There never will be as great of an anthology series as Rod Serling’s “The Twilight Zone.” Many episodes are filled with creativity, intrigue, and suspense. The fifth and final season, which releases to DVD on Sept. 3, does have some bumps in the road – especially the “final” episode, which was filmed and then went through some reworking before being placed at the end of the series’ run.
But there are a lot of masterpieces in this collection, including “Steel” and “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” both of which were penned by the late Richard Matheson. “Steel” tells the story of a world where boxing is outlawed, and humans are replaced by machines. “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” stars a young William Shatner as a man just released from the psychiatric ward. On his flight home, he sees a monster trying to rip apart the plane. When he tries to tell people, the monster is nowhere to be found.
A lot of the episodes in this season focus on similar things, including a man’s struggle with something haunting him, while no one else seems to notice. For several, these monsters are inanimate objects. In “Living Doll,” a father tries to get rid of his daughter’s new doll named Talky Tina, who tells the girl that she loves her very much. But whenever it’s just the father and the doll, Tina says that he’s going to kill the father.
In “A Kind of a Stopwatch,” a very annoying man is given a stopwatch that will cease time when pushed. As he tries to get people to notice and like him, the man becomes very narcissistic with the ability to use the watch.
“In Praise of Pip” and “The Last Night of a Jockey” are two of the most powerful episodes in the set. The former focuses on a man who gets word of his son dying. He is then transported to a carnival, and he sees his son is 10 years old again. The latter is a one-man show, in which Mickey Rooney is a washed-up jockey waiting to hear the results of his race-fixing hearing.
A lot of the episodes also deal with man and the overtaking of machines. “From Agnes – With Love” tells the tale of a socially awkward computer nerd who creates a very intelligent machine. But it becomes a bit too humanistic, when it comes to the man’s love life, and it tries to intervene with his connection to the real world. “The Brain Center at Whipple’s” takes a look at what happens when machines begin to take over jobs meant for humans. It’s almost ahead of the time in which it was released.
As for the weak entries, “Probe 7 Over and Out” is predictable, and the outcome is a bit infuriating. “Black Leather Jackets” is just a mediocre tale about three motorcycle men who invade a town, and one of them tries to break away from the pack. And the lamest episode of the bunch, “The Bewitchin’ Pool,” is littered with recycled scenes and horrible voice-dubbing that it becomes impossible to find any interest in the story.
But, overall, this set is a worthy buy for any “Twilight Zone” fans, and anyone interested in anthology series. There are some pretty visible scratches from the original print, but none of them are a major distraction. There aren’t any issues to note about the sound transfer. Unfortunately, there aren’t any special features in this collection, but a lot of these episodes make up for the lack of features.
Below is the complete list of episodes in this set:
“In Praise of Pip”
“Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”
“A Kind of a Stopwatch”
“The Last Night of a Jockey”
“The Old Man in the Cave”
“Probe 7 Over and Out”
“The 7th Is Made Up of Phantoms”
“A Short Drink from a Certain Fountain”
“Ninety Years without Slumbering”
“The Long Morrow”
“The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross”
“Number 12 Looks Just Like You”
“Black Leather Jackets”
“From Agnes – With Love”
“Spur of the Moment”
“An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”
“Queen of the Nile”
“What's in the Box”
“I Am the Night – Color Me Black”
“Sounds and Silences”
“Caesar and Me”
“The Jeopardy Room”
“Stopover in a Quiet Town”
“Mr. Garrity and the Graves”
“The Brain Center at Whipple's”
“Come Wander with Me”
“The Bewitchin' Pool”