The Twilight Zone: Jordan Peele takes reins of new reboot

February 25, 2019

While this year’s Super Bowl may have been proved as a disappointment on several rather large accounts, at least one thing left a positive impact on social media platforms and entertainment buffs. It came in the form of a faux-glitch on the TV and a man in a black suit walking about in an empty stadium. This was the first official teaser for Jordan Peele’s highly anticipated re-vamp of “The Twilight Zone.”

This is something this writer has been anxiously anticipating for quite some time.

Full disclosure: there is not a single show in the world that I find to be as perfect as Rod Serling’s original 1959-1964 run of “The Twilight Zone.” Nothing, and I mean nothing, floats my boat more than eerie black-and-white cinematography, a chillingly stern voiceover, mind-blowing twist endings and broad-stroke metaphysical concepts. It’s a show that is simultaneously of its time and totally timeless in its content. It has inspired so much of where storytelling is now,including a few light rip-offs like “The Outer Limits” and “Night Gallery,” but what made “Zone” so singular was its unsuspected humanism.

Serling, a humanist enigma all of his own, used “Zone” as a means of exploring the deepest, darkest pockets of the human condition in the nuclear ’50s and ’60s where rules simply don’t apply. It was a personal venture for Serling; he sometimes utilized his own personal experiences in storytelling and ideals he strongly valued, such as anti-war activism and racial equality while also tackling very existential, ideas such as interpretations of physical appearance, acceptance of death and crippling anxiety. The show also launched bravura performances from William Shatner, Robert Redford and Burgess Meredith. It was and still is a personal manifesto veiled as thrilling and technologically vital anthology genre television.

Since then, we have gotten an incredibly lackluster 1983 film and two TV reboots in 1985 and 2002 that failed to take off or remain in the cultural zeitgeist in the same way. You might be wondering why exactly we should be excited for another go. Part of me agrees, but I also can’t help but think that this will be the time we get it right again. This go at “Zone” has the voice of a bonafide idiosyncratic auteur behind it with Peele, something that “Zone” has sorely lacked since the days of Serling.


It’s quite hard to imagine a meaningful iteration of “Zone” without the low-budget black-and-white look with big theatrical performances, it is ingrained in its DNA as a vital part of the tone and charm of how it works but it can be done. Television is peaking now, and the tools at the disposal of filmmakers for short form television like this are unparalleled.

The talent that has been rounded up for this iteration is exciting, too. The pilot, titled “Rewind,” will be helmed by Gerard McMurray, who recently made a name for himself with his deeply overlooked and disarmingly great “The First Purge.” The cast also include A-listers and exciting up-and-coming talent along the lines of Kumail Nanjiani, Steven Yeun, John Cho, Jessica Williams, Greg Kinnear and Allison Tolman.

All this and the most recent trailer actually displayed some intriguing flashy imagery points to this actually being the reboot fans have always wanted. I’m personally apprehensive, as anyone who worships such a series should be. I do not expect or want this to be the same as the original series. I do, however, want this to maintain the core of what Serling sought out to accomplish with the “Twilight Zone” brand. It’s an exploration of humanity and the places we go through to realize things about ourselves that always veers on but never fully dives into being totally disturbed.

No one will ever really be able to say exactly what it was that didn’t work with past reboots. It could have been the lack of an true author, or the absence of a reason to exist or maybe they just weren’t good enough. Whatever the case was, I hope that this new iteration cracks the code. Speaking for myself, I’ll be using a free-trial of CBS All-Access to gleefully dive back into the fifth dimension.

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