Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone – Season Two (1960 – 1961/Image Entertainment Blu-ray)
B+ Sound: B- Extras: A Episodes: A-
sales and raves over Season One of The Twilight Zone on Blu-ray, Image has
quickly followed-up with a Season Two
set as strong as the first, creating a TV on Blu-ray series that surpasses the
original Star Trek, which itself was
very rich and strong. For those who
missed the first set, here is the link to our coverage, which includes our
opening discussion of this all-time classic:
Now a big
hit everyone was talking about, the show had set new standards for anthology
shows and it was like nothing on TV or in movie theaters. It was not even like anything radio drama had
produced before despite the many great shows in the genre that were anthology
shows like Suspense and Inner Sanctum. The unique look of the show not only enhanced
the narrative and created its own visual world, it was cinematic and
distinguished itself from all the other such series at the time which suddenly
looked dated or more standard in appearance, more obvious now than ever. Seeing them on Blu-ray in High Definition,
you can see just how much they succeeded.
following list of these next 29 shows (episodes 37 – 65) includes the writer
and director listed, all also include of audio commentary tracks and (usually) isolated
music tracks in every case, plus some radio drama versions and sponsor ads in
many cases and the six episodes shot on videotape are marked with a “V”:
Nine Will Not Return (Rod Serling/Buzz Kulik) – A WWII bomber has crash
landed in the desert and its pilot (Bob Cummings) has lost his memory of
everything and everyone… until he starts seeing ghosts and a futuristic
In A Bottle (Rod Serling/Don Medford) – A couple who run a pawnshop in
dire straits buy a bottle from a poor old woman for $1.00, but when it turns
out to have a genie that will give them four wishes, they think happy days are
back… until they discover it is not quite the find they thought.
Man In A Four Dollar Room (Rod Serling/Douglas Heyes) – A hitman (Joe
Mantell) has been ordered to kill someone, but he decides to not follow orders
from his deadly boos and hides in a cheap motel room, which leads to unexpected
4) A Thing
About Machines (Rod Serling/Dave McDearmon) – Richard Haydn is a writer
on fine foods and prefers the simple life so much, he is not a fan of modern
things or any technology. He hates
mechanicals and machinery, but before he knows it, they start hating him! Henry Beckman also stars in this very amusing
Howling Man (Charles Beaumont/Douglas Heyes) – John Carradine plays a
monk in a monastery who fails to stop an outsider (H.M. Wynant) from unleashing
a man who seems trapped there, but turns out to be Satan, so now this stranger
must find him and put him back.
Of The Beholder (aka The Private World Of Darkness; Rod
Serling/Douglas Heyes) – In one of the series greatest masterpieces, young
Janet Taylor is a freak, ugly, horrible and born that way. She has received several surgeries to correct
this “problem” but this next one will be the last one. If it does not work, she’ll have to be
exterminated, but something even uglier is going on and the truth revealed
amounts to one of the greatest twists in television history. (Note the Eye title is soft because it is a later insert to change the
original title). Donna Douglas and
Maxine Stewart star.
Of Time (Richard Matheson/Richard L. Bare) – This amusing, memorable
episode has William Shatner and Patricia Breslin as a couple who go to a diner
to eat while waiting for their car to be repaired. They start playing with a penny
fortune-telling machine with a Satan head on top and start to find it might
offer more than just time-killing amusement.
Stafford Repp also stars.
Lateness Of The Hour (“V”/Rod Serling/Jack Smight) – In this
masterpiece, Inger Stevens plays Jana, the daughter of parents who live in
isolation with robots, never leaving their house. Jana is slowly getting sick of this and
decides she’ll leave the house for a new life, but her parents (including her
scientist father) want her to stay. When
she tells them the robots must go or she will, the house will be changed
forever. Mary Gregory and John Hoyt also
9) The Trouble
With Templeton (E Jack Newman/Buzz Kulik) – Brian Aherne is the title
character, an actor who lives in the past, circa 1927. He has a fight with his stage director and
leaves, then suddenly finds himself in an alternate 1927 he was not expected. Pippa Scott and Sydney Pollack also star.
Most Unusual Camera (Rod Serling/John Rich) – A married couple of
thieves are about to throw out a camera as worthless when they accidentally
discover it can predict the future.
Seeing it as a new goldmine that can allow them to retire, they apply their
old petty practices and are about to see their plans play out differently than
they ever expected.
11) Night Of The Meek (“V”/Rod Serling/Jack Smight) – This
masterpiece has Art Carney as an alcoholic department store Santa Claus, driven
more to the bottle because he cannot help the poor people around him, but when
he finds a bag in the trash that offers anything but, he is determined to make
the holiday a great one for all in need until his boss gets in the way. John Fiedler and Val Avery also star.
