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The Twilight Zone - The Complete Third Season: DVD Review

Jul 8th, 2013

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It's a classic series, of course, but how many DVD repackagings does it need? And don't we already have these episodes on Blu-ray...?

Image / 950 Minutes / 1961-1962 / Unrated / Street Date: July 9, 2013

No one could know Serling, or view or read his work, without recognizing his deep affection for humanity, his sympathetically enthusiastic curiosity about us, and his determination to enlarge our horizons by giving us a better understanding of ourselves . . . He dreamed of much for us, and demanded much of himself, perhaps more than was possible for either in this time and place. But it is that quality of dreams and demands that makes the ones like Rod Serling rare . . . and always irreplaceable. - Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry on Rod Serling.

It makes sense that Gene Roddenberry would speak in such glowing terms about Rod Serling, six-time Emmy Award winning writer and the creator of the timeless television classic, Twilight Zone. Both men orbited the same moral and creative universe. They each saw humanity as flawed, but basically good, well-meaning, and deserving of continued existence. Roddenberry, of course, used 23rd century space travel as his safe and sneaky foundation to make points about our societal shortcomings and by acknowledging them, proving we're capable of doing better. Serling needed a bigger canvas. So he created one, made mostly out of irony.

Twilight Zone, which ran for five seasons on CBS starting in 1959, is filled with irony. Sometimes, it's directed at a particular character, as when a lonely bank teller, complaining that he never has enough time to read his beloved books, breaks his reading glasses. Sometimes, the irony plays on the audience, as when a facially deformed woman, her head obscured by bandages, has her dressing removed, only to find out she's still ugly. The irony is, she looks beautiful to us, but in her world, she's hideous. Irony, fear, ignorance and prejudice (the latter sometimes a combination of fear and ignorance) were themes Serling found effortlessly elastic.

He wrote or adapted 99 of the show's 156 episodes. And no matter what the topic, they all felt like a Serling script. They were smart, thoughtful, edgy, topical, and benignly didactic. Even the episodes that had nothing particularly important to say were said as if something sublimely intelligent or thought-provoking was just around the corner.

And come on: This Season 3 set starts with an episode featuring an impossibly young Charles Bronson traversing across a post-apocalyptic world (Two) - what's not to like?

Episodes included on this set: Two, The Arrival , The Shelter, The Passerby, A Game of Pool, The Mirror, The Grave, It's a Good Life, Death's Head Revisited , The Midnight Sun, Still Valley, The Jungle, Once Upon a Time, Five Characters in Search of an Exit, A Quality of Mercy, Nothing in the Dark, One More Pallbearer, Dead Man's Shoes, The Hunt , Showdown with Rance McGrew, Kick the Can, A Piano in the House, The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank, To Serve Man, The Fugitive, Little Girl Lost, Person or Persons Unknown, The Little People, Four O'Clock , Hocus-Pocus and Frisby, The Trade-ins, The Gift, The Dummy, Young Man's Fancy, I Sing the Body Electric, Cavender Is Coming, The Changing of the Guard.

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