I'm a fan of the original Twilight Zone, but I have no illusions
that every show was a classic. I realize that the show had its share
of off episodes, especially in the last couple of seasons. So when
UPN started airing a new version of the Twilight Zone in 2002, I
didn't think that it was sacrilegious or horrible, I was cautiously optimistic.
After all, the 1985 remake wasn't too bad, and it had some interesting
episodes. Now all the episodes of this latest incarnation of the
classic show are available on DVD in one set. Unfortunately these
shows don't live up to the standard set by the original show, or even the
For this incarnation of the show, Forest Whitaker steps into the Rod
Serling role as narrator and introduces each show. He does a good
job, not trying to ape Serling's mannerisms and style, but using his own
calm genial style to present the stories. Though I wish he had stared
in an episode or two, he is a very good host.
The acting is very good too. A lot of quality guest stars are
featured in these programs, and they make the shows better than they would
have been otherwise. The actors don't over act, in general, and take
their roles seriously.
So what's the problem with these shows? In short: the writing.
There just weren't many good stories in this collection, and after viewing
them it is easy to see why the show was cancelled. They tried to
make the show hip and cool to appeal to a younger audience, but they forgot
to flesh out the plots. Filling some shows with pop culture references
doesn't make a show good. A solid script does.
Most of these shows felt more like a Goosebumps story than the Twilight
Zone. There was little suspense in these shows, and none of the
plots were very memorable. For example, one of the later episodes
in the series, The Collection, has a lot of potential, but ends
up falling flat. The plot involves a babysitter (Jessica Simpson) who is
hired to watch a young girl, Danielle (AshleyEdner,) while her parents
are out. Danielle has a large collection of dolls, that she
keeps locked up in a cabinet. She talks about the dolls as if they
are real, and panics when one of them escapes. Now I've always found
evil doll stories rather creepy. From the movie Magic to the
Night Gallery episode The Doll, I've always thought that
there was something eerie about living dolls. But this episode fails
to deliver the chills. In the scene that is supposed to deliver the
most shocks, the babysitter walks into the living room that has dolls sitting
all around it. A bunch of Barbies sitting on furniture just isn't
spooky at all. They never move, nor do they look frightening.
To make matters worse, everyone realizes that the dolls are alive about
15 minutes before the sitter does. This episode had a lot of plot
holes in it too. Apparently dozens of babysitters have gone missing
after sitting for this girl, but no one thinks it is strange. The
police are never called, and the agency keeps sending more sitters over.
I guess they really were living in the Twilight Zone.
While several episodes had twists at the end, I saw all of them coming
way ahead of time, and wasn't surprised at all. It is possible to
have good plot twists in a series, take 24 for example, but this
show just didn't have any. The amazing revelation in Dream Lover,
for instance was fairly obvious from early on.
There were a couple of episodes that weren't too bad. I found
the remake of The Monsters are Due on Maple Street to be pretty
good, though I didn't like the slight alteration in the ending. The
other remake, Eye of the Beholder, wasn't as effective as the original
in my opinion.
The show I found myself following the most closely was It's Still
a Good Life, a sequel to the original series episode It's a Good
Life. Bill Mumy reprises his role as Anthony Fremont, the person
who can make his every wish become reality. This show takes place
40 years later when Anthony is grown and has a daughter that he cherishes.
I enjoyed seeing how Anthony's life worked out, but if you haven't seen
the original episode, this one will probably not be as interesting.
The best episode not inspired by the original series was The Palcebo
Effect. It concerns a book dealer comes down with a strange illness
that only occurs in a science fiction book, and the way that a doctor cures
him. But is the cure worse than the disease?
Overall, this wasn't a great series. It's not that all of the
shows were bad, it's just that most of them fell into the mediocre category,
and few were better than that.
This six disc set includes all 43 episodes of the 2002 incarnation of
The Twilight Zone. The discs come in a 'book' that has six
pages for the DVDs. The book is housed in a slipcase. There
is also an insert that lists all of the episodes and gives a short synopsis
When originally broadcast, the show filled an hour long time slot, with
two stories being broadcast in each episode (with the exception of the
pilot which filled the entire hour.) This DVD set presents each story
as a stand alone episode with beginning and ending credits. They
are also not presented in the order that they were originally shown on
UPN. I assume that the order in which they appear in this set is
the order that they were originally produced.
This show comes with the original stereo soundtrack, a Dolby Digital
5.1 mix, and a DTS soundtrack. I watched episodes with all three
audio tracks, and they all sounded very good. There wasn't a lot
of use made of the soundstage, but the dialog was clear and the music was
very crisp. The show sounded very good.
The widescreen anamorphic video looked very good. This was a recent
show, so it's natural that the colors were bright and the contrast was
fine. Dark areas had a good amount of details present. Digital
defects were at a minimum. The video quality should please fans of
There were no extras included with this set.
This series wasn't the greatest. A lot of mediocre shows, several
lousy ones and a couple of good ones. While I was never bored watching
these, they didn't really leave a lasting impression. Science fiction
fans who already have the original series, the Outer Limits, and several
of the other quality SF shows available on DVD may want to check this out,
but it would be best to rent it.