One Step Beyond –
Collection #1 (VCI)
Sound: C Extras: D Episodes: B-
At the same time the CBS was debuting the original Rod
Serling Twilight Zone in 1959, ABC and Alcoa Aluminum Corp. were
producing One Step Beyond.
Interestingly, both shows were shooting at the M-G-M Studios, with each
ABC/Alcoa show produced at $55,000 a show.
While Serling hosted and wrote many of his series’ shows, John Newland
hosted and directed ALL of his.
At first, the series was on the hokier side telling us the
stories really happened, but competition from other shows and its own need to
grow pushed the series into more interesting territory. VCI Entertainment’s first double DVD set
offers ten of the best episodes form Season Two, and two from early in the
third and final season are offered here.
They are as follows by title, writer, original date of broadcast, plot,
Delusion (Larry Marcus (script editor
for the show), 9/15/59) – This opened the second season with a tale Accountant
Harold Stein (Norman Lloyd) does not want to give a transfusion to a dying
woman, despite being pushed to it by Lt. Barry (David White). A very young Suzanne Pleshette, later of
Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963) and the 1970s Bob Newhart Show,
also stars in this mixed episode.
Ordeal On Locust Street (Michael Plant, 9/22/59)
– Anna (Suzanne Lloyd) wants to marry the man she has brought the family home
to visit, but there is another person not roaming as freely in the house who
may become a problem. The identity of
that prisoner makes this one of the most well remembered of all the shows.
Brainstorm (Charles Beaumont and (with)
Larry Marcus, 10/6/59) – A destroyer captain’s only hope is a drunken surgeon
who has turned to the bottle, blaming himself for his brother’s death. This is the second of two episodes Beaumont
wrote (the other being The Captain’s Guest from Season One on 5/26/59),
before permanently becoming one of the three main writers on Twilight Zone. This is not of the more challenging, often
dream-like nature of what he would write for that show, but this is a smart
Doomsday (Larry Marcus, 10/13/59) – The
curse of an unfairly murdered and eliminated woman love of the son of an 1682
Earl may have left a curse on the present.
Nice sets, but it drags a bit.
The Inheritance (Larry Marcus, 10/27/59) – A
countess chokes to death, yet her maid does not call a doctor. As things go on, it turns out there is
something strange about a valuable necklace only the maid seems to realize. This is one of the more memorable shows.
The Explorer (Donald M. Mankiewicz, 3/15/60)
– In flashback, old men discuss the legacy of how one young man (Jeremy Slate
as Eric), risked it all top save a desert expedition. Bert Convy, later a comic actor and game-show host (Tattletales)
is surprisingly good in a dramatic role.
The Clown (Gabrielle Upton, 3/22/60) – An
abusive, controlling husband (Christopher Dark) is having it out with his
beautiful wife (Yvette Mimieux of the original (and only) 1960 Time Machine
and Disney’s The Black Hole), when a kind clown named Pippo is promoting
that his circus is in town. He is mute
too, but that does not stop the husband from being obnoxious, and the situation
gets worse. Easily one of the series
best shows, and Mimieux is striking as an actress and in black and white.
Delia (Merwin Gerard (the series creator, 5/3/60) –
Philip Wilson (Lee Phillips) becomes instantly attracted to and obsessed with
the title character (Barbara Lord), when she disappears! He spends the rest of the time trying to
find her, with only the local club owner Bentley (Murray Matheson) seeming to
back his story when others can’t seem to remember her. Not bad.
House of the Dead (Donald M. Mankiewicz, 3/7/60)
– Another disappearing woman story, but this time, A British Army Lieutenant
falls for an Asian woman. This one is a
bit more realistic, to a point.
Tidal Wave (Charles Larson, 8/30/60) – A
happy couple in Hawaii have their lives disrupted when a big storm comes out of
nowhere to hit the famed island, but the wife is alone when this happens and
she cannot walk due to Polio! Dennis
Patrick is Emmet North, Jean Allison plays his wife Margaret North, Ted Knight
(The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Too Close For Comfort) is Woodruff; one the
weather trackers around the time of his cameo in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho,
William Schallert (also a voice over gut who played Carson Drew to Pamela Sue
Martin’s Nancy Drew in the late 1970s) is Dick, and the real Mrs. North appears
with our host to wrap the show up. The twist
is she seems to have been saved by mind transference. Obviously, this is one of the series’ highlights.
Anniversary of a Murder (Collier Young, from the
story by Fred Remington, 9/27/60) – A couples’ hit and run accident comes back
to haunt them, starting with the strange behavior of the husband’s Dictaphone
at work. Not bad, having some good
moments. This episode opened the final
To Know the End (Larry Marcus, 11/1/60) – A
female British librarian has visions of a man who is going to be her husband,
unless some odd fate and a military operation get in the way. This one does not go the way you’d expect.
The full screen, black and white image is average, because
it is amazing the materials even survived.
They have been restored as best they could be, and actually have some
video black advantage over some of the current Twilight Zone DVDs, but
those had been better preserved by CBS, where these shows were orphaned. Still, all the shows were shot on film by
cinematographer Dale Deverman, offering a style for the series unique to the
anthology cycle it is a part of. The
Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is not bad for its time either. Harry Lubin’s music, and especially his
theme song for the show, are underrated.
The age and some background limits can be heard, but it is not bad for
average. The only extras are trailers
to other VCI titles, a nice write up on Newland, and a fine foldout inside the
case with an essay and other information about the show.
Another funny thing to note is how a few shows are loaded
with Alcoa images and ad placements, down to the end credits playing over a
sheet of Alcoa aluminum foil coming out of one of their late 1950s boxes. The design has not changed too much since, but
can now usually be seen at restaurants and especially pizzerias, as Reynolds
Wrap seems to have dominated the consumer market the last few decades.
All in all, this is a nice set that fans of anthology
shows, Sci-Fi, the paranormal, Horror, and classic TV will be surprised
by. Though the box claims the show ran
for 94 episodes, it actually ran 96, including a lone two-part episode. I expect the next set should be as
- Nicholas Sheffo