Twilight Zone

Volume 1

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Details At A Glance

Category Sci-Fi / Television Theatrical Trailer(s) No
Rating Other Trailer(s) No
Year Released 1960-1962 Commentary Tracks No
Running Time 74:53 minutes Other Extras Biography - Rod Serling
Production Notes
RSDL/Flipper None
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Douglas Heyes
Jack Smight
Lamont Johnson
Image Entertainment
Warner Vision
Starring Agnes Moorehead
Art Carney
Robert Redford
RPI $34.95 Music Jerry Goldsmith (The Invaders)
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement No Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 1.0, 96Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 1.0, 96Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.33:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking Yes
Subtitles Dutch
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

Plot Synopsis

   When I was a wee lad, I grew up on a staple and hearty diet of shows like Dr Who, Blake's 7, The Outer Limits, and of course The Twilight Zone. I fondly remember staying up on a Saturday night to watch another episode, and wondering what twist the next story would have. That was the beauty of this show - it was so unpredictable, even to the very end, and it was usually very clever.

    Whenever I have had the chance to watch an episode on television, I always have. You just can't beat that old glowing black & white look to impart a sense of the strange and other-worldly feel which I love. I have tried the newer colour episodes, but have little love for them. Maybe I need the cigarette-wielding Rod Serling to introduce the show, or maybe they just don't have the same character as the originals, that same innocence of writing, and that same sense of wonder at the unknown. We are a bit jaded these days, and to enjoy this series to the full you need to step back in time a bit, open your mind, and remember that awe which you felt when you were a youngster. I am not saying that these are childish stories - not at all. They just rely on that part of us that was most alert when we were children - our imagination.

    It is with glee that I can now watch these episodes via my DVD player whenever I like, with Warner Vision now releasing them in R4 land. This, to me, is a firm indicator that DVD has hit its stride in our little corner of the world!

    This, the first instalment of what will be many Twilight Zone DVDs, is Volume 1, and is a small taste of what we can expect, having only three episodes on it. Future releases will have four episodes per disc, which is a fair number given that the discs are single layered. Anyway, Volume 1 has the following stories:

    The Invaders ( Jan 27 1960, 25:01 minutes) - An apparently feeble-minded old woman in the middle of nowhere is the subject of torment from two tiny alien invaders, complete with mini ray-guns and a crashed flying saucer in her attic. What appears to be gross over-acting from Agnes Moorehead is not all it seems, and the twist at the end is just absolutely classic Twilight Zone. Directed by Douglas Heyes, and with music by the great Jerry Goldsmith.

    The Night Of The Meek (Dec 23 1960, 25:01 minutes) - A drunken store Santa, played by Art Carney is fired, and finds a stuffed sack of presents as he wanders home. In it is everything anyone wishes for. Is he the real Santa after all? A pretty ordinary story, but not bad. Directed  by Jack Smight.

    Nothing In The Dark (Jan 5 1962, 24:51 minutes) - An old woman believes that "Mr Death" is constantly at her door, literally. She refuses to let anyone inside her home, even though it is to be knocked down and is unfit to live in. A very youthful Robert Redford is a policeman who is injured and begs to be let in for assistance. Another classic episode, this one took me completely unaware. Directed by Lamont Johnson.

Transfer Quality


     The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, being full-frame naturally since this series was produced for television.

    There is not much to complain about, given the age of these shows, and the medium for which they were produced. The definition in episodes 1 and 3 is excellent in general terms, and is as good as we should expect it to be. There is no low-level noise in the image, and the shadow detail is quite acceptable. The same cannot be said for episode 2, which was shot using video as an exercise in cost-cutting, and was quickly shelved as an idea since Rod Serling was displeased with the lack of editing control he had with video as compared with film. The quality is quite poor, with a wobble in the picture at times, although unlike telecine wobble this is a video wobble and is hard to describe. The image is much softer, and suffers from edge enhancement and low contrast, with everything being a shade of grey rather than black and white. It is a good thing that the producers canned the whole straight-to-video-tape idea, and the reasons are explained in the excellent production notes.

