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Twilight Zone ('85) - Seasons 2 & 3, The

Image // Unrated // June 28, 2005
List Price: $69.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Scott Weinberg | posted July 14, 2005 | E-mail the Author
The Series

From 1959 to 1964 Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone was broadcast into millions of homes ... and to say that this science fiction anthology series was warmly embraced and fondly remembered, well, that would be a massive understatement. Serling's tales of weirdness, madness, chills, and (most of all) acidic irony are just as beloved today as they ever were.

There have been a handful of latter-day TZ incarnations, some good (the 1983 movie version), some bad (the woeful 2002 series), and some wedged firmly into the middle. And that's where the 1985 Twilight Zone series comes in. Occasionally brilliant, intermittently terrible, and generally pretty so-so all around, this version ran for three seasons in the mid-1980's, and now you can revisit those semi-glory days by way of DVD magic.

But I'd recommend this particular series only to the hardcore fans of the original series. And if you're not well-versed in the 60's episodes ... you really should start there before picking through the modern ones.

One of the main problems with the '85 vintage TZ stories is that of simple predictability. Most of the more engaging episodes manage to telegraph their "twists" well before they actually occur, thereby muting the surprises with little effort. But still, there's a lot of fun to be had as you pick through seasons 2 and 3. Many episodes runs about a half-hour, but several double-dips contain two mini-stories instead of just one. You'll enjoy catching the handfuls of familiar faces, plus you'll see some early TV work from directors like Wes Craven, Atom Egoyan, and Martha Coolidge.

The best episodes should be more than enough to keep the fans happy, although very few of them come close to the other-worldly coolness of Mr. Serling's original series. Here's a handy-dandy disc inventory, with the plot synopses contributed by a booklet included in the packaging.

Season 2 / Disc 1

The Once and Future King -- A mediocre Elvis impersonator is transported back to Memphis, 1954, where he meets the real Elvis, then a truck driver and would-be singer in an encounter that transforms both of them. (Dir: Jim McBride)

A Saucer of Loneliness -- Shelly Duvall is a shy young woman who receives a private message from a flying saucer. (Dir: John Hancock)

What Are Friends For? -- No one believes that a lonely boy's new friend (Fred Savage) is real until the boy's father (Tom Skerritt) remembers something strange from his own childhood. (Dir: Gus Trikonis)

Aqua Vita -- A fortyish TV newscaster, afraid of losing her job, discovers a magical type of bottled water that makes her appear younger. But then the price of the water skyrockets. (Dir: Paul Tucker)

The Storyteller -- David Faustino is a student with a magical gift. He keeps his great-great-grandfather alive by spinning fantastic tales that continue night after night. (Dir: Paul Lynch)

Nightsong -- A DJ plays an obscure record by her long-lost lover who then mysteriously reappears. As she begins to fall for him again, he must tell her why he disappeared so many years ago. (Dir: Bradford May) *This episode includes several deleted scenes and an audio commentary with Bradford May and executive producer Philip DeGuere.

Season 2 / Disc 2

The After Hours -- When Marsha Cole (Terry Farrell) goes to a shopping mall on a routine errand, she detects shadowy figures and mysterious voices all around her. A remake of the original Twilight Zone episode. (Dir: Bruce Malmuth)

Lost and Found -- A college student learns the strange reason her possessions have been vanishing. (Dir: Gus Trikonis)

The World Next Door -- A would-be inventor (George Wendt) is bored with his life. When he discovers a parallel world he meets another inventor (Jeffrey Tambor) whose life has turned out very differently. (Dir: Paul Lynch)

The Toys of Caliban -- An elderly couple live in terror of their unusual son who can summon anything he can imagine. A partial remake of the original Twilight Zone's "It's a Good Life." (Dir: Thomas J. Wright)

The Convict's Piano -- A prisoner wrongly accused of murder finds his talents as a pianist may set him free as long as he keeps playing a particular piano. Norman Fell plays Eddie O'Hara. (Dir: Thomas J. Wright)

The Road Less Traveled -- A college teacher who fled to Canada to avoid the draft during the Vietnam War is haunted by a wheelchair-bound man who begins to appear inside his house. (Dir: Wes Craven) *This episode includes several deleted scenes and an audio commentary with Wes Craven and Philip DeGuere.

