"As one of the writer-producers who contributed to this series, I'm posting this to correct some misapprehensions concerning the picture quality of this DVD set. This is NOT a "bad transfer." The 1985-87 Twilight Zone was shot on film, but edited on video. In other words, the raw footage was 35mm film, which was then transferred to videotape. Editing, dubbing, special effects--everything was done on video. (We were in fact the first drama series on television to do this.) So unlike the original Rod Serling TZ, there ARE no original film negatives from which Image could strike new prints for transfer. All that exist are the old one-inch master tapes, and the unfortunate reality is, videotape does deteriorate some over time. Image has, in my opinion, done a superb job packaging our series, and it is to them that I award the five stars in this review! If not for their interest in bringing this show to DVD, those one-inch masters might eventually have eroded into so much static (as my 3/4-inch tapes of the show already have). If you enjoyed this series, just be grateful it's been preserved!"
The Twilight Zone 1985 is an outstanding series
N. Stock | Australia | 10/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This 1985 Season One version of The Twilight Zone is an outstanding series and should not be confused with the mediocre 2002 version. This was the sequel to the classic Rod Serling series and featured some great stories that were very well written. It has all sorts of stories-science fiction,romance,horror,comedy,satire,fantasy stories and is an outstanding series. The opening titles include a one second animation of Rod Serling as a salute to the original creator. The Twilight Zone 1985 Season One DVD set has 24 one hour episodes with 59 stories. It is unique in that the stories vary from 10 minutes to 45 minutes and it is the only series that I have seen that did this. This series had scripts and stories from some of the best writers around-people like Richard Matheson,Steven King,Harlan Ellison,Arthur C Clarke,Ray Bradbury and Alan Brennert. It has scripts adapted from many published quality stories. This TZ series also had some top movie directors like William Friedkin,Wes Craven,Joe Dante and Jeannot Szwarc. The William Friedkin directed episode "Nightcrawlers" was described by one CBS television executive as "the most intense television he had ever seen",a very atmospheric episode with brilliant direction. The series starts with the episode "Shatterday" which features Bruce Willis in his television debut. Fans with good memories will note that when answering the phone,Bruce says "is that crazy Willy",a line that he repeated in the movie "Armegeddon". The episode "Paladin Of The Lost Hour" features the great classic movie star Danny Kaye in his final performance,and a great acting performance it is. Morgan Freeman also stars in an episode about a men's card game that gets a visit from the devil. Other actors include Oscar winner Martin Landau,Peter Coyote,William Peterson,Elliot Gould and Ben Cross. There is an in joke in one episode,called "Devils Alphabet",where Ben Cross(star of the movie Chariots Of Fire)chases a horse drawn coach that is on fire. Obviously,the writers have a sense of humour. This first season also features such actresses as Melinda Dillon(Close Encounters Of The 3rd Kind)Dee Wallace Stone(ET),Jenny Agutter(Logans Run),Helen Mirren,Victoria Tennant and Pam Dawber(Mork and Mindy). There are also many Star Trek actors in these Twilight Zone episodes-Jonathon Frakes,Brent Spiner,John de Lancie(from ST:The Next Generation),Andrew Robinson(ST:DS9)and Robert Duncan McNeil(ST:Voyager). Andrew Robinson plays President Kennedy in an eccellent episode called "Profile In Silver" which is about a time traveller going back in time to document and film the assassination. This set is in stereo and has 12 commentaries,an interview with director Wes Craven and a photo gallery. It is well worth having for fans that want a quality series with great stories. One other reason to buy this set-considering the picture and sound have been remastered,the price for this set is remarkable when compared to some of the other TV series box sets around."
Do-do-do-do Do-do-do-do Do-do-do-do Do-do-do-do
M. Schaefer | Carmen Sandiego | 03/19/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"With all the TV shows being released on DVD these days, I hoped and prayed it wouldn't be too long before this show was released on DVD. And when I finally saw it being released this past Christmas, I only hoped my childhood memories wouldn't deceive me on the quality of the show...and for the most part they didn't.
Now, I know a lot of people are ragging on the picture quality which truthfully is NOT up to crystal clarity, but even one of the executive producers of TZ wrote in to Amazon.com to explain that we're lucky to have the DVD's at all since the masters were VHS which we all know degrades with time...which is WHY DVD is so much better. Some stories/episodes don't look bad at all, but there are a few stories/episodes which are quite scratched and/or grainy. It's just a shame that CBS waited this long to release TZ on DVD.
Now, onto the content...
The majority of the stories are just as good as I remembered and hold up over twenty years. Ironically, the darker stories (and an 8 o'clock time slot) are somewhat blamed for a decline in the ratings of the show. However, it is the darker stories which always stood out in my mind and actually hold up the best: "Gramma", "Examination Day", "The Elevator" and "Nightcrawlers". But other great stories that are a little easier on the heart and soul include "Shatterday", "A Little Piece And Quiet", "Wordplay", "Lost Hour Of Paladin, "To See The Invisible Man", "A Matter Of Minutes" and "Need To Know".
While some of the special effects don't look like they came out of JURASSIC PARK or THE MATRIX, many of the writers/producers on the various commentaries are quick to point out that they were state-of-the-art effects for the day. And it's really the story content that's the real winner here anyway. It was great thinking to make the stories as long as they needed to be instead of making them to fit commercial breaks.
