News of the release of Darkside's first season on DVD was long awaited. Unfortunately, the product ultimately delivered was a tremendous disappointment. Please be aware that all of the show's original music has been changed here for every episode as far as I can tell, with the exception of "Inside the Closet", which is presented with its original score. In all fairness to the producers of the set, this music alteration is mentioned on the back of the DVD case, along with a statement about some episodes that may be modified. However, these facts are stated nowhere in the amazon.com product description, so many buyers may find this out after the fact.
It appears that music library licensing has forced the producers of this set to strip the series of all of its original soundtracks. I find it somewhat difficult to believe that compensatory arrangements couldn't have been made with the original composers or their families in order to allow for this music to be included in the DVD release. Consider the DVD release of The Twilight Zone, for example. Beyond the 4 or 5 major composers that contributed music to that series (Herrmann, Goldsmith, Constant, etc), there were a plethora of other musicians that contributed little musical cues, as confirmed by the new Zone book by Martin Grams. With this in mind, the Zone DVDs still present all of the original music from the series. Again, I find it difficult to believe that the producers of the Darkside DVD set could not have done the same.
I personally would have paid $20 to $40 more for the set if it included the original music. For me, the inclusion of altered music makes the DVD set utterly unacceptable and unwatchable. For all of its campiness, low production value and overall marginal episode quality, I really feel that the music of this series was well written and indispensable. Some viewers, and especially anyone new to the show, may not care about the altered soundtrack. However, for anyone with even a casual admiration for the series, I would think that the changes made here will be of great concern.
Regarding the picture quality of the DVD release, it appears that no effort was made by the producers to improve upon or re-master the video. This being said, I would not say that the visual quality is poor. It is at best average, but does not take away from the enjoyment of the viewing experience. That said, it is my opinion that the visual quality of the program as aired on the Sci Fi channel is better than what one would get with the DVD release. If nothing else, this is still disappointing.
There are two other very minor issues that I would like to mention. This is really nitpicking on my part, but hopefully it can be of value to someone. First, the commentary by creator George Romero that is advertised in the product description appears to be nothing more than bits taken from an interview done with him around the time of the creation of the series circa 1983. In other words, Romero has not been actively involved in contributing any new material to the DVD release, which he could easily have done. This is in a way deceptive advertising, as the product description leads one to believe that Romero provided new commentary for the purpose of the DVD release. In addition, this supposed commentary appears as an option for only one episode, the pilot "Trick or Treat". My initial impression after learning of the inclusion of commentary was that Romero would sit down and review at least 5 of the most well written episodes of the season. The second gripe is virtually meaningless, but something that was still disappointing. The show's commercial bumpers are not included in the set. This is trivial, but I cannot help to again reference the DVD release of The Twilight Zone, which does include all of the original show bumpers as each episode went to commercial. In virtually every way, the Zone DVD release is IMO the model for which all other TV programs should strive. Unfortunately, this release came nowhere near to satisfying what the fans of the program deserve.