Twilight Zone, The-The Original Series-Season 3 (1961) (NTSC)

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Released 4-Oct-2007

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Suspense Alternate Ending-A Game of Pool
Audio Commentary-Various Episodes
Interviews-Cast & Crew-Various Episodes
Gallery-Photo
Episode Introductions-Next Week on The Twilight Zone
Isolated Musical Score-Various Episodes
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1961
Running Time 600:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (5)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By John Brahm
Douglas Heyes
Buzz Kulik
Lamont Johnson
Studio
Distributor

Shock Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case ?
RPI $64.95 Music Van Cleave
Bernard Herrmann
Fred Steiner


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The Third Season of The Twilight Zone has always been seen as something of a watershed year for the series. Coming off two highly respected but low rating seasons, it had some of the best and yet some of the worst episodes; future seasons would see creator Rod Serling's vision compromised even more, but for now, he had 39 episodes of his influential series to present.

Season Three of The Twilight Zone ran from September 1961 to April 1962. After the debacle of the reduced episodes and the experiment of taping that plagued Season Two, these episodes were all filmed under the sure hand of George T. Clemens.

The number of episodes was itself a cause of concern. Serling was quoted in 1961 as saying "I've never felt quite so drained of ides as I do at this moment. Stories used to bubble out of me so fast I couldn't set them down on paper fast enough - but in the last two years I've written forty-seven of the sixty -eight Twilight Zone scripts, and I've done thirteen of the first twenty-six for the next season. I've written so much I am woozy".

Serling's comments are telling for many reasons. Firstly, they bear witness to one of the most extraordinary creative feats in the history of television. It is worth remembering that none of the 60 scripts he had written until that time featured the same characters in different situations - all were original creative works. It is also an indication that the Third Season and future seasons would become more hit and miss, relying on other writers such as George Clayton Johnson, Charles Matheson and Charles Beaumont for some of the more novel ideas.

To my mind the DVD release of the Third Season invites the careful viewer to perhaps skip an episode or two, and just concentrate on some of the finest moments in television and The Twilight Zone.

A few highlights:

A Game of Pool : Jesse Cardiff (Jack Klugman from The Odd Couple and Quincy M.D.) is the world's greatest pool player. Well, living pool player, that is - on the wall of his favourite pool hall is the photo of Fats Brown (Jonathan Winters). It seems that everyone tells Jesse that he is great, but Fats was "the Greatest". Angered by this faint praise, Jesse rails at the injustice that he never got to play Fats. If he did, Jesse reasons, he could show him who really is the greatest. On cue (pun not intended) Fats appears and challenges Jesse to a game to decide the issue - the stakes? If he wins, Jesse lives knowing he is the best, but if he loses, he dies.
In 20 odd riveting minutes the players send balls into the corner pocket while philosophizing on the nature of fame and heroes. It is a fantastic episode that benefits from Klugman's browbeaten performance, and funny man Winters giving a rare dramatic turn. George Clayton Johnson's script is his tightest yet:

Jesse : …but you're dead!

Fats: Oh, no one's really dead when people are still talking about them.

Even more interesting is that Winters provides a reading (as an extra) of the original unused ending to the episode. Whilst my feeling is that neither end is really well thought out enough for my money, the unused ending is far more poignant and interesting. As an example, the set also includes the ending from the remake of the episode for the new Twilight Zone, which features the original ending.

To Serve Man: Anyone who doesn't know this episode hasn't watched enough Simpsons; the episode was parodied heavily in a Treehouse of Horror episode. A stranger (played by Jaws from the James Bond movies Richard Kiel) from another world arrives to tell Earth about their peaceful mission to improve our lives. The telepathic aliens can't be trusted, or can they? After all, their "bible" for cross planet communication is a book called "To Serve Man".
The great adapted script from Serling and taut direction from Richard L. Bare bring this episode to life and deliver one of the best "gotchas" known to television.

