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Now entering: The Twilight Zone

CBS’ revamped Twilight Zone might be too ambitious.
Illustration: Phong Ngyuen · The Sentry

Remake misses the mark

Remakes and reimaginings of classic films and television shows have become a norm in today’s entertainment industry. There is no surefire rulebook to make these remakes succeed, even if the original material is well-loved by fans.

In 2017, when it was announced that Jordan Peele, who some consider to be a modern-day inception of Hitchcock, had attached himself to the remake series, it seemed like a perfect coupling. Peele’s chilling ideas would have a perfect playground inside the clever formula created by Rod Serling for the original series in 1959. 

The concept that anything is plausible inside the twilight zone allows the episodes to stand alone but still address relevant topics that echo similar themes of the original show. This is right in the middle of Jordan Peele’s comfortable place as a creator, but between this show and his recent film Us, it is hard not to believe that he may be stretched a little thin.

Despite the clever cinematography that opts for uncomfortable camera angles, the rest of the technical aspects of the show are lacking. The runtime of the first four episodes can be cut down, and the flow of each story has rocky bits that are unnecessary to propel its narrative forward. 

The fourth episode, titled, “A Traveler,” featuring Steven Yeun, Marika Sila, and Greg Kinnear, is the clunkiest and hardest to watch of the ones aired thus far. A mysterious traveler shows up at a Christmas party in Alaska and sows doubt into the minds of the attendees. Watching the town turn against each other warns of the dangers of fake news and latching onto information as if it is fact. It feels as if writer Glen Morgan isn’t brave enough to really dive into the issue, and in the end, the episode feels hollow and lacks depth.

In contradiction to the first four episodes, the latest one, titled, “The Wunderkind,” featuring John Cho, Allison Tolman, Jacob Tremblay and written by Andrew Guest, moves in the right direction. This story follows the tragic and a-little-too-familiar tale of electing a child as the President of the United States. Peele’s closing message of “Razzle and dazzle people with the right lies, and eventually they’ll go blind to the madness right in front of their faces” sends a chill down the spine.   

If the production team can keep its footing in this daring arena, then the examinations of human nature each week will have the power to change opinions instead of the vague disappointment of earlier episodes.

There are another five episodes in this season, and that means another five opportunities to dig into the issues of society. The potential for this to be an amazing remake of the beloved original is there but the show is just shy of helping people acknowledge and learn to accept the darker corners of the human population.

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