The Twilight Zone-Volume 26 (1959)

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Released 26-Oct-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Biographies-Crew-Rod Serling
Notes-Season By Season
Notes-History Of The Twilight Zone
Notes-Reviews & Credits
Scene Selection Animation
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1959
Running Time 100:10
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Ronald Winston
Christian Nyby
David Greene
Jacques Tourneur

Warner Vision
Starring Ivan Dixon
Steven Perry
Kim Hamilton
Larry Blyden
Arch Johnson
Barry Morse
Joan Hackett
Gladys Cooper
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $34.95 Music Jerry Goldsmith

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 1.0 (96Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (96Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Spanish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

   "Their Just Desserts..." is the tag line for this collection of episodes in the continuing wandering through The Twilight Zone, with this being Volume 26 of the ongoing releases. Since that is the tag line of the collection, you can sort of guess where most of these (notional) half hour episodes are heading. The episodes on offer on Volume 26, in the running order on the DVD, are:

    The Big Tall Wish (Episode 27, Apr 8 1960, 24:59 minutes) - Bolie Jackson (Ivan Dixon) is a has-been fighter looking for one more shot at glory. He needs all the help he can get if he really has a chance of winning his bout, and he may just have it in young Henry (Steven Perry) who has an unswerving belief in magic. This little boy might just be the big man's salvation - if he can just believe that miracles do happen. The pre-fight rituals don't go well and the fight goes even less well, but even as he is being counted out, Bolie might just have some magical help courtesy of Henry. Noteworthy for the almost entirely African-American cast, a distinct rarity in American television of any era up to the 1990s really, this is a story of belief - not just in one self but in what is possible. Ivan Dixon is probably best remembered for his role in a later comedy series (one very worthy of a DVD release too), and is not the most convincing fighter ever seen. But as a whole this is a good story, even if the execution leaves a bit to be desired. Directed by Ronald Winston.

   Showdown With Rance McGrew (Episode 85, Feb 2 1962, 25:00 minutes) - Or "A Star's Guide To Being Obnoxious" - and thus in all probability shown in every Acting 101 class! Rance McGrew (Larry Blyden) is the star of a western series and like so many supposed stars, makes certain everyone knows it in the usual ways - turning up late for shoots, taking forever to ready himself for shoots, making over-the-top demands and generally being a pain in the proverbial. And so the shooting of today's episode is taking a bit longer than usual, thanks to lovely Rance. But it is not just the staff and fellow actors he is annoying with his antics, as Rance is about to find out - when he suddenly finds himself not in his television set saloon but in a real life Old West saloon, with none other than Jesse James (Arch Johnson) looking for him. Seems that the old timers from the Old West are none too happy about the denigrating way Rance is depicting them in the show. Jesse James is their envoy, charged with sorting old Rance out.... Since you almost instantly hate Rance McGrew, you can guess that Larry Blyden did a terrific job in this obnoxious role, but Arch Johnson does his best to top him in a different take on any one of several dozen television westerns. Especially noteworthy is one of the in-jokes in the episode. Directed by Christian Nyby.

    A Piano In The House (Episode 87, Feb 16 1962, 24:57 minutes) - Fitzgerald Fortune (Barry Morse) is a theatre critic, and therefore has all the traits usually associated with such persons: obnoxious, cynical know-it-alls with all the social skills of an elephant in heat. Turns out that he has a much younger wife, Esther (Joan Hackett), and today is her birthday and he has remembered that she once said she would like a piano. So Fitzgerald heads off in search of one of those play themselves pianos. He discovers one in a junk store and obnoxiously buys it for delivery to his house for his wife's party. But this is no ordinary piano, for it soon is discovered that it has the ability to entice a few home truths from those who listen to the music it plays. Of course, Fitzgerald sees this as a great party trick, getting people to reveal their hidden secrets - at least until the tables are turned and he slowly reveals a painful truth of his own. Superbly played by Barry Morse, this has all the right sorts of tones to just make Fitzgerald a completely unlikeable character. Joan Hackett does a good job as his young wife, and the whole thing really is done rather well. Directed by David Greene.

