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Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > Fantasy > Horror > Science Fiction > Anthology > TV > Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone – Season Four (1962 – 1963/Image Entertainment Blu-ray)

Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone – Season Four (1962 – 1963/Image Entertainment Blu-ray)


Picture: B+     Sound: B     Extras: B+     Episodes: B



In the early 1960s, it was very common for all types of TV shows to only be a half-hour in length.  Now considered the length of sitcoms, the attention span of TV programming and what viewers wanted to see was actually expanding.  As a result, many half-hour shows transitioned into hour-long shows (Gunsmoke) or started out that way (Outer Limits), so many hit shows of the time followed suit and a few made the transition.  It is often said The Twilight Zone did this because of Outer Limits, but it also seems it was following the trend more than it gets credit for.  That would be Season Four of the series, but it would not last and the show would return to a half-hour for what was its final season.


Now, Season Four has arrived on Blu-ray and it has always been my belief that it was a better, more underrated season than it ever got credit for and though it may not have always been successful, new approaches were tried and really show how smart and bold Rod Serling and company really were.  The switch also saved the show from the weekly TV grind and helped to make the show the well-remembered classic it is today.  The shows may not always stay with you like the half-hour shows, but some of these shows are the most underrated in the series and deserves serious rediscovery.  With the amazing Blu-ray set, everyone (including fans) will be stunned.


For those who missed our coverage of the first three sets, here are the links to our coverage, which includes our opening discussion of this all-time classic in the Season One set:



Season Two



Season Three




The following list of these next 18 shows (episodes 103 – 120) includes the writer and director listed, include audio commentary tracks and (usually) isolate music tracks in every case, plus some radio drama versions and sponsor ads in many cases:


1) In His Image (Charles Beaumont/Perry Lafferty) – A man (George Grizzard) has supposed killed another man, then totally forgets about it by the time he arrives at his girlfriend’s place, but more things keep happening and is he losing his memory severely, is his personality splitting or something more bizarre?  Mixed but interesting show.


2) The Thirty Fathom Grave (Rod Serling/Perry Lafferty) – Simon Oakland (Psycho, Kolchak: The Night Stalker) plays a submarine captain who must figure out why their ship is getting a message from a WWII sub over twenty years before, but an older crew member (Mike Kellin) may just know the answer and it is not good news at all.  Bill Bixby also stars in this fairly good show.


3) Valley Of The Shadow (Charles Beaumont/Perry Lafferty) – Ed Nelson is a very ambitious reporter who finds an out of the way town that is somehow different and the residents know why, telling him to leave quickly.  If not, he will find out the secret and his options will not be good.  Natalie Trundy and James Doohan also star in this good show.


4) He’s Alive (Rod Serling/Stuart Rosenberg) – Dennis Hopper is great in this excellent show heading a group of Neo-Nazis intent on a new fascist movement, but he is not having the success he intended until an older man with great advice shows up and helps him build up a disturbing following.


5) The Mute (Richard Matheson/Stuart Rosenberg) – Ann Jillian (much later of It’s A Living) stars in this mixed, problematic episode where a group of people decide not to talk in 1953 in order to develop telepathic powers and communication, but ten years later, she is the only survivor when her family house burns down killing everyone.  Then the family who adopts her treats her as disposable.


6) Death Ship (Richard Matheson/Don Medford) – It is 1997 and a spaceship run by Captain Ross (Jack Klugman) seek a planet much like earth so people can move there and inhabit it.  However, when they do, something strange has happened in a group that has possibly beat them to it.  Ross Martin also stars.


7) Jess-Belle (Earl Hamner/Buzz Kulik) – The great Anne Francis has the title role in a twisted love story where she loses her boyfriend (James Best) and will do anything to get him back, including going to a witch (legend Jeanette Nolan) for a special position that will do the trick, but its serious side effect is not listed on the label.  Virginia Gregg also stars in this decent show that has aged oddly, but is worth a look.


8) Miniature (Charles Beaumont/Walter Grauman) – Robert Duvall is a bored, lonely office worker who loves going to the local museum as soon as work is over all the time.  He is particularly interested in a certain dollhouse with a female figure in it and she happens to really be alive!  William Windom, Pert Kelton (The Honeymooners) and Barbara Barrie (Barney Miller) also star in one of the best shows of this season.


9) Printer’s Devil (Charles Beaumont/Ralph Senensky) – Burgess Meredith is back again, this time as the mysterious Mr. Smith, who kicks in some money for a small newspaper to compete against larger ones threatening to put it out of business; the position it is in when Smith arrives and even works for free!  However, the arrangement is too good to be true as they get the news far sooner than their competitors.


10) No Time Like The Past (Rod Serling/James Addiss) – A man (Dana Andrews) invents a time machine and thinks it is a good idea to change history, but his efforts fail every time, so he decides the solution is to go back and not come back to make a chosen change permanent, but other complications ensue.  Patricia Breslin also stars in this really good show.


11) The Parallel (Rod Serling/Alan Crosland) – A spaceship lost turns up in a place where it should not have been able to land in one piece, then everything else seems at least slightly out of place, but only one of the crew (Steve Forrest) is aware of this.  Frank Aletter also stars in this show somewhat similar to an earlier show, but it has its moments.


