Rod Serling’s iconic television series The Twilight Zone, running from 1959 to 1964, was such a success, exerting a powerful influence over popular culture, that it spawned not only imitations but a string of remakes and sequels over the decades.
Now yet another version of The Twilight Zone is about to appear — but this reboot is generating real excitement.
In autumn 2018, it was announced that Jordan Peele will serve as host of The Twilight Zone. Peele, the award-winning writer-actor-director-producer best known for the hit film Get Out, is producing the series with CBS Television Studios and Simon Kinberg for CBS All Access.
The Twilight Zone is slated to premiere on April 1st on CBS All Access, 60 years following the premiere of the original series on CBS.
Peele steps into the on-camera role iconically originated by Serling, who introduced and provided narration for episodes of the series. Rodman Edward “Rod” Serling was a respected screenwriter, playwright, and television producer who, with Twilight Zone, crafted eerie and startling stories that often carried messages on racism, Cold War paranoia, or the horrors of war.
“The realization, for me, was that it was an opportunity to attempt to continue with Serling’s mission,” Peele told Variety last year. “If we approach it without ego and sort of bow to Serling, that will hopefully suffice for our fellow Twilight Zone fans but also bring back a show that I think is needed right now. Because it’s a show that has always helped us look at ourselves, hold a mirror up to society.”
On February 6th, it was announced that Ginnifer Goodwin (Once Upon a Time) will appear in the Twilight Zone episode titled “Point of Origin” alongside Star Trek: Discovery’s James Frain and Gotham’s Zabryna Guevara.
TVline reported other Season 1 guest stars: Mindy Project‘s Ike Barinholtz, The Exorcist‘s John Cho, American Horror Story‘s Taissa Farmiga, House of Cards’ Greg Kinnear, Silicon Valley‘s Kumail Nanjiani, Parks and Rec‘s Adam Scott, Fargo’s Alison Tolman, 2 Dope Queens‘ Jessica Williams and The Walking Dead‘s Steven Yeun.
America got a taste of what Peele envisions for the new series in a much-talked-about commercial that ran during the Super Bowl on February 3rd.
The promotion was made to look as though it was part of the football coverage… until it clearly wasn’t. It also made use of the famous theme music and spiral motif from the Serling series, and introduced Peele as a man “both nowhere and everywhere at the same time.”
“When truth is not the truth, what dimension are you even in?” Peele said before vanishing through a door in the middle of an empty stadium.
The advertisement was touted as a highlight of the evening.
TV Guide wrote, “The first trailer for Jordan Peele’s The Twilight Zone reboot was launched during Super Bowl LIII, and it couldn’t have been more on-point… The ad appeared to cut through the regular broadcast of the Super Bowl as the actor took the field to question our reality with the help of that hypnotic spiral and a door planted smack dab on the middle of the field. That’s when that creepy cadence of the show’s iconic theme song comes on, and it’s all very simple and spoiler-free but still completely intense.”
Another critic wrote, “As both NFL offenses floundered in what was an utterly forgettable Super Bowl last night, one man dominated the proceedings — and he wasn’t a football player. Jordan Peele.”
The new series will be a mixture of new episodes and remakes of classic episodes from not just the 1959-1964 series but also the 1985-1989 series and the 2002-2003 series.
The planned third episode, “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet,” is a remake of the classic Twilight Zone episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” which featured William Shatner as a psychologically frail airline passenger who has a breakdown when he sees a creature outside the plane, tearing at the wing, and no one believes him.
The new version of the iconic episode will star Adam Paul Scott of Parks and Recreation.
The Boston Globe reported, “Jordan Peele is rebooting the classic CBS series, which is a risky venture to say the least, particularly since ‘Black Mirror’ has brought a new rush of brilliance and energy to the dystopian anthology format. It is one of the most anticipated shows of the year, and if it’s good, which is quite possible given Peele’s track record, it will qualify as must-see.”
Nancy Bilyeau, a former staff editor at Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, and InStyle, has written a trilogy of historical thrillers for Touchstone Books. Her new book, The Blue, is a spy story set in the 18th-century porcelain world. For more information, go to www.nancybilyeau.com