The Card -- Susan Blakely stars as a young shopper who learns a harsh lesson about paying credit card bills on time. (Dir: Bradford May) *This episode includes several deleted scenes and an audio commentary by Bradford May, Philip DeGuere, and writer Michael Cassutt.

Season 2 / Disc 3

The Junction -- Two miners (William Allen Young, Chris Mulkey) are trapped in the local mine. Only one manages to get out, but then rescuers find an unusual note about the second man's location. (Dir: Bill Duke)

Joy Ride -- Several teenagers who steal a classic car embark on an eerie joy ride through a suddenly unfamiliar neighborhood. (Dir: Gill Bettman)

Private Channel -- When a freak lightning storm causes a young airline passenger's headset radio to malfunction, he finds he can eavesdrop on his fellow passengers' thoughts. (Dir: Peter Medak)

Shelter Skelter -- Joe Mantegna is Harry Dobbs, a survivalist who is deathly afraid of nuclear war. When a bomb goes off, he manages to get into his well-fortified bunker, convinced that he's outsmarted everybody. Also features Joan Allen. (Dir: Martha Coolidge)

Time and Teresa Golowitz -- Paul Sand is a man who has a fatal heart attack early in his life, but when the Prince of Darkness (Gene Barry) allows him to briefly live again, the dead man returns to his youth to woo the girl who got away. Includes Gina Gershon as Laura. (Dir: Shelley Levinson) *This episode includes several deleted scenes and an audio commentary with writer Alan Brennert.

Voices in the Earth -- In the far future, an expedition returns to a desolate Earth where the ship's historian (Martin Balsam) becomes possessed by the planet's former inhabitants. (Dir: Curtis Harrington)

Song of the Younger World -- A reform school inmate and the warden's daughter fall in love, but are forbidden to see each other. Still, a mystical book may hold the answer to the couple's future happiness. (Dir: Corey Allen)

The Girl I Married -- Bored with their marriage, a couple (James Whitmore Jr., Linda Kelsey) meet an idealistic, nervy younger couple who seem eerily familiar. (Dir: Philip DeGuere)

Season 3 / Disc 4

Extra Innings -- Marc Singer is a washed-up baseball player who is given another chance - but at a considerable cost to his marriage. (Dir: Doug Jackson)

The Trunk -- Bud Cort is a down-on-his-luck hotel manager who finds a steamer trunk that gives him anything he wishes for, except the one thing he most wants. (Dir: Steve DiMarco)

The Crossing -- A priest (Ted Shackleford) is tormented by the appearance of a station wagon that repeatedly crashes and bursts into flames ... with a little girl inside. (Dir: Paul Finch)

The Curious Case of Edgar Witherspoon -- Harry Morgan stars as a man who fills his apartment with junk, claiming he must collect to keep the world in balance. He is committed to a mental hospital, but then strange things start to happen... (Dir: Rene Bonniere)

Dream Me a Life -- Eddie Albert is a curmudgeonly retirement home resident who has nightmares of an unknown woman trying to hold back a strange creature. (Dir: Allan King)

The Hunters -- Prehistoric cave paintings aren't the only things discovered in a newly unearthed cave. Stars Louise Fletcher as an archaeologist. (Dir: Paul Lynch)

The Hellgramite Method -- Timothy Bottoms stars as an alcoholic looking for an easy cure. He finds one - only to learn that comes cures are worse than the disease. (Dir: Gilbert M. Shilton)

Memories -- A past-life regression therapist who inadvertently causes everyone to remember their past lives learns that long memories are not always a good thing. (Dir: Richard Bugajski)

Season 3 / Disc 5

The Call -- William Sanderson stars as a lonely man who dials a wrong number and connects with the perfect woman who loves him, but mysteriously refuses to let him see her. (Dir: Gilbert M. Shilton)

20/20 Vision -- When he can suddenly see the future, bank loan officer Warren Cribbens (Michael Moriarty) must decide whether he will risk his job to help farmers facing foreclosure. (Dir: Jim Purdy)

Our Selena is Dying -- A lost Rod Serling story about a ruthless woman determined to avoid death at any cost - even if her family must be sacrificed. (Dir: Bruce Pittman)

The Cold Equations -- A woman stows away on a spacecraft and later realizes that she has made a deadly mistake. Based on the famous short story. (Dir: Martin Lavut)

