The Twilight Zone originally aired on television from 1959 to 1964 and has often been regarded as one of the best shows on television during that time. It’s one of the few that have truly stood the test of time and have shows that are still watchable today, as evidenced by the annual New Year’s Eve marathon on the Sci-Fi Channel which my family looks forward to. Part of what helps is the fact that the series is in an anthology format, with each episode standing on its own and not dependent on characters or events in preceding episodes.
This format also attracted high-quality actors and those on the way up. Through the years, many actors appeared on the show who would go on to greater fame, but were virtual unknowns at the time. In this volume, Jack Klugman appears for the fourth time in the series and Bill Mumy who appeared three times.
Instead of releasing the series in season-long boxed sets, these volumes were cribbed together around a central theme, sometimes more loosely together than others. This volume centers around people getting what they think they want, and learning by the end of the episode that it’s not what they really want after all. A man who’s learned he’ll die that evening thinks he’s cheated death in One for the Angels. A couple is granted three wishes after releasing a genie in The Man in the Bottle. A gambler deals with haunting memories of the son he has neglected in In Praise of Pip. Finally, in The Arrival, an FAA inspector deals with a mysterious plane that seems to be a haunting image from his past. These episodes are still good ones and don’t have the feeling of being culled from the bottom of what’s available.
At this point in the release, the menus and format change a bit starting with this disc. It’s basically the same but has been crafted a bit differently and continues this way for some time. Overall, the DVD has been produced nicely with the episodes restored to be crisp and clean. There’s no interference or snow and the black and white picture doesn’t appear faded or washed-out. Watching the episodes uncut and totally intact for the first time in years truly makes viewing these volumes worth it.
My main complaint all along continues here. The way this was put together there’s little extras. What is there doesn’t add anything to the series or what’s on the discs. It would have been nice to have any remaining cast and crew that was alive give some commentary or reflections on their experience. If there wasn’t enough material for that, short featurettes about the show and maybe individual episodes would be nice.
One for the Angels
Louis Bookman is a salesman on the streets of New York. Each day he sits and sells his wares to those that pass him by. After a long day, he arrives home to be greeted by Death who tells him that he is to die at midnight. Mr. Bookman convinces Death that he has not accomplished a truly great sales pitch in his life and to hold off until he does so. Mr. Bookman then decides to retire from sales.
However, Death informs him that someone must die at midnight, and targets a neighbor girl that Mr. Bookman is terribly fond of.
Nowadays, we would wonder about a 69 year-old man who hung around a young girl so much and cared about her so much.
The Man in the Bottle
A soft-hearted pawnbroker who’s himself down on his luck and behind on his bills, purchases an ornate bottle from a lady. During an argument about that transaction, Arthur Castle knocks the bottle over and a genie appears to him and his wife. The genie gives them four wishes.
To test what he is telling them, they wish that a cabinet in their shop is fixed. Lo and behold, the formerly cracked glass now looks perfect. The couple wishes for a million dollars. They are generous to their friends and neighbors, and once the tax man takes his share, they are left with $5.
With just 2 wishes left, the genie cautions them about the consequences of their wishes. Arthur wishes to be the head of a country who can’t be voted out of office in contemporary times.
A plane arrives with no passengers, crew, or luggage. It taxis to a perfect stop in front of a hangar. Grant Sheckly, an FAA inspector, is assigned to try and figure out what happened to them.
Various people are questioned, including the controller and ground crew at the tower from the airport they departed, and the controller and crew at the arriving airport. As Sheckly digs deeper, it becomes apparent that when different people look at the plane, they see different things – the color of the interior, numbers on the tail, etc.
In Praise of Pip
Max Phillips awakens one night from a nightmare. He hasn’t been the best father and is somewhat estranged from his son, Pip, serving in Viet Nam. He has spent his life as a gambler and bookie. His guilt over his poor performance as a father leads him to try and be a better man, and he returns money to one of the gamblers. However, this leads to problems with the boss. Max is shot during a confrontation after learning his son has been shot while serving.
He goes to a nearby amusement park, where he has fond memories of time with his son. Meanwhile, a surgeon remarks that if Pip can remain alive for the next hour, then he has a good chance. Back at the amusement park, Max sees a young boy running, and realizes it’s Pip when he was a little boy.
INSIDE THE TWILIGHT ZONE SPECIAL FEATURES:
• Rod Serling Bio
• Season by Season
• History of The Twilight Zone
• Reviews and Credits