A Variety of Themes explored in these Episodes
gobirds2 | New England | 06/13/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"All three episodes on this DVD were written by Rod Serling and represent a variety of themes and styles. THE SILENCE seems like it would be more at home as an episode of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents." However, Franchot Tone gives an excellent performance as an elder member of a parlor club who finds the ceaseless rhetorical chatter of a younger member (Liam Sullivan) too nauseating to bear. Franchot Tone offers Sullivan a half million dollars if he can keep silent for a full year. Jonathan Harris, Tone's friend advises him against making the bet but to no avail. This is actually one of Serling's more memorable episodes from the 2nd season and is true to his ongoing theme of nostalgia for days or generations past. However what is intriguing in this episode is how the old guard faces off against the new with surprising results and Serling does not really give us a any feeling of optimism which he usually does for this theme (WALKING DISTANCE for instance). ON THURSDAY WE LEAVE FOR HOME is a strong episode from the 4th season starring James Whitmore as the inflexible leader of space settlers stranded and decimated on a barren planet. When they finally get the chance to return to Earth from a relief ship captained by Tim O'Conner, Whitmore sees his power as the leader of the settlement slowly erode. This is a great character study by Rod Serling of a man torn between power, which he thinks he needs to survive, and the love of a home he probably never thought he would see again. This is one of the best hour-long episodes. MR. BEVIS from the 1st season is a rather lightweight episode about a good-natured fellow (Orson Bean) whose life is turned around when he receives "help" from his guardian angel (Henry Jones). It reminded me of Serling's CAVENDER IS COMING episode which I enjoyed much better."
Volume 39 is one of the best, though Vols.2, 3, 8, 9, & 29,
Tom Brody | Berkeley, CA | 02/10/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In this review, I refrain from disclosing the surprise endings.
"Mr. Bevis" is one of the Twilight Zone's many milquetoast episodes. It is a finely wrought tale, and abundantly watchable. Orson Bean plays a Pee Wee Herman type character. He finds that he cannot keep a job, because his desk at work is cluttered with a weird clock with moving eyes, a stuffed squirrel, and a model boat. He loses his job, he is evicted, and his automobile gets wrecked. Pee Wee Herman's guardian angel materializes, and gives the Pee Wee Herman character a second chance to clean up his act. The guardian angel points out that the ancestors of the Pee Wee Herman character were high achievers, and the guardian angel wishes that the PeeWee Herman character would wise up and be more like them. But, the surprise ending contains a heartfelt twist.
"The Silence" is an excellent thriller. The theme is a man who is irritated by constant talking and jabbering of other people. This is the same theme as found in "The Mind and the Matter." "The Silence" takes place in an exclusive men's club. A wealthy old man finds himself irritated by the constant jabbering of a younger club member. He bets the loquacious man half a million dollars that he cannot keep silent for one year. The younger man accepts the bet, keeps silent for the entire year, and then expects to collect his earnings. There are two surprise endings.
"On Thursday We Leave for Home" is unusually tedious. First of all, this episode is an hour long. Secondly, the plot is enormously repetitive. "On Thursday We Leave for Home" provides a lesson on mass hysteria, but the lesson is overwrought and the result is a rapid excursion into the Tedium Zone. THREE STARS for Volume 39.
The Twilight Zone series provides a number of excellent discs, as well as some merely good discs, as disclosed below. Overall, I especially liked Volumes 2, 3, 8, 9, and 29.
Volume 1 contains "Night of the Meek," a charming feel-good episode about a department store Santa Claus, played by Art Carney. Santa Claus manages to get a magic bag that provides appropriate gifts to whomever reaches inside. However, Volume 1 contains one of the most irritating of all Twilight Zone episodes--"The Invaders." "The Invaders" does not have one word of dialogue. There is only one character, a woman, who spends the entire time grunting and screaming at some space invaders (actually little space alien toys) who wander around her farmhouse. "Nothing in the Dark" is not a particularly attractive Twilight Zone story. THREE STARS for Volume 1. Volume 1 is worthwhile for family watching at Christmas time, because of "Night of the Meek."
