Combustible Celluloid
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With: William Shatner, Art Carney, Agnes Moorehead, Burgess Meredith, Billy Mumy, Robert Cummings, Luther Adler, Joe Mantell, Richard Haydn, Robin Hughes, Maxine Stuart, Donna Douglas, Inger Stevens, Brian Aherne, Fred Clark, Jean Carson, Thomas Gomez, Russell Johnson, Jack Carson, Dick York, Barbara Nichols, Dean Jagger, Dane Clark, Buddy Ebsen, Cliff Robertson, Liam Sullivan, Dennis Weaver, Shelley Berman
Written by: Rod Serling, Richard Matheson, Charles Beaumont, etc.
Directed by: Buzz Kulik, Buck Houghton, Douglas Heyes, David Orrick McDearmon, Richard L. Bare, Jack Smight, John Rich, James Sheldon, Justus Addiss, John Brahm, Boris Sagal, Montgomery Pittman, Elliot Silverstein
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 930
Date: 18/03/2013

The Twilight Zone: Season 2 (1960)

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 Two" 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 "The Eye of the Beholder," which is often considered the greatest of all episodes; in it, a horribly disfigured woman waits under her bandages in the hope that she can finally fit in to society. This episode is notable for the way it's shot, but more than that I won't give away. There's "The Invaders," an episode almost entirely without dialogue, starring Agnes Moorehead as a lone woman who takes on invaders from another planet. There's "Nick of Time," starring William Shatner as a man who discovers a fortune-telling device whose answers are eerily correct. And then there's "Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?" about a group of bus travelers stranded at a diner during a snowstorm; one of their number may be an intruder from outer space. Also, the great Christmas episode, "The Night of the Meek" -- starring Art Carney as a washed-up department store Santa -- is here.

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 Shatner, Carney, Moorehead, Billy Mumy, Burgess Meredith, Robert Cummings, Donna Douglas, Inger Stevens, Dick York, Barbara Nichols, Dean Jagger, Dane Clark, Buddy Ebsen, Cliff Robertson, and Dennis Weaver.

Extras on this Blu-Ray set include a bunch of commentary tracks (25 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, along with The Twilight Zone: Season 1 is one of the most essential collections of the year.

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