One of my minor goals in life has been to never pay for postage with my orders from Amazon. Consequently on my Wish List I always have some paperbacks or DVDs on sale that I can use to get to the magic mark for free shipping. One of the things I have been using to make up the differences had been volumes of "The Twilight Zone," and I was just up to double-figures when I looked over what the deal was with "The Twilight Zone: The Complete Definitive Collection." Even given the fact that I have not had a math course since I was a freshman in high school, I figured out that the price of these 28-disc set would be considerably less than in would cost me to get all of those other volumes. Then I paid attention to the fine print and discovered that with these DVDs there were bonus features the likes of which you would not expect to see for a black & white television series that went off the air in 1964.
To give you an idea of what this means, here is what you get for bonus features just on Disc One of Season 1 of "The Twilight Zone": For "Where Is Everybody?" there is audio commentary by actor Earl Holliman and an isolated score by Bernard Herman; "One for the Angels" has "The Twilight Zone" Radio Drama starring Ed Begley, Jr.; "Mr. Denton on Doomsday" has audio commentary by actor Martin Landau; "The Sixteen Millimeter Shrine" has an isolated score by Franz Waxman; "Walking Distance" has part of a Rod Serling lecture given at Sherwood Oaks College in 1975 and another isolated score by Hermann; "Escape Clause" is a rare episode without a bonus feature; and "The Lonely" has another Hermann score.
Now, I can care less about the isolated scores, but the rest of the extras are great. You really get a sense for how self-deprecating Serling was as he dismantles his episodes for his students. The radio dramas feature such recognizable voices as those of Jane Seymour, Daniel J. Travanti, Jason Alexander, Blair Underwood, Morgan Brittany, and John Ratzenberger (Stacy Keach handles the narration duties). I had seen the CDs for those episodes before and would never think of picking them up, so having them here is a nice little treat. There are also intereviews by Marc Scott Zicree, author of The Twilight Zone Companion
," with the likes of Richard Matheson, Earl Hamner, George Clayton Johnson, Brugess Meredith, Anne Francis, Maxine Stuart, Richard L. Bare, Buck Houghton, and Douglas Heyes. So you can see there is a mix of writers, actors, and directors to be found.
The list of those providing commentary tracks includes Bill Mumy (on ALL of his "Zone" episodes), Cliff Robertson, Don Rickles, Donna Douglas, Dennis Weaver, Martin Milner, Jonathan Winters, William Windom, Mariette Hartley, Leonard Nimoy, and Mickey Rooney. These are mostly memories about making the shows and how many of them still hear from fans about what they did on the "Zone" way back when. Elsewhere you will find such treats as a clip from "The Drew Carey Show" relevant to the classic "Time Enough at Last" and the infamous "Saturday Night Live" take-off on "The Twilight Zone," a complete script with Rod Serling's handwritten notes for "Twenty Two," Serling hosting an episode of the game show "Liars Club" (with Betty White) and the proverbial much, much more topped off by "Rod Serling: Submitted for Your Appproval," a American Masters biography of the man himself.
My assumption here is that nobody needs to be sold on "The Twilight Zone" itself. Yes, there are some lame episodes, but there are more classic "Zones" that more than balance things out. If you have read Zicree's book a lot of what you hear in the interviews will be old news, but that is not a significant flaw. I would have loved to have had William Shatner do a commentary track for "Nick of Time" (which I prefer to his better known appearance in "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet"), but for such disappointments there are wonderful surprised (e.g., June Foray doing audio commentary and a video interview for "Living Doll"). I have been watching an episode of the "Zone" each night after the evening news (and before network prime time began (this was in the old days when there was not a writers strike and there were new episodes of dramatic programming readily available). The biggest surprise has been how many of these episodes I have never seen before of the half-hour episodes (I knew going in that I had only seen a handful of the hour-long ones from Season 4). This is the first time I have spent triple digits for a television series and it took watching just that first disc to convince me I had spent my money wisely.