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DVD Review: The Twilight Zone: Essential Episodes

Another way to enter another dimension.

By Rob Vaux     July 01, 2014
Source: Mania.com


The Twilight Zone: Essential Episodes
© CBS/Robert Trate

Fans of The Twilight Zone haven’t exactly been starved for their beloved show. Numerous DVD and Blu-ray editions have been released over the years – including a definitive boxed set released in 2012 – and anything new may come across as double-dipping in the extreme. But for those unwilling to invest $200 for a complete set, options become a lot trickier. Several “Best of” DVDs have been released in the past to help alleviate it, and now comes a new “Essential Episodes” collection that emulates their formula. We’ve gone way beyond what’s necessary with this series, but if the episodes here fit your needs, it’s an extremely affordable way to get your Zone fix.

The question, of course, is which episodes are contained in the set and whether they match what you’re looking for. Some of them are an absolute necessity, and every set along these lines seem to include them. You can probably name them off by memory: “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street,” “It’s a Good Life,” “The Eye of the Beholder,” and “Time Enough at Last” for starters. Beyond that, you slip into the realm of personal opinion, and the question becomes which episodes are most important to the individual buyer.

The Essential Episodes collection does quite well in that regard. In addition to the five listed above, it includes 12 more from across the spectrum.  Again, you can spot some of the usual “Best of” suspects: “To Serve Man,” where alien visitors prove less benevolent than they sound; “Nick of Time,” pitting William Shatner against a seemingly prescient novelty device; “The Masks,” where an old man delivers a nasty comeuppance to his horrible family; and “The Howling Man,” where an isolated monastery holds someone they claim is the Devil. Put them together under the modest $20 price on Amazon, and it becomes an easy purchase for fans still looking to add them to their collection.

Go deeper than that, however, and you might have to apply more personal proclivities. None of the remaining episodes are stinkers (and The Twilight Zone had its share, just like any other). They just fall into those second-tier categories that lead to furious online debates. “The Midnight Sun” is a personal favorite, for instance, and I can see the appeal of the likes of “The Invaders” and “The Obsolete Man.” But others, like “Walking Distance” and “The Hitch-Hiker,” fall a lot flatter. (I’d have much preferred the likes of “Steel,” featuring one of Lee Marvin’s best performances, or the nearly wordless “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.")

The good news is that, even if a few of them aren’t what you had in mind, the rest still make for a strong collection. A Blu-ray version would be preferable, of course, but again, the DVD helps keep the price down… which is kind of the point with a set like this. The episodes are presented in an absolutely no-frills format, so don’t expect any extras. However, each one includes a few period promos for other shows on the network, and Rod Serling himself stepping out to tell us what’s coming next week. It adds to the nostalgia factor without adding to the price, a wise move considering how many other options are out there.

Should you buy it? Certainly not if you already own all of the episodes you need, and not if you’re looking for a Blu-ray copy. But for a quick fix that won’t break your bank – something that delivers the very best science fiction and horror ever put on television – then this new collection covers the bases quite nicely. User mileage may vary, but there’s no questioning the quality onscreen.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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mike10 7/1/2014 9:40:19 AM

I'm been watching the Twilight Zone since I was in Junior High School about 35 years ago and the episodes never get old. This seems like a great deal but I'm waiting to see if the complete Blu-ray seasons come down in price.

blankczech 7/1/2014 6:14:41 PM

If  you have an Amazon Prime account you can stream every episode from the first 5 seasons of Twilight Zone in HD for free on Amazon Instant Video.

domino2008 7/2/2014 4:55:49 AM

Well I myslf are collecting the no-frills Twilight Zone that are $19 a season ( i dont need to know whja episode is next , if the box or menu will tell me for free , The standard sets for for $ 52  , then the Blu ray , dont need that either for the preduction is black and wite but bluray set You must buy all seasons to buy it in that form. I only need season 2-4 , plus I have Nexflix they have most of all seasons , so Im in no hurry . This DVD is good for those who need some ,the pick int bad,I too like The Midnight Sun . In my house  when i was a kid I remember  it on , as my Mom was a fan of the show ,the music use to creep me out ,but the Twilight Zone was never really scary , it dealt with the human condition  . Rod Serling had a dream and it ws called..the twilight Zone.

karas1 7/2/2014 9:02:35 AM

My favorite TZ episode was the one where Jack Klugman and Jackie Gleeson spend the whole episode playing pool.  Two actors and one cheap set produced an episode of gripping drama.  Classic.

EyeofHarmony 7/2/2014 4:03:18 PM

 Pretty sure it was Jonathan Winters, not Jackie Gleason.  It was a good episode, however. 

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