|Category||Sci-Fi / Television||Biography - Rod Serling
Production Notes - Season By Season
Production Notes - History of The Twilight Zone
Reviews and Credits
|Running Time||100:35 minutes|
Richard C. Sarafian
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English (Dolby Digital 1.0, 96 Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 1.0, 96 Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, minor in credits|
I guess this bout of contemplation was triggered by the fact that I can remember way back in the mid 1960s sitting down and watching one episode off this DVD, and can recall the effect that it had on me. Sitting down to watch the same episode over thirty years later, it just struck me that whilst the effect it had is diminished, the quality of the program is still there to see. It has to be said that of the DVDs I have so far reviewed from the series, this particular collection contains what to my mind is one of the better collections of episodes, as well as containing not one but two of the greatest episodes of this esteemed television show. Perhaps my nostalgia has gotten a little the better of me, but I would think that if you were looking for a single collection of episodes that really displayed the true worth of The Twilight Zone, it would be this one amongst the DVDs so far released.
The episodes on offer on Volume 11, in the running order on the DVD, are:
The Dummy (Episode 98, May 5 1962, 25:11 minutes) - A ventriloquist is convinced that his dummy, Willie, is alive and evil. He makes plans for a new act with a new dummy - plans that Willie does not support. A deceptively simple tale of paranoia run amok as Cliff Robertson stars as the poor suffering ventriloquist who succumbs to his worst nightmare. Also starring Frank Sutton who went onto star as the poor suffering drill sergeant in Gomer Pyle. A good episode that even overcomes the lack of effects work to make Willie really chilling - although the ending is chilling enough. Directed by Abner Biberman.
The Fever (Episode 17, Jan 29 1960, 24:55 minutes) - Tight fist Franklin Gibbs is not pleased when his wife wins a trip for two to Las Vegas, but things change when he falls under the spell of a slot machine that calls his name! On a disc blessed with some truly great episodes, this one has to be classed as a bit of a disappointment. The story itself is acceptable but the execution was perhaps not the best, although Everett Sloane provides a suitably feverish performance. The most interesting thing about the episode is the way the rather chilling call of Franklin was created. Directed by Robert Florey.
Living Doll (Episode 126, Nov 1 1963, 25:16 minutes) - Erich is displeased when his wife buys an expensive doll for his step-daughter. He becomes even more displeased when the doll tells him it doesn't like him! This is an absolute classic episode that I would personally rank amongst the top ten that ever graced The Twilight Zone. As an impressionable young kid, way back in the sixties, this really spooked me no end! It did not help that I first saw the episode when dolls that talked seemed to be the rage, with the result that I avoided them like the plague. This powerful episode was blessed with a great performance from Telly Savalas and an even better one from Talking Tina. This is one of those episodes that did not just use stock music but had a specially composed soundtrack - from one of the true greats in Bernard Herrmann, better known for the chilling soundtrack to Vertigo. It is rare that a television episode gets blessed with a music score as good as this, especially one in the early 1960s. Directed with aplomb by Richard C. Sarafian.
The After Hours (Episode 34, Jun 10 1960, 25:13 minutes) - A woman discovers that the floor of a department store, on which she bought a gold thimble, doesn't exist - and that her "saleslady" is really a mannequin. Another superb and classic episode, showcasing a great performance by Anne Francis bringing to life a really interesting and well-written story. The slightly comic characterization of the floor manager effectively counterpoints the ending that has a real twist to it. Directed by Douglas Heyes.
The transfer quality on offer is just a little bit better than Volume 9 and is generally holding up very well for a television show of its age. There is a general consistency to the video transfer of all four episodes, which seems to be just a tad sharper here in general. The definition in all episodes is generally good, although again it has to be pointed out that the opening titles of the earlier episodes are decidedly murkier than the actual episodes themselves. Detail is generally quite good, which is especially important in The After Hours. Clarity is reasonably good throughout, and grain does not appear to be a significant problem here at all. There is no low-level noise in the image, and the shadow detail is quite acceptable.
The typical black and white presentation of these episodes is well up to the standards of the earlier volumes in the series. The overall effect though is not especially vibrant. There was only a slight issue with murkiness here and there, but nothing really major.
There did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts
in the transfer. Film-to-video artefacts however were generally improved
here, with The Dummy, The Fever and The
After Hours barely demonstrating any aliasing at all. Unfortunately
Living Doll did have some rather pronounced aliasing, but overall
one of the better DVDs in the series with respect to this problem. This
is another slightly cleaner collection of episodes than usual and whilst
film artefacts are obviously present here, they are in general a bit better
than we would expect in source material of this vintage and are certainly
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 at all.
The music for all episodes barring The Living Doll is derived from stock sources. Nothing overly memorable here at all in those episodes. However, that for The Living Doll is far, far better as indicated above, since it comes from one of the greats amongst film composers.
If you have read the earlier reviews from the series,
then you have a pretty good feel for what sort of soundtrack we have here.
This is virtually identical to the earlier volumes in the series and therefore
there really is not an awful lot to add about the soundtrack, as it is
obviously a reflection of the limitations of the period in which it was
recorded and the medium for which is was recorded. The soundtracks are
generally free from any distortion or congestion and this is actually very
decent sounding mono. Naturally, you can forget about every speaker apart
from the centre speaker here!
|Surround Channel Use|
© Ian Morris (have
a laugh, check out the bio)
5th November 2000
|DVD||Pioneer DV-515; S-video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega 80cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in|
|Amplification||Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|