Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone – Season Three (1961 – 1962/Image Entertainment Blu-ray)
B+ Sound: B- Extras: A Episodes: B+
The Season One and Season Two Blu-ray sets of the original The Twilight Zone have easily become the best TV on Blu-ray set of
television series to date, from the amazing picture quality to the packaging to
the extras content. That the show is an
enduring classic does not hurt, but it sets the standard for how great TV on
Blu-ray can be and how all the great series should be handled.
who missed our coverage of the first sets, here are the links to our coverage,
which includes our opening discussion of this all-time classic in the Season One set:
was not easy to maintain a high quality standard due to the weekly grind of TV,
Serling and his other writers, filmmakers, actors and collaborators managed to
keep the show as top rate as possible and this season also produced its share
of classics. Their experiment/cost
cutting trail with videotaping on six shows the previous season was seen as an
idea that was best shelved, so the remaining shows were all shot in 35mm black
and white film.
list of these next 37 shows (episodes 66 – 102) includes the writer and
director listed, plus all include audio commentary tracks and (usually)
isolated music tracks in every case and some radio drama versions and sponsor
ads in many cases:
(Montgomery Pittman) – A new World War has caused the annihilation of the
population of the planet, but the planet is somehow in tact and the casualties
include almost all of the armies who fought.
The exceptions are two opponents (Elizabeth Montgomery and Charles
Bronson) from opposite sides. Will they
follow to the death?
Arrival (Rod Serling/Boris Sagal) – An airplane keeps its flight
schedule exactly, but there is one problem; the passengers, pilot and crew are
Shelter (Rod Serling/Lamont Johnson) – A local doctor (Larry Gates) is
the only one in his area taking seriously the idea of building and maintaining
a bomb shelter, until he is having a birthday party with neighbors and the
radio announces a nuclear alert.
Suddenly everyone wants in, but he only has room for his family and a
more personal conflict begins!
Passerby (Rod Serling/Elliot Silverstein) – A widowed woman (Joanna
Linville) is waiting for her late husband’s remains to arrive and starts
talking to other soldiers who happen to show up, then more and more of them
also show up and something is definitely wrong.
James Gregory also stars.
5) A Game
Of Pool (George Clayton Johnson/A.E. Houghton) – Jessie Cardiff (Jack
Klugman) is a pool player who seems unbeatable and is getting tired of winning
all the time and is sick of comparisons to the late “Fats” Brown (Jonathan
Winters), so he wishes aloud that he could play him… and “Fats” shows up! A great classic that remains one of the most
discussed and analyzed shows of all.
6) The Mirror
(Rod Serling/Don Medford) – Peter Falk is a Fidel Castro-like dictator who has
taken power of his country, but his coup may be unstable as the large mirror in
his office keeps showing his people conspiring to kill him. He starts killing them off slowly, which
leads down to a road he will never forget.
Grave (Montgomery Pittman) – Lee Marvin, James Best, Strother Martin
and Lee Van Cleef star in this creepy twist on the Western in which a gunman named
Miller (Marvin) goes looking for an enemy (Richard Geary) in a town where the
townspeople have killed said enemy. They
also tell him he made a promise that if Miller visited his grave, he would
reach out of it and get him. Martin just
may dare and test him!
A Good Life (Rod Serling/Jim Sheldon) – In this classic, a small town
that is very, very peaceful has a dark secret to hide: be nice or something bad
will happen to you and its resident monster will get you, so don’t make him
unhappy. This menace turns out to be a
young boy (Bill Mumy) with ultra-telekinetic powers. Cloris Leachman, John Larch and Jeanne Bates
Revisited (Rod Serling/Don Medford)
– Oscar Bergeri Jr. is a former Nazi, still free, who decides to visit one of
the death camps and is surprised to find out it is populated… by those he
helped to exterminate.
