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|Category||Sci-Fi / Television||Biography - Rod Serling
Production Notes - Season By Season
Production Notes - History of The Twilight Zone
Reviews and Credits
|Year Released||1959 - 1964|
|Running Time||100:14 minutes|
Richard L Bare
Alan Crosland Jr
|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|
This is a rather intriguing collection of episodes ranging from the first series to the final series, that at first sight seem to have little in common. The tag line on the collection here is "Justice applied ... in The Twilight Zone" - and an interesting collection of applications it is too, and the aptness of the tag line soon becomes apparent. A pity then that this is not the most memorable of collections in the series.
The episodes on offer on Volume 17, in the running order on the DVD, are:
What You Need (Episode 12, Dec 25 1959, 25:10 minutes) - Fred Renard is something of a thug and not an especially nice person. He is always looking for a way of making a cheap buck or two. So, when a sidewalk salesman wanders into the bar where he is slowly imbibing in a drink and starts doling out apparently inconsequential items to the patrons on the basis that the items are what they need, he takes little notice. However, when those items do indeed turn out to be exactly what those people need, he sees the chance to improve his lot fairly easily. When he forces the salesman on the issue of what he needs, he is a bit perplexed by the item received until an unfortunate situation highlights that it was indeed exactly what he needed. Now he starts to get greedy and forces the salesman even more. Trouble is that the salesman does indeed know something very important and is trying his darndest to avoid the result he has foreseen. A nice little episode which manages to just avoid being a little too obvious, and highlighted by a nice performance by Ernest Truex. Directed by Alvin Ganzer.
What's In The Box (Episode 144, Mar 13 1964, 25:08 minutes) - Joe Britt has a secret that he is trying to keep from his wife Phyllis - but which she already suspects anyway. After all, how does a cab driver always manage to end up coming home late after always getting last minute fares to the far flung reaches of New York City? It does not help that their marriage is not exactly perfect. Things really start to go haywire when a television repairman manages to fix their television to play a personal channel that plays some programming that Joe really does not want Phyllis to see. The result is a forewarning of an event that Joe desperately wants to avert but which he is unable to. This episode features three well-known names in William Demarest, Joan Blondell and Sterling Holloway (the latter especially well known to devotees of Winnie The Pooh). They are the focus of the entire show and even though Joan Blondell is just a tad over-the-top at times, this is an instance where the performances across the board hit the right mark to propel the story to its inevitable conclusion. Directed by the relatively prolific Twilight Zone helmer Richard L Bare.
The Mirror (Episode 71, Oct 20 1961, 24:46 minutes) - Ramos Clemente has risen from the ranks of peasant farm workers in a Central American dictatorship to lead a revolution against the incumbent tyrant. However, his accession to the role of revolutionary leader is not a happy one as the recently deposed tyrant issues a sombre warning. The warning quickly eats away at Ramos who soon starts to see assassination conspiracies everywhere - courtesy of a mirror. Nothing really terrific here in this thinly disguised poke at the recent revolutionary regime in Cuba led by Fidel Castro. Lots of clichéd Cuban revolutionaries here and an excruciating performance by Peter Falk (and I thought his Colombo days were pretty bad...) in their own way create an unforgettable episode: this is certainly not a high point in The Twilight Zone oeuvre. Directed by Don Medford.
The Old Man In The Cave (Episode 127, Nov 8 1963, 25:10 minutes) - The year is 1974 and it is now ten years after the Earth almost managed to completely destroy itself in nuclear war. In a small, isolated community a group of survivors manage to continue their existence with the aid of a mysterious man in a cave whom they have never seen. But their leader Goldsmith seeks out the wisdom of this unseen guardian and returns to present the latest pontifications and prognostications of this guardian. The survivors implicitly follow the prognostications until a group of militia types led by a man named French descends upon the village proclaiming themselves to be the voice of law and order. Wishing to exert their influence over the group, they challenge Goldsmith to reveal the mysterious guardian, which he eventually does with dire consequences to both the guardian and the village. Highlighted by a stoic performance by John Anderson as the self-appointed leader of the community, the appearance of another big name in James Coburn again demonstrates the stature of actor that the show was able to attract. Directed by Alan Crosland, Jr.
This volume really sees a significant improvement in the quality of the transfer across the board, and is easily the best that I have yet seen in the series. Sharpness is generally very good, with very little evidence of lapses at all throughout the DVD. As a result of the improved sharpness, there is also an improvement in the detail on offer here and there is no evidence of the slight murkiness that has hitherto been somewhat inherent in some episodes selected for release. Naturally this is not up to modern film standards across the board but is certainly a welcome improvement in this material. Shadow detail is good. Clarity was also good, with little in the way of grain being noted throughout the transfer. There did not appear to be any significant problems with low level noise in the transfer.
The black and white presentation of these episodes is also a general improvement for the series, with What You Need being especially noteworthy as regards the depth of the tones and the definition in the grey scales. This indeed is the single best looking episode yet in all the DVDs I have reviewed from this series. There in general seems to be a lot more depth to the tones in this collection and the grey scales are in general better than good.
There did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts
in the transfer. Film-to-video artefacts were significantly reduced in
this collection with a marked reduction in the ever-present aliasing which
afflicts the series. Whilst still not completely absent and by no means
unnoticeable, it is nonetheless an obvious improvement here. The obligatory
display of film artefacts is again presented here but on the whole the
episodes are cleaner than most I have yet seen - and once again What
You Need is a standout in this regard.
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 only episode here to have music credits is What You Need, which comes from Van Cleave. Whilst not especially terrific, it is at least better than the omnipresent stock sources used for the other episodes on the DVD.
Another virtually identical audio transfer to the
earlier volumes in the series. Not an awful lot to say really, although
What You Need is blessed with a slightly hissy soundtrack,
especially noticeable during the closing credits. The soundtracks are generally
free from any significant distortion or congestion and this is generally
very decent sounding mono.
|Surround Channel Use|
© Ian Morris (have
a laugh, check out the bio)
7th May, 2001.
|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|