The Twilight Zone: The Definitive Edition Season Two

January 28, 2012 9 Min Read

Review by: Christopher Bligh

Plot: What’s it about?

In the 1950’s, a young writer for television named Rod Serling had won 3 Emmys for his collective works in live television and made a name for himself as one of the pioneering writers of the medium. With much success comes many offers and Serling was offered many things but turned it all down for one vision of a series with as little sponsor or network interference as possible. It tells tales of many but keeping an eerie tone who’s source comes from a fifth dimension. A journey of a world of imagination, that’s the signpost up ahead you’re next stop, The Twilight Zone.

In The Definitive Edition of Season Two, we encounter many promises, wishes and nightmares that come to many. The list of stars continue from the first appearance of William Shatner to a one two punch by returning TZ veteran Burgess Meredith along with newcomers and one timers Art Carney, Dick York, Russell Johnson, Agnes Moorehead and Billy Mumy along with Academy Award winning actor Cliff Robertson. Not only has the star power returned but so have the quality of scripts ranging from games of chance to environments of solitude along with unusual aftermaths of heists and what results and consequences lie ahead of it’s principles.

Of all five seasons, this one ranks amongst one of the finest with the quality of writing as well as the consistancies of well told stories from week to week. Granted, not every episode is a treasure but that negativity is a forgotten memory as the Zone develops deeper into the later part of the season. This also is the only season where six episodes were recorded on videotape and was an effective tool for the majority of the six. It seems that when one weak episode is evident, a great bulk of strong episodes washes away that memory.

The writing team of Rod Serling, Richard Matheson, Charles Beaumont and E. Jack Newman combine for some of Twilight Zone’s finest half hours in its entire run. Nothing beats the black and white look in one half hour and nothing can top most of the punches the endings that Zone manages to pack. So sit back, relax and until the spiral of the third season runs us around in circles, Season Two’s Definitive Edition sun sets and the line is drawn for a signpost ready to make you think, shock, learn and entertain all at the same time for one of the best half hour shows in television history.

Video: How does it look?

Season 2 is steady in it’s 1.33:1 full frame with results that continue to impress this viewer with the improved picture quality and some slight debris evident in a few episodes with an overall result of clarity in all of the episodes shot on film. I wish I could say the same for the videotaped episodes but despite it’s clean look, there are some evidence of video noise in a few white streaks and the limitations of shooting a show like The Twilight Zone on videotape. Despite that, all the episode are given the royal treatment and it shows visually.

Audio: How does it sound?

The second season of The Twilight Zone not only looks great but also sounds fantastic despite the slight muted limitations of the Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track. The scores and the dialogue mix in all channels with amplified success as the scores drive the episodes on most of the outer channels with very little effects while the dialogue comes out sharply in the middle channels balancing out for the best sounding results. Image has gone to the lengths and the results sound great but with one minor setback. None of the episodes have subtitles and it would be a nice advantage to have since the Sci-Fi Channel seems to provide it for every episode when it is on.

Supplements: What are the extras?

As with Season One and it’s lionshare of extras, the supplements continue through all five discs with two of the episodes (The Silence and Nick of Time) featureless despite it’s previous episodes getting the Next Week’s Episodes treatment (which Lateness of the Hour, The Rip Van Winkle Caper and Dust fail to have) along with many isolated scores, original clapboarded production slates from all of the videotaped episodes, and five selections from the Twilight Zone Radio Show (which give interesting angles to the episodes from an imaginitive point of view). It doesn’t hurt that the episodes end with plugs for other CBS shows such as the Ed Sullivan Show, Gunsmoke, a TV version of My Sister Eileen and The Andy Griffith Show.

The fun doesn’t end there with some of the star studded cast and crew giving their take on the Twilight Zone whether by interview excerpts with Twilight Zone Companion writer Marc Scott Zicree or in a present day commentary looking back at their experience on their appropriate episode.

Some of the interviews (eleven) last the entire length of the episode and are great listens with the creative minds behind the episodes, with some of the interviews cutting off at the 3/4 mark of the episode. The commentaries (six of them) are also great listens giving other looks on the episodes as well as looking back at their careers in a few cases as well as a hint or two at their overall reactions to the episodes. The only disappointment was the commentary of Don Rickles on Mr. Dingle The Strong. It lasts 3 minutes and given his time on the episode doesn’t give much and the track ends quite abruptly. If only some fun could’ve been spread around the entire episode.

The remaining extras consist on disc 5 with a fascinating Mike Wallace interview with Rod Serling demonstrating his likes and dislikes of writing in the medium and how he felt about television at the time struggling with sponsors and networks alike. A Tell It To Groucho clip is an amusing fifteen minute piece showing Serling the good samaritian give an Italian tenor a chance at a show of talent and some cash with Groucho Marx. Next is an amusing clip from The Jack Benny Show depicting a fifth dimension amongst Jack and a few of the characters interacting with Rod in a mysterious town.

Along with a Twilight Zone Comic Book readable on the computer through Acrobat, there is one feature that makes the collection priceless if a viewer can stand the slight redundancy. It’s the Season 2 Billboards that display the different sponsors of Twilight Zone in between the beginning and end of the episodes. It also includes rare cigarette ads that incorporate Rod and they are also evident in some of the Next Week’s Episodes portion of the episodes which are gems in themselves. These are the kind of extras that were only visable at an occasional visit to the Museum of Television and Radio but are wonderfully incorporated on this set and give a nice punctuation mark to this season.

Despite a few flawed episodes, The Twilight Zone and it’s Definitive Edition of Season 2 continues Image Entertainment’s deserved justice for one of the finest anthology shows in television history and finally getting it right in another great season set with wonderful recollections, solid extras, nice surprises and aroma roast Sanka brand continuing sterling treatment for a classic television gem.

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