Speaking of commentaries...not every segment has a commentary. However, several segments have 2 commentaries (basically the segments written by Harlan Ellison give Ellison his own commentary...and probably with good cause). While a lot of the commentaries are fairly insightful, the Harlan Ellison commentaries are priceless!!! Not only does he give great insight to his work but Mr. Ellison speaks his mind about everything and everyone...and in the most eloquent way possible. Quite delightful!!!
I highly recommend this sci-fi collection!"
Great series, image quality has deteroriated over time
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 12/31/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was really excited to hear that the 1980's version of "The Twilight Zone" was coming to DVD. So much so that I didn't read any reviews on it but just ordered it. I remember watching the show living in Los Angeles and reading scripts for Dino DeLaurentiis. It was one of the few shows I looked forward to as a break from digging through the slush pile of movie scripts. With Harlan Ellison (a winner of numerous awards for his fantasy and criticism), Alan Brennert, Rockne O'Bannon ("Farscape"), Phil DeGuere ("Simon and Simon"), James Crocker and other outstanding writers and directors on board, how it could not be a great show?
When I watched the first disc I thought the picture quality was acceptable but not as stellar as it could have been. As I jumped around to some of my favorite episodes I was very disappointed to see image quality that suggested it was duped from the original CBS 1 inch VHS cassettes used to broadcast the show. It turns out that the series was the first exclusively edited with effects added on video (much like "Star Trek: The Next Generation"). The masters have begun to deteriorate over time so there's been some natural loss of picture quality over time. It seems Image did the best with what they had to work with (which would also explain why, for example, the soundtrack is sometimes in stereo and sometimes in mono. Evidently not all of them were presented that way although I seem to recall them all being presented in stereo).
The extras are glorious. We get numerous audio commentaries from writers Alan Brennart, Harlan Ellison, Executive Producer/director/writer Phil DeGuere, Wes Craven and many others that give insight into the production process for the new series. Ellison is both blunt with his criticism and generous with his praise for the episodes he discusses (including "Shatterday" which Brennart actually adapted for the show). Ellison gives a great blow-by-blow account of the difficult filming of "Paladin of the Lost Hour". The director did such a poor job of shooting the episode (which explains the "Alan Smithee" credit) that Ellison, Phil DeGuere and Story Editor/writer Rockne O'Bannon all took a crack at reediting it to make it "work". All the commentaries are informative but Ellison's bluntness is, as usual,refreshing.
The 15 minute interview with Wes Craven is also quite enlightening in terms of the expectations of CBS (they weren't met which is why the network cancelled the show after the second season and then farmed it out to a Canadian production company to complete the presold syndication package). The good news is that it appears that most of these episodes are uncut and as originally presented. There's also a picture gallery included.
The packaging is very good with the DVDs bound in a "book" style similar to "Babylon 5" and "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine". There's a booklet that gives a brief plot description of each episode, the writer & director and key cast members. The booklet also mentions which ones have audio commentary. Overall, an outstanding season hampered by the poor condition of the masters, this edition of "The Twilight Zone" captured much of the spirit of Serling's original show with outstanding scripts by James Crocker, Harlan Ellison, Alan Brennert, Rockne O'Bannon and others. With sharp direction by Wes Craven, Martha Cooldige, Tommy Lee Wallace, B.L. Norton and William Friedkin, the "Zone" should have taken off. Unfortunately, the Friday time slot and decreased interest from CBS over time doomed the show.
A suggestion to Image is that on future editions to mention that these are taken from the original source tapes and that the picture has deteriorated over time. That would avoid any unrealistic expectations and allow fans of the series to pick up the show for their collection. Regardless, I'm delighted that the show is finally available as this was my favorite era of "The Twilight Zone"."
Wonderful, Magical, Magnificent!
J T Rodda | Valrico, FL USA | 09/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In my humble opinion, the 1980's Twilight Zone series was the best, purest science fiction on television since the original 60's Outer Limits. Although it was on the whole more sci-fi oriented than the original TZ, it retained the O'Henry style surprise endings which were the trademark of the original series. It's also interesting to note that the series is very much an artifact of the 80's with it's many subtle and not-so-subtle references to the Reagan era, the yuppies, punk rock, the rise of the PC, and the plight of the Vietnam veterans.
Some of the stories covered in the series were awesome and inspiring, like "Chameleon", "Quarantine", Arthur C. Clarke's "The Star", and Roger Zelazny's "The Last Defender of Camelot". Other episodes were hilarious, such as "But Can She Type", "Ye Gods", and Joe Haldeman's fabulous "I of Newton". Some were quite chilling, like "Nightcrawlers" (directed by William Friedkin of Exorcist fame) and Ray Bradbury's "The Burning Man". Also, at least one story, "Dead Woman's Shoes" featuring the always sexy Helen Mirren, was actually quite erotic. Finally, more than a few of the stories were incredibly powerful and emotive tear-jerkers, like "Little Boy Lost", Alan Brennert's "Her Pilgrim Soul", and Harlan Ellison's "Paladin of the Lost Hour". Have your Kleenex handy; you have been warned.
There is more than enough in this collection to please most any sci-fi and fantasy fan, and I am hard-pressed to think of a truly bad episode. Great writing, directing, acting, and special effects; what's there not to like? I look forward to purchasing the second volume. "