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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Twilight Zone - Season One
The Twilight Zone - Season One
New Line // Unrated // September 7, 2004
List Price: $59.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted September 11, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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The Show:

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 1985 version.

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.

The DVD:


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 of each.

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.

Audio:

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.

Video:

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 the show.

Extras:

There were no extras included with this set.

Final Thoughts:

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.

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