It finally ends here. I remember when us fans were elated when we heard that 'The Twilight Zone' was going to get the high definition treatment it required. Image Entertainment took on the task of taking one of the most classic television series of all time and putting it on Blu-ray. Not only that but they took the time to create worthwhile sets. New special features, new audio commentaries, pretty much everything a fan could ask for. They didn't skimp on the production values either. These episodes have never looked or sounded so good. High definition has brought out the richness of the entire series.
TV fans have seen their share of disappointments when their favorite show is put on Blu-ray. Either it doesn't look great, or there's no special features to speak of, or the worst situation is when a studio only releases one or two seasons and then forgets about the rest. At the beginning this seemed like a real possibility for 'The Twilight Zone'. There was a real threat that Image may not sell as many copies as they wanted to sell and then end up scraping the rest of the releases. Fortunately they didn't. They came full circle and released all five seasons of 'The Twilight Zone' on Blu-ray.
The last season of the show saw its fair share of controversy. Serling seemed overworked, and some of the episodes seemed to suffer or retread old ground. Serling was fighting with the network. They pushed for a more supernatural show, while Serling wanted some supernatural elements, but also other sci-fi elements that made the show so popular. There's a noticeable lull in the fifth season, where the episodes seemed rather mundane and not up to the lofty standards that were set in the previous seasons. That's to be expected though. Not too many TV shows can go that long and produce that much original content without becoming a bit tired. Think about it Serling and his team had to come up with new stories every week. They had to create new characters, new situations, and then fit it snuggly into a 30 minute timeslot. They didn't have the luxury of recurring characters or season-long story arcs. It must have been taxing.
Season five isn't without its famous episodes though. Many people remember "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" starring a very young William Shatner – an episode that was later remade with John Lithgow for 'Twilight Zone: The Movie'. Shatner plays a distraught man who's just gotten out of counseling for a mental breakdown. There's something out there, on the wing. A gremlin of some sort, which is tearing about the engine, only he's the only one that can see it. "Living Doll" is another well remembered episode where a stepdad goes toe-to-toe with a talking doll that seems to have murderous tendencies.
Season five is a pretty far leap from the masterful first few seasons. Still, after five years 'The Twilight Zone' was able to put out a product that stood the test of time. Most of season five's episodes are still great. They may not be as memorable as episodes from earlier seasons, but for fans of the show they still hold a special place in our hearts.
This has been quite the undertaking by Image Entertainment. An undertaking that they could have easily cut corners on. Maybe saved a few bucks here and there, but they didn't. They produced some fine TV sets. Probably the best complete set of TV Blu-rays to date. These are what TV on Blu-ray should strive to be like. These Blu-rays have catered to the fans. They've been specially made for a knowledgeable, educated audience. An audience that remembers 'The Twilight Zone' with fondness and love. It's nice to see that Image treated these seasons with the respect they deserved.
Blu-ray Vital Statistics
'The Twilight Zone: Season 5' comes in a 5-disc 50GB Blu-ray set. The discs are housed in a slightly oversized keepcase – exactly like the other seasons. Inside there are two swinging arms that hold discs 1 – 4 and a hub on the back cover that holds the fifth disc. Like every other season this season comes with an episode list that covers everything you'd want to know about each episode, like notable guest stars, special features contained therein, original air date, and what episode number it is in the total number of 'Twilight Zone' episodes. This season contains episodes 121 – 156.
It's to the point where I can pretty much copy and paste the past praise I've given to the other seasons. All of these sets look fantastic. 'The Twilight Zone' on Blu-ray should be the guide that everyone uses when bringing black and white source material to Blu-ray. They look, simply astounding. Season five is no exception.
The fine detail, is like that of the other seasons: magnificent. It's still hard to believe that you can see individual beads of sweat on a forehead from a source filmed in the early 60s, but you can. You can see individual pores, fine facial hair. Facial expressions take on a new dimensions, because you're able to see the tiniest of facial movements. A furtive crease of the brow, a fleeting crooked smile, it's all visible. The clarity is unmatched.
