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Release Date: August 30th, 2011
Movie Release Year: 1963
Release Country: United States
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The Twilight Zone: Season 5 (1963)

Review Date August 17th, 2011 by
Overview - The complete fifth and final season of Rod Serling's classic, groundbreaking series exploring the fantastic and the frightening.
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Story Review Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

4 Stars out of 5

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.

Video Review

4.5 Stars out of 5

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.

Audio Review

4 Stars out of 5

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.

Special Features

4 Stars out of 5

Disc 1

Episode 121: "In Praise of Pip"

  • Interview with Bill Mumy (SD, 7 min.) - Actor Bill Mumy talks about his three times that he'd been on the show. Mumy plays young Pip in this episode.
  • Audio Commentary - Bill Mumy offers up his own audio commentary on this episode. Mumy is a tad overzealous during this commentary. He tries to sound too much like he's still acting in the episode. Still he offers some nice asides about the episode and about the different actors that he worked with. There's quite a few pauses, which happens often in these single person commentary tracks.
  • Isolated Score by Rene Garriguene - Listen to the episode's music without any bother from all that talking.
  • Sponsor Billboards (HD, 32 sec.) - Commercials for Milk Wave Lilt and Crest toothpaste.

Episode 122: "Steel"

  • Interview with Richard Matheson (SD, 3 min.) - Zicree interviews Richard Matheson who wrote the episode "Steel". This short interview isn't all that informative, but Matheson simply talks about his time on the set and how great it was to see actors performing the lines he'd written.
  • Isolated Score by Van Cleave - Another isolated score for you.
  • Sponsor Billboards (HD, 32 sec.) - Pall Mall cigarettes and The American Tobacco Company commercials.

Episode 123: "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet"

  • Interview with Richard Matheson (SD, 9 min.) - Zicree interviews Matheson about one of the more famous episodes of this season. Matheson talks about where he got the idea for the story. Matheson talks about the remake with John Lithgow and how he didn't like the gremlin costume in the episode. He did, however, like the look of the gremlin in the Lithgow remake.
  • Rod Serling Lecture [1975] (25 min.) - Serling's lecture at Sherman Oak's College. The interview is pretty hard to hear, because of its source. It plays along with the episode. Serling tells some funny stories about planning for this episode and answering questions from the audience. The audience questions are almost impossible to hear.
  • Isolated Score - More music for you to enjoy.
  • Sponsor Billboards (HD, 32 sec.) - Commercials for Crest and Prell shampoo.

Episode 124: "A Kind of Stopwatch"

  • Isolated Score by Van Cleave - More music from composer Van Cleave.
  • Sponsor Billboard (HD, 17 sec.) - Commercial for Pall Mall cigarettes.

Episode 125: "The Last Night of a Jockey"

  • Audio Commentary - Mickey Rooney, star of this episode, offers up his own commentary here. Rooney's commentary is a snore. Too many dead spots where nothing is talked about.
  • Sponsor Billboards (HD, 32 sec.) - Milk Wave Lilt and Crest commercials.

Episode 126: "Living Doll"

  • Interview with June Foray (SD, 11 min.) - Voice actor June Foray talked about doing the murderous voice for Talky Tina.
  • Audio Commentary - June Foray offers up her own commentary here. Foray is actually more talkative than someone like Rooney. Foray talks about some of the same stuff she talked about in her interview. Like how she did the voice for real-life talking doll Chatty Kathy and was then asked to do the voice for Talky Tina.
  • Isolated Score by Bernard Herrman - Listen to the episode's isolated score here.
  • Sponsor Billboards (HD, 32 sec.) - Commercials for Pall Mall cigarettes and The American Tobacco Company.

Episode 127: "The Old Man in the Cave"

  • Isolated Score - More isolated music for you.
  • Sponsor Billboard (HD, 17 sec.) - Commercial for Prell shampoo.
  • Sponsor Billboards (HD, 19 sec.) - Commercial for baby powder, Studebakers, and Micrin.

Disc 2

Episode 128: "Uncle Simon"

  • Isolated Score - More music for you music lovers.
  • Sponsor Billboard (HD, 32 sec.) - Commercials for Pall Mall cigarettes and The American Tobacco Company.

Episode 129: "Probe 7, Over and Out"

  • Sponsor Billboards (HD, 32 sec.) - Cigarettes and Tobacco commercials.

Episode 130: "The 7th Is Made Up of Phantoms"

  • Isolated Score - For your listening pleasure.
  • Sponsor Billboards (HD, 32 sec.) - Crest and Prell shampoo commercials.

