|Category||Sci-Fi / Television||Theatrical Trailer(s)||No|
|Year Released||1960-1962||Commentary Tracks||No|
|Running Time||74:53 minutes||Other Extras||Biography - Rod Serling
|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||
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes|
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.
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.
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!
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.
|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|