A real gem of a show that’s lasted through the years is The Twilight Zone. First aired more than sixty years ago now, it’s managed to hold up through all those years and stay strong. Many of the stories are timeless and, despite being filmed in black and white, they are still very watchable today.
When initially releasing the DVDs for the series, whoever got the bright idea at the studio to release them in a series of “Volumes” around a loose theme for the episodes on each disc really did the series a disservice. Instead of releasing the series in year-long boxed sets, individual episodes were plucked in no particular order from across various seasons that seemed to have something in common. Since The Twilight Zone is an anthology series and each episode stands on its own, that’s doable to a certain extent. However, in the long run, it just doesn’t work for the series and comes off feeling like the studio was looking for a way to make the most money.
This volume contains four episodes centered around inanimate objects that seem to have a life of their own. In one, a gambler cannot resist a slot machine that seems to be calling his name. In another, department store mannequins come to life in the hours after the store is closed. A ventriloquist has trouble distinguishing his own personality from that which he has given to one of his dummies in the third episode. Finally, the fourth episode on the disc is a well-known one which involves a little girl’s doll coming to life.
The episode The Fever, centered around gambling, was taken from Serling’s own experiences, although his were not to the degree portrayed in that episode. He had celebrated the signing of The Twilight Zone with a weekend in Las Vegas with his wife and the end result formed one of his early episodes of the series.
With the stand-alone ability of each episode, that meant that up and coming stars would appear on the show. This volume features such stars as Cliff Robertson and Telly Savalas. It was well before Savalas’ Kojak days and he actually has hair. Most people will not recognize him.
The restoration job is really good. There’s no snow on the picture or interference. The sound is good without being muddy or having a lot of vibration. The black and white picture is not as good as modern digital pictures, but it’s a terrific restoration job and will please people looking for the episodes uncut and without commercials. However, there are no real extras on the DVD. Everything that’s on here has been done with other volumes in this series. It would have been nice to have more done, with cast and crew that might still be alive providing commentary or other notes on the episodes.
You really can’t go wrong watching The Twilight Zone, even in this format which is a bit lacking. The episodes are all strong and interesting. They hold their own just fine all these years later and my own kids love watching the show. It doesn’t matter that it’s in black and white and some of the ideas aren’t as sophisticated with all the computer-generated effects which would be present in the show if redone today. It’s something the family can enjoy together.
Mr. & Mr. Franklin Gibbs are the winners of a contest where the first prize is an all-expenses paid trip to Las Vegas. Mrs. Gibbs is enjoying herself, but her husband looks down his nose on the whole experience, especially the gambling. A man pretty much forces his hand at putting some coin in a slot machine, and he’s hooked on the sound of the coins clinking out of the machine. That night he thinks he hears the coins calling his name and makes the excuse that he’s putting them back in the machines to get rid of them.
He’s hooked something fierce, even when he has put his last silver dollar into the machine. He imagines a slot machine is chasing him around, even back to his room, although his wife cannot see it. He wants to win back the very large sum of money he ended up losing, and goes to even more desperate measures to do so.
The After Hours
Marsha White is visiting a department store, seemingly on a short errand. An elevator arrives and she alone gets on it, told that it is an express elevator to the ninth floor. As she arrives on that floor, she finds it deserted and somewhat barren with empty display cases. A saleswoman calls out to her.
When Marsha asks for a gold thimble as a gift for her mother, the saleswoman finds her one, apparently the only thing for sale on that floor. Marsha takes it and starts to leave, but hesitates as everything that is happening strikes her as odd. The elevator arrives and she descends to leave the store.
Before she can leave, she notices the thimble is damaged. The elevator lets her off at the third floor so she can complain. While arguing with the manager over where she purchased the thimble, she thinks she spots the saleswoman and calls out to her, only to realize that it’s a mannequin. She is taken to a back office to rest, and when she wakes up the store is closed and she’s there alone, or so she thinks…
A ventriloquist act in a smokey club is a huge hit. Jerry is one of the best ventriloquists around, but he fears what might be happening to him. Reality and imagination might be blending as it seems his dummy, Willy, is developing a mind of his own. Jerry tries switching to a different dummy, and seems to be conquering the hold Willy had on him, until he tries to leave him behind and move on.
Annabelle Streator purchases a doll for her daughter, Christie. Her stepfather, Erich, resents his stepdaughter and doesn’t like it when Annabelle spends money on her. The doll, Talking Tina, is an expensive toy for the little girl. When Erich throws the doll across the room in frustration, it says phrases one would not normally hear from a doll. Of course, when others are around, it repeats quite different phrases. Is Erich imagining it or has the doll got a personality of its own?
INSIDE THE TWILIGHT ZONE BONUS FEATURES:
• Rod Serling Bio
• History of Twilight Zone
• Season by Season
• Reviews & Credits