Johnson and Marc Scott Zicree, Marc Scott Zicree interview with writer George Clayton Johnson from 1978, isolated music score, sponsor billboards.


Twenty-Two (25:49): Original production slate, isolated music score, sponsor billboard.


The Odyssey of Flight 33 (25:53): Audio commentary by Gary Gerani, Marc Scott Zicree interview with Robert Serling from 1978, isolated music score, sponsor billboards, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring Daniel J. Travanti.


Mr. Dingle, The Strong (25:44): Audio commentary by Don Rickles, audio commentary by Martin Grams, Jr., isolated music score.


Static (25:32): Marc Scott Zicree interview with director Buzz Kulik from 1978, isolated music score, original production slate, sponsor billboards, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring Stan Freberg.


The Prime Mover (25:57): Audio commentary by George Clayton Johnson and Marc Scott Zicree, audio commentary by Martin Grams, Jr., isolated music score, sponsor billboard.


Long Distance Call (25:58): Audio commentary by Billy Mumy and William Idelson, original production slate.


A Hundred Yards Over The Rim (26:13): Audio commentary by Cliff Robertson, audio commentary by Scott Skelton and Jim Benson, Marc Scott Zicree interview with director Buzz Kulik from 1978, isolated music score by Fred Steiner, sponsor billboards, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring Jim Caviezel.


The Rip Van Winkle Caper (26:05): Audio commentary by Scott Skelton and Jim Benson, isolated music score, sponsor billboards.


The Silence (25:55): Audio commentary by Marv Wolfman and Marc Scott Zicree, sponsor billboard, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring Chris McDonald.


Shadow Play (26:04): Audio commentary by Dennis Weaver, isolated music score, sponsor billboards.


The Mind and the Matter (25:56): Audio commentary by Shelley Berman, isolated music score, sponsor billboards.


Will the Real Martians Please Stand Up?(25:54): Audio commentary by Marc Scott Zicree, audio commentary by Gary Gerani, isolated music score, sponsor billboards, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring Richard Kind.


The Obsolete Man(26:09): Audio commentary by Matthew Weiner and Marc Scott Zicree, isolated music score, sponsor billboards, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring Jason Alexander.


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 Suspense included with this release has never been available on any of the previous DVD releases of this series. The Twilight Zone radio dramas, isolated music scores, and many of the audio commentaries are also new to this release. The audio commentaries by actors Don Rickles, Donna Douglas, William Idelson, Bill Mumy, Cliff Robertson, Dennis Weaver, and Shelley Berman were produced for the DVD releases and have been ported over to this new set.


Conclusion


The second season of The Twilight Zone has never looked and sounded better, certainly not when originally aired and not even in any of the years since. The six episodes produced on videotape do not show much if any improvement in video quality over the DVD releases. Looking back 50 years later, we can thank our lucky stars that more episodes were not produced on videotape instead of film. Other than on those few episodes, the video and audio transfers on the remaining 23 episodes are sublime and definitely a big step up from the previous versions on DVD. As with the Season 1 set on Blu-ray, many of the special features included here are new to this release and may be considered essentials for fans of this series. This set comes about as close to perfection as one might hope. The Twilight Zone Season 2 on Blu-ray comes highly recommended. 



#2 of 14 Nelson Au

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Posted November 15 2010 - 08:46 AM

Thanks for the review Timothy. I'm glad to hear your playback problem was due to something on the surface of the disc and cleaning it resolved it.


I hope these new sets play having been stung by the first season discs and I'll be looking for comments from those who have the set before I get a copy! There's some great episodes in this set, and one iconic one.



#3 of 14 Guest__*

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Posted November 15 2010 - 11:12 AM

One question...does Night of the Meek end with Serling saying Merry Christmas? It was not on the dvd edition.



#4 of 14 Timothy E

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Posted November 15 2010 - 01:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Eric Scott Richard 

One question...does Night of the Meek end with Serling saying Merry Christmas? It was not on the dvd edition.



