The Twilight Zone

Volume 13

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Details At A Glance

General
Extras
Category Sci-Fi / Television Biography - Rod Serling
Production Notes - Season By Season
Production Notes - History of The Twilight Zone
Reviews and Credits
Rating
Year Released 1959-1961
Running Time 101:01 minutes
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Directors John Brahm
Richard L Bare
Elliot Silverstein
Buzz Kulik
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring Nehemiah Persoff 
Patrick McNee 
Dean Stockwell 
Leonard Nimoy
Albert Salmi
Burgess Meredith
Fritz Weaver
William Reynolds
Dick York
Case Transparent Amaray
RPI $34.95 Music Lucien Moraweck
stock

 
Video
Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English (Dolby Digital 1.0 mono, 96 Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 1.0 mono, 96 Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1
Miscellaneous
Macrovision Yes Smoking Yes
Subtitles Dutch 
Swedish 
Italian 
Spanish
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, minor in credits

Plot Synopsis

   After something of a hiatus in the flow of volumes from The Twilight Zone, all of a sudden we get a batch of four in rapid succession. Looking back through the reviews, it is interesting to note that the previous volume in the series was reviewed almost three months ago, so it is no wonder that an expectant mood greeted the arrival of the package. At least you now know that you can look forward to a few reviews from The Twilight Zone over the next week or so.

    This little collection of episodes goes by the tag of Men at War in The Twilight Zone, and so we get another slightly eclectic collection of episodes as befits the series name.

    The episodes on offer on Volume 13, in the running order on the DVD, are:

    Judgment Night (Episode 10, Dec 4 1959, 25:29 minutes) - It's 1942, it's the Atlantic Ocean and the S.S. Queen Of Glasgow has lost the rest of its convoy in the fog. So we all know what is coming don't we? Only problem is that Captain Carl Lanser has no idea why he suddenly finds himself on the deck of this ship out in the middle of the ocean, and does not really know what to make of the sense of foreboding that he has. All he knows is that something is not quite right. Whilst the episode showcases an early role of none other than Patrick McNee, who of course went onto bigger and better things in The Avengers, the main draw here is Nehemiah Persoff as the bewildered Captain. An episode with a nice enough little twist even after forty odd years, for whilst we all sit there thinking we know what is about to happen, we also sit there in a false belief. Directed by John Brahm.

   A Quality Of Mercy (Episode 80, Dec 29 1961, 25:04 minutes) - A fresh-faced young officer arrives in the last few days of the war to lead a platoon of battle-hardened and battle-weary veterans who are not too happy with the idea of exposing themselves to a lot of danger just days away from the truce that will end World War II. Nothing seems to be able to sway the fresh-faced young officer from his determination to make his mark - until he is forced to face the same situation from a slightly different perspective. Starring a slightly fresh-faced Dean Stockwell as the gung-ho naive young officer, this episode is probably better remembered for the performance of Albert Salmi as the hardened vet. Star Trek devotees also get to see an early television appearance by none other than Mr Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy. Not an especially great episode, and Dean Stockwell's performance as a Japanese officer is enough to make one cringe nowadays! Directed by Buzz Kulik.

    The Obsolete Man (Episode 65, Jun 2 1961, 25:12 minutes) - History is dotted with the efforts of various megalomaniacs who believe they have the answer for all that ails the world - through a totalitarian state. Things are no different in the future and in this incarnation of hell, religion and books have been banned and persons deemed obsolete are summarily put to death - in the fashion that they want and within the next 48 hours at a time that they want. And so it is that librarian Romney Wordsworth finds himself up before the Chancellor to face his judgement as an obsolete member of the state. This whole episode revolves around four-time Twilight Zoner Burgess Meredith and Fritz Weaver, and a superb job they do here too. The stand out episode here by a long shot, it may not be one of the classic episodes but it sure is a good one with plenty to be said about totalitarianism. Directed by Elliot Silverstein.

    The Purple Testament (Episode 19, Feb 12 1960, 25:16 minutes) - Note that the packaging is in error stating this episode was first broadcast on 12th January, 1960. War is hell. And so a lot of hellish things are expected, including the slaughter of young men in their prime. However, war is especially hell when you are blessed with the ability to know who is about to die. And so it is that Lieutenant Fitzgerald finds himself trapped in this personal hell from which there is no escape. Or at least no escape bar one. Featuring an appearance by Dick York, who later went onto fame if not fortune in the twilight zone type atmosphere of Bewitched, the main protagonist is William Reynolds. Apart from some rather iffy special effects, this would not rank too highly in the scale of Twilight Zone episodes. The episode title is a bit obscure, but English Literature fans might well recognize it. Directed by Richard L Bare.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is presented in the usual aspect ratio of television shows of the era, namely 1.33:1.

    This is definitely a turn for the worse as far as the transfers are concerned. Whilst there is nothing really terrible here, there is a marked degree of variability in the sharpness and detail of even individual episodes, and Judgement Night is especially poor in this regard: one moment quite sharp and detailed and the next moment reasonably diffuse and slightly washed out in appearance. The Purple Testament also suffers from some light leakage onto the right third of the picture at times, which washes out quite a bit of detail. In general, this volume displays only average sharpness and detail. Shadow detail is generally quite reasonable although again Judgement Night has some quite poor examples of such detail. These are not the clearest transfers you are ever going to see and grain is at times quite noticeable - The Purple Testament is especially noteworthy in this regard. There are inconsistent problems with low level noise in the transfer, but in general this is not too much of an issue. Unusually for this series, this is a collection of episodes that does indeed look its age.

    The black and white presentation of these episodes is somewhat variable in comparison with the standards of the earlier volumes in the series. Whilst they generally miss out on being really solid blacks and whites, since that is not the nature of the transfers in general, they unfortunately also miss out quite a deal in the grey tones. Judgment Night is quite badly afflicted with a distinctly variable transfer, especially murky grey scenes being immediately followed by scenes with intense blacks. Overall, a step backwards in the colour department.

    There did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer. Film-to-video artefacts were fairly reasonably controlled with only the odd instance of really intrusive shimmer making itself felt. However, there are certainly plenty of minor instances of it that ultimately detract from the overall package. Sadly, after the relative cleanliness of Volume 12, these are quite dirty prints and there a quite a lot of speckles and hairs thrown throughout these transfers. Quite a few are very difficult to ignore.
 
 

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain
Film-to-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The standard two soundtracks are on offer on this DVD, being Dolby Digital 1.0 mono efforts in English or French. I continue to be stuck in the twilight zone as far as my choice of soundtrack is concerned: English.

    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 Purple Testament is derived from those ever-handy stock sources. As ever, there is nothing overly memorable here at all in those episodes. The music for The Purple Testament comes from Lucien Moraweck and a reasonably decent effort it is too. It does however lack somewhat in individuality.

    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.
 
 

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The usual consistent presentation in common with the earlier releases in the series.

Menu

Biography - Rod Serling

Production Notes - History Of The Twilight Zone

Production Notes - Season By Season

Reviews and Credits

R4 vs R1

    The same as the Region 1 version in broad terms, the Region 4 version would be the version of choice owing to PAL formatting.

Summary

    After a succession of improving transfers over the past couple of volumes, Volume 13 seems to be a retrograde step with some marked variability, particularly in the video transfers. On a couple of occasions I found this DVD just a little hard to watch, and this is not aided by the average collection of episodes either. Not a good place for the casual investigator of the series to start.
 
 

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (have a laugh, check out the bio)
24th February, 2001.

Review Equipment
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