Volume 2 contains "Time Enough at Last," a masterpiece. "Time Enough at Last" is one of Twilight Zone's milquetoast stories. It features Burgess Meredith with a nagging wife. There is much to complain about, he spends time at home and at work, while on the job, reading poems and novels. While tending to his business in a bank vault, an atomic bomb destroys everybody. Once outside the bank vault, he finds solace at the local library, in shambles, but with thousands of books to read. The books make the man abundantly happy, but a little twist of fate spoils his fun. The surprise ending is one of the all time great surprise endings.
"Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" contains some amazing acting by William Shatner. This is a glorious thriller. "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street" is about cold war era hysteria. "The Odyssey of Flight 33" is an amusing story, consisting purely of fantasy. FIVE STARS for Volume 2.
Volume 3 is a masterpiece. Steel (Lee Marvin), A Game of Pool (Jonathan Winters and Jack Klugman), Walking Distance (a feel-good nostalgia for childhood story), and Kick the Can (another feel-good nostalgia for childhood story) are all masterpieces. FIVE STARS for Volume 3.
Volume 4. "Mr.Dingle, the Strong" is one of the milquetoast stories found in the Twilight Zone series, and it features Burgess Meredith and Don Rickles. The storyline is a bit on the silly side. The acting is overwrought and cartoonish. Mr. Dingle the Strong is a fun story, featuring a giant two headed space alien, who bequeaths high strength on Mr. Dingle, and a pair of twin midget space aliens who later bequeath high intelligence on Mr.Dingle.
Also in Volume 4 is a story called, "Two." "Two" is a disaster. There is essentially no dialogue. The story consists of two soldiers, a man and a woman, one from each side of the war, roaming about a war torn city. Apparently they are the last persons left. Throughout the story, the man tries to woo the woman, but she wants to kill him. But eventually they become sweeties. "A Passage for Trumpet" is one of the better episodes in the Twilight Zone series. It is one of the several Twilight Zone episodes about a man ruined by alcoholism. The other alcoholism episodes include "Night of the Meek" and "The Dummy." Anyway, Jack Klugman, an excellent horn player, finds himself being chronically unemployed because of his alcoholism. Also, he has no sweetheart. Eventually, he throws himself in front of a truck. He enters a sort of purgatory, where . . . And here, there is a pleasant surprise ending. "The Four of Us are Dying" is not really memorable. THREE STARS for Volume 4.
Volume 8. "Third from the Sun" is a fun story about a family with access to a government rocket ship, and advanced knowledge that their planet will blow up in a few days. They successfully escape from the planet. There is a fun surprise ending. "The Shelter" provides an excellent commentary on the cold war mentality, without getting too preachy. In a nutshell, a popular small town physician is toasted at a celebration. However, his popularity takes a turn for the worse, when an air-raid alarm is sounded. The air-raid alarm causes panic, and townspeople having a bomb shelter take cover. A little problem arises when the physician, wife, and kid, hide in their bomb shelter, but refuse to accept the company of their neighbors. Mutual anger on both sides escalates. Eventually, the neighbors beat down the physician's steel door, and gain entry to the bomb shelter. At this point, there is a powerful surprise ending.
"To Serve Man" is one of the all time great classics. "The Fugitive" is a fun story, about a prince who escapes from his planet, and takes the form of an old man, and lives in an apartment on earth. He befriends a crippled girl, with a mean mother, living in the next apartment. The man has the power to heal, and also the power to change his form, for example, into the form of a fly or even into the form of a girl. Because of To Serve Man, Volume 8 is a must. FOUR STARS for Volume 8.
Volume 9. "Nick of Time" is an astonishing psycho thriller, taking place in a small town luncheonette, again with William Shatner. William Shatner plays an up and coming office manager in a big city, who happens to be crippled by a penchant for superstitions. He finds himself in a small town luncheonette with his fiancée, where he becomes addicted to a tiny tabletop fortune telling machine. "The Prime Mover" is a fun story, with Buddy Ebsen (Fess Parker's sidekick in Davy Crockett). "It's a Good Life" is a terrible Twilight Zone episode, one of the worst. It concerns a farm boy who, somehow, has the ability to wreck things by way of mind control. All the adults in the farm community are afraid of the little boy. "The Mind and the Matter" is one of the several excellent milquetoast tales in the Twilight Zone series. It stars Shelley Berman as a cranky office worker who finds everybody else to be incompetent. In short, Shelly Berman discovers that he can get rid of everybody just by wishing. He succeeds in getting rid of everybody, but then gets bored. At this point, there is a heartfelt surprise ending. FIVE STARS for Volume 9.