Blacks are some of the inkiest you'll ever see. There's more depth and dimension to these episodes than most full-color programming. Shadows are perfectly rendered, offering an off-kilter, uneasy feeling. Shadows never crush detail, they build upon it. Each scene is beautiful in its own ways. Close-ups are striking and contrast is unparalleled. The only "issue" with the transfer is a somewhat frequent appearance of extraneous blips and very minor scratches. This has happened on pretty much all of the seasons. You can't expect them to be perfectly clear, but Image has done a fantastic job restoring them as close to perfect as possible.
However, there is one caveat to the video quality of season five. Episode 142, "An Occurance at Owl Creek Bridge," looks mighty different from the other episodes. That's because "An Occurance at Owl Creek Bridge" wasn't shot as a normal 'Twilight Zone' episodes. It's a short French film directed by Ambrose Bierce. It's noticeably different in look. It's much dirtier and overall, bares a resemblance to the handful of season two episodes that were shot on videotape instead of film. There are noticeable scratches throughout the episode. Some scratches are stationary and never seem to move. Simply becoming static images on the screen. Light fades in and out as parts of the picture become lighter and darker in the same shot. It's noticeably worse quality than the other episodes in the season, but it's to be expected since it came from a completely different source. Overall, the 1080p video presentation here is the same as the other seasons. It looks fantastically filmic, retaining a natural grain structure. Fans will be proud.
As with the other seasons, season five offers two audio choices. You can either listen to the restored uncompressed PCM 2.0 mono audio, or you can choose the original audio option. I've always watched the majority of these seasons with the restored audio option. Purists may want to stick with the original audio, but for me the restored audio sounds a bit more clear. More priority has been paid to the dialogue, which comes out cleaner and more intelligibly than it does in the original audio. Still, the original audio isn't bad either.
This is exactly the type of audio presentation you've come to expect from Image. They've crafted another lively mix from a mono source. The restored audio features nice depth and fidelity. There's hardly a hiss, crack, or pop to be heard. There is some higher end brashness, but overall it's as good as it's going to get. Dialogue is intelligible, and the eerie soundtracks created for each episode are given ample room to breathe. Another solid entry by Image.
Episode 121: "In Praise of Pip"
Episode 122: "Steel"
Episode 123: "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet"
Episode 124: "A Kind of Stopwatch"
Episode 125: "The Last Night of a Jockey"
Episode 126: "Living Doll"
Episode 127: "The Old Man in the Cave"
Episode 128: "Uncle Simon"
Episode 129: "Probe 7, Over and Out"
Episode 130: "The 7th Is Made Up of Phantoms"
Episode 131: "A Short Drink from a Certain Fountain"
Episode 132: "Ninety Years Without Slumbering"
Episode 133: "Ring-a-Ding Girl"
Episode 134: "You Drive"
Episode 135: "The Long Morrow"
Episode 136: "The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross"
Episode 137: "Number 12 Look Just Like You"
Episode 138: "Black Leather Jackets"
Episode 139: "Night Call"
Episode 140: "From Agnes – With Love"
Episode 141: "Spur of the Moment"
Episode 142: "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge"
Episode 143: "Queen of the Nile"
Episode 144: "What's in the Box"
Episode 145: "The Masks"
Episode 146: "I Am the Night – Color Me Black"
Episode 147: "Sounds and Silences"
Episode 148: "Caesar and Me"
Episode 149: "The Jeopardy Room"
Episode 150: "Stopover in a Quiet Town"
Episode 151: "The Encounter"
Episode 152: "Mr. Garrity and the Graves"
Episode 153: "The Brain Center at Whipple's"
Episode 154: "Come Wander with Me"
Episode 155: "The Fear"
Episode 155: "The Fear"
Image Entertainment deserves some kudos. Over the past year they've put out what is arguably the best set of TV Blu-rays released to date. Each of these five season sets are resounding successes, from the immaculate video presentations to the near endless amount of new special features. If you owned all the seasons on DVD you don't have to feel like you're being duped like so many other double dips. This is the real deal. There's a very real reason why you should upgrade. Season five looks and sounds just as good as the past seasons. The brand-new commentaries shed more light on such an iconic series. Season five, like the rest of the season sets, is a must own.