Created by Rod Serling
Watching Anthology television is like reading short story compilations. Each episode of the show, and each chapter of the book, features a different cast and a different story. In this modern age of TV fans are accustomed too much serialized storytelling with complex characters and cliffhanger stories. This couldn’t be more different than the classic anthology TV such as Night Gallery, The Outer Limits, and King of them all, The Twilight Zone. Once you settle into the idea of a new story every week anthology TV can be a lot of fun. Just when the story might seem to be getting old it’s time for a new one! The question is does a series that originally aired in 1959 still hold up today.
In 1959 Rod Serling, a man who would eventually become an icon of television crafted a new anthology television series called The Twilight Zone. The show would tell a new story each week with focus on science fiction, fantasy and even a little bit of horror. There are some stories with some comedic elements which unfortunately don’t hold up quite as well as the more serious stories. That’s not to say that they aren’t fun to watch they just aren’t as effective as they were when they were originally produced. The episodes would often be morality plays and feature social commentary. Serling was able to pull together teams for each episode that featured some of the best actors in the business such as Burgess Meredith, William Shatner, and Martin Landau to name just a few. The crew behind the camera was made up of some of the best in the business too. The sets and special fx are impressive considering the era in which the show was crafted and the budget the creators had to stick too.
The episodes all feel very dated watching them now but amazingly the twists and even the drama still works great. For example in the pilot episode a man finds himself stranded in a town where he is the only person. There are shops and restaurants but no people to run them. The scenario is just as creepy now as it was when the show was first introduced. The eventual reveal that the man had simply lost his mind during military testing still works, the only difference being that the testing and the purpose for it would be very different these days.
In the end the real brilliance of this series was its ability to create characters that were grounded enough in reality that viewers could relate to them making the surreal world in which they were forced to exist all the more effective. It’s not difficult to understand after watching this season why The twilight Zone is easily one of the most influential television series of all time. Watch it late at night while the house is quiet and the creepier episodes ending with Serling’s articulate and emotionless narration are still slightly chill inducing all of these years later.
These 1080p blu-rays were mastered from the original film source materials and overall they look just fantastic. This is absolutely the best this series has ever looked, better even than when it was originally broadcast. Black levels are deep and dark while detail remains strong. This series isn’t “black and White” it’s made up of shades of gray. There are issues with the source material including film grain and some flecks of dirt and even a little print damage but that’s a part of the original film negatives not due to the transfer. You’ve never seen The Twilight Zone look this amazing guaranteed.
The blu-rays feature an uncompressed stereo 2.0 sound track that’s about as great as you could expect from a series this old. Dialogue, score, and sound fx are all clean and well balanced. There are some instances of hiss but only in a few of the episodes. It’s basic but fitting of the series and it sounds really good.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The 5 disc set comes packaged in a slim blu-ray amaray case. Unlike some TV sets we’ve looked at the packaging here doesn’t feel cheap. It’ll take a beating from constant viewing for a long time to come.
The twilight Zone is a series that has deserved a really nice set of bonus features since DVD was first created and now finally the show gets the attention it deserves with this release.
There are 22 audio commentaries throughout this season many of which are exclusive to this blu-ray release. If you scrimp and buy the DVD release you’ll get substandard audio and video and you’ll also lose out on a ton of HD exclusive supplemental material. There are radio dramas, tons of interviews with cast and crew, and even a lecture that Rod Serling gave at a college. There are also many isolated musical scores for you to check out too. These features will take you many many hours to get through and nearly all of them have fascinating insight into the creation of this series to offer. The only disappointment here is that all of it is audio only. When you listen to the various interviews and other supplements scenes from the series are shown on screen. Some updated, “video” featurettes and interviews would have been much appreciated. With that said though the amount of content here is overwhelming, and that’s a good thing.
The Twilight Zone is one of the greatest television shows ever created and the very best anthology series to ever hit the small screen. This first season represents the way this series deserves to be treated on home video and it’s simply a must own.
Overall (Not an average) 9/10
The Season 9/10
The Video 8.5/10
The Audio 8/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 9/10/10
Overall (Not an Average) 9/10