It's A Good Life : This episode was remade for the Twilight Zone movie by Joe Dante. In the original, the town of Peaksville has disappeared off the map of the U.S. The townspeople live in fear of the monster in their midst who has the power to "send them into the cornfield" just by using his mind. The monster is Anthony Fremont - a 6 year old boy (Lost in Space's Billy Mumy).
A chilling episode from beginning to end, with all the townspeople frightened to move or think bad thoughts for fear of young Anthony not liking them. It is a sweat drenched slice of paranoia that is not easily forgotten.

Other episodes which shine nearly as bright:

Charles Bronson and Elizabeth Montgomery as the last survivors of a terrible war forced to either kill each other of become friends to end the conflict - Two
Science fiction legend Ray Bradbury having his only Twilight Zone script (he submitted a few but all were considered too difficult or expensive to film) - I Sing the Body Electric
Cliff Robertson as the ventriloquist with a dangerously misbehaving dummy - The Dummy
The near future where the Earth is melting as it approaches the sun (with another great shock ending) - The Midnight Sun
The great silent comic Buster Keaton in one of his last roles - Once Upon A Time
The inhabitants of a retirement home discovering the secret of youth (remade by Spielberg for the Twilight Zone movie) - Kick the Can
Donald Pleasance as the teacher forced into retirement after 50 years of service looking back on his life as marked by mediocrity (my sentimental favourite) - Changing of the Guard

All in all this set of episodes is another joy and should tide the fans of the series over until the Fourth Season and Fifth Season find their way here, which should be in May 2008.

The episodes in Season Three are as follows:

DVD 1


Two
The Arrival
The Shelter
The Passersby
A Game of Pool
The Mirror
The Grave
It's a Good Life

DVD 2


Deaths-Head Revisited
The Midnight Sun
Still Valley
The Jungle
Once Upon a Time
Five Characters in Search of an Exit
A Quality of Mercy
Nothing in the Dark

DVD 3


One More Pallbearer
Dead Man's Shoes
The Hunt
Showdown with Rance McGrew
Kick the Can
A Piano in the House
The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank
To Serve Man

DVD 4


The Fugitive
Little Girl Lost
Person or Persons Unknown
The Little People
Four O'Clock
Hocus-Pocus and Frisby
The Trade-Ins
The Gift

DVD 5


The Dummy
Young Man's Fancy
I Sing the Body Electric
Cavender Is Coming
The Changing of the Guard

The extras appear on the 5th DVD.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

   Once again Shock have presented transfers of this ancient TV series that are startling in their quality.

As before the Region 4 DVD is a direct NTSC port of the Region 1 edition. It is marked Region 0.

The episodes are displayed in the 4:3 original televised aspect ratio.

The DVDs were remastered from "the original camera negatives". Without exception, those negatives were in great shape and the remastering has brought them to a level of clarity that would have exceeded what the viewer would have seen back in 1962. The Twilight Zone was shot on 35mm film. With most of the budget going on stars and sets it is a joy to continue to report that the series looks so good on DVD.

As said previously, about the only flaw with the show is the level of film grain which is consistent with film from the period. No doubt the remastering crew had the difficult decision of how much grain to reduce at the expense of sharpness; to me, the level is just about right.

The episodes are clean of all but minor sparkles and artefacts. There are some broken or lost frames in and around the ad breaks but generally the show runs smoothly. Flesh tones are beautifully rendered.

At the end of each episode Serling provides a teaser for the next episode. The contrast is good and the shadows are nice and deep.

The DVD shows off the expert camera work and lustrous black and white film in the best possible way.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The sound for The Twilight Zone is Dolby Digital 2.0 running at 224 K/bps.

The sound comes from an original source, in this case the original magnetic soundtracks. Once again the transfer is impeccable considering the age of the shows.

For a TV series that is almost 50 years old the sound is impeccable. It lacks a little in depth and ambience and is thin at times but in the main the dialogue is clear and easy to understand and the audio sync is perfect.

The music comes from a variety of composers, including the great Bernard Hermann, a veteran of a number of classic films including Citizen Kane, Vertigo and Taxi Driver.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Once again this set includes a wealth of extras.

