DVD Review HTF DVD Review: Twilight Zone Fan Favorites

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Todd Erwin, Jan 2, 2011.

  1. Todd Erwin

    Todd Erwin Producer

    Apr 16, 2008
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    The Twilight Zone: Fan Favorites

    Studio: Image Entertainment
    US DVD Release Date: October 26, 2010
    Original Broadcast Year: 1959-1964
    Rated: Not Rated
    Running Time: 475 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
    Audio: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono)
    Subtitles: None

    Movie: 4 out of 5
    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. —Rod Serling

    Long considered to be one of the all-time classic television series, Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone has spawned two revival television series (on CBS and UPN), a long-running magazine of short stories, a radio series, and an ill-fated motion picture best remembered for the tragic death of one of its stars, Vic Morrow, along with two child actors. The original is still the best, each episode a self-contained story usually with a supernatural twist. The series was written by Rod Serling, Richard Matheson, George Clayton Johnson, Harlan Ellison, and Ray Bradbury, to name but a few. It also helped to launch the careers of William Shatner, Robert Redford, Veronica Cartwright, Charles Bronson, Jack Warden, Jonathan Winters, and director Richard Donner.

    Image Entertainment has recently released a 5-disc set on DVD entitled Fan Favorites, and much debate has been made on this and other discussion groups regarding the choice of episodes for this set. At first, I was going to dismiss it as one does when a greatest hits or best-of collection of music by an artist is released on CD, when fans argue over why one song was chosen over another. Some of the show’s most famous episodes are included, such as Nightmare at 20,000 Feet (directed by Richard Donner and starring William Shatner as a man who has a fear of flying and sees what looks like a monster wreaking havoc on the plane), Time Enough At Last (with Burgess Meredith as a bookworm who, after a tragedy, finally has time to read all the books he ever wanted until another tragedy befalls him), and Kick The Can (where an old man finds a way to relive his youth). The opening credits on this DVD (which include a 5.1 Dolby Digital trailer and a cheesy Panasonic DVD Video logo), as well as the overall quality of the episodes, led me on an investigation, and discovered that these five DVDs are nothing more than a repackaging of the first five volumes of compilation DVDs released by Image back in 1999. The inner packaging makes no mention of these being Fan Favorites, and actually matches the artwork used for those 1999 releases. So, the title of this set is very misleading. It’s not a true Best Of set, but makes a good starter set for the occasional fan or to introduce a younger person to this classic series.

    Episodes included in this set:
    Night of the Meek
    The Invaders
    Nothing in the Dark
    Time Enough at Last
    Nightmare at 20,000 Feet
    The Monsters are Due on Maple Street
    The Odyssey of Flight 33
    A Game of Pool
    Walking Distance
    Kick the Can
    Mr. Dingle the Strong
    A Passage for Trumpet
    The Four of Us are Dying
    Long Distance Call
    I Sing the Body Electric
    The Lonely
    Probe 7 - Over and Out

    Video: 2.5 out of 5
    As stated above, these discs were originally authored more than 10 years ago, and there have been major advances in both film to video transfers as well as the art of compression. Back in 1999, these were likely state of the art transfers, but under today’s standards, the video just isn’t up to snuff. Contrast is poor, with the whites either being blown out or the blacks so dark that detail becomes lost. Compression artifacts and noise are another issue, also hindering overall detail.

    Audio: 3 out of 5
    When playing back in Pro-Logic mode, the soundtrack was confined to the center channel for the entire series. Encoded at 192 kbps, fidelity is very good, free of pops and hiss, and dialogue was clear and intelligible.

    Special Features: 2 out of 5
    The Special Features are the text-based Inside The Twilight Zone, written by Marc Scott Zicree (author of The Twilight Zone Companion), broken down into four sections:

    Rod Serling Biography: A very brief summary of Serling’s accomplishments in the entertainment industry.
    Season By Season: Covering the episode highlights for each of the series five seasons.
    History of The Twilight Zone: A brief summary of the series, the contributors, and the careers that the show helped to launch.
    Reviews & Credits: A brief summary and list of credits for each of the episodes on the disc.

    With the exception of the latter, all of the bonus content is identical on each disc. The real complaint I have is the poor navigation of the extras, and that each screen of text is timed to change every 15 seconds and loop until selecting the Return icon, with no option to back up to the previous screen, forcing the viewer to cycle through the text if the screen changes prematurely.

    Overall: 2.5 out of 5
    This set is a major disappointment, essentially repackaging DVDs that were authored over 10 years ago, and trying to make them appear as something new. Die-hard fans of the series likely already own the season sets on DVD and/or are purchasing seasons on Blu-ray as they become available. The likely audience for this set would be the casual fan, or as a gift to introduce a young viewer to this classic series.
  2. Lord Dalek

    Lord Dalek Producer

    Apr 4, 2005
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    Good thing I avoided this set like the plague. Also pretty much explains why Eye of the Beholder isn't on here.
  3. Wiseguy

    Wiseguy Stunt Coordinator

    Dec 31, 2011
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    I don't recall Harlan Ellison having anything to do with the original series. Saying TZ helped launch the career of Jonathan Winters is questionable since he was already known as a comic and was never known for straight dramatic acting as was his role on TZ. William Shatner's character was not afraid of flying but had a mental breakdown on a previous flight and was now return home on another flight.
  4. SeanAx

    SeanAx Stunt Coordinator

    Jan 6, 2011
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    Wiseguy is correct about Ellison: he did not write for the original "The Twilight Zone," but he wrote a few episodes for the 1985 revival, and he served as a creative consultant. He also wrote two stand-out episodes of "The Outer Limits" in the era of the original TZ, which may account for the confusion.

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