The Twilight Zone-Volume 21 (1959)

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Released 8-Jun-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
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1959
Running Time 100:27
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By John Brahm
Douglas Heyes
Lamont Johnson
Roger Kay

Warner Vision
Starring Vera Miles
Martin Milner
Thomas Gomez
Vladimir Sokoloff
John Alonso
William Windom
Murray Matheson
Ed Wynn
James Callahan
Carolyn Kearney
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music Jerry Goldsmith
Bernard Herrmann

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 Dutch
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes, during credits for Ninety Years Without Slumbering
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

   And so we jump back ever-so-slightly to Volume 21 of the ongoing releases from The Twilight Zone. One of the great comforts of reviewing this series is the fact that every so often you simply have to get to a DVD from this ongoing series of releases in the pile of review DVDs. It is one of the great joys of this hobby - getting to the comforting familiarity and excellence of this series. Amongst the reasons for the excellence is the appearance of such great actors as Ed Wynn and the musical contributions of renowned names like Bernard Herrmann. When you see the calibre of the people involved with the series, is it any wonder that it still commands the respect that will never be achieved by 95% of the shows that have ever appeared on television?

   The episodes on offer on Volume 21, in the running order on the DVD, are:

    Mirror Image (Episode 21, Feb 26 1960, 24:57 minutes) - It is a wet old night and the bus to Courtland is late. So what is there to do in the bus stop at this late hour of the night? Not much apart from go slightly mad. And so it is that Millicent Barnes (Vera Miles) has a little problem in the bus depot that night. It would seem that she has a little trouble remembering exactly where her case is, whether she actually checked it in or indeed exactly how many times she has bugged the attendant about how long it will be before the bus arrives. Little things like that are guaranteed to cast aspersions upon your sanity in the eyes of fellow travellers, and so it might just be with Paul Grinstead (Martin Milner). But when he starts to experience the same sort of problems, then he does start to wonder whether it is not insanity. This is an interesting episode, mainly for a nice performance from Vera Miles, and starts off a good collection on this DVD. Directed by John Brahm.

   Dust (Episode 48, Jan 6 1961, 25:11 minutes) - A young man finds himself in a rather tight situation - namely that he is about to be executed for an indiscretion that cost the life of a young girl. Whilst drunk, he managed to run over the young girl and kill her, an indiscretion that has not been held well in the town. In fact, most of the town seems to be of the opinion that his hanging should proceed at the earliest opportunity. All except perhaps the young man's father and the sheriff. In fact, the young man's father is so desperate to save his son that when the local shyster makes an offer of some magic dust that will change the mood of the town, he jumps at it. With all reason disappearing faster than his money into the shyster's pocket, the old man gets the dust and starts to spread it around trying to get the magic to work. Whilst the episode is perhaps more noted for the familiar faces here rather than the actual performances themselves, it is an interesting commentary upon certain attitudes. Directed by Douglas Heyes.

    Five Characters In Search Of An Exit (Episode 79, Dec 22 1961, 25:08 minutes) - A somewhat eclectic group of characters come together in unusual circumstances. The latest addition to the group is an Army major who is more than a little non-plussed about how he came to be stuck in a large cylinder all alone and why he does not know who the heck he is. As he does the usual methodical Army stuff of trying to find a way out of the cylinder, he discovers he is not actually alone. Indeed he is in this large cylinder with a clown, a hobo, a ballerina and a bagpiper, all of whom have been in the cylinder longer than he, all of whom have no idea who they are and all of whom have long-since given up trying to find a way out - as there is not one. But of course, a large cylinder that has no top must have at least one way out - straight up. And so the major gets everyone to cooperate and get at least one of them out of the cylinder and find out where they are. However, the answer is not quite what they expected and certainly is of no great benefit to them. The execution of the performances might leave a little to be desired, but this is certainly an interestingly executed episode with a reasonably unexpected ending - at least if you have not seen the episode before! Directed by Lamont Johnson.

    Ninety Years Without Slumbering (Episode 132, Dec 20 1963, 25:11 minutes) - Sam Forstmann (Ed Wynn) is a retired clock-maker with a slight problem - his grandfather clock. Now these wonderful beasts are magnificent timepieces but they take some maintenance to keep them going properly. And this one takes more than most, for the simple reason that Sam believes that should the clock stop, then his life will cease. His grand-daughter Marnie (Carolyn Kearney) and her husband Doug (James Callahan) are not overly happy with this notion and suggest that Sam head off to see a friend of theirs - a psychiatrist obviously. So is Sam crazy? Not really, but it is an obviously unhealthy fixation, so the clock has to go. But can Sam accept the fact and can he live with the consequences? The great Ed Wynn gives another good performance in The Twilight Zone, even with this somewhat weaker fifth season episode. Directed by Roger Kay.

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Transfer Quality


    The transfer is presented in the usual aspect ratio of television shows of the era, namely 1.33:1. It is, of course, not 16x9 enhanced.

    These are four generally quite decent quality episodes as far as the transfers go. This is perhaps a somewhat more consistent collection of transfers than we have normally seen in the series thus far. All the episodes are quite sharp and well-detailed. There is not much of a problem with the shadow detail on the DVD and the overall definition is quite good indeed. Clarity is generally good throughout with little evidence of grain. There does not appear to be any problems with low level noise in the transfers.

    Overall, the quality of the black and white here is again good, with reasonable depth to the tones. There is in general a slight lack of depth to the blacks, but whilst these are not really spectacular, there is little approaching murky grey. The grey scales are good throughout. The only evidence of murkiness in the transfers is the obligatory problems in the opening credits that have been a constant throughout the series. Suffice it to say that this remains yet another eminently watchable transfer.

    There did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer. In much the same way as was evidenced in Volume 22 of the series, there is a bit of return of the aliasing in the transfers here. Whilst there is certainly some noticeable examples, it has to be said that in general they remain relatively minor, with only Ninety Years Without Slumbering being the really affected episode - Ed Wynn's dressing gown and bed clothes are the prime examples. Film artefacts are distinctly more obvious here than has been the case for quite a number of DVDs and whilst some get a little too obvious at times, I would hardly consider them to be really bothersome. Certainly they remain nothing more than I would expect in this sort and source of material.

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 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.

    Both Dust and Ninety Years Without Slumbering have music credits, and rather good ones they are, too: Jerry Goldsmith and Bernard Herrmann. Both have a slightly distinctive voice, but I would hardly consider them to be stellar examples of their work. Nonetheless, they are better than your average effort overall. The remaining episodes get the usual stock contributions.

    There seemed to be a little more hiss than normal in the soundtrack here, afflicting all the episodes to some extent. Mirror Image is especially notable in this regard, as well as being blessed with some slight muddying of the sound at around the 6:00 mark. However, the hiss is not that bothersome and is fairly readily filtered out once you get used to it, but it is a little more than the incidental background stuff that we have hitherto been blessed with. There is nothing at all else radically different from the soundtracks heard on the earlier twenty-odd DVDs in the series so far. 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


    Once again we continue along in the same vein, with the Reviews and Credits still missing the credits bit.


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 version of choice owing to PAL formatting.


    The Twilight Zone - Volume 21 is a slightly stronger collection of episodes, not so much because of one stellar episode but rather because of a general higher standard. As such, it probably has slightly more appeal to the broader audience rather than just the genuine devotees of the series. The overall quality of the package is good, even with the aliasing issue and the slightly hissier soundtrack.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Thursday, June 28, 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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