Posted on June 4, 2019
When I heard they were rebooting The Twilight Zone my first concern was that they would do what had done before and just remake some of the old episodes in color (although I will stan John Lithgow’s performance in
“Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” all day). Then I heard Jordan Peele was going to helm it and I was fairly sure it was in good hands.
But the first episode I saw was “Replay” followed by “A Traveler” and then “The Comedian.” I want to say that it is a complete miracle that any episode of TV is produced and the result is always, always going to be a subjective experience unique to each viewer. In this case, my experience was mostly dull disinterest.
“Replay” was so obviously told and the message hammered home so hard that I was way ahead the entire time. One thing you never want when watching a suspense show is to be thinking, “Yeah, I get it. Move on.” We live in a world where we know full well that calling the police on a person of color can be a death sentence. We see black lives not mattering to cops on a daily basis. It’s good to call this stuff out. Absolutely. But this is also supposed to be entertainment and the story was so superficial that everything was in the text. It was a sermon. Again, to me. That’s how I received it.
“A Traveler” was just confounding and dumb. The ending was so unsupported by the story that it felt like a twist that was added later. Although, I did like the part of the story that showed the Inuit point of view regarding their European colonizers.
“The Comedian” was done well, but it’s a story that’s been told a dozen times and this iteration added nothing new.
So I quit watching the series until I found out that one of my favorite Twitter follows had written a couple of episodes I hadn’t seen. Heather Anne Campbell has one of the freshest minds working today and she’s just getting started. When I saw her name on two of the episodes, I headed back in with renewed optimism.
So I fired up “Six Degrees of Movement” and then “Not All Men.” They were so good that I remembered the original Twilight Zone series had more clunkers than home runs. It also had a tendency to get caught up in the text and forget to be subtle. And, more than anything, it could get sloppily sentimental.
“Wunderkind” was another sermonesque disappointment, but their version of “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet” starring Adam Scott is excellent and as eerie as any from the original series.
“Point of Origin” returned to the model of all text though it did a good job showing the terrifying circumstances of people in custody of a fascist organization with no oversight. It was only average, but that’s okay because the last two episodes absolutely killed.
“The Blue Scorpion” has a twist worthy of Rod Serling himself and “Blurryman” calls back to every other episode as well as the original series in a way that leads to a magical ending.
In a world where Black Mirror exists, every paranormal show has to up its game, even one that’s riding on the shoulders of a giant. Twilight Zone ups its game admirably with a bunch of episodes that are infinitely re-watchable.