The Twilight Zone
Radio Dramas
10-CD Collection - Vol. 2

Starring: Various
Falcon Picture Group
RRP $39.99 (USA only)
ISBN 1 59171 101 0
Available now

In a future state where religion and books have been banned, a librarian is judged obsolete by the Chancellor and sentenced to the execution of his choice...

The Obsolete Man is a frightening look at the way society really does have a habit of chewing up and spitting out skills within our society. If you take the UK as an example, we used to have a strong steel industry, that dried up. There was a large shipbuilding industry here too, and that also dried up. What would happen if these citizens, with obsolete jobs had their lives terminated once their usefulness to society had ceased?

One man, whose job as a librarian has been deemed obsolete, decides that he wants to show the world that this ruthless murdering of innocents is wrong. But how can he do such a thing when all 'murders' are broadcast on TV and any outpourings by the victim are denounced as the babblings of nutters by those in charge of society.

A great script and a fantastic audio production come together to provide a truly nail biting episode - one that keeps you guessing until the final minutes.

An untalented would-be TV writer whose career takes off when the ghost of William Shakespeare writes his scripts for him...

The Bard stars John Ratzenberger, of Cheers fame, as the hopeless writer who gives his career a kick-start with the help of Black Magic. Stacey Keach's English accent (he plays the part of William Shakespeare) is hysterically funny. However, as this production continues, Keach's accent is pretty believable.

Ratzenberger turns in a fantastic performance, but even that is not enough to rescue what is really only a 10 minute story. It's not that there is anything specifically poor about this production, just that the material is stretched to breaking point.

A man travels back in time to the date of President Lincoln's assassination in the hope of saving him. Will his presence have any impact at all and can he actually change history...

Back There examines the age old question: If you had a time machine, would you go back into the past and change a pivotal moment in history? The usual question is: Would you kill Hitler before he managed to come to power? This time around the listener is transported back to the morning before the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The main problem I had with this story was that the sceptical lead character suddenly shook off all his doubts about time travel and set about attempting to save Lincoln immediately. The conclusion is also a little rushed. This is still an interesting story, I just felt that a good opportunity was slightly wasted.

An ageing man, desperate to keep his much younger wife from leaving him, tries a highly experimental youth serum... but does it work too well?...

A Short Drink From a Certain Fountain stars Adam West as Harman, an ageing, insecure man who is desperate to keep up with his young wife. His brother is experimenting on animals with a cellular serum and Harman convinces him to inject him with a dose. But, not only does Harman revert to a more youthful form, what he becomes is something much more unexpected.

West is fantastic as Harman, although to be honest he probably has the least lines of any of the guest stars to have appeared so far. Also Stacey Keach's final speech is one of the funniest lines of dialogue in the whole series.

Ordered to commit a murder, a small-time hood nervously looks in the mirror and sees the man he could have been - confident, strong and determined to get out...

Nervous Man in Four Dollar Room stars Adam Baldwin as... well that's a good question. It's not actually obvious which character Baldwin is playing. I'm assuming that he played the gutless hood, Jackie. But he could also have been playing George - the guy who makes Jackie do the dirty.

While this is an entertaining story, it drags on a bit too long - the build-up is a tad too slow.

The residents of a quiet street suspect an alien invasion is imminent and that one of their own is a monster leading the attack...

The Monsters are Due on Maple Street is the best recording in this collection. Just what would happen in a small town once fear and uncertainty is unleashed? The answer, pure and simple, is anarchy. Citizens taking things into their own hands and believing that one amongst them is a monster from another planet. And why? Because the electrical power in the street is down - as are all the engines to their cars. Nothing mechanical seems to work - apart for one man's car. Surely he is not human! Sounds crazy, but mass hysteria as represented here is not a million light years away from the sort of frenzy the British press is capable of whipping up (remember the pedophile outings where a paediatrician was attacked because the British public were too stupid to realise that a paediatrician and a pedophile where not the same thing?)

Jared Garrity makes a living as a resurrecter of the dead in the Old West. He doesn't make money from those who want people brought back to life - but from those who want the dead to stay just where they are... six feet under...

Mr. Garrity and the Graves is an interesting addition to this series. Almost everyone has had someone close to them die and would give anything for the chance to have one last conversation with them. Mr. Garrity provides just such a chance... However, given the real opportunity, how many of us would really want to bring the dead back to life?

Not so much a spooky Twilight Zone episode, as a cleverly unravelled work of bizarre fiction - although the second twist in the tale attempts to bring the whole production into the Twilight Zone. Very entertaining.

Hypochondriac Walter Bedeker sells his soul for immortality and indestructibility, only to find out that life might not be worth living if the thrill is gone...

Escape Clause represents one of the best audio productions included in this volume. Just what would you do if offered the chance to live forever? Would you sell your soul? And if so how would you go about ensuring you didn't get bored? Guest star Mike Starr is great in his role in this chilling story. While the conclusion can be seen coming a mile away it is still entertaining.

Political fanatic Oliver Crangle has determined that at 4:00pm he'll rid the world of all evil people by shrinking them to 2 ft tall. But his plan may prove a little short-sighted...

Four O'clock is a great episode, but one that could quite easily have fallen flat on its face. The guest star carries this episode (with barely a look in from any other voice-over artists. Thankfully Stan Freberg is perfect in the role of the barking mad fanatic who sees evil in everyone. If you don't work out the ending by the time you are half way through the episode then you have obviously not being paying attention to the other stories in this collection. A well scripted and acted episode that doesn't come up short.

Barbara Polk has taken care of her detested Uncle Simon for 25 years, waiting impatiently to inherit his wealth. But his will stipulates that she must take care of his latest invention, a robot that has an unnervingly familiar personality...

Uncle Simon is the only production in this series to include two guest stars (Peter Mark Richman and Beverly Garland). The two characters are equally as nasty to each other - uncle Simon expecting his niece to wait on him hand and foot, while Barbara is waiting for uncle Simon to die so that she can take over the running of his old house and laboratory. The twist in the tale is slightly spoilt by the synopsis, which gives away a little too much. But otherwise, this is a gripping, and rather chilling tale.

All the episodes contained here are from original scripts by Rod Serling and these new recordings go to show how timeless these stories really are. As well as a fantastic supporting cast these tales are brought up to date with some impressive sound effects and beautiful scores, that help to set the mood.

Three of these episodes have previously been released on the company's four story collections. But this 10 CD collection is worth buying - even if you already own the other collections - mainly due to the fact that all of the annoying house ads that peppered the previous releases have been removed. The only ad now is for the Twilight Zone website, but that is placed after the story has been told, and will come in useful for those who want to be kept up to date on all future audio releases.

Yet another fantastic collection - I really can't recommend it enough.

Pete Boomer

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