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With: Earl Holliman, Ed Wynn, Dan Duryea, Martin Landau, Ida Lupino, Gig Young, David Wayne, Jack Warden, Burgess Meredith, Richard Conte, Nehemiah Persoff, Ernest Truex, Harry Townes, Inger Stevens, William Reynolds, Vera Miles, Howard Duff, Kevin McCarthy, Roddy McDowall, Albert Salmi, Ivan Dixon, Larry Blyden, Janice Rule, James Daly, Jack Klugman, Orson Bean, Anne Francis, Keenan Wynn
Written by: Rod Serling, Richard Matheson, Charles Beaumont, etc.
Directed by: Robert Stevens, Robert Parrish, Mitchell Leisen, Jack Smight, John Brahm, Robert Florey, Douglas Heyes, Richard L. Bare, Stuart Rosenberg, William Claxton, Ted Post, Don Medford, William Asher, Ralph Nelson
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 930
Date: 18/03/2013

The Twilight Zone: Season 1 (1959)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Dimension of Mind

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

For some reason I have only ever been able to watch "The Twilight Zone" when I was sick. When I was a kid, I was home from school for three days and found the show on TV during the daylight hours, which seemed wrong, but I devoured one episode each day. Years later, in college, I was sick over a long weekend when a local TV station played a three-day "Twilight Zone" marathon. I watched as many as I could, lying on the couch. Now, finally, a Blu-Ray box set has arrived, including all 36 episodes of the show's first season, and I have time enough at last.

What more can I say about this show, other than it belongs in my personal list of the top 5 television shows, ever? (Alongside "The Simpsons" and "The Sopranos," at least.) It was uncommonly intelligent, even poetic. The stories were dark and cynical and didn't care a whit about coddling viewers or restoring order in the universe. The events in these shows happened to innocent people, for no reason. And perhaps, sometimes, those people weren't so innocent at all. Perhaps none of us is innocent.

The major drawback of "Season One" is that the show's greatest, most memorable episodes are spread out evenly over five seasons, and most likely you'll find yourself remembering and wanting to see one that isn't here. But what is here is pretty great. There's "Walking Distance," about a man who suddenly finds himself revisiting his childhood; "Time Enough at Last," about a lover of books (Burgess Meredith) who finds himself the only survivor after the apocalypse; "Mirror Image," about a woman (Vera Miles) who begins experiencing strange things in a bus station; "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street," about an unseen (possibly imagined?) invasion from outer space, "People Are Alike All Over," about an astronaut (Roddy McDowall) who becomes stranded on Mars; and "A Stop at Willoughby," about a man who wishes that life didn't move quite so fast.

Incredibly, Serling wrote most of the episodes himself, revealing an imagination and a high-quality output that most genre novelists could never match. Other great writers, such as Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson, also chipped in. Actors in this first season include Ida Lupino, Dan Duryea, Martin Landau, Richard Conte, Kevin McCarthy, Jack Klugman, Jack Warden, and Keenan Wynn.

Extras on this Blu-Ray set include the unofficial pilot episode, "The Time Element," a bunch of commentary tracks (19 of them brand-new), isolated music scores (some of them by Bernard Herrmann and Jerry Goldsmith), interviews, promos, radio dramas, and plenty of other stuff. This is one of the most essential collections of the year.

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