The Twilight Zone has been a mainstay for me for most of my life. Along with Star Trek, The original Twilight Zone series was a one that I would watch regularly with my dad. Every night in syndication we would watch another of Rod Serling’s classic tales and I would find myself swept into another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind.
In 1985, ten years after the death of series creator Rod Serling, a new version of the Twilight Zone was introduced. Every week we would sit down to new stories hosted by the disembodied voice of Charles Aidman (who was later replaced by Robin Ward) written by scifi and horror greats such as Harlan Ellison, Greg Bear, Ray Bradbury, and Stephen King. This re-imagining of the classic series cemented my fandom and, when it returned briefly in the mid 2000’s, hosted by Forest Whitaker, I found myself once again obsessed. Unfortunately that series didn’t last and it seemed Twilight Zone had seen it’s last hurrah.
Fast forward nearly 20 years later and once again the journey into imagination has returned. This time however, writer Director Jordan Peele is at the helm and, after two successful films, he takes on the classic that started sixty years ago.
So, let’s explore The Twilight Zone.
Tonight’s story is about Samir Wassan (Kumail Nanjiani), a failing comedian who takes advice from a legendary performer ( Tracy Morgan). The advice is an immediate success but that success comes with a price, those he uses in his routine literally begin to vanish from existence causing the very fabric of reality to alter around him. This, of course takes a horrible turn as he begins to use his newfound powers to radically alter his life and the lives of others only to get a laugh.
Is it a ‘Good’ Episode?
As with the classic series, the story is more than just a tale about strange happenings. The episode also serves as a morality play about the danger of using people around you for your own personal needs. For Samir, these needs are seen in his drive to become the greatest of stand-up comedians. As people begin to vanish from his life he finds that there is a cosmic balance that must be paid, especially when you slipped into the Twilight Zone. Perfect in both tone and style, this first episode, written by Alex Rubens, immediately feels comfortable and familiar in every way. Jordan Peele has found a perfect balance between modern story telling while keeping true to Serling’s original tone and feel.
Lead Kumail Nanjiani nails his role as the frustrated comedian who comes into powers he can not explain nor completely control. While Kumail has been on the scene for sometime in shows like Silicon Valley and Portlandia, it is cool to see him on the pilot episode of what appears to be the definitive revival of the series rivaling even the incredible 80’s series that brought the Twilight Zone to a whole new audience. Along side Kumail is Diarra Kilpatick who is perfect in the role of the rival comedian, DiDi Scott. The character of DiDi is the real talent of the tale and due to their rivalry there is a clever twist at the end that starts this series off perfectly.
While somewhat predictable, this first episode is a perfect entry point for both the uninitiated and seasoned veterans of the previous incarnations of the classic series. If this first episode is any indication, this series will be the ultimate revival of one of the most beloved anthology series ever made. I love that Jordan Peele has brought back the classic air with both the intro credits while he himself completely embodies Rod Serling in his manner and dress while also making it his own. The man is a great talent and this first episode proves that both his humor and horror sensibilities are the furthest thing from a fluke, Peele knows his stuff and I look forward to more of his vision.
The Twilight Zone series is currently streaming on CBSAllaccess along side Star Trek Discovery. If you were waiting for a reason to subscribe, wait no longer, this is it.
Late To The Game 4/1/2019
Next Episode: Nightmare at 30,000 Feet
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