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DVD Review: Tales From The Darkside – The First Season

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Much in the same vein as The Twilight Zone and Night Gallery, Tales From The Darkside is a TV series that bases each episode on an individual short story that ends in a plot twist. Even though there were some episodes that were a little lighter, and some of more of a SF/Fantasy genre, the main focus of this series was on the horror element. The first season is listed as 1983/1984-1985 because the pilot appeared on October 29, 1983. The series began in earnest on September 20, 1984.

Tales From The Darkside was created and produced by George A. Romero who is best known for his classic horror films Night of the Living Dead, and Dawn of the Dead (1978). The stories were written by a number of mainstream authors including such notables as Stephen King, Frederik Pohl, Harlan Ellison, and Clive Barker.

Tales From The Darkside is not as intense as it seemed when it first aired back in the eighties. Back then, the show seemed pretty creepy. But looking at it now, it was not near as well done as some of shows that it is compared to, and some of the humor seems more campy today.

The series is shot in video and presented full frame. It does not look like very much restorative work was done. This is one of the most disappointing aspects of the DVD set. The video is acceptable, but it is nowhere what it could have been.

There are also no real extras on the disks other than an audio commentary on the "Trick or Treat" episode from Romero. The track is interesting, but there are times of long silence. Here too, there could have been more effort made.

The music is Dolby Digital Mono and overall it is clean with no notable hiss and the dialog is clear and easy to understand. As with the video, it is acceptable, but could have been done better. Also there are no alternate language features and no subtitles.

There is one note of warning to those who were very familiar with the original run. On the back of the DVD box it states in very tiny font: "Music has been changed for this home entertainment version." Every episode has had its music changed in this release except for "Inside the Closet" and "Grandma's Last Wish". The change has to do with rights issues. When the series first ran, I only caught about 50% of the shows and have not seen them since, so it did not affect me as much as it might someone who is very familiar with the episodes.

Overall I think that Tales From The Darkside: The First Season is good. To me, the point is, that while it is disappointing that they did not do more restorative efforts the DVD, the entertainment value of the show, and the sentimental value makes it one of those shows that I think is worth owning.

Episode listing

Trick or Treat
The New Man
I'll Give You a Million
Pain Killer
The Odds
Mookie and Pookie
Slippage

Inside the Closet
The Word Processor of the Gods
A Case of the Sutbborns
Djinn, No Chaser
All a Clone by the Telephone
In the Cards
Anniversary Dinner
Snip, Snip
Answer Me
The Tear Collector
The Madness Room
If the Shoes Fit…
Levitation
It All Comes Out in the Wash
Bigalow's Last Smoke
Grandma's Last Wish
The False Prophet

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.