Image Entertainment continues its episode-only, complete-season DVD releases of The Twilight Zone with The Complete Third Season, debuting on a five-disc set for $29.98. Thirty-seven episodes aired between the fall of 1961 and spring of 1962, eight more than Season Two, and they garnered three Emmy nominations: Rod Serling, Outstanding Writing Achievement in Drama; George T. Clemens, Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography for Television; and Philip Barber, Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction and Scenic Design. The series also won its third consecutive Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.
According to Marc Scott Zicree’s indispensable The Twilight Zone Companion, creator Rod Serling was quoted in April 1961 saying, “I’ve never felt quite so drained of ideas as I do at this moment…I’ve written so much I’m woozy.” This explains why his writing contribution decreased to twelve stories. He also relied on the ideas of other writers to create eight adaptations. Two of those are considered amongst the series most popular episodes. “It’s A Good Life” by Jerome Bixby stars Billy Mumy as a little boy who always gets his way. Director Joe Dante remade it for Twilight Zone: The Movie. “To Serve Man” by Damon Knight contains what is arguably the greatest plot twist in the series.
Speaking of adaptations, author Ray Bradbury wrote “I Sing the Body Electric” based on his short story. Regular TZ contributor Charles Beaumont created four scripts, one less than the previous season, which is balanced out by his counterpart, the recently deceased Richard Matheson who increased his contributions by one. George Clayton Johnson tripled his previous output with three stories, including the memorable “Kick the Can,” remade by Steven Spielberg also for Twilight Zone: The Movie. Montgomery Pittman, who directed Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?” from Season Two, wrote and directed the season opener “Two,” along with “The Grave” and “The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank.” Earl Hamner Jr, creator of The Waltons, contributed the first two stories of what would be eight in total over the entire series.
Other notable stories from this season include people’s ugly natures revealed while striving to enter “The Shelter” of a neighbor for safety; “The Hunt” where Hyder Simpson chooses between living in limbo with his hound dog or entering Heaven without him; “Little Girl Lost,” which had elements repurposed in Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist; and a familiar tale about a ventriloquist (Cliff Robertson) and “The Dummy.” Once again, the series is filled with actors who would go on to popular film and TV careers. This season includes Charles Bronson, Carol Burnett, Lee Marvin, Jack Klugman, Elizabeth Montgomery, Leonard Nimoy, Robert Redford, and Jonathan Winters.
The show’s opening has once again been changed. A spinning top has replaced the setting sun, and Serling’s introduction has been slightly altered with the removal of ” That’s the signpost up ahead,” so this season he welcomes viewers with:
You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. Your next stop…the Twilight Zone.
Like The Twilight Zone: The Complete Second Season release from Image Entertainment, Serling’s wonderful previews of the next episode are included. There are also promos for other CBS TV shows like The Ed Sullivan Show and Gunsmoke as well as ads for The United Way. The DVD image quality looks quite good aside from some minor dirt and white specks. This is a highly recommend addition to anyone’s library of television shows.