Midnight Sun (Rod Serling/Anton Leader) – Lois Nettleton and Betty
Garde play neighbors who have to deal with a crisis as the earth slowly spins
out of its orbit and towards the sun in this masterpiece show that continues to
influence many, including Spike Lee on Do
The Right Thing and remains one of the most talked-about shows ever. Ned Glass and Jason Wingreen also star.
11) Still Valley (Rod Serling/Jim Sheldon) – It is
the time of The Civil War and a Confederate Soldier (Gary Merrill) shows up in
a town and is shocked to find Yankee soldiers frozen into place. A mysterious man (Vaughn Taylor) explains to
him that he has the power to help the South win. All they have to do is sign a special
contract with Satan!
12) The Jungle
(Charles Beaumont/William Claxton) – A man (John Dehner) involved with a
hydroelectric project in Africa returns from his latest hunt to rest after a
good time, only to find out a voodoo curse placed on him by a witch doctor
might be more potent than he expected.
Upon A Time (Richard Matheson/Norman Z. McLeod) – A clever episode with
Buster Keaton about time travel rendered in part in the silent movie style as
Keaton is a janitor in the late 19th Century who thinks the future
will be a utopia. When he finds out his
boss has a time travel helmet, he uses it and finds himself in the year 1962,
but he is not happy with the results. A
1962 professor (Stanley Adams) wants to “help” him when they meet and he
realizes what is going on, but he has plans of his own. Jesse White (ironically playing a repairman,
a role he did for a washing machine in a famous series of TV ads) also stars.
Characters On Search Of An Exit (Rod Serling/Lamont Johnson) – Five
different people (dressed as generic characters) are trapped in a room and
cannot figure out how they got there, remember much or how to get out. Murray Matheson and William Windom star.
Quality Of Mercy (Rod Serling/Buzz Kulik) – This WWII tale has an
American solider (Dean Stockwell) determined to kill Japanese Imperialist
troops with extreme prejudice, an idea held by a Japanese solider as a big
battle in the Philippines rages on.
Leonard Nimoy and Albert Salami also star.
In The Dark (George Clayton Johnson/Lamont Johnson) – This terrific
tale stars Gladys Cooper as a lonely woman who will not leave her apartment home,
despite the fact that is it about to go under the wrecking ball, but here real
fear is that Mr. Death is waiting for her.
A young police officer (Robert Redford) tries to help, but she may be
More Pallbearer (Rod Serling/Lamont Johnson) – An angry man (Joseph
Russman) wants revenge on three people form his past and gets them to a bomb
shelter 300-feet below a skyscraper to humiliate them. He fakes a nuclear attack and tries to make
them beg him to let them in, but they could care less, then...
Man’s Shoes (Charles Beaumont/Montgomery Pittman) – Gangsters kill one
of their well-dressed own and dump him in an alley like trash. A bum grabs his shoes and tries them on. When they fit, he figures it is his lucky
day, but the shoes have the spirit of the betrayed gangster, who quickly takes
over his body and seeks revenge for the killing.
Hunt (Earl Hamner/Harold Schuster) – An old man (Arthur Hunnicut) who
is also a widow goes hunting with his dog and after trying to save his dog,
both land up dead. As he wonders down a
path, he is offered a place to stay, but when he is told his dog is not
welcome, he starts to wonder why and has to make a vital moral decision. Hamner later created The Waltons and this classic may be his single best work.
With Rance McGrew (Rod Serling/Christian Nyby II) – Larry Blyden is the
title character, a fake TV show gunman who pretends to vanquish bad guys with
his six-shooter with total ease, but this awakens the spirits of dangerous
gunfighters who are not happy with him at all.
Suddenly, he finds himself in a real version of one of his episodes
challenged by the real life and very furious Jesse James.
The Can (George Clayton Johnson/Lamont Johnson) – Remade by Steven
Spielberg in Twilight Zone – The Movie,
this more realistic, stark, superior original version has one of the actual
residents (Ernest Truex) suggest that playing the game of the title will return
them to their youth, but in much richer terms.
