News of the release of Darkside’s first season on DVD was long awaited. Unfortunately, the product ultimately delivered was a tremendous disappointment. Please be aware that all of the show’s original music has been changed here for every episode as far as I can tell, with the exception of “Inside the Closet”, which is presented with its original score. In all fairness to the producers of the set, this music alteration is mentioned on the back of the DVD case, along with a statement about some episodes that may be modified. However, these facts are stated nowhere in the amazon.com product description, so many buyers may find this out after the fact.
It appears that music library licensing has forced the producers of this set to strip the series of all of its original soundtracks. I find it somewhat difficult to believe that compensatory arrangements couldn’t have been made with the original composers or their families in order to allow for this music to be included in the DVD release. Consider the DVD release of The Twilight Zone, for example. Beyond the 4 or 5 major composers that contributed music to that series (Herrmann, Goldsmith, Constant, etc), there were a plethora of other musicians that contributed little musical cues, as confirmed by the new Zone book by Martin Grams. With this in mind, the Zone DVDs still present all of the original music from the series. Again, I find it difficult to believe that the producers of the Darkside DVD set could not have done the same.
I personally would have paid $20 to $40 more for the set if it included the original music. For me, the inclusion of altered music makes the DVD set utterly unacceptable and unwatchable. For all of its campiness, low production value and overall marginal episode quality, I really feel that the music of this series was well written and indispensable. Some viewers, and especially anyone new to the show, may not care about the altered soundtrack. However, for anyone with even a casual admiration for the series, I would think that the changes made here will be of great concern.
Regarding the picture quality of the DVD release, it appears that no effort was made by the producers to improve upon or re-master the video. This being said, I would not say that the visual quality is poor. It is at best average, but does not take away from the enjoyment of the viewing experience. That said, it is my opinion that the visual quality of the program as aired on the Sci Fi channel is better than what one would get with the DVD release. If nothing else, this is still disappointing.
There are two other very minor issues that I would like to mention. This is really nitpicking on my part, but hopefully it can be of value to someone. First, the commentary by creator George Romero that is advertised in the product description appears to be nothing more than bits taken from an interview done with him around the time of the creation of the series circa 1983. In other words, Romero has not been actively involved in contributing any new material to the DVD release, which he could easily have done. This is in a way deceptive advertising, as the product description leads one to believe that Romero provided new commentary for the purpose of the DVD release. In addition, this supposed commentary appears as an option for only one episode, the pilot “Trick or Treat”. My initial impression after learning of the inclusion of commentary was that Romero would sit down and review at least 5 of the most well written episodes of the season. The second gripe is virtually meaningless, but something that was still disappointing. The show’s commercial bumpers are not included in the set. This is trivial, but I cannot help to again reference the DVD release of The Twilight Zone, which does include all of the original show bumpers as each episode went to commercial. In virtually every way, the Zone DVD release is IMO the model for which all other TV programs should strive. Unfortunately, this release came nowhere near to satisfying what the fans of the program deserve.
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I really can’t believe that I’m on Amazon actually giving a Tales from the Darkside product a negative review… but here I am doing just that. I consider myself one of the biggest “Darkside” fans ever. I have been waiting 15 years for this show to get the treatment it so rightfully deserves, and what does Paramount/CBS DVD do? They TAKE OUT ALMOST EVERY PEICE OF ORIGINAL MUSIC IN EVERY EPISODE! I have the entire series made from TV airings burned onto DVD from my DVR, and these DVD’s only improve on the picture quality a microscopic bit. Grain is apparent everywhere. This is inexcusable. If they can make Night of the Living Dead look like it was made yesterday, then they can fix up an 80′s show!!! Speaking of “Night of the Living Dead”, all of the musical tracks from “Night” as well as “Creepshow” ( two of George Romero’s most remembered films ) are taken out completely. Funny thing is, “Night of the Living Dead” is in the public domain, so this couldn’t be a rights issue. So what do we get instead? An incredibly inferior alternate soundtrack that sounds like someone is playing around on a Casio keyboard. This is the first review I have ever done for Amazon, and I am really sorry that it has to be a negative one, but come on Paramount! You can’t get anything right! Can you watch Titanic, Rocky, or Star Wars with the soundtrack completely changed? Of course… but why would you want to? It would be almost a sin. But Paramount likes to experiment with this on one of the greatest and creepiest shows of all time. What do I rate “Tales from the Darkside” as a series? That’s easy: 6/5. What do I rate this set? I’ve had bowel movements that have been better. Hopefully, if enough people complain, this will be rectified… and I’m praying that’s the case so that this show won’t be remembered as “That 80′s show with the bad soundtrack”! Paramount is the devil.
Like other reviewers, I’ve been an avid fan of this series since it premiered when I was a kid. So, when my brother broke the news to me last week that the first season would be released on dvd, I ordered my copy immediately. Shipping took 2 days from the time of availability. I thought, “this is too goood to be true.” Well, it is. The big problem I have with the release is that A FEW EPISODES DO NOT CONTAIN THE ORIGINAL MUSIC. Now, I’m not referring to the beginning and ending titles. That music is the same. Just do me the favor of comparing the Youtube versions of “Trick or Treat” and “The Odds” with the versions on the disk. You will notice markedly different music throughout the course of the episode. And these are two of the greatest episodes in the series!!!
Many people would find this trivial; to have the episodes in one place for the first time is enough. However, I am certain there are fans out there for whom this has been a long anticipated event who will be disappointed. My memories of this show are not just the stories: they are the images, the diaglogue and, yes, THE MUSIC. George Romero should be ashamed of himself.
Now, it is possible that having been syndicated, these episodes were not shown with the original music since their first airing. I invite anyone to prove that assumption; it would be reassuring.