Twilight Zone Sn 1 on Blu-ray

Monday, 13 June 2011 00:00

It’s over five decades since television first brought us a fifth dimension, one that lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge; a dimension of imagination that is now released on Blu-ray, a format that has now made the impossible actually happen – the episodes being so pristine that they are undoubtedly a better quality than that seen on their original transmission. This is the benefit of having filmed on 35mm - now all that depth of field can be put onto a shiny disc for home viewing.

The Twilight Zone: The Original Series – Season One includes some of the show’s most celebrated episodes and stars, including “Time Enough At Last” (Burgess Meredith), “The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street” (Claude Akins), “Walking Distance” (Gig Young), “The After Hours” (Anne Francis), “When The Sky Was Opened” (Rod Taylor), “A World Of Difference” (Howard Duff) and “A Stop At Willoughby” (James Daly).

The Twilight Zone Season One: Original Series comes to UK Blu-rayOver the course of the next few months, Shock Entertainment and FremantleMedia Enterprises will be releasing all five complete seasons of the series, originally broadcast between 1959 and 1964, plus the complete 1980s revival series.

It’s a series worthy of finally getting recognition in the Cult TV Awards and its Hall of Fame (nominations season has just opened, so make your mark on the online forms accordingly). Creator Rod Serling made it into the Hall of Fame – Writer pantheon in the 2008 Awards, but whilst having been nominated countless times, The Twilight Zone has still to be recognised in the Series accolade.

The show has been acknowledged as an influence by various writers and filmmakers, including Steven Spielberg (“I was a complete obsessive-compulsive Twilight Zone follower”), J J Abrams (“The Twilight Zone at its best is better than anything else I've ever seen on television”), Joe Dante, John Landis, Wes Craven, George Miller, Clive Barker, Steven King and J Michael Straczynski. Even over 50 years down the line, these simple but incredibly well-made half-hour stories can surprise and exhilarate.

The Twilight Zone made an indelible mark on popular culture and remains, to this day, one of the most innovative and influential series of all time. The original series ran for 156 episodes, spawning a revival series (1985-1989), a Steven Spielberg-produced feature film (1983), a TV movie (1994) and yet another TV series (2002-2003). Much of the show’s success was due to the timeless nature and universal appeal of its stories. Its writers included leading SF and fantasy genre writers such as Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury, Charles Beaumont, and of course Serling himself.

The series helped launch the careers of many stars, including Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Robert Duvall, Peter Falk, Dennis Hopper, Ron Howard, Lee Marvin, Vera Miles, Elizabeth Montgomery, Agnes Moorehead, Leonard Nimoy, Donald Pleasence, Robert Redford, William Shatner and Natalie Trundy, as well as providing an alternative marquee for established acting greats such as Buster Keaton, Burgess Meredith and Mickey Rooney.

For all these new releases, every effort has been made to maintain the highest standards of quality in bringing this classic series to DVD and Blu-ray. The DVD has been digitally remastered, and comes packed with extras including audio commentaries, vintage recollections from cast members, Rod Serling’s Network Pitch and original unaired pilots. Whilst the show has been out on DVD before, this takes things to a different level.

But for those who want the true cutting edge, the Blu-ray editions are in pristine high-definition, digitally remastered from new 1080p film transfers using the original camera negatives and magnetic soundtracks. As well as all the features on the DVD editions, the Blu-ray versions also includes a host of additional extras, available for the first time in the UK. Season One alone includes an unofficial pilot, "The Time Element", written by Rod Serling (actually worth the retail price on its own - it features Desi Arnaz trying to introduce the episode in what will eventually become Serling's style!), 19 new audio commentaries, 18 radio dramas (most of them related to particular episodes), 34 isolated music scores, and much more. 

You also get Rod Serling’s promotional 'to-camera' words on what next week’s episode will bring to viewers, as well as commercial break bumpers (including the trail for ‘alternate sponsors’), plus promos for other shows the producers were pushing, including Steve McQueen in Wanted: Dead or Alive.