    These episodes are the genuine black and white ones, and I wouldn't have them any other way. I just love the strange feeling this gives the stories, and they just wouldn't be the same or as effective in colour. This might sound strange, but it's really how I feel.

    I was expecting to see a low quality approach to the compression of this series, given that the source is not of the highest quality in the first place. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the image had absolutely no MPEG compression artefacts of any kind. These discs could quite seriously be used as archives, and now that they are committed to digital discs, why not? In any event, these are apparently down-converted from high-definition masters (save for the 6 episodes which were not filmed on 35 mm film, but were video-taped). I, for one, appreciate this level of care, and the results are there to see. There is very little in the way of film artefacts, although the occasional fleck is present. Whilst the film episodes are transparent, the same cannot be said for the video episode, which suffers all manner of artefacts as described above.


    There are two soundtracks on offer, English or French, both Dolby Digital 1.0 mono at 96 Kilobits per second. Thankfully, this is 1.0 mono as opposed to 2.0 mono which I don't approve of.

    The dialogue for episodes one and three was very clear. Episode two had much poorer quality audio and as a result the dialogue was at times difficult to make out.

    Limited by recording techniques of the day, this is not high fidelity audio, but rather it is functional and gets the job done. The only episode with any meaningful music in it is The Invaders, which relies on good old Jerry Goldsmith to impart any sense of the dramatic given that no words are spoken throughout the entire show.

    Since this is Dolby Digital 1.0 mono, there is nothin' but the good old centre speaker for company here. Also left out is the subwoofer. Run this one through your television speaker if you want, it doesn't matter! I don't say that often, believe me!



    A well done menu here, with  an option called "Feature Presentation" if you want to jump right in from the start, or one called "Episodes" if you are a bit picky. The episode selection menu has an old black and white telly, and when an episode is selected, a still appears on the screen. When the "main menu" is selected, the screen is blank, and looks like it is reflecting your lounge-room in it. Nice touch.

Biography - Rod Serling

    This is the suave gentleman responsible for this whole genre. He started it in style, and went on to produce no less than 5 seasons, and a total of 138 half-hour episodes and 18 one-hour episodes from 1959 to 1964. What I didn't know was that he died in 1975 from open-heart surgery gone wrong. Well, he now knows for sure what is out there.

Production Notes - History Of The Twilight Zone / Season By Season

    Very interesting notes on the entire series, and well worth a read. Also contains a review of each episode.

R4 vs R1

    Our version is identical to the R1 version, although with PAL we are getting somewhat of a better picture.


    A nostalgic trip back in time, this is just brilliant, and no matter how many times I watch it, it will always looks as good as the first playing! Yippee! I can only assume that since there are already 26 volumes available in R1-land, that this is just the start of a long and happy relationship with the Twilight Zone and my DVD player.

    The video is extremely good, apart from Night Of The Meek which is rather poor.

    The audio is also good for its age, again apart from the second episode.

    There are enough extras to keep the wolves at bay, and make this a nicely rounded disc. Whilst three episodes is a little light, other volumes will have four.

Ratings (out of 5)

© Paul Cordingley
2nd July, 2000 (read my bio)
Review Equipment
DVD Panasonic A360 (S-Video output)
Display Rear-Projection Pioneer SD-T43W1 125cm Widescreen 16x9
Audio Decoder d t s 5.1 & Dolby Digital 5.1 (DVD Player internal decoder)
Amplification Sony STRDE-525 5x100 watts Dolby Pro-Logic / 5.1 Ready Receiver; 4 x Optimus 10-band Graphic EQ
Speakers Centre: Sony SS-CN35 100 watt; Main & Surrounds: Pioneer CS-R390-K 150-watt floorstanders; Subwoofer: Optimus 100-watt passive