Blu-Review: The Twilight Zone: The Original Series – Season One

Created By Rod Serling
Starring Burgess Meredith, Gig Young, Vera Miles, Rod Taylor, Anne Francis, Roddy McDowell and Jack Klugman



The Twilight Zone should need no introduction. From the show’s ironic final stingers which have made the show an instant point of comparison for any film or TV show to attempt a twist ending since, to that simple, but memorably eerie theme tune, so often jokingly whistled by friends to punctuate a moment of real-life weirdness, Rod Serling’s iconic TV show has been permanently etched into the pop culture consciousness. In the unlikely event that you haven’t seen an episode, chances are you’re at least aware of it or have seen something that’s been inspired by it.

Hosted by Serling himself and telling a new standalone science-fiction/fantasy tale each week, The Twilight Zone told stories of ordinary people caught up in mysterious, otherworldly circumstances, and like most great sci-fi, smuggled timely social commentary in amongst its pulpy short stories, usually capped off with a surprising and cruelly ironic twist ending. The Twilight Zone wasn’t the first anthology show to make a splash on the airwaves, having been preceded by series like Science Fiction Theatre and Alfred Hitchcock Presents, but it was undoubtedly the most influential. Even modern TV’s most universally popular show has its toe dipped deeply in The Twilight Zone – without Rod Serling’s series, The Simpsons would have no ‘Treehouse of Horror’ Halloween anthology episodes, which often remake and parody Twilight Zone stories.

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The show has been revived a couple of times over the years with mixed results, but the anthology series format has rarely proven successful since. HBO’s Tales From The Crypt found success largely by distancing itself from The Twilight Zone and embracing EC Comics’ darkly comic, gruesomely macabre tales of grim, violent karmic comeuppance, while Are You Afraid of the Dark gained a seven-season total run primarily by ensnaring younger viewers. But the landscape of TV history is littered with the corpses of shows that tried to revive Serling’s blueprint and wound up short-lived and quickly forgotten, partially due to the uneven nature of having a revolving door of writers without the Zone’s more unified tone and creative vision (Serling penned a whopping 28 of the first season’s 36 episodes) but perhaps in part to the imposing, inescapable shadow that The Twilight Zone casts.

While even Serling himself would later struggle to maintain the staggering pace and quality of his creative output in the face of studio interference and the shift to a bloated hour-long format, the early seasons of The Twilight Zone showcase consistently masterful storytelling filled with boundless imagination that few TV writers can ever hope to rival. The first season includes some of the series’ most famous and memorable episodes like ‘Time Enough At Last’, in which a short-sighted bookworm finds himself the last man alive, and ‘The Monsters are Due on Maple Street’, which toys with McCarthy-era paranoia as a handful of neighbours quickly turn on each other when they suspect their town to be in the grip of an alien invasion.

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There are tonnes of great stories surrounding the more well-known ones, too: The poignantly wistful ‘Walking Distance’ – a meditation on the fleeting nature of youth that sees a burnt-out ad exec suddenly wander into the past when he visits his home town; the playfully postmodern ‘A World Of His Own’ finds a playwright with the ability to bring his characters to life, while the atmospheric, slightly Hitchcockian thriller ‘Nightmare as a Child’ follows a young woman with a traumatic history visited by a mysterious little girl and a strange man from her past. It’s a show filled with often creepy and always grippingly strange and twisty tales, each filled with tight, economical and perfectly executed character-driven storytelling.

If you’ve never seen The Twilight Zone before, you’re in for a wonderful treat – it’s some of the most mesmerising entertainment in TV history. If you’ve caught the show on TV during marathon showings, then chances are you still might not have seen every episode, and there’s still a wealth of amazing and memorable gems to be found. And if you’re a Twilight Zone fan who’s seen every episode countless times already, then you’ll no doubt have another purchase to add to your wish list once you see the phenomenal treatment the series has received for its Blu-ray release.

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Do you already own The Twilight Zone on DVD? Feel free to frisbee those discs down the street and get your credit card handy – those DVDs are now obsolete coasters in the face of Shock Entertainment’s stunning Blu-ray set. Starting with a high-definition remaster from the original 35mm negatives, The Twilight Zone’s 1080p Blu-ray treatment is a night-and-day upgrade from past DVD sets. Natural grain and noise, occasional specks and minor marks on the print are apparent, as is to be expected for a show this old, but otherwise the transfer is astonishing. The detail apparent, especially in close-up shots where you can practically count the strands of stubble on a man’s face, is absolutely astounding, and this is the best The Twilight Zone has ever looked by a wide margin.

