The middle ground between light and shadow just became a whole lot sharper and detailed with this stellar five-disc set, which compiles the entire second season of Rod Serling's classic television series, The Twilight Zone
, and gilds the whole package by including a treasure trove of supplemental material. TZ
's second season (1960-61) is a stand-out in the series' history thanks to its sheer number of memorable stories; among the episodes that have achieved pop culture landmark status are the chilling "Eye of the Beholder" (a disfigured woman undergoes surgery to appear more "normal") and "The Silence" (Franchot Tone wagers that Liam Sullivan cannot silent for a year); "The Invaders" (Agnes Moorhead is pitted against tiny space travelers), "Long Distance Call" (Lost in Space
's Billy Mumy converses with a deceased relative on his toy phone), and the more light-hearted "Night of the Meek," in which department store Santa Claus Art Carney gets a chance to fulfill the real St. Nick's duties. As always, the combination of sharp, intelligent scripting (mostly by Serling, but with notable contributions by Charles Beaumont, Richard Matheson, and George Clayton Johnson) and superb casting (guest stars include Cliff Robertson, Dennis Weaver, Burgess Meredith, William Shatner, John Carradine, and Don Rickles) produces television that remains as thought-provoking and entertaining today as it was over 40 years ago.
Though The Twilight Zone has received numerous home video releases over the years, the aptly titled Definitive Edition is arguably the finest presentation of this series to date. Each of the episodes have been digitally remastered from original camera negatives (even the episodes filmed on videotape look good) and magnetic soundtracks; Serling's previews for upcoming episodes and advertising "billboards" (sponsor spots) have also been included, as have commentaries by Rickles, Weaver, Robertson, Shelly Berman, and other performers. Clips of Serling on The Jack Benny Show and in conversation with Mike Wallace, audio interviews with cast and crew members by Twilight Zone Companion author Marc Scott Zicree, radio adaptations of classic episodes, and even the script for "Twenty-Two," complete with Serling's notes, round out the set, which belongs in the collection of anyone who's ever been enthralled by this landmark series. Now, if only the same treatment could be afforded to Serling's other anthology program, Night Gallery
Complementing this enhanced journey to the middle ground between light and shadow is an exceptional collection of new supplemental features that, when combined with the already fine material assembled for the DVD Definitive Editions, should make this season 2 offering a must-have for Twilight Zone
and Rod Serling devotees. Chief among the items making their debut on the Blu-ray is "Nightmare at Ground Zero," a 1953 episode of Suspense
penned by Serling about a scientist who plots to murder his wife at a nuclear test site; it's an extremely effective thriller that would have fit well into the TZ
canon. Part 2 of historian Marc Scott Zicree's 1978 audio interview with cinematographer George T. Clemens--the architect of the series' distinctive look--is also included, and it's accompanied by a chat from the same year with makeup artist William Tuttle, the man responsible for some of the show's most nightmarish images. Zicree is front and center for most of the 25 new commentary tracks, on which he's joined by the likes of Matthew Weiner (Mad Men
), Joseph Dougherty (thirtysomething
), comic book legends Len Wein and Marv Wolfman, original TZ
scripter George Clayton Johnson and historians Scott Skelton and Jim Benson, Gary Gerani, and Jon Burlingame.
Fifteen of the exceptional Twilight Zone radio adaptations are also included, which feature Jason Alexander, Jane Seymour, Michael York, and Fred Willard. And all of the extras offered on the DVD set, including commentary by original episode stars Don Rickles, Bill Mumy, Dennis Weaver, and Cliff Robertson, as well as isolated music scores, interviews, and promos, are submitted for your approval. The season 2 Blu-ray is truly the definitive final word on the stellar second season of this iconic show. --Paul Gaita