Twilight Zone, The-The Original Series-Season 3 (1961) (NTSC)
Alternate Ending-A Game of Pool
Audio Commentary-Various Episodes
Interviews-Cast & Crew-Various Episodes
Episode Introductions-Next Week on The Twilight Zone
Isolated Musical Score-Various Episodes
|Year Of Production||1961|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (5)
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||
|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|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
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:
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
The episodes in Season Three are as follows:
The extras appear on the 5th DVD.
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.
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.
|Surround Channel Use|
Once again this set includes a wealth of extras.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
|DVD||Pioneer BDP-LX70 Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output|
|Display||Pioneer 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 Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Speakers||JBL 5.1 Surround and Subwoofer|