12) I Dream Of Genie (John Furia/Robert Gist) – Howard Morris plays a ship clerk who buys an old Arabian lamp to impress a young lady he is having trouble connecting with, but cannot even give this to her without discomfort.  When he goes home and rubs it, a genie (Jack Albertson) materializes and offers him the usual wishes, but each one backfires.  A mixed show with some amusing moments, but we have seen this before.


13) The New Exhibit (Charles Beaumont/John Brahm) – A wax museum has a collection of figures representing the most famous killers in history and when a man (Martin Balsam back again) breaks one, he takes it home to fix it.  Unfortunately, it unleashes more trouble than he ever expected by bringing them all back to life!  This is another good one and often very interesting.


14) Of Late I Think Of Cliffordville (Rod Serling/David Rich) – Julie Newmar (the original Catwoman) is Miss Devlin, who is thrilled that there is a businessman (Albert Salami) who may be her match in the mortal world, so she visits him and offers to send him back many years so he can build a bigger business.  Unfortunately for him, he agrees.


15) The Incredible World of Horace Ford (Reginald Rose/Abner Biberman) – Pat Hingle is a man who makes toys for a toy company and loves doing it because all he remembers is how perfect his life was decades ago when he was a child with nothing but toys.  It gets him to loose his job, upsetting his family and driving him to revisit where he grew up.  The visit is so good that it suddenly seems he is in the past, but he is about to be reminded just how much revisionist history his memory has been running on.  Nan Martin also stars in this smart show.


16) On Thursday We Leave For Home (Rod Serling/Buzz Kulik) – James Whitmore is the captain of a spaceship that crash-lands on a planet that is very rough, but his skills keep everyone alive and put him in high reverence.  He tells them a rescue ship will show up one day, but when it does, he tries to get them to stay as he has become too comfortable in having them co-depend on him.  Tim O’Connor and James Broderick also star in this fine episode.


17) Passage On The Lady Anne (Charles Beaumont/Lamont Johnson) – When a couple (Lee Phillips, Joyce Van Patten) take a cruise on the title ship to try and save their marriage, they find two odd things: every other couple is elderly and all of them are trying to get them to cancel their reservations.  When they don’t, increasingly odd things start to happen.  Gladys Cooper, Alan Napier (Batman), Cecil Kellaway and Wilfred Hyde-White also star in this well-cast but overly long show.


18) The Bard (Rod Serling/David Butler) – This season concludes with this entertaining gem about a troubled writer (Jack Weston) gets a break to write on a TV show about black magic.  When he goes and gets a book on the subject, it turns out to be a very special volume that conjures up no less than William Shakespeare (John Williams) to help him write his teleplays and the madness is only beginning.  Burt Reynolds shows up as a knowing knock-off of a young Marlon Brando and more funny events continue in this show that writers of all kinds will especially enjoy.  John McGiver and Judy Strangis are among the supporting cast and it shows that maybe if the next season stayed an hour-long, it would have been even better.



If some of the titles sound familiar and you thought you saw any of them in color, it is because these shows were not always available and Miniature in particular had been colorized for a horrid celebration special that is better forgotten.  This is the way these should be seen and remembered.  With this kind of playback performance, you will not want it any other way.


The 1080p 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 it is even a little less than the last three and you can see that as the image becomes clearer still.  I can add that it too can definitely 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.


The PCM 2.0 sound once again comes in original Mono and an “enhanced” version that is essentially more stereophonic, but this time, it sounds so great it could convince you these were originally in stereo!  The playback in both cases still continues 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, 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.  Whether it is because these episodes were made later or not syndicated as much, the magnetic sound sources are in stunning shape, rivaling the best film and music recordings of the time in overall fidelity, raising the bar for how good anything coming from this era should sound.


And once again, the extras are tremendous and exceptional.  New extras debuting on this Blu-ray set include 13 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/producer Jeff Vlaming (NCIS, Fringe, Battlestar Galactica), writer Mark Fergus (Children of Men, Iron Man), author Bill Warren (Keep Watching the Skies! American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties), writer/producer Joseph Dougherty (thirtysomething, Judging Amy, Saving Grace), and writer/producer Jaime Paglia (Eureka), plus another Vintage Audio Interview with director of photography George T. Clemens who gave the show its look.


Extras 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 Marc Scott Zicree for Death Ship and William Windom for Miniature, Vintage Audio Recollections with Herbert Hirschman, Ross Martin, Burgess Meredith, Pat Hingle, Earl Hamner, Buzz Kulik and Anne Francis, Video Interviews with Morgan Brittany, Anne Francis, Paul Comi and John Furia, Jr., 7 Radio Dramas featuring Blair Underwood, Jason Alexander, Lou Diamond Phillips, H. M. Wynant, Mike Starr, Barry Bostwick and John Ratzenberger, Isolated Scores for all 18 episodes featuring Fred Steiner, Van Cleave, Rene Garriguenc and others, Rod Serling Promos for "Next Week's" Show, Rod Serling Blooper from He's Alive, classic Saturday Night Live Clip with the original cast including Dan Ackroyd imitating Serling, The Famous Writers School Promo with Rod Serling, Genesee Beer Spot and Twilight Zone Season 4 Billboards.


With Season Five concluding these landmark TV on Blu-ray releases, fans and other viewers can really appreciate how great this series is.  Along with the kind of extensive extras section these first four sets have had, it will be a long time before we see another Blu-ray set (TV or otherwise) be so rich, smart and thorough.  These sets are worth every penny.


Continue on with Season Five at this link:





-   Nicholas Sheffo


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