Volume 13. "Judgment Night" is a work of genius. It is a World War II thriller, taking place on a civilian British steamship being stalked by a German submarine. In short, a German passenger finds himself aboard the steamship, but he doesn't know who he is. Eventually, he gets premonitions that the ship is doomed to be sunk by a German submarine. Eventually he learns that he is really the captain of the German submarine. After the ship is sunk, the German man drowns. At this point, there is a stunning surprise ending. "The Purple Testament" is an interesting World War II story. "The Obsolete Man" is irritating, where the story attempts to mimic 1984 or Brave New World. "A Quality of Mercy" is another fine World War II movie. Albert Salmi stars in A Quality of Mercy. Here, he tones down and softens his usual sharp, stoccato way of speaking, a quality that is an unpleasant distraction in his work in two other episodes of Twilight Zone. Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock) is also in A Quality of Mercy. THREE STARS for Volume 13.
Volume 11. "The Dummy" is about a ventriloquist having difficulty holding a job, because of alcoholism. His dummy takes over, and the pair continues to be employed, only the dummy is the boss. "The Fever" is a work of genius. It is about an elderly married couple who win a weekend at Las Vegas. Actually, the wife wins the trip, and the husband finds himself in a foul mood, because he hates gambling, and because he finds that gambling is immoral. But then a little transition occurs. On their first evening, the grumpy man finds temptation in the gambling machines, and ends up squandering thousands of dollars in one evening. The drama keeps picking up until we arrive at a surprise ending.
"Living Doll" is yet another work of genius, which features Telly Savalas. In short, Telly Savalas has an obsessive hatred for his stepdaughter's doll. He imagines that the doll makes rude comments to him. He tries to destroy the doll, but it is indestructible. Of course, the wife and stepdaughter refuse to believe that the doll says rude things, or is after the man. Eventually, the doll succeeds in killing Telly Savalas, by tripping him on the stairs. Then there is a surprise ending. Can you guess what it is?
"The After Hours" is amusing, but not one of the best. It is about department store mannequins who take turns getting a chance to be real people for a period of one month. FIVE STARS for Volume 11.
Volume 18. "I Shot an Arrow in the Air" has an interesting plot. "Death Ship" is somewhat interesting. "Still Valley" is not really memorable. TWO STARS for Volume 18.
Volume 25. "Execution" concerns an unsavory wild west character, played by Albert Salmi, who is about to be hanged by the neck. But as soon as he is being hung, he vanishes into the future by way of a time machine. Once in the future, that is, circa 1960, he materializes in a laboratory, escapes, and raises havoc. Eventually, another criminal (unrelated to the first), breaks into the laboratory, accidently enters the time machine, where he is transported to the past, where he is fortuitously hung by the same noose. Sounds clever, but in the hands of the director, the story does not work well. This episode contains too much violence. Albert Salmi is an irritating actor. Some actors can be intriguing or fascinating, when playing an unsavory character, for example the bikers in Pee Wee Herman's Big Adventure, or Jack Nicholson in various movies. However, Albert Salmi always grates on the nerves. TWO STARS for "Execution."
"The Hunt" in Volume 25 is a charming episode with a surprising ending. It concerns an elderly man who is a backwoods coon hunter, and his dog. Unfortunately, one night they go out hunting but both drown. Heaven's gate takes the form of a wooden fence with a wooden gate and a gatekeeper. The dog is a clever one, and warns his master not to enter. THREE STARS for "The Hunt."
"The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross," also in Volume 25, stars Don Gordon. Don Gordon plays a suitor who wants to marry a pretty lady. But she doesn't want him, and her father doesn't want him either. The suitor is constantly angry because he is always rejected. Eventually, he finds a way to become wealthy, and wins the lady's heart. The suitor learns that he can exchange his youth for money. In short, he befriends a wealthy old man, and exchanges his youth for money. Once wealthy, the suitor easily convinces younger adults to exchange a year or so of their youth for small amounts of money. The end result, is that the suitor becomes youthful and also wealthy. The story has a surprise ending, but it involves a violent death. As mentioned above, Don Gordon is an irritation to watch. He is too arrogant and angry for the part. He was miscast. The story could easily have been turned into a "feel good" Twilight Zone episode, but instead, we get a headache story. TWO STARS for "The Self Improvement of Salvadore Ross." "Number Twelve Looks Just Like You" failed to hold my interest. Overall, Volume 25 gets TWO STARS.