John Marley also stars.
Piano In The House (Earl Hamner/David Greene) – A stuffy theater critic
(Barry Morse of The Fugitive, The Adventurer and Space: 1999) is so crass, he even criticizes his wife (Joan
Hackett) when his birthday gift to his wife is a player piano, because she has
no 88-key talent. Then the piano itself
turns out to have its own special ability, to play the player by making them
confess their feelings about everything.
Last Rites Of Jeff Myrtlebank (Montgomery Pittman) – James Best plays
the title character, who suddenly comes to life after being considered dead and
laid out for burial. The townspeople
think Satan has something to do with it.
Serve Man (Rod Serling/Richard L. Bare) – This all-time classic episode
plays with the dichotomy of whether aliens visiting will have good or bad
intentions as nine-foot Kanamit (Richard Kiel) and company come in peace to
help out earthlings and even offer tours of outer space to bring the two
species together. But the book Kanamit
bares has a secret all its own. Lloyd
Bochner and Susan Cummings also star.
25) The Fugitive
(Charles Beaumont/Richard L. Bare) – J. Pat O’Malley is an old man with special
secret powers who is friendly to the neighborhood and its children, protecting
them, but when a physically impaired girl is in danger, he may have to reveal
his secret powers to save a little girl’s life.
Nancy Kulp (Beverly Hillbillies)
Girl Lost (Richard Matheson/Paul Stewart) – A six-year-old female disappears,
except for her voice, so it is up to her dog to find and save her. However, the dog follows and they apparently
have found a gateway to another dimension.
Or Persons Unknown (Charles Beaumont/John Brahm) – When a man (Richard
Long) wakes up and finds no one he knows recognizes him including his wife, he
is put away for mental illness, but escapes to prove that he is who he says and
to find out what has happened.
28) The Little
People (Rod Serling/William Claxton) – Astronauts find a planet
inhabited by very tiny people the size of action figures, leading one of them
to go mad with power and decides to stay behind to rule the planet. Of course, playing God will come with a
catch. Claude Akins also stars.
O’Clock (Rod Serling/Lamont Johnson) – Oliver Crangle (Theodore Bikel)
is a conspiracy theorist and is out to prove it, driving everyone nuts and
hating everyone in the process. Then he
gets the chance to shrink everyone evil to only two-feet tall, but when the
clock hits that time…
& Frisby (Rod Serling/ Lamont Johnson) – Andy Devine is the
tall-tale telling Frisby, a man who exaggerates everything, so when aliens show
up and he tells them how great he is, they kidnap him as the epitome of the
human species. Boy, are they in for a
31) The Trade-Ins
(Rod Serling/Elliot Silverstein) – An older couple in the future decide to go
to a corporation to get two youthful new bodies, but they have to decide what
to do when they only have enough money for one of them to get the treatment.
32) The Gift
(Rod Serling/Allan Parker) – An alien in human form visits earth with a good
gift for humans, but is killed by a policeman after accidentally killing
another policeman upon arrival. So,
about that gift…
33) The Dummy
(Rod Serling/Abner Bibberman) – Cliff Robertson is a ventriloquist that has a
bizarre relationship with his marionette, one that makes him want to get rid of
his wooden partner… who will not go away!
Man’s Fancy (Richard Matheson/John Brahm) – A newlywed couple visits
his late mother’s home to get his belongings, but he suddenly starts to act
regressive and the results are oddly, suddenly inescapable. Alex Nicol and Phyllis Thaxter star.
Sing The Body Electric (Ray Bradbury/James Shelton) – This superior
version of the great Bradbury story has a widowed man order an electric
nanny/grandmother (Josephine Hutchinson) to take care of his children who all
love her save Ann (Veronica Cartwright) who resents her. The result is another classic.
Is Coming (Rod Serling/Christian Nyby II) – Jesse White is the title
character, an inept guardian angel out to help the unusual Miss Agnes Grep
(Carol Burnett) in what turns out to be an unsold TV pilot, but a Serling
script that fits right into the series.