The audio has received a similar, if slightly less revelatory polish and tune-up. Each episode features a newly-restored uncompressed PCM mono track, which sounds as perfect as you could hope with incredibly clarity of dialogue and the show’s score. As a point of comparison and to please completists, the original unrestored mono tracks are also included. English SDH subtitles are also featured for those who need them.

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While the gorgeous visual treatment the show has received in HD is impressive enough, the utterly stunning wealth of special features instantly rob the previous ‘Definitive Collection’ DVDs of their title. You could spend weeks poring over the mountain of content included, but of most interest to fans (and exclusive to the Blu-ray set) will likely be the fully HD restored Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse episode ‘The Time Element’ (which served as the original ‘unofficial pilot’ for The Twilight Zone), the whopping 18 radio dramas which reworked classic episodes for modern radio, and the 19 new enlightening, engaging commentaries with folks like The Twilight Zone Companion author Marc Scott Zicree, historian Gary Gerani, music historians Steven C. Smith, John Morgan and William T. Stromberg, writer/producer David Simkins (Dark Angel, Lois & Clark), Children of Men and Iron Man screenwriter Mark Fergus, actor William Reynolds and director Ted Post.

Also a noteworthy new addition is the Tales of Tomorrow episode ‘What You Need’, included (in standard definition) as a companion piece for The Twilight Zone episode of the same name which adapts the same Lewis Padgett short story. The mammoth full list of special features is as follows:

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Disc 1

Episode 1 – ‘Where is Everybody?’

  • Audio Commentary by Earl Holliman
  • Isolated Score by Bernard Herrmann
  • Sponsor Billboard
  • Original Pilot Version with Rod Serling Pitch
  • Audio Commentary on Original Pilot Version by Producer William Self
  • Alternate Opening Narration
  • Alternate Closing Narration
  • Rod Serling Lecture at Sherwood Oaks College (1975)

Episode 2 – ‘One for the Angels’

  • Interview with Dana Dillaway
  • Audio Commentary by Gary Gerani
  • Isolated Score
  • Sponsor Billboard
  • Radio Drama Starring Ed Begley, Jr.

Episode 3 – ‘Mr. Denton on Doomsday’

  • Audio Commentary by Martin Landau
  • Isolated Score
  • Sponsor Billboard

Episode 4 – ‘The Sixteen Millimeter Shrine’

  • Isolated Score by Franz Waxman
  • Sponsor Billboards

Episode 5 – ‘Walking Distance’

  • Audio Commentary by Marc Scott Zicree
  • Audio Commentary by Steven C. Smith, John Morgan and William T. Stromberg
  • Rod Serling Lecture at Sherwood Oaks College (1975)
  • Alternate Audio Mix
  • Isolated Music Score by Bernard Herrmann
  • Radio Drama starring Chelcie Ross

Episode 6 – ‘Escape Clause’

  • Isolated Score
  • Radio Drama starring Mike Starr

Episode 7 – ‘The Lonely’

  • Audio Commentary by Marc Scott Zicree
  • Audio Commentary by Steven C. Smith, John Morgan and William T. Stromberg
  • Audio Commentary by Gary Gerani
  • Isolated Score by Bernard Herrman
  • Sponsor Billboard
  • Radio Drama starring Mike Starr


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Disc 2

Episode 8 – ‘Time Enough at Last’

  • Audio Commentary by Marc Scott Zicree
  • Zicree Interview with Burgess Meredith (1978)
  • Radio Drama starring Tim Kazurinsky

Episode 9 – ‘Perchance to Dream’

  • Interview with Suzanne Lloyd
  • Isolated Score by Van Cleave
  • Radio Drama starring Fred Willard

Episode 11 – ‘And When the Sky Was Opened’

  • Audio Commentary by Rod Taylor
  • Zicree Interview with Dougles Hayes (1978)
  • Rod Serling Lecture at Sherwood Oaks College (1975)
  • Isolated Score by Leonard Rosenman

Episode 12 – ‘What You Need’

  • Tales of Tomorrow episode: ‘What You Need’
  • Isolated Score by Van Cleave

Episode 13 – ‘The Four of Us are Dying’

  • Interview with Beverly Garland
  • Audio Commentary by Gary Gerani
  • Isolated Score by Jerry Goldsmith

