The Twilight Zone Companion Reviews

October 1, 2010 by  
Filed under Twilight Books

The Twilight Zone Companion

  • ISBN13: 9781879505094
  • Condition: New
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The Twilight Zone Companion(second edition) is the complete, five season (1959-64) show-by-show guide to one of television’s greatest series. Zicree’s well-written account is fascinating reading for even the casual fan. Coverage of each episode includes plot synopsis, Rod Serling’s opening narration, behind-the-scenes stories from the original artists who created the series, and a complete list of cast and credits.

”In all my years of television viewing, no series resonated as deeply

Rating: (out of 73 reviews)

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Comments

5 Responses to “The Twilight Zone Companion Reviews”
  1. William Smith says:

    Review by William Smith for The Twilight Zone Companion
    Rating:
    Where this book is great is in the background work behind the scenes of getting the Twilight Zone off the ground, the history of the man himself, Serling, and the “facts” that range from the obscure, to the truly bizarre. Where this book suffers is in the authors extreme lack of vision when trying to discuss the episodes. Truly, an interpretation is a matter of opinion, however, when ideas are kicked around about classic material, I for one, have to draw the line. Example: The Old Man in the Cave. The author brings up the awkward idea of how the “old man” (the computer) is powered through all the years since the aftermath. Even going so far as sounding negative that the old man could run at all. Uh, that’s the kind of stuff an eight year old would roll around their mind. Totally uncalled for, not to mention unnecessary. I wish their were a book written by people who seem to understand the Zone, or even like it. Marc, thanks for the book, it is an interesting read as far as fact, but leave the fiction to the master.*EDIT*
    Also, there is far too much time devoted in explaining what each episode is about. I for one watch an episode, then refer to the “book” and find out the tidbits. Frustrating, when there is 4 paragraphs of “what the episode” is about (what I already knew) and barely 1 paragraph of tidbit. Looking at the book, it is bulky and one would assume it is chock full of useful stuff, not really, it’s chock full of stuff you already knew. I don’t know anyone who would buy a book like this and never watch the show.

  2. E. Olague says:

    Review by E. Olague for The Twilight Zone Companion
    Rating:
    This companion book is very necessary for any fan of The Twilight Zone. It offers, interviews, insight, cast lists, dates, EVERYTHING; even an extensive look into the lives and/or backgrounds of Rod Serling and the other writers – which I enjoyed.

    Where it annoyed me is the fact that Zicree ends up criticizing and suggesting for us what to think of many episodes. Throughout the whole book, he bashes scripts (eg. “If such and such were changed or taken out, it would have been better.” “This script is cliche-ed”), actors and actresses (eg. “…with and uninspired performance by…”), directors (eg. “…in the hands of any other director, this could have been great…”).

    Zicree even “nit picks” on facts: there’s an episode in which he points out that Rod Serling had gotten the distance from Earth to the planet Venus wrong. LOL WHO CARES?!! Serling was an overworked writer (which Zicree makes very clear, but still decides to nit pick), not a NASA engineer! There’s also another passage in which he proclaims an episode a disappointment just because the plot is slightly possible. “Any episode that is this grounded in reality, should be considered a disappoinment.” Ok, thanks for letting us know Marc. *sigh* Pleeease… Further in the book, he starts off an episode’s commentary with, “Despite the basically absurd premise…” WHAT?! It’s science fiction! It’s the TWILIGHT ZONE! Aren’t all the stories based on absurd premises?! Not to mention, that aforementioned quote about being “too grounded in reality” – now the TZ is too absurd for him?!? What an annoying little man this Zicree dude is…

    I was hoping for more behind the scenes info such as commentary from people who actually worked on the episodes, or how certain effects were accomplished in such an era. While there is a lot of those two things too; I was hoping for a lot more it. And A LOT less of the writer’s feelings and bashings of the episodes he felt like picking on.

    Still this book is a required read for any fan.

  3. Jason Collison says:

    Review by Jason Collison for The Twilight Zone Companion
    Rating:
    I do concede that this book is a must-have for any serious Twilight Zone fan and is probably the best available resource of its kind. However after reading all the glowing reviews here I suppose I was expecting more. Much more.

    If you own all the episodes on DVD and watch them on a regular basis, don’t expect to get a whole lot out of this book. It’s definitely worth every penny of the modest price and the time to read it, but it’s not the treasure trove of knowledge I had hoped to find.

    First let me say that I’m not one for biographies and the whole history of how it was pitched to the network, so I skipped the first chapter. What I wanted was a book that I could open up immediately after watching an episode and read all sorts of interesting tidbits. How it was filmed, accounts of the arguments/discussions over direction and editing, bloopers, how the special effects were accomplished, really anything.

