The Twilight Zone Season Two DVD boxset (DVD review).

It is a dark and moody time and you want something to lift your soul. You spot a boxset you’ve being holding back on to savour away from the sunlit summer and decided it was time to watch it at long last. Your next port of call is The Twilight Zone.


So it came to pass that I finally settled down to watch season two of ‘The Twilight Zone and a journey back to 1960-61 and material that I never saw at the time. Then again, I was only three back them and can’t recall if the show was on let alone if I would have been allowed to watch it at such a late hour, let alone repeated.

The six page episode guide with this boxset barely covers cast and synopsis, so be of good fortune and pick up Marc Scott Zicree’s ‘The Twilight Zone Companion’ to read after each episode if you’re after the details. Interestingly, some of the remarks there also appeared in the audio commentaries, as indeed Zicree contributes to these with various interviews with directors and cast, so this way you get the full treatment to enjoying this series.

It doesn’t help with some statistics, though. These you have to draw yourself. I mean, Burgess Meredith appears in three different episodes. Many of the audio commentaries only last about ten minutes with only a couple, chiefly Bill Mumy and Cliff Robertson, going the full length. The biggest revelation to me was with the silent Agnes Morehead story, ‘The Invaders’, where you get to see the spaceship from ‘Forbidden Planet’ and a sound effect that I thought was created much later as the UNCLE communicator noise being used as an alarm. But then again, this is the Twilight Zone and things are never quite what they seem.

The genre mix goes back to the wild west, the present and future with all tales dealing with oppression and realisation of the human condition. The odd one might develop unusual super-powers, reason themselves out of a dilemma or even take an advantage of a good term. Show-runner Rod Serling saw Science Fiction as the necessary metaphor to put these things across. Despite its near 60 years vintage, these themes still have value today which demonstrates how ageless the metaphors are. The fact that it is also laced with some humour makes it even juicier. My favourite of these has to be in ‘A Penny For Your Thoughts’, where a bank clerk discovers he can read minds and as he goes past one lady hears nothing as she flicks money as a total airhead. It also demonstrates that not everyone is thinking thoughts all the time or even carry out their intentions.

The actors live for their performances. It’s hardly surprising because back then, many of them also had a stage background which reflected in their roles. With rarely more than a few performers per story, they all get a chance to shine.

You notice I’m being careful not to say too much individual stories. Many of the stories carry their own surprises, especially the last one, ‘The Obsolete Man’, which would still work well today. It is also significant, according to the book, for ensuring that TV editors work for the director and not the other way around. It also has one of the most ingenious solutions to a problem of taking down a dictator that would just as likely work in real life.

I presume for many of you, you’ve already watched ‘The Twilight Zone’. If you’re amongst those who haven’t, then now is the time to walk in Serling’s footsteps and see some neat quality television. Classic.

GF Willmetts

November 2013

(region 2 DVD: pub: Classic SciFi CCTV30178. 6 DVDs 699 minutes 29 * 22 minute black and white episodes, some with audio commentaries. Price: £10.36 (UK) if you know where to look)

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