John Fiedler and Donna Douglas also star.
Changing Of The Guard (Rod Serling/Robert Ellis Miller) – The great
Donald Pleasance plays an old teacher being pushed into retirement from the
boy’s school he worked at for decades.
Bringing a gun back to end his life at the school, all those he taught
return at the age he taught them at to remind him who he really is and what he
It is a
very strong season with some new talent added to the strong talent already
working on the show for a while and the result is a very distinct season, but
some risks might not pay off as much as was hoped for and other parts of some
of the shows have dated a bit. Still, so
much here is striking and memorable that it is nothing short of remarkable and
with playback quality like this, will remain so for decades and longer to come.
black and white 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image is once again absolutely
amazing throughout on each print of every single episode considering the age of
shows. There is some grain, but I
noticed by this season that it was a little more refined and so, the image is
becoming a little clearer relatively. I
can add that it definitely can compete with most of the 1.33 X 1 black and
white HD images we have seen on most such feature film releases on Blu-ray.
2.0 sound once again comes in original Mono and an “enhanced” version that is
essentially more stereophonic. The
playback in both cases continue to be 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 remains as good as any
non-multi-channel film production of the 1950s and will even impress
audiophiles. Additional scores by the
likes Herrmann, Van Cleave, Fred Steiner and more are also in solid PCM sound.
extras debuting on this Blu-ray set include 19 New Audio Commentaries once
again and often (to the benefit of all fans) featuring The Twilight Zone Companion
author Marc Scott Zicree, author/film historian Gary Gerani (Fantastic
Television), authors/historians Scott Skelton and Jim Benson (Rod
Serling's Night Gallery: An After Hours Tour), Twilight Zone writers Earl Hamner, George Clayton Johnson and John
Tomerlin, writer William F. Nolan (Logan's
Run), author/historian Martin Grams, Jr. (The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the
Door to a Television Classic), writer Marv Wolfman (creator of Blade and New Teen Titans), writer Neil Gaiman (Sandman, Coraline), writer/producer Jeff
Vlaming (NCIS, Fringe, Battlestar Galactica),
writer Mark Fergus (Children of Men,
Iron Man) and writer Len Wein
(creator of Swamp Thing, Wolverine, New X-Men), an interview with actor Edson
Stroll, the Original Laugh Track for Cavender Is Coming, a Vintage Audio
Interview with director of photography George T. Clemens who gave the show its
look, 19 Radio Dramas made years later featuring Don Johnson, Blair Underwood,
Ernie Hudson, Morgan Brittany, Adam West, Ed Begley, Jr., Jason Alexander,
Shelley Berman, Michael York, Bruno Kirby & others.
imported from the upgraded DVD set includes a paper foldout inside the Blu-ray
case with technical information and very brief episode guide, more audio commentaries
previous issued on DVD by actors including Bill Mumy, Lois Nettleton, William
Windom, Leonard Nimoy, Robert Cornthwaite and Cliff Robertson, Audio Commentary
by Jonathan Winters for A Game of Pool,
plus Winters reads the Alternate Ending from the original script (!), a clip
from the 1989 remake of A Game of Pool,
featuring George Clayton Johnson’s original ending, a clip from the 1985 remake
of Dead Man’s Shoes, featuring Helen
Mirren in Dead Woman’s Shoes,
Audio Recollections with Buzz Kulik, Buck Houghton, Richard L. Bare, Lamont
Johnson and Earl Hamner, Rare Rod Serling appearances as a guest on The Garry Moore Show and Tell It to Groucho and as host of the
popular game show Liar’s Club (also
hosted by Allen Ludden (Betty White’s late husband) of Password), stills, Production Slate and Rod Serling promos for
‘Next Week's’ Show.
of the series after this one has also been issued on Blu-ray and you can read
more as follows:
- Nicholas Sheffo