Directed by Various
Distributed by CBS Television Distribution
It’s a safe assumption that I have been obsessed with Rod Serling’s original 1959 TV series The Twilight Zone – I mean let’s face it, there is NOTHING like it past or present – the majority of the shows were written to some extent by Serling himself, and after running steady for 5 seasons, the series was cancelled, leaving him to sell off a large chunk of his stake in the program. Fans of the pioneer sci/fi broadcasts were treated to a complete collection release late last year on DVD (which was put together rather well), and while the 1960 revival wasn’t exactly the second coming of the almighty, the series reboot still had its followers (present company included).
So when the situation presented itself to review The Twilight Zone: Complete 80s Series on DVD, I literally jumped at the chance. After Twilight Zone: The Movie finished up a lackluster box-office performance in theaters, it used its mediocre earnings to springboard the 1960 series, which only lasted a meager 7 seasons.
We now commence with the criticism of the DVD collection (and I’ll try to shove my favoritism to the side, here) – overall, it’s a Zoner’s dream come true: all 65 episodes crammed onto 17 discs, totaling 109 segments. We’ve got stars littering all facets of each program, with Bruce Willis as a man who mistakenly calls home and he answers the phone…yes, HE answers – Jeffrey DeMunn (Dale from The Walking Dead) plays a drunk driver who stumbles into the oddest bar around, Dee Wallace with her yard-sale magic lamp purchase, Adrienne Barbeau gets possessed by a stone gargoyle perched atop the gang-heavy school she works at, and Scott Wilson (Herschel from The Walking Dead) playing an ailing arms designer who gets cryogenically frozen, then awakens after 700 years – and that’s just a piece of Season 1.
What made this particular series so unique was although it was a reboot of the 1959 arrangement was that many of these segments were newly scripted, with just a few remakes of the original, and with the mounting disappointment amongst the viewers and studio execs, you can tell how the quality of each show slid further down the creative drain as hiatuses and programming shifts occurred until the show’s eventual cancellation in 1989. Unfortunately, aside from the weak stories that were on display in the late second through the third season was the presence of each show itself – these look EXACTLY like a bootleg off of a grainy VHS tape that was dubbed, and it appears that no care was taken in the transmission – now I know that a lot of 80’s TV looks as if it was shot through a cheesecloth, but COME ON, this is The Twilight Zone for cryin out loud! A sad loss here as many of the shows look exactly as they were originally broadcast: washed-out colors and muffled audio in some spots but hey, them’s the breaks.
The packaging also left a lot to be desired, and once again, I know that there can only be so much that’s done when putting together a box set that contains so many discs, but to have all 17 slammed down on top of each other, merely held in place by a cheap cardboard holder? I’m sorry, but for a guy that manually goes through ALL of his Blu-Rays and DVDs each month on my shelves to inspect for dust and scratches (although I’m the only one that watches them), my OCD in this matter goes into overtime, and I begin to sweat and pace like a caged farm animal (okay, maybe that was too extreme of an example).
There is a decent portion of special features for the technical viewer as well – multiple commentaries from some of the creative minds responsible for the show, a photo gallery, and an exclusive interview with director Wes Craven (hey, you didn’t think you’d be blown away with extras from a show that its own head honchos had hung out to dry, did you)? In any fashion, fans of the series will be content to finally have all 7 seasons contained within one box, but the care with how it was presented leaves me with a bad taste in my piehole. A nice pickup worth the dough if you’re a fanatic, otherwise skip it, and wait for the reruns on TV.
7 out of 5
2 1/2 out of 5