(Rod Serling/Douglas Heyes) – A man has run over a young girl with his wagon
while drunk in a desperate western town with little to offer and will be hanged
when a stranger shows up and offers the father a way to save his
about-to-be-lynched son with a “magic dust” bag… for what little money he has
left. The father agrees, but it is
worthless, until it turns out to have contents the con man never dreamed he has
sold. John Alonso, Thomas Gomez and John
There (Rod Serling/David Orrick McDearmon) – Russell Johnson plays a
man who has the chance to stop the assassination of President Lincoln when he
suddenly finds himself transported to the past, but his tampering with history
will have unexpected consequences. John
Gavin and J. Pat O’Malley also star.
Whole Truth (“V”/Rod Serling/James Sheldon) – A used car dealer (Jack
Carson) is a real rip-off artist who gets his come-uppance when he buys a car
from a man who needs the money, but gets ripped off. However, the man tells the dealer it is not
just any car, which is brushed off until he finds out he must tell the truth on everything he does, including everything he
sells! Arte Johnson also stars.
15) The Invaders
(Richard Matheson/Douglas Heyes) – Agnes Moorehead is an old woman who lives a
simple life alone in a backwoods place when she hears a mechanical noise that
turns out be a spaceship, which starts a struggle neither side will ever
forget. This nearly wordless masterwork
is another classic of the series and remains as impressive as ever.
16) A Penny
For Your Thoughts (George Clayton Johnson/James Sheldon) – Dick York is
a man who buys a newspaper and is surprised when the coin he uses as payment
stands on its side. He is then shocked
when he can suddenly hear what everyone is thinking. This terrific episode is one of the most
underrated in the series and is worth revisiting.
(“V”/Rod Serling/Jack Smight) – Barbara Nichols is a dancer who keep having a
cryptic dream that she will land up in a room labeled with the number of the
title, which is the morgue. Her doctor
(Jonathan Harris) tells her there is nothing to worry about, but his diagnosis
turns out to be wrong and then some.
Odyssey Of Flight 33 (Rod Serling/Justus Addiss) – A jet finds itself
in a time warp that it cannot seem to get out of, but they had better figure
out how to get back before they run out of gas or they’ll be finished.
Dingle, The Strong (Rod Serling/John Brahm) – Burgess Meredith is a
passive man sick of being belittled and unhappy when an alien gives him
super-strength, but his newfound power and joy may soon backfire when the
visitors are more interested in their experiments than him. Don Rickles also stars.
(“V”/Charles Beaumont/Buzz Kulik) – Sick of TV and bored by the new, Ed Lindsay
(Dean Jagger) turns to his old radio and instead of the latest programs, gets
very old ones that only he can hear… then more surprises star happening. Arch Johnson, Robert Emhart, Bob Crane and J.
Pat O’Malley also star.
Prime Mover (Charles Beaumont/Richard L. Bare) – Buddy Ebsen plays a
man who has telekinetic powers that he keeps secret, but when he has to save
people in a car accident, he uses them.
When his partner in the café they own finds out, he talks Buddy into
visiting Vegas so they can make enough money to be comfortable, which Buddy
agrees to until they get a comfortable amount.
When his partner gets greedy and wants much more, Buddy decides to try
Distance Call (“V”/Charles Beaumont & William Idelson/James Sheldon)
– Bill Mumy (in one of several interesting series appearances) is happy when
his grandmother gives him a toy phone, but less so when she passes away soon
after. However, he starts having serious
near-accidents and it turns out grandma want him dead so he can join her in her
Hundred Yards Over The Rim (Rod Serling/Buzz Kulik) – Cliff Robertson
is a family man from the mid-1800s who enters a time warp by simply walking
over a hill and finds himself in 1961, shocked by what he sees. Will he get back to his family? Will he want to go back? Can he go back? Another underrated episode, it also stars
John Astin and Edward C. Platt.
Rip Van Winkle Caper (Rod Serling/Justus Addiss) – This masterpiece is
about greed and gold, as four men rob a big gold shipment and estimate that if
they go into hypersleep for 100 years, they’ll wake up four of the richest men
in the world, so they take their gold into the desert. When they wake up, they plan on driving back
and cashing in. However, their wild
scheme will not work out as easily as they expected, especially when they start
to turn on each other. Simon Oakland,
Oscar Beregi, Lew Gallo and John Mitchum star.