    Night Call (Episode 139, Feb 7 1964, 25:14 minutes) - Elva Keene (Gladys Cooper) has a secret and it is about to rebound upon her. Confined to a wheelchair and reliant upon a housekeeper coming in every day, Elva starts to get mysterious telephone calls at night. Starting out just as some noise, they gradually take the form of words and things start to get really spooky. With the local telephone company being less than helpful (must have been a Telstra predecessor) Elva has limited means to avoid the calls. Having the telephone off the hook just means there is an incessant buzzing noise in the background all the time. Pushed to the edge of her nerves, she screams down the telephone one evening the words "leave me alone". Eventually the telephone company trace the cause of the problem - a downed wire from a heavy storm. But if the line is down, how can calls be getting through? Elva knows.... It is amazing how spooky a bunch of telephone calls can be made to be, and this virtual one woman show is one of the spookiest to grace The Twilight Zone. The ending is one of the best in the entire series. Wonderfully directed by Jacques Tourneur, who despite his association with feature films apparently turned in one of the shortest shoots ever in The Twilight Zone.

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

Transfer Quality


    The transfer is presented in the usual aspect ratio of television shows of the era, namely 1.33:1.

    Another collection of generally decent quality transfers, but with just enough in the way of niggles to detract from the enjoyment of the episodes. The general definition level in these episodes is good, and these are generally quite sharp transfers. Shadow detail is good throughout and the only real complaint is that Night Call is noticeably brighter than the other transfers, and this results in an overall loss of detail. There did not appear to be any problem with low level noise in the transfers. There is some degree of grain present in all the transfers.

    The quality of the black and white here is good, apart from the over bright Night Call which is basically a collection of brightish greys, with good depth to the tones in general. This is very much in the vein of Volume 25 in the improved quality of the black and white tones though. Nothing in the way of murky greys here, and the overall presentation across the grey scales is good.

    There did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer, although Showdown With Rance McGrew seems to suffer from some pixelization in the stable door around 18:23. There is something of a problem with aliasing and shimmer in the transfer. Showdown With Rance McGrew is perhaps the poorest of the episodes here, mainly due to consistent shimmer in clothing. It also features a really weird looking vertical aliasing at 19:02, unlike anything that I have seen before. Cross colouration is an issue in both Showdown With Rance McGrew and A Piano In The House, but in general this is a thankfully quite minor issue. Film artefacts are the usual collection that we expect in material of this vintage, with some being just a tad too noticeable.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The usual standard of two soundtracks are on offer on the DVD, being Dolby Digital 1.0 mono efforts in English or French.

    The dialogue for all episodes was clear and easy to understand, and there did not appear to be any audio sync problems in the transfer.

    Only The Big Tall Wish has any music credit, with the score coming from one of the best known film composers around today - Jerry Goldsmith. Obviously his work is somewhat more memorable than the stock sources used in the other three episodes.

    After a slight improvement in the hiss department in Volume 25, we go a little bit backwards here with The Big Tall Wish and Night Call both suffering somewhat from noticeably hissy soundtracks. Otherwise, there is nothing really that different from what we have heard in the previous releases in the series. The soundtracks are generally free from any significant distortion or congestion and this is generally very decent sounding mono.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    The same standard package that we have seen for some time now.


Biography - Rod Serling

Production Notes - History Of The Twilight Zone

Production Notes - Season By Season

Reviews and Credits

R4 vs R1

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

    The same as the Region 1 version in broad terms, the Region 4 version would be the marginal version of choice owing to PAL formatting.


    The Twilight Zone - Volume 26 is one of the better collections of episodes, although the DVD itself is somewhat variable in terms of transfer quality. Whilst the video transfer is generally a little better, albeit with some obvious problems, the audio transfer is overall just a little bit worse than usual. Worse is of course a relative thing and in material of this age, I doubt that devotees would be too concerned by the difference.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Thursday, November 15, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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