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Twilight Zone: Season 5 [Blu-ray]  [US Import]
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20 new audio commentaries, featuring The Twilight Zone Companion author Marc Scott Zicree, author/film historian Gary Gerani (Fantastic TelevisionTwilight Zone directors Ted Post, Richard Donner and Robert Butler, writer Earl Hamner, actors George Takei and Peter Mark Richman, author/historian Martin Grams, Jr. (The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic), authors/historians Jim Benson and Scott Skelton (Rod Serling's Night Gallery: An After Hours Tour), author Bill Warren (Keep Watching the Skies! American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties), writer Neil Gaiman (Sandman, Coraline), writer/director Michael Nankin (Battlestar Galactica, CSI) and radio h
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Opt for the UK releases (on Region B) instead. They're 'usually' more reasonably priced and of course don't have any playback problems...
It's easy to think that because this was the last season that this had to be the worst one. Far from it- this season took many risks and is perhaps the best season of the show. It may not be filled with genuine classics- though they are here. But what Season 5 does have is a high consistancy of very good episodes, episodes that you will be happy to return to again and again. Here is a rundown:
We kick off in spectacular style with the tearjerker In Praise of Pip. Jack Klugman plays an estranged father whose son has been killed in Vietnam. He has memories of his son when he was a child and feels he neglected him and wants one more chance to reconcile with him, this is one of the most moving stories ever on The Twilight Zone. Bill Mumy the evil kid from It's a Good Life plays the son.
Steel is another great episode, told from the future where boxers are now robots as it has become illegal for humans to box. Lee Marvin stars. The make up is very good. Next up is one of the most talked about and infamous episodes- Nightmare At 20,000 Feet starring William Shatner as a nervous businessman aboard a plane. His trip gets worse when in a storm he appears to see a monster on the wing- but is it just his imagination? So famous is this episode that the plot line even in comedy shows has been repeated and still is repeated several times. Nightamare at 20,000 Feet is directed by Richard Donner who would go on to direct another five episodes this season.
A Kind of a Stopwatch is classic Zone material. It's one of those 'out there' episodes with a nasty ending, think Time Enough at Last. The episode is about a hapless loser that is given a stopwatch and every time he uses it the world stops..... Just imagine! This one if followed up by The Last Night of a Jockey, notable for starring Mickey Rooney who is the only actor in this episode. Serling himself wrote the story with Rooney in mind. The acting is great, but unfortunetly this episode just can't grip you, Rooney whining for 20 odd minutes on his own just doesn't work.
Living Doll is next and this one is another fondly remembered epsiode about a doll that wants to kill. Telly Savalas stars as the angry dad who pays no attention to his family or his daughters toys, so things go awry for him. The doll's catchphrase "I am Talking Tina and I'm going to kill you" was an obvious inspiration for Chucky in Child's Play movies some 2 decades later. The Old Man in the Cave is a delightful story about peoples faith and lack of it after an explosion has wiped out most of the world- and what is inside the cave, anyway?
Uncle Simon is a little silly if not just plain goofy- about a woman who lives with her uncle Simon and he rules with an iron fist- she wishes death on him, but what has uncle been making downstairs? Not too bad an episode. Directed by Don Siegel. Probe 7 and Out is about a man who has landed on a distant planet and finds only one more human a woman that is naturally terrified of him- you may guess the ending way before it happens. The 7th is Made up of Phantoms doesn't really go anywhere and along with one more episode (noted later on) is among the worst of the season.
A Short Drink from a Certain Fountain is about an old man who is with a beautiful if shallow younger partner, he takes a speial serum to look younger. And it works, however the serum just keeps on working and you can guess the rest, average at best story. Ninety Years Without Slumbering is extremely well acted even if the plot is so so- about an old man who believes that when his grandfather clock stops working, he will! Ed Wynn stars and this episode marked Bernard Herrmann's final score for the show.
Ring-a-Ding-Girl is one of the most eeriest stories from the show- concerning a movie actress that drops in to see her normal family in her home town. But she keeps getting messages- could it be that she is already dead? Pretty effective episode. You Drive is about a car that is seemingly possesesed who wants to convict its driver of homicide. An interesting if carefree look at cars that drive on their own- something Hollywood would repeat again and again from everything to Knight Rider to the horror movie The Car.
The Long Morrow is a great story involivng two lovers who click- but the man must go on a space mission which could see him gone for years- superb climax and Mariette Hartley has to be one of the most gorgeous actresses to appear on the show. The Self Improvement of Salvadore Ross hardly has a title that could inspire- but this is a great episode. Don Gordon plays an obnoxious man who wants to marry a well to do woman. He realises after breaking his hand that if he wishes for something it can happen, he goes from being young to being old to being young again and becomes a millionaire- but he is still the loud mouthed obnoxious man- so he has one more plan. Great episode and well acted with free flowing story, directed once again by Don Siegel.
Number 12 Looks Just Like You is a bonafide classic episode from the show. Serling gives us his divine social commentary here. In the future at a certain age the transformation takes place, everyone has a choice to be beautiful with 3 different models to choose from. But one girl doesn't want to have the operation, a great episode. Black Leather Jackets is a little out of time and goofy- three bad men wearing leather jackets in 60s America, however the episode succeeds in unintentionally showing us a slice of 60s Americana, and for that this episode is at, the very least of historical interest.
Night Call is an eerie one about an old woman who keeps receiving phone calls in the middle of the night, things take a dark turn once we find out that the calls are coming from a near by cemetery, directed by the legendary Jacques Tourneur. For note this was the episode scheduled to air on November 22nd, 1963 the night of JFK's assassination. This was rescheduled and debuted in early 1964. From Agnes With Love is a real goofy episode, the Zone seemed to have a few of these each season, and this one is no different. May remind you of the 80s movie Electric Dreams. Spur of the Moment is strangley effective about a woman who sees herself as a youngster as tries to stop herself making the same mistakes- episode comes across as a feverish like dream- and the acting is very solid especially by lead actress Diana Hyland.
