DVD Review: The Twilight Zone (The Complete Series)

Does any TVphile really need to be convinced that The Twilight Zone is a show that demands space on their DVD shelf? When TV shows first popped up on home video, fans clamored for the anthology series. The early demand allowed the episodes were put out on Beta videotapes and laserdiscs. The videotapes were put in bookcases that were formerly used to feature the Classic Literature Book Series. It wasn’t a downgrade. Rod Serling and his writers crafted TV episodes that were brilliant short stories. He invented people demanding a spoiler alert when discussing what they saw on TV the night before. Even half a century later, new fans of the show get a buzz out of recounting the amazing twist of “To Serve Men.” The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series contains all 156 episodes that are bound to induct you into the Cult of Serling.

Rod Serling immediately grabbed the audience with his mysterious host duties. “There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man,” Serling narrated. “It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.” The first episode “Where Is Everybody?” touched down into this nebulous space. Earl Holliman (Police Woman) wandered around an abandoned town looking for people. Why was he alone in the world? That’s the big twist that doesn’t need spoiling. “The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street” was a masterpiece of paranoia in suburbia. Claude Akins and his neighbors freaked out when they fear there are aliens among them. “The Mighty Casey” exposed a threat bigger to baseball than steroids.

Second Season featured an awkward time when the network wanted to save production money. A bean counter insisted the show needed to be shot on videotape instead of the expensive 35mm film. Luckily this dumb mandate was canceled after six episodes. The third season was a solid time for the series. They even brought Ray Bradbury on board to adapt his “I Sing the Body Electric.” This short film does a fine job of letting us know about the future role of people and robots. Even with such a great season, the show found itself without a sponsor. This was as good as being canceled. A sponsor was eventually found, not in time to be on the fall schedule. CBS brought it back mid-season as an hour long series. This meant the normally tight 30 minute show was expanded to twice the screen size. The tone had to change since it was too long to keep a viewer entertained with the promise of the big twist at the end. Because of their length, the Fourth Season was rarely shown in reruns or syndication. Fans were excited when the episodes arrived on home video since it was almost like a new show to them. The Fifth Season had the series return in the Fall with the old half hour running time. “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” scared plenty of already nervous flyers when William Shatner sees a creature on an airplane wing. Even with its devoted following, The Twilight Zone was canceled. But this would not be the end of the series. It would become a cult sensation in syndication and home video.

The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series doesn’t include any of the bonus features from the recent Blu-ray releases. The boxset is just right for the fan who isn’t overly fanatical. This is all about the episodes. There are little extra moments that aren’t featured on the episodes running on your TV dial. The first season has Rod Serling introducing the next week’s episode. It’s always best to get your dramatic twist without commercial interruption. The Twilight Zone remains the gold standard to all anthology series that have attempted to make a mark on TV.

The video is 1.37 full frame. The transfers appear to be the restored version from the Blu-ray releases. They bring out the detail so you can really absorb the shocking endings. The audio is Dolby Digital Mono. You shall feel the depth of Rod Serling’s iconic narrations.

No bonus features.

The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series is an essential boxset in your DVD collection.

RLJ and Image Entertainment presents The Twilight Zone The Complete Series. Starring: Rod Serling. Boxset Contents: 156 episodes on 25 DVDs. Released: November 19, 2013.

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