The Trance -- A scam artist purports to channel the spirit of an ancient inhabitant of Atlantis. The day of his biggest con, he accidentally channels a real spirit, one who could cause him to lose everything. Stars Peter Scolari. (Dir: Randy Bradshaw)

Acts of Terror -- A woman terrorized by her abusive husband receives a gift that channels her rage and summons something terrible. (Dir: Brad Turner)

There Was an Old Woman -- Colleen Dewhurst is a famous children's book writer feeling useless and no longer needed when she has a strange encounter with some fans. (Dir: Otta Hanus)

Stranger in Possum Meadows -- A young boy playing in a field meets an unusual old man mysteriously collecting specimens of all sorts. (Dir: Sturla Gunnarsson)

Season 3 / Disc 6

Appointment on Route 17 -- A heart transplant recipient (Paul LeMat) finds his personality changing and discovers that he has a strange attraction to a waitress at a roadside diner. (Dir: Rene Bonniere)

Street of Shadows -- A homeless man suddenly has all the money he wants - but only as the cost of everything he holds dear. (Dir: Richard Bugajski)

A Game of Pool -- A remake of the original Twilight Zone story of a pool hustler playing for his life. Stars Esai Morales. (Features the writer's original untelevised ending.) (Dir: Randy Bradshaw)

The Wall -- An Air Force officer is sent through a portal into another dimension where he discovers a pastoral paradise. (Dir: Atom Egoyan)

Father and Son Game -- An elderly man wants to keep living so he transplants his brain into a younger body. However, his son doesn't exactly approve. (Dir: Randy Bradshaw)

Room 2426 -- Martin Decker (Dean Stockwell) is imprisoned in a special room for acts and thoughts against the state. When he resists revealing a weapon-building formula, he seeks a unique way to escape. (Dir: Richard Bugajski)

The Mind of Simon Foster -- A down-on-his-luck man is forced to sell his memories to survive, but then discovers he can't get a job without them. (Dir: Doug Jackson)

Season 3 / Disc 7

Something in the Walls -- A sanitarium patient (Deborah Raffin) is horrified of creatures that she sees in the walls. (Dir: Allan Kroeker)

Cat and Mouse -- Andrea, a plain, shy girl, longs for love. One day she meets her prince, but there's one problem: he's been transformed into a cat. (Dir: Eric Till)

Rendezvous in a Dark Place -- Janet Leigh is a woman who is so obsessed with death that she attends strangers' funerals. But when she finally does meet Death, the outcome isn't what she expects. (Dir: Rene Bonniere)

Many, Many Monkeys -- A biological accident spreads blindness throughout the general population, but one nurse (Karen Valentine) believes that there is a deeper cause for her inability to see. (Dir: Richard Bugajski)

Love is Blind -- A jealous husband takes his rage to a bar where he meets an unusual blind bluesman who performs a song that tells an eerily familiar story. (Dir: Gilbert M. Shilton)

Special Service -- David Naughton is an ordinary guy who discovers that his home life is secretly being filmed ... and it's a ratings smash! First he objects, but then finds himself missing the fame and popularity. (Dir: Randy Bradshaw)

Crazy as a Soup Sandwich -- When a born loser sells his soul to a demon in exchange for some racing tips, crime boss Nino Lancaster (Anthony Franciosa) helps him out. But nothing is free, right? (Dir: Paul Lynch)

The DVD

Video: The fullscreen (1.33:1) format is to be expected, of course, but some of these episodes are so scratchy and grainy it boggles the eyeballs. The picture quality improves on the third season, but many of the earlier ones suffer pretty badly.

Audio: The episodes vary between Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo and Dolby Mono. The audio quality's nothing to rave about, but it's more than good enough to enjoy the episodes.

Extras: Scattered throughout the season 2 episodes are a handful of deleted scenes and audio commentaries. Please refer to the disc breakdowns above for applicable episodes. Ah, and there's also that handy little booklet.

Final Thoughts

The bad episodes are pretty darn silly, but several of the good ones shine enough to keep the Zone-faithful quite happy indeed. If you can recite all the original episodes pretty much by heart, odds are you'll dig the '85 version quite a bit. Not as a replacement, of course, but more of a curiosity.

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