An Occurance at Owl Creek Bridge is unlike any Twilight Zone episode aired and the reason for this is that techinally it is not a Twilight Zone episode. Originally a French short movie that won an Oscar- this one was slightly modified and the shows producers were able to buy the episode and fit it well within budget for the show. It is a superb tale of a man about to be hanged and his final thoughts on life, well directed by Robert Enrico- the episode was bought for $25,000 a snip considering each regular episode cost $65,000 at the time.
Queen of the Nile follows about an actress who has a power to stay young, so a young reporter decides to investigate- good episode that has a gorish moment for TV standards. What's in the Box is about a brooding man who can suddenly see the future from his TV signal- and the future says he will kill his nagging wife, an episode easily forgotten. The Masks brings us back to Zone territory where a dying millionaire summons his horrible money grabbing family to his bedside for last night- but there's a catch they must all wear hideous masks, with hideous consequences. Very intersting to note that this was directed by Ida Lupino the only female to ever direct an episode of The Twilight Zone she is also the only actor/actress to ever star in an episode- The Sixteen Milimeter Shrine from Season 2 and direct an episode.
I am the Night- Color Me Black is a very powerful episode that deals with small town racism and the death penalty in America. This is controversial stuff at least for the time it was made in. Serling wrote this as a reference to the then recent assassination of JFK. A great episode. Sounds and Silences had a good premise but isn't able to deliver as it should do. Masters of Horror TV series did a better telling of the same story called Sounds Like, 40 odd years later. Caesar and Me brings back the ventriloquists tale that we had seen in Season 3- done better too in the episode called The Dummy. This is still a very good and at times eerie piece. The Jeopardy Room is another effective story about a KGB spy trapped in a room- if he tries to escape a bomb will go off- tense and flows very well.
Stopover in a Quiet Town is hailed as one of the classics- the sort of story that you have heard of about the show with the neat bizarre twist ending. In short a couple wake up after a boozy night in a house they do not recognize- once they sober up they realise that nothing around them seems real. Remade though never offically recognized by Hammer in their 1980s short lived series Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense under the episode title, Child's Play. The Encounter is the 'banned' episode of The Twilight Zone- it was shown once in the States before being omitted in the syndication of the show. It stars 2 characters, one a racially agrivated all American played by Neville Brand and the other a Japanese American played by George Takei- they are stuck together in a loft, talk have a beer and inevitably through race, religion and war realise they hate each other. Great acting throughout makes this a memorable episode.
Mr Garrity and the Graves is a fun episode, set in the Wild West where Mr Garrity ventures into and claims to the townsfolk that he can ressurect the dead. But is all that it seems, great acting and drawn out long scenes, special mention to the bar man, a fine actor played by Stanley Adams- shines here. The Brain at Whipples may leave you with your jaw hitting the floor about how it sees the future. A manager of a factory decides to sack his staff after accepting a machine that can do all of the mens work- a machine that doesn't come into work late, claim holidays, get sick- from his words. Oh my how we see now how this is happening around us 50 years after this episodes airing. Seen how many people work in a bank now? How many people are on the assembly line at the car depot? Or how many self service tills are there in a supermarket compared to tills with REAL PEOPLE working? This is a great episode that sadly rings true today. Acting is very good all round and convincing.
Come Wander With Me is a curate's egg- personally I thought this was one of the strongest episodes of the season. It has deep South atmosphere and is a terrific little ghost story. It feels grown up and has a nice tune throughout the run. Come Wander With Me was also the very final episode of the show filmed. The Fear is a goofy but ultimately a homage to 50s camp Sci Fi- starring Peter Mark Richman as a cop who comforts a woman at her secluded house because she believes there to be a UFO above her home, is she right? And if so what will the pair find? Not a bad episode, but could have been better.
Finally to what is regarded as the final episode of the show- The Bewitchin' Pool- deals with two kids who get no love from their rich parents. They find a portal in their swimming pool and are seemingly thrust into a new dimension a forest with a lake and an old woman in a cottage who looks after frightened abandoned children. On an emotional level this falls flat- it could really have been a sucker punch. Instead we are left with terrible acting all round- especially the parents, and an old woman who expects lots of hard labor from her children in return for some cake. I don't buy that at all.
So there it is, Season 5. All in all I found 24 episodes from 36 to be great with only 12 not meeting the mark and only 2 being of a poor standard. It turns out that Season 5 is a great season indeed, perhaps the best. Below are my TOP 10 personal episodes from this season.
1. NIGHTMARE AT 20,000 FEET
2. NUMBER 12 LOOKS JUST LIKE YOU
3. AN OCCURANCE AT OWL CREEK BRIDGE
4. A KIND OF A STOPWATCH
5. THE SELF IMPROVEMENT OF SALVADORE ROSS
7. I AM THE NIGHT- COLOR ME BLACK
8. THE BRAIN AT WHIPPLES
9. IN PRAISE OF PIP
10. STOPOVER IN A QUIET TOWN
A superior episode masterfully directed by Jacques Tournier ('Cat People')in which actress Gladys Cooper has the lead role as a lonely, cranky, embittered spinster who receives mysterious and frightening telephone calls in the middle of the night!.
It is then that the telephone itself becomes an instrument of terror for Miss Keene.
The suspense and all pervading uneasiness in this episode does not let up until it's heartbreaking conclusion..
Miss Finch: (Telephonist) "About those calls you say youv'e been receiving Miss Keen.." Miss Keene: "SAY Iv'e been?..
A MUST see!.
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