Isolated Music Scores

As with the previous shows the soundtracks for a number of episodes can be heard separately. They are:

Bernard Hermann: Little Girl Lost
Robert Drasnin: The Hunt
Tommy Morgan: The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank, Hocus-Pocus and Frisby
Van Cleave: Two, The Midnight Sun, I Sing the Body Electric
Fred Steiner: The Passersby
Wilbur Hatch: Still Valley
William Love: Once Upon a Time
Nathan Scott: Young Man's Fancy
Laurindo Almeida: The Gift
Anonymous: The Arrival, The Grave, It's a Good Life, Deaths-Head Revisited, Nothing in the Dark, Showdown with Rance McGrew, Kick the Can, The Fugitive, Person or Persons Unknown, The Little People, Four O'Clock, The Trade-Ins, The Changing of the Guard

Commentary Tracks

There are some interesting commentary tracks on this set including:

A Game of Pool - star Jonathan Winters
It's a Good Life- child star Billy Mumy
Midnight Sun - star Lois Nettleton
Five Characters in Search of an Exit - star William Windom
A Quality of Mercy - star Leonard Nimoy
Showdown with Rance McGrew- star Robert Cornthwaite The Dummy - star Cliff Robertson

Billy Mumy says how he still "sends people to the cornfield" when he gets angry at them. Leonard Nimoy is only a bit player in this episode and his commentary is suitably truncated.

Interviews-Cast & Crew

The DVD set, like the earlier sets, contains a number of interviews that Marc Zicree conducted with producers, actors and directors.

Buck Houghton - Producer : A Game of Pool, Deaths-Head Revisited, A Piano in the House, The Little People, I Sing the Body Electric.
Buzz Kulik - Director: A Game of Pool
George Clayton Johnson - Writer
: Nothing in the Dark
Lamont Johnson - Director: Five Characters in Search of an Exit , Nothing in the Dark
Earl Hamner - Writer : The Hunt, A Piano in the House
Richard L. Bare - Writer: To Serve Man

All of the interviews are worth listening to although you have to struggle to hear them a bit as they were recorded many years ago on home taping equipment. Of most interest is the interviews with production people like Buck Houghton who has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the cast and crew of each episode.

Other Materials

Jonathan Winters reads alternate ending of A Game of Pool. As said above, this is an interesting take on the famous episode and is read with some relish by an aging Winters.
Clip from 1989 remake of A Game of Pool with original script ending. Worth a watch.
Rod Serling Famous Writers School Promo. Probably the less said about this the better. Serling with some other great writers was behind the school which promised to teach the ordinary person how to write like the pros. An expose, alleging manipulation of the dreamers for raw financial gain, eventually caused the school to shut down.
Season Three Billboards. More advertising from the show.
Season Three Photo Gallery. A series of photos from the season.
Twilight Zone Comic Book (pdf). Hmmm. Not an essential part of the set but it would have been interesting to have a look at. Trouble is I couldn't find it. It doesn't appear to be on the 5th DVD where it is supposed to be. Any eagle-eyed viewer out there can perhaps let me know if they can track it down.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 release of the Season apparently features the extras below but otherwise the sets are identical. I am sure that they would have been nice, but the Region 0 edition is fine as it is

Rod Serling Guest Appearance on The Garry Moore Show
Rod Serling's Night Gallery Promo Spots
Sci-Fi Channel The Twilight Zone Marathon Spots

Summary

    Season Three of The Twilight Zone is another slice of the best that television has to offer. If it's sometimes paled by comparison to earlier seasons this was only due to the high standards set and the sheer number of episodes on offer.

Once again the transfer is impeccable and the extras are a great addition to this comprehensive set.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Friday, January 18, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer BDP-LX70 Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayPioneer PDP-5000EX. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR605
SpeakersJBL 5.1 Surround and Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Season 3 - Eddie REPLY POSTED
Maybe the comic book is in the Twilight Zone - Jarod REPLY POSTED