A trip into the ‘The Twilight Zone’


The age-old belief that the original is always better than the reboot is the thought in everyone’s mind with the remake of narrator Rod Serling’s classic series “The Twilight Zone.” However, the remake succeeds on its own merits, unfettered by the expectations of one of the most famous TV shows ever made, which originated in the 1950s with the likes of “I Love Lucy.” The sci-fi anthology is centered around tales of contained horror or suspense that serve as cautionary and often ironic stories with surprise twists at the end, and have been masterfully revived by one of the most popular connoisseurs of suspense and horror, Jordan Peele.  

In recent years, the Netflix series “Black Mirror” has been heralded as this generation’s “Twilight Zone,” with its own sci-fi and “techno-paranoia” anthology that satirize society’s relationship with technology. However, Peele brings back the original series to update its source material and remind “Black Mirror” viewers of where their fascination stemmed from. His breakout directorial debut, “Get Out,” offered aspects of satirization and thrill that features in “The Twilight Zone,” which carries over to his critically-acclaimed sophomore work, “Us.” 

The premiere on CBS All Access showcases Peele’s attention to retaining the nostalgia of the original series, but also adds his own touch of current issues and relevant topics with discussions on racism, morality and injustice. With four episodes previewed, the director, who has “overseen the reboot with Simon Kinberg (a veteran of the ‘X-Men’ franchise)” according to CNN, has casted lesser-known actors in the roles. 

Each episode takes place in the titular setting with new plot and characters, with the only constant being the omnipresent narrator, Peele. Although the newer episodes aren’t perfect, they do well to not play out too similarly in tone and theme to the source material and “Black Mirror.” They keep the tone more positive than the latters which is where it prevails, by providing hope with better understanding of human nature. 

“Nightmare at 30,000 Feet” is the most obvious homage to the original, where danger presents itself in the cabin and mind of a passenger (Adam Scott) who has persuaded himself that the plane he is on is going to crash. However, its dedication had weakened its interesting features to stand on its own. All the episodes offer their own unique spin, which is hard to accomplish in a generation desensitized to surprise, which is what keeps the series aloft. The episodes aren’t perfect, and none are notably awful, but may suffer from a lack of creativity in fleshing out its plots, which included a time-changing camcorder, a comedian that discovers the key to fame is burdened with sacrifice and a mysterious prisoner in an isolated Alaskan town.   

The peculiar and enigmatic premises are enough to draw you in and keep you entertained for the varying run times, all around 30 minutes. There’s a reason why the original was popular, and hopefully Peele can continue to improve on what he has planned for the rest of the ten-episode season, because what he has premiered is definitely intriguing.  

Rating: 3.75/5 

Hollie Lao is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at hollianne.lao@uconn.edu.

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