25) The Silence
(Rod Serling/Boris Sagal) – Wealthy Colonel Archie Taylor (Franchot Tone) bets
loudmouth Jamie Tennyson (Liam Sullivan) that if he can be quiet for a year,
he’ll give him $500,000 (1961 U.S.)
and Tennyson agrees to be sealed in Taylor’s
basement. However, Taylor is up to no good and Tennyson has a
surprise of his own. Jonathan Harris
Play (Charles Beaumont/John Brahm) – A man on death row can see the
future and tells everyone the world they are in is a dream, but they don’t
believe him until he proves it. Free for
now, he starts seeing darker events and there may be nothing anyone can do to
stop them. Dennis Weaver, Bernie
Hamilton and Harry Townes star.
Mind & The Matter (Rod Serling/Buzz Kulik) – A bitter man (Shelley
Berman) who hates people gets a book on the power of the human mind, which
allows him the power to make people disappear.
He starts using this power immediately, but this will come with a catch. Jack Grinnage also stars.
The Real Martian Please Stand Up? (Rod Serling/Montgomery Pittman) –
This great episode takes place in a bad snow storm. An unknown flying craft of some kind has
crash-landed and the police are on it, but instead of finding the ship, they
find footprints that lead to a diner where its occupant has walked to. However, there are many people there and it
could be any of them. The visitor has shuffled
into a group of strangers from a tour bus who are stopping to eat at the diner. When the police start asking questions, no
one can remember who they rode with. Can
they find out who it is before it is too late?
John Hoyt, Morgan Jones, Jack Elam and Barney Phillips star.
Obsolete Man (Rod Serling/Elliot Silverstein) – Romney Wordsworth
(Burgess Meredith again, great again) is an educated librarian marked for
extermination in a totalitarian dictatorship because he is too smart. His executioners intend to broadcast his
death to make an example out of him so they can continue to rule by fear, but
Romney has a surprise for them no one will lever forget. This great episode also stars Fritz Weaver as
the dictatorial chancellor.
6, 11, 14 and 24 are the particular standouts, but this is about as strong a
season as the first, with some more risks that work and a few that don’t. However, part of the greatness of the show is
that is was willing to experiment and it is very fair to say that the
videotaped episodes were very much ahead of what TV in the U.S. (Dan Curtis’
taped telefilms and Dark Shadows
series) and U.K. (Roald Dahl’s Tales Of The
Unexpected and Brian Clemens’
Thriller among others) would deliver as many genre programs used videotape
over film and managed to put atmosphere and a look into them that most HD genre
productions today lack. I find the
videotaped shows all striking for their time and hold up well despite their
aged look. Twilight Zone may have some shows that have dated in some ways, but
overall, it is a classic that just gets better with age.
black and white 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image is again absolutely
amazing throughout on each print of every single episode, except for the six
videotaped shows in 1080i, shot on early reel-to-reel 2” analog NTSC tape. Image has decided to present them like they
were in HD, so we get a few minutes of film footage at 1080p, than the majority
of those shows are presented in their limited definition glory. However, note the lighting and approach are
the same as the filmed shows, resulting in a consistent look despite the many
flaws (haloing, limited detail) that format had.
2.0 sound once again comes in original Mono and an “enhanced” version that is
essentially more stereophonic. The
playback in both cases are very good, all coming from the original magnetic
sound masters also preserved and in good shape, but I preferred the “enhanced”
versions because they sound cleaner, clearer and allow the exceptional music
scores, Bernard Herrmann’s brilliant & creepy first theme song for the
series, sound effects and dialogue come through. The result is as good as any
non-multi-channel film production of the 1950s and will even impress
audiophiles. Additional scores are by
the likes of Jerry Goldsmith, Fred Steiner and Jeff Alexander are also in PCM
extras debuting on this Blu-ray set include 25 new audio commentary tracks, 15
radio drama remakes of these classics, interviews with actors Joseph Ruskin and
H. M. Wynant, separate vintage audio interviews with director of photography
George T. Clemens and makeup artist William Tuttle and an episode of the TV
version of the radio drama anthology classic Suspense “Nightmare at Ground Zero” written by Rod Serling that shows the
style he would perfect on this show. It
was shot live and this is a videotaped/kinescope low def presentation that
includes some filmed elements.
imported from the upgraded DVD set includes a paper foldout inside the Blu-ray
case with technical information and very brief episode guide, audio
commentaries previous issued on DVD by actors including Donna Douglas, Don Rickles,
Bill Mumy, Cliff Robertson, Dennis Weaver & William Idelson, vintage audio
recollections with directors Douglas Heyes & Buzz Kulik, Maxine Stewart,
Robert Serling and writer George Clayton Johnson, stills, Production Slate and Rod
Serling promos for ‘Next Week's’ Show.
of the series is now available on these terrific later-season sets now on
Blu-ray and you can read more about it at these links:
- Nicholas Sheffo