Rod Serling's narration for the episode concludes with "Merry Christmas to each and all" on the Blu-ray edition.



#5 of 14 Guest__*

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Posted November 15 2010 - 01:16 PM

Yes! Thanks!



#6 of 14 dana martin

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Posted November 19 2010 - 11:27 AM

got it today, and am looking forward to this weekend Posted Image


Playing at the Drive In

Quote:Welles, Kubrick, Hitchcock, Spielberg, Jackson, Wood ?? a true Auteur should be one who follows his artistic vision
 

 


#7 of 14 Lord Dalek

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Posted November 19 2010 - 01:26 PM

Just some thoughts about the comentators for this go arround.


Zicree - good as always solo. Tends to get a little lost when he's with someone else though


Gerani - has improved quite a bit (his religious views derailed "Stop at Willoughby" in the last set). Not quite as informational as MSZ but a little more "fun".


Grams Jr. - Terrible. His comments rarely have to pertain to whats on screen. Comes across as a book-on-tape of his own guide at times (the information for "King Nine Will Not Return" is taken nearly verbatum from "Unlocking the Door...")


Skelton and Benson - These guys are Night Gallery experts! They clearly have no clue what they're talking about and keep going back to Night Gallery. Ugh.


Burlingame and Smith - Once again talking about Herrman and "Eye of the Beholder" exclusively. Pretty fascinating considering BH is my all-time favorite film composer.


(Mark Scott Zicree and) Friends - Once again these tend to be the most listenable if not the most informative. Fun to hear from Len Wein and Marv Wolfman. Maybe we'll get Chris Clairmont in season 4! =P




#8 of 14 Keith I

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Posted November 19 2010 - 07:02 PM

Can someone tell me how many of the extras from the Definitive DVD Edition are ported over to the Blu-ray?  Or if it's easier, what is missing?  Thanks!



#9 of 14 Lord Dalek

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Posted November 20 2010 - 03:36 AM




Originally Posted by Keith I 

Can someone tell me how many of the extras from the Definitive DVD Edition are ported over to the Blu-ray?  Or if it's easier, what is missing?  Thanks!



 So far what's missing...


Drew Carey Show Time Enough at Last parody

Rod Serling Netherlands Pitch Film

Liars Club (this will be on the Season 3 Blu)

1959 Mike Wallace Show Interview

Jack Benny Show appearance

Tell it to Groucho (will be on Season 3)


I'm asuming the SNL parody and Night Gallery ads will not make the leap due to clearance issues. Can't explain why that Netherlands pitch film hasn't been ported though.


#10 of 14 Roger_R

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Posted November 25 2010 - 04:39 AM

Haven't seen this anywhere so if anyone else is wondering.. The 6 videotaped episodes have been upscaled to 1080i60 meaning the fluid look of the field based video has been kept. Before the release, I had only seen references to the video being in 1080p so I thought they had done something stupid, like de-interlacing the episodes. :)



#11 of 14 Martin Teller

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Posted January 01 2011 - 08:21 PM

I've been listening to a lot of the Zicree commentaries, and finding it very annoying how often he says "again", especially starting sentences with "And again...."  I know it's a silly thing to be annoyed by, but it's like the FedEx arrow.  Now that I've noticed it, I can't stop noticing it.  Every time I'm counting the "again"s in back of my mind.


And here's a request for anyone who ever does a commentary: please stop telling us "Nowadays this would all be CGI".  This ceased to be an original or clever observation at least 10 years ago.



#12 of 14 Charles Smith

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Posted January 02 2011 - 02:00 AM

Oh lordy, thanks for the heads up.


It is so annoying to pick up on commentators' speaking idiosyncrasies.  Wait till you get one who "UH"s constantly, or who can't form a complete sentence without a couple of "like"s.


What do these people -- or their engineers or producers or friends or family -- anyone at all! --  think when these are being recorded or listened to later?  Does anyone ever say, sorry, we simply have to re-record some of this, for your audience's sanity and your own reputation.


