DVD Review: The Twilight Zone (The Complete Fifth Season)

How did The Twilight Zone only last five seasons? It felt like it must have lasted a decade since it has been ingrained in pop culture. Alfred Hitchcock Presents lasted a decade. While Hitchcock’s anthology series was fine, Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone proved to be the gold standard that’s been repeated endlessly on UHF, PBS, SyFy (back when it was SciFi) and ME-TV. The reruns still pack a punch after half a century. The fifth season was a true return to form since the network allowed Serling restore the episode length to 30 minutes long instead of an hour. This time reduction allowed the stories to get back to the lean, mean shocking ending weight. What brought around the end? CBS felt the show was too costly. ABC wanted Serling to bring it over, but only if it became Witches, Warlocks and Werewolves. Serling turned off the lights rather than deal with running a spooktacular series. The Twilight Zone: The Complete Fifth Season wraps up the legendary series on a high note.

“In Praise of Pip” has Jack Klugman (Quincy) enter a hall of mirrors after discovering his son his injured and dying on the other side of the world. In the midst of his grief, he stumbles into a hall of mirrors and sees his son as a young child (Lost In Space‘s Billy Mumy). Is it really his son? “Steel” predicts the future of movies about fighting robots. In this case Lee Marvin (The Big Red One) is the manager of an older model robot eager for one more shot. “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” is one of the legends of the season. William Shatner (Star Trek) has a fear of flying. He’s been working on overcoming it before this big flight. But he’s about to have his senses tested with a mysterious passenger. This one was written by the great Richard Matheson (The Night Stalker). Director Richard Donner would go on to make Lethal Weapon) and “Danger Island” on The Banana Splits. “Last Night of a Jockey” lets Mickey Rooney go nuts as a race track rider accused of doping his horse. He won’t take the charge. Telly Savalas (Kojak) learns the price of creepy toys in “Living Doll.” His daughter’s new doll has a message for him that sends him over the top.

“The Old Man in the Cave” takes us to the 10th anniversary of World War III. James Coburn (In Like Flint) and survivors are waiting to see if a stash of canned foods is safe. Some don’t want to wait for a mysterious man in a cave to give his verdict. “Probe 7, Over and Out” crash lands Richard Basehart (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea) on a distant planet. He gets bad news from Harold Gould (The Dean of Thespians) that Earth is in the middle of a nuclear war so nobody will be able to rescue him. Can Basehart get along with the locals? Ed Wynn is a man who swears he’ll drop dead if his grandfather clock stops ticking in “”Ninety Years Without Slumbering.” “The Long Morrow” shoots an astronaut into space. He’s kept in suspended animation for nearly 40 years, when he wakes up back on Earth, he has to adjust to being so young while his peers are elderly.”Number 12 Looks Just Like You” takes us to a future where kids become adults thanks to a transformation process. Everyone gets to pick from a limited model selection. This is what they do to stars of various Bravo Real Housewives series. A women keeps getting strange phone calls in “Night Call.” Is she the victim of the Jerky Boys?

“An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” isn’t a proper episode. Serling got the rights to a Canadian short film based on Ambrose Bierce’s story. The original short film would win the Oscar. This is a great adaptation for viewing in case you have to read the short story for an English class. “What’s in the Box” lets a couple see their lives on the TV. Today we call that Duck Dynasty. “The Masks” will make you scared of Halloween disguises. “I Am the Night—Color Me Black” deals with the hanging of a man for killing a bigot in self-defense. Ivan Dixon (Hogan’s Heroes) is a minister who won’t be quiet about the impending execution. “Caesar and Me” is an evil ventriloquist dummy in the hands of Jackie Cooper. A hungover couple wakes up to find themselves in a strange house in an even strangers neighborhood in “Stopover in a Quiet Town.” “The Encounter” was kept out of syndication for the longest time since it dealt with Neville Brand (The Untouchables) and George Takei (Star Trek) fighting over Pearl Harbor. “The Brain Center at Whipple’s” lets Richard Deacon (The Dick Van Dyke Show) improve his factory with the help of robots. But why should robots stop on the factory floor? “The Bewitchin’ Pool” is the final episode. A brother and sister find a mysterious relative under the water.

The Twilight Zone might have come to an end as a network series, but it quickly gained a loyal cult following on syndicated TV for all the right reasons. The stories have just the right amount of twist to surprise the most jaded of viewers. The performances are top notch so even if you know the twist, you want to experience the episode repeatedly. It’s not unusual to just marathon episodes on a rainy day. The Twilight Zone: The Complete Fifth Season returns the show to the tight 30 minute length that allows it to shock without too much pacing to hit the hour mark. The show went out on a high note that continues to marvel and sustain.

“In Praise of Pip,” “Steel,” “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” “A Kind of a Stopwatch,” “The Last Night of a Jockey,” “Living Doll,” “The Old Man in the Cave,” “Uncle Simon,” “Probe 7 Over and Out,” “The 7th Is Made Up of Phantoms,” “Ninety Years Without Slumbering,” “Ring-A-Ding Girl,” “You Drive,” “The Long Morrow,” “The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross,” “Number Twelve Looks Just Like You,” “Black Leather Jackets,” “Night Call,” “From Agnes, with Love,” “Spur of the Moment,” “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” “Queen of the Nile,” “What’s in the Box,” “The Masks,” “I Am the Night Color Me Black,” “Sounds and Silences,” “Caesar and Me,” “The Jeopardy Room,” “Stopover in a Quiet Town,” “The Encounter,” “Mr. Garrity and the Graves,” “The Brain Center at Whipple’s,” “Come Wander with Me,” “The Fear” and “The Bewitchin’ Pool.”

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers appear to be from the restored high definition masters that were used for the recent Blu-rays. There’s a richness to the black and white images. The audio is Dolby Digital Mono. The levels are just right for Rod Serling’s introductions and closings.

No bonus features.

The Twilight Zone: The Complete Fifth Season wraps up the legendary series with quite a few iconic episodes. The return to 30 minutes brings back the original tone of the show. This collection doesn’t have any bonus features so it’s perfect for fans of the show who don’t crave bells and whistles. They just want to sit back and binge on episodes to get their Rod Serling fix.

RLJ Entertainment presents The Twilight Zone: The Complete Fifth Season. Starring: Jack Klugman, Jackie Cooper, James Coburn, Lee Marvin, Martin Landau, Mickey Rooney, Shelley Fabares, Telly Savalas, William Shatner and George Takei. Boset Contents: 36 episodes on 5 DVDs. Released: September 3, 2013.

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