Volume 26. "The Big Tall Wish" is a feel good story about boxing. "Showdown with Rance McGrew" takes place on an acting set, where a wild western is being filmed. "A Piano in the House" is a clever psychological thriller. "Night Call" concerns an elderly woman who has an overbearing, stubborn personality. Her personality gets in her way, and prevents her from connecting with a certain somebody from some sixty or years earlier, who is trying to communicate to her from his grave. In short, her personality is one that is inflexible and sometimes demanding. The identify of the certain somebody is revealed in the surprise ending. Each of these stories gets FIVE STARS. FIVE STARS for Volume 26.
Volume 29 A Nice Place to Visit is about a petty thief who goes to heaven. Sebastian Cabot plays an angel. A Penny for Your Thoughts is one of the several milquetoast episodes in Twilight Zone. It features Dick York. A Penny for Your Thoughts is, in my opinion, the most charming of all the Twilight Zone stories. A Little Girl Lost is a stupid Twilight Zone episode. I am the Night-Color Me Black is another social commentary story in the Twilight Zone series. It is tolerable, but not as good as the excellent the social commentary story "The Shelter." The social commentary episodes include I am the Night-Color Me Black, The Shelter, The Monsters are Due on Maple Street, and The Obsolete Man. Volume 29 gets FOUR STARS.
Volume 37. "Hocus-Pocus and Frisby" has an abundant quantity of down home, small town character actors, doing what they do best--character acting. The storyline works, but is somewhat contrived. Andy Devine plays a Slim Pickens type character (Slim Pickens plays a major role in the movie 1941). "Of Late I Think of Cliffordville" has a fine plot, but the main character is played by Albert Salmi. As mentioned above, Albert Salmi is an irritating actor. His voice is irritating. His face is unpleasant. His acting is irritating and contrived. "Mr.Garrity and the Graves" is an excellent, fun, and charming story about a week in the life of a wild-west town. Mr. Garrity plays a charlatan who tricks the townsfolk into believing he can raise the dead. His dog has been trained to play dead, and Mr. Garrity recites some incantations, where the dog springs back to life. As it turns out, Mr. Garrity tricks the townsfolk into giving him money to raise various townsfolk from the dead. Then, Mr. Garrity skips town, as all good charlatans should. But what happens, is that the dead really come back. THREE STARS for Volume 37.
To conclude, every person will be able to select several all time great stories from the Twilight Zone series. The favored volumes will differ depending on the individual.
Contains the finest Twilight Zone episode by far...
Roger J. Buffington | Huntington Beach, CA United States | 06/16/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
""On Thursday, We Leave for Home" is in my opinion the finest Twilight Zone episode ever made--it is a full hour-long episode. This is a deeply moving story of hardship, rescue, and delusion. The story is brutally simple (no spoilers here). A group of American space colonists left Earth thirty years earlier in order to escape war, and start a new life. But their new planet is harsh and hostile, and does not provide an adequate home for humanity. They wish to go home, but have been cut off from Earth. Many of them can barely remember Earth, and some have never seen it at all. Finally, they are contacted by an American spaceship that is coming to transport all who wish to leave back to Earth.
Their planet is so harsh that there seems no question but that they will all return home. But their leader is afflicted with as bad a case of delusions of grandeur as can be imagined. He has ruled the colony with a heavy hand for thirty years and his word has been unquestioned law. And of course, when someone has ruled a group of people with unquestioned power, that person loses respect for those over whom he wields that power. This sets the stage for a powerful and deeply moving story which makes this the finest Twilight Zone episode of them all. I had been looking for this episode for years--I first saw it as a young lad back in the early 1960s, and yes, it was just as powerful in 2006 as it was back then. Don't miss this episode; it is outstanding.
The other two episodes on this disk are not bad, but "On Thursday We Leave For Home" is the reason to keep and treasure this outstanding value. Enjoy."
Kevin Daniel Walsh | islip, ny,usa | 07/14/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"a must for all how collect the best. everyone will enjoy these shows."