Imagine, if you will, a reboot of a sci-fi and supernatural classic that’s so wildly popular that it’s still talked about (and parodied) today. 2019’s The Twilight Zone has that unenviable task and, though it’s the brainchild of Get Out and Us (opens in new tab) horror genius Jordan Peele, it falters just as often as it soars. A handful of journalists were given the opportunity to watch the first four episodes – available on CBS All Access from April 1 – and here’s what they thought.
How 2019’s The Twilight Zone compares to the original – Variety (opens in new tab)
“Peele’s Twilight Zone, intended to entice the public to try out a niche streaming service, is tasked with doing the opposite: Taking the specific sensibilities of Serling and of Peele himself and sanding them down to the point where their stories are little more than broadly appealing campfire tale… But the greatest blow to the power of the new Twilight Zone is self-inflicted. Even with a vastly diminished megaphone, it ought to have found something worth saying.”
There’s Black Mirror-style world-building to watch out for – Cnet (opens in new tab)
“We can tell you that these two debut installments are cinematic and atmospheric, but that's about as far as we can go -- pretty much anything else would be a spoiler, and it's best to go in with no idea where these hour-long eerie anecdotes will take you. Fans of Black Mirror will enjoy the twists in the tales, especially if you start spotting the little references and Easter eggs...”
The Twilight Zone’s twists don’t always land – SlashFilm (opens in new tab)
“Speaking of endings, the new Twilight Zone has a problem with them. The original show was often famous for its endings, which came with big, shocking reveals that knocked viewers for a loop and left them reflecting back on what they’d just watched. This incarnation of the series never quite gets there. Which can often be frustrating, because everything that came before it works so well.”
The Twilight Zone’s best opening episode… and the worst – Den Of Geek (3.5/5)
“The modern version of The Twilight Zone starts off with a premiere worthy of the show’s name. “The Comedian” features a wonderfully dark and layered performance by Kumail Nanjiani as the titular comedian who struggles with his stand-up routine and learns the rewards and consequences of making his sets more personal. The story feels like it sprang from a vintage episode, complete with hubris, mysterious visitors, and an ending that’s suitably final.”
“Less successful in the social satire arena is “Replay,” which follows a single mother as she sends her son off to the local historically black college. There’s an element of time travel in the episode that gives it its signature The Twilight Zone twist, but in this one, the story leans heavily into themes of racism and the police mistreatment that is at the heart of the “Black Lives Matter” movement. It’s a powerful message that unfortunately borders on caricature at times, but it thankfully benefits from a strong performance from Sanaa Lathan of The Affair in a slowly blossoming story of the importance of family and remembering one’s roots. It just doesn’t feel like an episode of The Twilight Zone, though.”
The Twilight Zone forges its own path – Indie Wire (B+)
“And here’s where Peele’s “Twilight Zone” really starts to define itself. While the 2019 team is happy to go off on a plot-driven joyride when the twists and turns are tight enough, most episodes are focused on message. That’s not to say they sacrifice narrative, so much as they recognize the genius of Serling’s setting. Yes, each narrative takes place in an alternate dimension, but they’re still telling stories to a real audience in the real world who will bring their own reality to the proceedings.”
While Jordan Peele can seemingly do no wrong as of late, the jury is still very out on if The Twilight Zone reboot will be able to live up to its lofty expectations. You'll be able to get your dose of mind-bending, terrifying tales this Monday on CBS Access.
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