The Twilight Zone

Volume 5

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Details At A Glance

Category Sci-Fi / Television Theatrical Trailer(s) No
Rating Other Trailer(s) No
Year Released 1959-1963 Commentary Tracks No
Running Time 101:19 minutes Other Extras Biography - Rod Serling 
Production Notes
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Directors James Sheldon
William Claxton
Jack Smight
Ted Post

Warner Vision
Starring Bill Mumy
Jack Warden
Antoinette Bower
Richard Basehart
Josephine Hutchinson
RPI $34.95 Music Van Cleave
Bernard Herrmann
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None Dolby Digital 1.0
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

   In what will surely be a steady stream of episodes, this disc is volume 5 and represents another cross-section of stories from the classic Twilight Zone vault. You can read my feelings of the whole Twilight Zone phenomenon in my review of Volume 1, and I won't repeat myself other than to say that this is a great series, and well worth the transfer to DVD.

    Volume 5 has the following 4 episodes:

    Long Distance Call (Mar 3 1961, 25:18 minutes) - A young boy, besotted by the loss of his Grandma, takes to calling her on his toy phone. The twist is, she really is on the other end of the line, most truly stuck in the twilight zone. This is also one of the few (6) episodes filmed directly on video, and suffers visually as a result. Directed by James Sheldon.

   I Sing The Electronic Body (May 18 1962, 24:51 minutes) - A strange name for a strange story. Written by the great Ray Bradbury, in fact his only contribution to the entire series, this tells of a company who's product is an aged carer for busy people who haven't the time they need to spend with their children. A robot nanny looks after the kids, and in time is treated as a real grandma. No real twist, just a nice little story. Directed by James Sheldon and William Claxton, with music by Van Cleave.

    The Lonely (Nov 13 1959, 25:12 minutes) - The first episode ever filmed, after the unaired pilot, this is an inventive tale, again concerned with man's relationship with robots - obviously somewhat of an interest at the time. A man imprisoned on an asteroid does not want to leave after genuinely falling in love with a robotic companion. Directed by Jack Smight, and with music by Bernard Herrmann, a prolific composer responsible for the score to the fabulous Twelve Monkeys and Psycho amongst others.

    Probe 7 Over And Out (Nov 29 1963, 25:05 minutes) - A wonderfully over-acted story of an astronaut escaping the imminent nuclear war on earth (again, another fascination of the times) by accidentally crashing on another planet. He finds a native woman, known in the native tongue as 'Eve', and builds a new life with her on this verdant new world. Is it giving away too much to say that his name is Adam? Directed by Ted Post.

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.

    As with Volume 1, the transfer quality is very good when consideration is given both to the age of the series and to the medium for which it was produced - namely television. I might as well repeat myself, for essentially all future volumes will have the same video characteristics. The definition in episodes 2,3 and 4 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 1, 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 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.

    Whilst there were no motion-based MPEG artefacts in these transfers, episode 1 did suffer quite badly from posterization, though this would be not a fault of the transfer but one of MPEG's inherent inability to describe small changes in hue. This was evident in shots of the sky, and was quite off-putting although forgivable. Film artefacts were quite regular, but given the age, one can again forgive these as simply part and parcel of 40 year old film stock, and I am not about to complain.


    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 all episodes was clear and easy to understand.

    Limited by recording techniques of the day, this is not high fidelity audio, but rather it is functional and gets the job done.

    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.


    Another great disc in the series, and I look forward to many more! Unlike Volume 1, this disc has four episodes, as will all subsequent volumes.

    The video is perfectly acceptable, although Long Distance Call is rather poor, having been shot on video.

    No complaints for the audio either.

    There are enough extras to keep the wolves at bay, and make this a nicely rounded disc.

Ratings (out of 5)

© Paul Cordingley
13th July, 2000 (read my bio)
Review Equipment
DVD Panasonic A360 (S-Video output)
Display Pioneer SD-T43W1 125cm Rear-Projection Widescreen (16x9)
Audio Decoder Panasonic A360 DVD Player internal decoders - DTS & Dolby Digital 5.1 
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