Yes, do read that over again – this is stupendous archive trawling! Here’s the specifics:

Special Features (DVD and Blu-ray):

  • Audio commentaries by Earl Holliman, Martin Landau, Rod Taylor, Martin Milner, Kevin McCarthy, Ted Post and William Self.
  • Vintage audio recollections with Burgess Meredith, Douglas Heyes, Richard L Bare, Buck Houghton, Anne Francis and Richard Matheson.
  • Rod Serling audio lectures from Sherwood Oaks College.
  • Rod Serling’s ‘to-camera’ promos for “Next Week’s Show”.
  • Isolated music scores featuring the legendary Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith and others.
  • Original unaired pilot version of “Where Is Everybody?” with Rod Serling’s network pitch.
  • Footage of the Emmy Award wins for the series.
  • Liar’s Club Show. A segment of the popular 1970s game show hosted by Rod Serling.
  • Rod Serling blooper reel.
  • Original Twilight Zone billboards.
  • Photo gallery.
  • The Twilight Zone Comic Book (PDF format). An issue of the popular comic from 1963.

Special Features (Blu-ray only)

  • 19 new audio commentaries, featuring “The Twilight Zone Companion” author Marc Scott Zicree, author and historian Gary Gerani (“Fantastic Television”), author and music historian Steven C. Smith (“A Heart At Fire’s Center: The Life And Music Of Bernard Herrman”), music historians John Morgan and William T Stromberg, writer/producer David Simkins (Lois & Clark; Dark Angel), writer Mark Fergus (“Children Of Men”; “Iron Man”), actor William Reynolds and director Ted Post.
  • Extremely rare, never-before-released unofficial Twilight Zone pilot, “The Time Element”, written by Rod Serling and hosted by Desi Arnaz.
  • Interviews with actors Dana Dilaway, Suzanne Lloyd, Beverly Garland and Ron Masak.
  • Tales of Tomorrow episode: “What You Need”.
  • Vintage audio interview with director of photography George T Clemens.
  • 1977 syndication promos for “A Stop At Willoughby” and “The After Hours”.
  • 18 radio dramas.

Meanwhile, The Twilight Zone: Season Two will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on 20 June 2011, Season Three on 1 August 2011, Season Four on 19 September 2011 and Season Five to follow before the end of the year. Complete box sets of the original series and the 1980s series will also be released on DVD in time for your Christmas wish lists!

So, for those of you for whom mention of The Twilight Zone means just some creaky series, fogbound over 50 years ago and which remains a mystery, now is the time to see what all the fuss is about.  There’s nothing wrong with your television set – the episodes really only do come in just the two colours of Black and White – but that just adds to the mood and atmosphere of what’s on offer. Serling created a moment in history, stories as profound to our time as Shakespeare was to his era.

I could say that you need to make allowances for how old the show is, but in truth I don’t have to. They really do have that timeless quality which simply cannot be put into words. None of the episodes outstay their welcome, there’s always a mystery to what is happening, and whether it’s the acting, the direction, the writing, the art department or the set dressing, everything is laudable.  If you watch enough episodes, you’ll marvel at how several sets are redressed time and again to become entirely different venues.  All television is done on a budget, and this is a wonderful lesson in how less really is more.

The Twilight Zone: The Original Series – Season One has a running time of approx, a ‘PG’ certificate and is released by Shock Entertainment and FremantleMedia Enterprises. It is out now on DVD (£34.99) and Blu-ray (£49.99), or get it for less at www.culttvstore.com

 

The Twilight Zone – Season One Episodes

01. “Where Is Everybody?”

02. “One for the Angels”

03. “Mr Denton On Doomsday”

04. “16 Millimetre Shrine”

05. “Walking Distance”

06. “Escape Clause”

07. “The Lonely”

08. “Time Enough At Last”

09. “Perchance To Dream”

10. “Judgement Night”

11. “When the Sky Was Opened”

12. “What You Need”

13. “Four Of Us Are Dying”

14. “Third From The Sun”

15. “I Shot An Arrow into the Air”

16. “The Hitchhiker”

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”

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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