The Twilight Zone was an anthology show created by Rod Serling back in the late 1950s, based on his writing experience at Playhouse 90. Serling felt constricted by the demands of the network, censors, and sponsors and correctly figured that he could get away with a lot more if he couched it in a science-fiction setting. Many of the episodes of the series contained social and political commentary which the censors didn’t pick up on right away.
The DVD release of the series was produced in a strange way. Each of the volumes so far has contained four episodes of the original series loosely tied together around a central theme. This twelfth volume seems to be about people getting something they think they want, need, or desire with all their heart and learning it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
One episode has an aging gunslinger receiving the gift of perfect marksmanship from a visiting peddler. The second has an aging actress desiring to recapture the glamour present in her younger life. The third has a couple and their daughter surrounding themselves with humanoid robots to give them everything their hearts desire, even companionship. The final episode has an elderly couple contemplating trading in their deteriorating bodies for youthful, energetic ones.
The episodes hold up well even all these years later. They aren’t so set in the time period of the late 1950s and early 1960s that they seem unreal. My kids thoroughly enjoy the show and wait for the twist that’s thrown in at the end. It’s something they will watch whenever they catch it on television and the ability to watch the shows uncut and without commercials is something they really enjoy.
Many famous or soon-to-be-famous actors and actresses appeared in the series through the years. Because each episode was its own self-contained story, the cast changed each week so actors weren’t tied down to the show the way they were with other television shows. However, many actors did appear in the series multiple times. Actors appearing in this volume include Martin Landau, Ida Lupino, and Martin Balsam.
The restoration of the episodes is good. The picture is really good, especially considering the show was black and white and the age of the prints. The sound is clear and unlike other shows I have seen, I didn’t notice a hissing or background noise on the discs.
My main complaint is how they have been packaged. As with all of the volumes, I think the studio would have served fans of the series better by packaging these in season-long boxed sets along with more bonus material. That’s my other complaint. The so-called BONUS MATERIAL is hardly unique to each volume and seems as if it’s a cursory add-on, rather than something put there with a good deal of thought. Why not round up surviving members of the cast and crew and have them give commentary? Why not some featurettes about the seasons or some of the more memorable episodes and the stories behind them?
That’s not to say these aren’t nice to watch, but I wouldn’t purchase them myself until the season-long sets are released. In the meantime, renting these discs is a nice way to view the series. This disc has some terrific stories on it that really make me stop and think about getting what you wish for in life. Sometimes, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Hmm, just like this release of The Twilight Zone on DVD.
Mr. Denton on Doomsday
Al Denton is the town drunk in a western town of about a hundred years ago or so. After being tormented by the town bully, he passes out drunk. When he wakes, he finds a pistol alongside him. Turns out he used to be quite the gunslinger. If only he could stay away from the bottle…
He gets himself together enough to disarm the bully who’s been tormenting him, but he reclaimed talent draws the attention of a young, hotshot gunslinger who challenges Denton to a duel. A visiting peddler gives Denton a potion that will allow him to regain his marksmanship for ten seconds. Denton grips the bottle of the elixir as he prepares to face his youthful opponent, who has a bottle of his own in his hand.
The Sixteen Millimeter Shrine
Barbara Trenton is an aging film star. She spends her days watching the movies she made when she was younger in a private screening room in her home. Her agent, Danny Weiss, arranges for a part in a film, but Barbara feels the bit part is beneath her. An old leading man comes to visit, but ends up making things worse rather than better.
Finally, she closes herself off in the screening room with the movie running. When her maid comes to visit the next morning, she screams upon looking at the movie screen. Mr. Weiss comes in later and sees for himself just what happened to Barbara Trenton.
The Lateness of the Hour
The Lorens live a nice life. Dr. William Loren is a skilled inventor and has created a series of robots that look human and make their lives a lot easier. However, their daughter, Jana, doesn’t like living in the confines of the mansion with only the robots for companionship. She wants to go to the outside world and experience what more there is to life. She feels stifled in her current life and issues an ultimatum to her parents. Either the robotic servants go, or she does.
Once her parents have complied with her wishes, Jana speaks of traveling the world and one day meeting a man and having children. Only her parents don’t seem to share her enthusiasm.
An elderly couple, John and Marie Holt, visits a company that will allow them to trade in their aging bodies for younger ones. However, the cost is twice what they planned on. To get the money, John tries to play poker and fails miserably. The man who took all his money has some sympathy and allows him to win the original $5,000 back.
John decides to go ahead with the trade-in for himself, figuring he can then earned he money for his wife. He knows she will understand – she always has.
INSIDE THE TWILIGHT ZONE SPECIAL FEATURES:
• Rod Serling Bio
• Season by Season
• History of The Twilight Zone
• Reviews and Credits