Episode 131: "A Short Drink from a Certain Fountain"

  • Isolated Score - More isolated music.
  • Sponsor Billboards (HD, 32 sec.) - Pall Mall cigarettes and The American Tobacco Company commercials.

Episode 132: "Ninety Years Without Slumbering"

  • Inteview with Carolyn Kearney and George Clayton Johnson (SD, 10 min.) - Kearney actually acted in the pilot episode of 'The Twilight Zone', "The Time Element". Johnson looks rather weathered now. These interviews aren't all that informative, but are good to have since they've been ported over from the DVD editions.
  • Interview with George Clayton Johnson (SD, 19 min.) - Another interview with writer George Clayton Johnson. He talks about how hard it was to meet the high bar set by Rod Serling and the other 'Twilight Zone' writers. Johnson talks about his many different scripts that he wrote for the show and the hardships that went into writing an episode. Like when one of the sponsors thought that his script where a man's hand gets cut off was a little graphic.
  • Isolated Score by Bernard Hermann - An isolated score from composer Bernard Hermann.
  • Sponsor Billboards (HD, 31 sec.) - Milk Wave Lilt and Crest commercials.

Episode 133: "Ring-a-Ding Girl"

  • Interview with Earl Hamner (SD, 19 min.) - Writer Earl Hamner talks about knowing Rod Serling, and how they both submitted scripts to a radio show where they actually ended up winning. Hamner talks about how his upbringing and his surroundings while he was growing up affected his writing.
  • Sponsor Billboards (HD, 32 sec.) - Tareyton cigarettes and The American Tobacco Company commercials.

Episode 134: "You Drive"

  • Interview with Earl Hamner (SD, 2 min.) - Hamner gives a very short interview here where he talks about his inspiration for writing "You Drive".
  • Sponsor Billboard (HD, 17 sec.) - Crest commercial.

Disc 3

Episode 135: "The Long Morrow"

  • Audio Commentary - Mariette Hartley, talks about her time on the show, and how much she "hated" seeing her own legs on screen. Like many of the actor commentaries this one is a bit light and lacking in substance.
  • Sponsor Billboards (HD, 32 sec.) - Tareyton cigarettes and The American Tobacco Company commercials.

Episode 136: "The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross"

  • Isolated Score - More music for you.
  • Sponsor Billboards (HD, 32 sec.) - Prell shampoo and Crest toothpaste commercials.

Episode 137: "Number 12 Look Just Like You"

  • Isolated Score - Another isolated music track.
  • Sponsor Billboards (HD, 31 sec.) - Tareyton cigarettes and American Tobacco Company commercials.

Episode 138: "Black Leather Jackets"

  • Interview with Michael Forest and Earl Hamner (SD, 8 min.) - Forest, one of the actors who stars in the episode, talks about auditioning for the show and how he had to show that he knew how to ride a motorcycle. Hamner talks about writing the episode and the storyline.
  • Sponsor Billboards (HD, 32 sec.) - Crest and Milk Wave Lilt commercials.

Episode 139: "Night Call"

  • Interview with Richard Matheson (SD, 3 min.) - This interview continues on from the earlier interviews on this set. Zicree is still talking to writer Richard Matheson, and discusses the episode of "Night Call" with him. He talks about the twist in the story and how this was the shortest 'Twilight Zone' shoot.
  • Isolated Score - For you music enthusiasts.

Episode 140: "From Agnes – With Love"

  • Sponsor Billboards (HD, 31 sec.) - Prell shampoo and Crest toothpaste commercials.

Episode 141: "Spur of the Moment"

  • Interview with Richard Matheson (SD, 13 min.) - The interview with Matheson continues. Here Matheson talks about his personal history growing up and learning to write. Matheson talks about working with 'Twilight Zone' alum George Clayton Johnson and a myriad of different subjects.
  • Isolated Score by Rene Garriguenc - More isolated music.
  • Sponsor Billboards (HD, 32 sec.) - Tareyton cigarettes and American Tobacco Company commercials.

Disc 4

Episode 142: "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge"

  • Isolated Score by Henri Lanoe - Another isolated score for you.
  • Sponsor Billboards (HD, 31 sec.) - Crest toothpaste and Push Button Lilt.

Episode 143: "Queen of the Nile"

  • Sponsor Billboards (HD, 31 sec.) - Lucky Strike cigarettes and American Tobacco Company commercials.

Episode 144: "What's in the Box"

  • Sponsor Billboards (HD, 32 sec.) - Prell and Crest commercials.