Same regarding fact-checking.  Yeah, like that's a part of anyone's budget!  First blooper I noticed years ago was in Corman's commentary on one of the Poe films.  He spoke of Ronald Stein as composer when he meant Les Baxter -- or vice versa.  Hey, that one comment should be FIXED.  But again, I doubt there's any kind of monitoring or much concern for these.  Or any budget for such concern.



#13 of 14 Timothy E

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Posted August 16 2011 - 03:13 PM

The sets from the first 4 seasons, including this season, are sale priced at $46.49 this week until August 20, 2011, at Amazon.com. 



#14 of 14 TravisR

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Posted October 18 2012 - 09:29 AM

Forgive the multiple postings but it's always tough to find these reveiws so I'm posting this in all the TZ Blu-ray review threads. I went through all of the DVD season sets and compared them to the Blu-rays. As far as I'm concerned, this is a definitive list of the missing features: S1 missing special features: Time Enough At Last- The Drew Carey Show Clip (0:45) The Might Casey- photo gallery (5 pictures) Photo Gallery (24) Serling Game Show photos (2) Comic Book (DVD-ROM) S1 special features now on a different set: Netherlands Sales Pitch (4:34) NOW ON THE S5 BLU-RAY SET Liar’s Club (2:32) NOW ON THE S3 BLU-RAY SET Rod Serling Blooper (0:12) NOW ON THE S4 BLU-RAY SET Billboards (3)- 1. “brought to you by Sanka” 2. “brought to you by Kimberly Clark” Kleenex (with drawing of Tissues, Towels, Napkins and Toilet Paper) 3. "was brought to you by Kimberly Clark" Kleenex (animated) ALL THREE NOW ON THE S5 BLU-RAY SET S2 missing special features: Twenty-Two- script (DVD-ROM) The Jack Benny Show clip (5:10) Billboards (10)- Veto Deodorant: “has brought you” (billboard #11 on the DVD set) - Chesterfield Kings: “is brought to you by...” '21/20’ (billboard #12 on the DVD set) - Chesterfield Kings: “has been brought to you by...” ‘Tabaccos Too Mild To Filter’ (billboard #13 on the DVD set) - Contac: “is brought to you by..." (billboard #14 on the DVD set) - Arrid: “has been brought to you by...” (billboard #15 on the DVD set) - Palmolive Soap: “brings you...” (billboard #16 on the DVD set) - Palmolive Rapid Shave: “has brought you...” (billboard #17 on the DVD set) - Sanka Coffee: “is brought to you...” ‘...whole new blend of the world's finest coffees...’ (billboard #20 on the DVD set) - Sanka Coffee: “brought to you...” '...whole new blend of the world's finest coffees...’ (billboard #21 on the DVD set) - Oasis Cigarettes: Rod Serling (billboard #23 on the DVD set) Photo Gallery (32) Comic Book (DVD-ROM) S2 special features now on a different set: The Mike Wallace Interview (21:00) NOW ON THE S5 BLU-RAY SET Tell It To Groucho clip (15:10) NOW ON THE S3 BLU-RAY SET S3 missing special features: It’s A Good Life: It’s Still A Good Life clip (1:09) and commentary by Bill Mumy Sci-Fi Channel Marathon spots (5:13) Night Gallery promo spots - Promos (2:36) - Bumpers (4:23) - Teasers (0:30) - Intro (2:58) - Station IDs (7:19) Photo Gallery (38) Comic Book (DVD-ROM) S4 missing special features: Miniature: color scenes from syndicated version (18:16) Billboards (1)- Micrin and Pretty Perm: “brought to you by...” *narrator says the product names reversed from the order they are shown* (billboard #23 on the DVD set) Photo Gallery (17) Comic Book (DVD-ROM) S5 missing special features: Highlights from the Museum Of Television And Radio (11:24) Photo Gallery (61) Rod Serling: Submitted For Your Approval 1:26:17





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