Episode 14 – ‘Third from the Sun’

  • Audio Commentary by David Simkins and Marc Scott Zicree
  • Zicree Interview with Richard L. Bare (1978)
  • Isolated Score

Episode 15 – ‘I Shot an Arrow Into the Air’

  • Isolated Score
  • Radio Drama starring Chelcie Ross


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Disc 3

Episode 16 – ‘The Hitch-Hiker’

  • Audio Commentary by Marc Scott Zicree
  • Isolated Score
  • Radio Drama starring Kate Jackson

Episode 17 – ‘The Fever’

  • Isolated Score
  • Radio Drama starring Stacy Keach and Kathy Garver

Episode 18 – ‘The Last Flight’

  • Isolated Score
  • Radio Drama starring Charles Shaughnessy

Episode 19 – ‘The Purple Testament’

  • Audio Commentary by William Reynolds
  • Interview with Ron Masak
  • Isolated Score by Lucien Moraweek

Episode 20 – ‘Elegy’

  • Isolated Score by Van Cleave

Episode 21 – ‘Mirror Image’

  • Audio Commentary by Martin Milner
  • Isolated Score
  • Radio Drama starring Morgan Brittany and Frank John Hughes

Episode 22 – ‘The Monsters are Due on Maple Street’

  • Audio Commentary by Marc Scott Zicree
  • Isolated Score by Rene Garriguene
  • Radio Drama starring Frank John Hughes


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Disc 4

Episode 23 – ‘A World of Difference’

  • Audio Commentary by Director Ted Post
  • Isolated Score by Van Cleave

Episode 24: “Long Live Walter Jameson”

  • Audio Commentary by Kevin McCarthy
  • Audio Commentary by Gary Gerani
  • Isolated Score
  • Radio Drama starring Lou Diamond Phillips

Episode 25 – ‘People Are Alike All Over’

  • Isolated Music Score
  • Radio Drama starring Blair Underwood

Episode 26 – ‘Execution’

  • Isolated Score

Episode 27 – ‘The Big Tall Wish’

  • Isolated Score by Jerry Goldsmith
  • Radio Drama starring Blair Underwood

Episode 28 – ‘A Nice Place To Visit’

  • Isolated Score

Episode 29 – ‘Nightmare as a Child’

  • Isolated Score by Jerry Goldsmith

Episode 30: “A Stop at Willoughby”

  • Audio Commentary by Gary Gerani
  • Zicree Interview with Buck Houghton (1978)
  • 1977 Syndication Promo
  • Isolated Score by Nathan Scott

Disc 5:

Episode 31 – ‘The Chaser’

  • Marc Scott Zicree Interview with Douglas Heyes  (1978)
  • Isolated Score

Episode 32 – ‘A Passage For Trumpet’

  • Audio Commentary by Mark Fergus and Marc Scott Zicree
  • Audio Commentary by Gary Gerani
  • Isolated Music Score by Lyn Murray

Episode 33 – ‘Mr. Bevis’

  • Isolated Score

Episode 34 – ‘The After Hours’

  • Audio Commentary by Marc Scott Zicree
  • Zicree Interview with Anne Francis and Douglas Heyes (1978)
  • 1977 Syndication Promo
  • Isolated Score
  • Radio Drama starring Kim Fields

Episode 35 – ‘The Mighty Casey’

  • Rod Serling Lecture at Sherwood Oaks College (1975)
  • Isolated Score
  • Radio Drama starring Paul Dooley

Episode 36 – ‘A World of His Own’

  • Zicree Interview with Richard Matheson (1978)
  • Isolated Score

Additional Extras:

  • Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse – ‘The Time Element’(Includes optional commentary by Marc Scott Zicree and an alternate opening and closing.)
  • Zicree Interview with George Clemens (1978) – Part 1
  • Emmy Awards Clips



Whether you’re a casual or die-hard fan of the show, this Blu-ray set is the way to see it. With an absolutely stunning high-definition transfer and a mind-boggling array of quality special features, Shock Entertainment have heaped unconditional love on a show that truly deserves it, giving fans the best set they could ask for. Buy it right the hell now.

The Film:

The Blu-ray:




The Twilight Zone: The Original Series – Season One is out on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK now.
Click here to order the Blu-ray from Amazon.co.uk.

(Note: The images above were captured and saved at a reduced quality, and though they give an idea of how the film looks, they aren’t intended to reflect the true quality of the Blu-ray image itself.)