THE TWILIGHT ZONE Season 4 BLU-RAY
Rated: Not Rated
Film Length: 930 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: English Uncompressed PCM Mono
Subtitles: English SDH
Release Date: May 17, 2011
You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension, a
dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You are moving into
a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over
into The Twilight Zone.
So began the narration of The Twilight Zone in its fourth 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 supported in his screen-writing chores by accomplished authors Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson. This season also included screenplays by Earl Hamner, Jr. and Reginald Rose. 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 fourth season included Ross Martin, Burgess Meredith, Pat Hingle, Anne Francis, Dennis Hopper, Jack Klugman, Robert Duvall, Dana Andrews, Steve Forrest, Martin Balsam, James Whitmore, Burt Reynolds, Julie Newmar, and others. The Twilight Zone theme song composed by Marius Constant is recognizable today even to many people who have never seen this series. Composers of score music in the fourth season included Van Cleave(Gunsmoke) and Fred Steiner(Perry Mason).
The Twilight Zone was not included in the original CBS-TV Fall schedule for the 1962-1963 season. The Twilight Zone premiered its fourth season during mid-season beginning in January of 1963. By this point, creator Rod Serling and writers Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson are said to have suffered from creative fatigue. This is understandable when you realize that these 3 writers are responsible for writing 127 episodes out of the entire series output of 156 episodes. Serling’s creative involvement in the 4th season was particularly limited since he was no longer living in Los Angeles during this period. Serling still contributed screenplays and received credit as executive producer at this time even though he was no longer living in Los Angeles; Serling’s narration and appearances in the series were shot back to back on those limited occasions when he traveled back to Hollywood.
The change to hour-length episodes during this season, from half-hour episodes during every other season during its run, may have been a relief for the series’ writers, since they only had to come up with 18 original screenplays instead of 37 original scenarios as in the previous season.
Unfortunately, these longer episodes seem padded to fill time more than episodes from any other season. This factor, coupled with the fact that most TV stations only air this series for one half-hour at a time in syndication, mean that these episodes have been seen less, and are less remembered, than episodes from any other season of The Twilight Zone.
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 nearly every episode and prior to the closing credits. Each episode also concludes with what seems to be the original CBS TV logo from 1963. 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, as discussed in greater detail below in the Video portion of this review.
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 fourth season from the original camera negatives. As with the previous season sets, 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. I observed some momentary film weave in a couple of episodes but other than that the video quality is virtually flawless.
All episodes seem to be complete and uncut, and the running lengths of each episode seem to confirm this, with the exception of 4 episodes. The episodes in question are approximately 1 minute shorter; the episodes are I Dream of Genie, The Incredible World of Horace Ford, Passage On The Lady Anne, and The Bard. These episodes have a slightly shorter running length of approximately 51 minutes, rather than 52 minutes, not because anything has been cut, but because there apparently was not a Rod Serling preview of the next episode produced specifically for these episodes. There was a 2 week gap between the original airdate in 1963 of these particular episodes and the following first-run episodes. Any reruns airing in the middle of this 2 week gap would have included Serling promos already appearing earlier in this set in the episode preceding these rerun episodes’ original airdates. I believe that all of the episodes in this set are complete and uncut as originally aired.
The Uncompressed PCM Mono track is excellent, with none of the crackle, hiss, or inconsistency of sound volume that we expect to hear on television shows from this era. 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 have audio that is actually inferior to the clarity of sound on the regular episodes, even though most of the special features were created after The Twilight Zone ended production in 1964.
The special features are comprehensive and include all of the following:
Saturday Night Live (4:34): This "Twilite Zone" comedy sketch appeared in the Saturday Night Live episode that aired originally on February 17, 1979. The sketch includes guest host Rick Nelson as well as series regulars Jane Curtin, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Bill Murray, Laraine Newman, Garrett Morris, Gilda Radner, and Tom Schiller.
Gennessee Beer Commercial (0:33): Serling appears in this color commercial promoting Gennessee Beer.
Famous Writers School (5:54): This short promotional film showcases Serling as one of the famous writers.
