Review: The Twilight Zone Season 1 Blu-ray

The Twilight Zone: Season 1 Blu-ray boxSTUDIO: Image Entertainment | DIRECTOR: various | CAST: Rod Serling, Burgess Meredith, Martin Landau
9/14/2010 | PRICE: Blu-ray $99.98
BONUSES: commentaries, audio interviews, isolated music soundtracks, more
SPECS: Not rated | 928 min. | 1.33:1 | Dolby Digital Mono | English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Show | Audio | Video | Overall

Twilight Zone: Season 1 TV show sceneThe original The Twilight Zone: Season 1 arrived on Blu-ray in a five-disc set that, like its Definitive Edition DVD predecessor, is packed with hours of material.

The TV show’s first season of 35 episodes set the bar for the series’ five-year run, presenting such indelible episodes as the Cold War allegory “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street,” the nostalgic “Walking Distance,” “The After Hours” (who can forget those spooky mannequins?), “A Stop at Willoughby” and my personal favorite, “A World of His Own.” Sure, there were a few clunkers, but very few — “The Chaser,” about a love potion, comes to mind.

The set also includes the original unaired version of “Where is Everybody,” featuring a narrator other than the usual Rod Serling.

The episodes look good, boasting excellent clarity and good contrast, along with Dolby Digital mono audio, but the quality’s not a significant improvement over the 2004 DVD release (which had already been remastered).

The biggest attraction for the Blu-ray set is the bonus material. About 80% of the episodes have some embellishment, frequently two or more. The special features range from isolated music tracks on almost every episode; vintage radio dramas of the episode; and audio interviews with producer Buck Houghton and others.

The set also offers 19 commentary tracks from Twilight Zone impresario Marc Scott Zicree, author of The Twilight Zone Companion, and a host of others, including film historians, music experts, contemporary screen and TV writers and actors Martin Landau (Rounders), Kevin McCarthy (Just Cause), Rod Taylor (The Birds) and Earl Holliman (TV’s NightMan). Most interesting is the commentary by Serling himself, which is a series of Q&As with students at Sherwood Oaks College. Serling, who’s quick to criticize his own work, is a joy to listen to.

Disc five in the set contains more extras. These are of the what-was-available variety, but it’s all good stuff, including the rare unofficial pilot episode “The Time Element,” which helped sell the series to the network, a compilation of Serling’s Emmy speeches and Zicree’s 1978 audio interview with Twilight Zone cinematographer George T. Clemens.

A handful of features from the prior DVD didn’t make the Blu-ray cut, including a Serling blooper and a clip from a short-lived game show he hosted called Liar’s Club.

But, the Blu-ray still has much to plow, and even Twilight Zone devotees will be hard-pressed to cover it all. But the commentary tracks alone add a new dimension to episodes that fans will have long ingrained in their memory.


Buy or Rent The Twilight Zone: Season 1
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About Gary

Gary Frisch has been contributing laserdisc, DVD and Blu-ray reviews to Video Business magazine, Home Theater Magazine, Home Theater Buyer’s Guide, Stereophile Guide to Home Theater and the DVD Guide for more than 14 years. He still has a collection of more than 40 laserdiscs, along with a working auto-reverse LD player, but thinks Blu-ray is da bomb and anxiously awaits the original Star Wars trilogy so he can buy it for the fifth time.