Episode 145: "The Masks"

  • Audio Commentary - Actor Alan Sues offers a commentary here. His commentary is just as haphazard as the other actor commentaries. Still, he gives a pretty funny commentary on what it's like to act in the 'Twilight Zone'.
  • Isolated Score - Another score for music lovers.
  • Sponsor Billboards (HD, 31 sec.) - Pall Mall cigarettes and American Tobacco Company commercials.

Episode 146: "I Am the Night – Color Me Black"

  • Interview with Terry Becker (SD, 6 min.) - Actor Terry Becker talks about playing the part of Jagger in the episode and his own approach to acting.
  • Sponsor Billboards (HD, 32 sec.) - Crest and Milk Wave Lilt commercials.

Episode 147: "Sounds and Silences"

  • Isolated Score -Another isolated score for the music lovers.
  • Sponsor Billboards (HD, 32 sec.) - Pall Mall and American Tobacco commercials.

Episode 148: "Caesar and Me"

  • Sponsor Billboards (HD, 31 sec.) - Prell and Crest commercials.

Episode 149: "The Jeopardy Room"

  • Audio Commentary - Main actor Martin Landau gives a commentary here. Landau's commentary is full of dead spots, but gives some great information. For instance he talks about how Rod Serling was actually there for his prologue introduction, when he that part was usually added in when Serling had time to be on set. He also talks about how these episodes were filmed in three days, a very short shooting schedule.
  • Sponsor Billboards (HD, 31 sec.) - Pall Mall and American Tobacco commercials.

Disc 5

Episode 150: "Stopover in a Quiet Town"

  • Interview with Nancy Malone and Earl Hamner (SD, 9 min.) - Actress Nancy Malone talks about her time meeting Rod Serling, how much she loved doing an episode of 'The Twilight Zone'. She felt like she was lucky to get on 'Twilight Zone'. Hamner talks about creating suspense in the episode and having it build up to the climax.
  • Isolated Score - An isolated score has been provided for this episode.

Episode 151: "The Encounter"

  • Isolated Score - Another isolated music score.
  • Sponsor Billboards (HD, 31 sec.) - Pall Mall and American Tobacco commercials.

Episode 152: "Mr. Garrity and the Graves"

  • Sponsor Billboards (HD, 32 sec.) - Prell and Crest commercials.

Episode 153: "The Brain Center at Whipple's"

  • Sponsor Billboards (HD, 30 sec.) - Tareyton cigs and American Tobacco Company commercials.

Episode 154: "Come Wander with Me"

  • Isolated Score by Jeff Alexander - Here's some more isolated music for you listening pleasure.
  • Sponsor Billboards (HD, 31 sec.) - Crest and Milk Wave Lilt commercials.

Episode 155: "The Fear"

  • Sponsor Billboards (HD, 31 sec.) - American Tobacco Company commercials.

Episode 155: "The Fear"

  • Interview with Earl Hamner (SD, 6 min.) - Hamner talks about his writing process and how he dislikes writing bad, or malevolent characters. That's why he liked writing for 'The Waltons'.
  • Isolated Score - Another isolated music score.

Additional Features

  • 'The Mike Wallace Interview' (SD, 21 min.) - A very hazy looking television interview with Rod Serling. Wallace talks to Serling about a variety of topics like censorship in television and why he decided to become a television writer. I wish we had interviews like this today. Today's interviews are used for promotional tools, but here Mike Wallace is able to unearth tremendous amounts of candid information about Serling's writings, his thoughts on television, and his experience with TV censorship.
  • Netherlands Sales Pitch (SD, 4 min.) - Serling talks about 'The Twilight Zone' as it's about to come to the Netherlands in syndication.
  • Excerpt from Rod Serling's Sherwood Oaks College Lecture (SD, 12 min.) - Still images are shown as Serling's speech is played. He talks about how hard it is to get a pilot sold and how hard it is for a new writer to get his stuff bought.
  • Alfred Hitchcock Promo (SD, 2 min.) - Hitchcock himself gives a strange introduction to 'The Twilight Zone'.
  • George Clayton Johnson Home Movies (SD, 2 min.) - Johnson talks about how his script was bought by Serling, and how Serling changed it up and how he wanted to sell more and more of his stuff to Serling because he liked him so much.
  • Additional Sponsor Billboards (HD, 47 sec.) - Commercials for Sanka Coffee, Kimberly Clark paper products, and Kleenex tissues.

Final Thoughts

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.

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