Marc Scott Zicree Audio Interview With George T. Clemens (Part 4): This is the fourth part of an interview done by Zicree in 1978 of cinematographer Clemens. The first 3 parts of the interview appeared on the first, second, and third season sets of The Twilight Zone on Blu-ray.
Every episode in this fourth season has special features. Here is a list of all 18 episodes with the special features indicated:
In His Image (52:11): Audio Commentary by Marc Scott Zicree, Marc Scott Zicree interview with producer Herbert Hirschman, isolated Music Score, sponsor Billboards for Micrin oral antiseptic and Band-Aid bandages. Sponsor billboards on other episodes include Studebaker automobiles and U.S. Royal tires.
The Thirty-Fathom Grave (52:11): Audio commentary by Gary Gerani and Marc Scott Zicree, isolated music score, sponsor billboards, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring Blair Underwood.
Valley of the Shadow(52:12): Interview with Morgan Brittany, audio commentary by Jaime Paglia and Marc Scott Zicree, isolated music score, sponsor billboards.
He’s Alive (52:21): Rod Serling blooper, isolated music score, sponsor billboards.
Mute (52:12): Isolated music score by Fred Steiner, sponsor billboards.
Death Ship (52:04): Audio commentary by Marc Scott Zicree, Marc Scott Zicree interview with Ross Martin, isolated music score, sponsor billboards.
Jess-Belle (52:11): Interview with Anne Francis, audio commentary by Earl Hamner, Jr. and Marc Scott Zicree, Marc Scott Zicree interview with writer Earl Hamner, Jr., director Buzz Kulik, and actress Anne Francis, isolated music score by Van Cleave, sponsor billboards.
Miniature (52:11): Audio commentary by William Windom, audio commentary by William F. Nolan and Marc Scott Zicree, isolated music score by Fred Steiner, sponsor billboards.
Printer’s Devil (52:11): Audio commentary by Bill Warren and Marc Scott Zicree, Marc Scott Zicree interview with actor Burgess Meredith, isolated music score, sponsor billboards.
No Time Like The Past (52:19): Isolated music score, sponsor billboards, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring Jason Alexander.
The Parallel (52:12): Interview with Paul Comi, audio commentary by Marc Scott Zicree, isolated music score, sponsor billboards, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring Lou Diamond Phillips.
I Dream of Genie (51:10): Interview with John Furia, Jr., isolated music score by Fred Steiner, sponsor billboards.
The New Exhibit (52:15): Audio commentary by Bill Warren and Marc Scott Zicree, audio commentary by Scott Skelton and Jim Benson, isolated music score, sponsor billboards.
Of Late I Think Of Cliffordville (52:11): Isolated music score, sponsor billboards, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring H.M. Wynant.
The Incredible World Of Horace Ford (51:10): Audio commentary by Jeff Vlaming and Marc Scott Zicree, Marc Scott Zicree interview with actor Pat Hingle, isolated music score, sponsor billboards, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring Mike Starr.
On Thursday We Leave For Home (52:14): Audio commentary by Joseph Dougherty and Marc Scott Zicree, audio commentary by Scott Skelton and Jim Benson, isolated music score, sponsor billboards, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring Barry Bostwick.
Passage On The Lady Anne (51:11): Isolated music score by Rene Garriguenc, sponsor billboards.
The Bard (51:10): Audio commentary by Bill Warren and Marc Scott Zicree, isolated music score by Fred Steiner, sponsor, The Twilight Zone radio drama starring John Ratzenberger.
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 Twilight Zone radio dramas, isolated music scores, and many of the audio commentaries are new to this release. The audio commentary by actor William Windom was produced for the DVD release and has been ported over to this new set.
The fourth season of The Twilight Zone could effectively be called the "lost season" since these episodes have seldom been shown in syndication since their original airdates. Even though the 4th season is not as well remembered as episodes in other seasons, the same excellent writers, directors, and crew collaborated in creating these episodes as in other seasons of this classic series. The 4th season of The Twilight Zone has never looked and sounded better than it does in this Blu-ray set. The video and audio transfers of these 18 episodes are consistently excellent and definitely a big step up from the previous versions on DVD. As with the previous season sets 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. As with the earlier sets, The Twilight Zone Season 4 on Blu-ray comes highly recommended.