    Certainly Zicree has his favorite episodes and put much effort into those. But for most episodes here is what you get:

    – Rod Serling’s opening and closing dialogs. Just watched it, thanks.

    – A one paragraph plot outline. Again, great for reference I suppose, but just watched it. I know what the episode is about. And some of them contain factual errors. Not huge things, just annoyances.

    – For some episodes, selected lines of dialog. I know what the actors said, thanks.

    – Then what you are left with is one small paragraph in most cases.

    That one remaining paragraph is usually filled with Zicree’s opinionated rants or raves about the acting and direction. If you are lucky you get one tidbit of information about the behind the scenes. Worse yet, most of the time those one or two facts were already in the DVD extras so you’ve already read them if you have the DVDs.

    Now don’t get me wrong, there is some good information in this book. Just very little of it on a per-episode basis. And for a select few episodes he really does go all out. The section for the first season is decent, and it seems to go downhill from there. Almost as if he was tiring from the research.

    I’ll select a few of my favorite episodes at random so you know what you can expect. For each episode here is what’s left after disregarding Serling’s narration and the plot outline:

    “The After Hours”

    As this was a first season episode, Zicree does a fair job here. Almost one full page of information. How the manequins were constructed (this was on the DVD), how they got access to the set, and one paragraph of Zicree’s opinions. Two factual pieces of information explained in good detail, and that’s about as good as you can hope for in this book for most episodes.

    “A Most Unusual Camera”

    The ONLY thing he can say here is why did the waiter fall out of the window at the end. Seriously that’s all there is.

    “Living Doll”

    He explains that the voice of Talky Tiny was done by June Foray (Rocky the flying squirrel). This was on the DVD. And then he takes a paragraph _explaining_ the plot to us. Yes, we know the doll only talks when nobody else is around. Thanks.

    “A Stop at Willoughby”

    One paragraph explaining the similarities to another episode. One paragraph of Zicree telling us that humans have a desire to escape from the pressures and demands of life. Absolutely zero real information.

    “The Thirty Fathom Grave”

    For being an hour long episode you’d think he’d have plenty to write about. Well he does: He complains that it was an hour long. And takes an entire paragraph to do so. A few lines of dialog. (Useless.) Then one paragraph explaining that Variety magazine didn’t like the episode either. Again, zero information.

    “The Old Man in the Cave”

    One paragraph explaining to us mere mortals the deeper meaning of the plot. Other than that, all he can ask is how the computer got electricity for 10 years?? Come on.

    The rest of the book is much like the above; I could go on and on.

    Grab the book, but don’t expect much.

  4. Jeffrey W. Zentner says:

    Review by Jeffrey W. Zentner for The Twilight Zone Companion
    Rating:
    Although this is the best episode guide on TZ, the author fails to accurately analyze many of the shows. At times he seems to randomly nitpick and bash episodes that fans have loved for years. In addition, some of the shows receive only a few lines of analysis, while other shows receive very lengthy and detailed coverage. However, if you are a very big TZ fan, like me, you need this book. Some of the comments by Zicree are insightful, and his coverage of the series is the most extensive thus far.

  5. John R. Pomerville says:

    Review by John R. Pomerville for The Twilight Zone Companion
    Rating:
    Zicree’s Twilight Zone Companion is alright as a reference guide for information on original airing dates, credits, and backstage tidbits. The organization of the book could have been more user-friendly but nothing to quibble about. Interviews with those associated with the program were also interesting and worth the price of admission.

    Zicree is docked two stars for presenting his critiques as anything other than completely subjective. He is welcome to his opinions as we all have favorite episodes and ones that we find less enjoyable. That’s the nature of art in any form. For me, the problem is with the fact that Zicree doesn’t at least admit up front that his opinions have less to do with the quality of a given story and more to do with a leftist world view. His apologetics for all things Socialist (see his comments on Khruschev and Castro) coupled with a hatred for traditional American culture (see his comments about an episode concerning Custer, for example) are grating to say the least. While one may argue these geopolitical points in a different setting, a guide to a TV series, in my opinion, appears to be an ill chosen forum.

    Just a closing comment here: Zicree could not bring himself to find any good thing to say about contributer Earl Hamner’s episodes. It seems to me that it may have more to do with Hamner’s later work in the Walton’s, a series with a very traditional viewpoint that is the antithesis of Zicree’s left-wing dogma, than with the quality of Hamner’s TZ scripts.

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