How re­booted clas­sics of the Twi­light Zone might look now.

WITH A TWI­LIGHT ZONE RE­BOOT COM­ING, WHAT DO WE HAVE TO LOOK FOR­WARD TO?

National Post (National Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - EVAN MAN­NING

The Twi­light Zone is com­ing back to TV. Ear­lier this week, CBS an­nounced it was re­boot­ing the best tele­vi­sion se­ries it ever pro­duced. But be­fore we dive into this new it­er­a­tion, though, it’s im­por­tant to quickly rec­og­nize how im­por­tant the old ver­sion of the show was.

The Twi­light Zone was Black Mir­ror nearly 60 years ago. It had all the mak­ings of a show peo­ple weren’t ready for, with ideas and pro­jec­tions of the fu­ture and al­ter­nate uni­verses most peo­ple couldn’t con­jure up in their most wild imag­i­na­tive states. It floored peo­ple — and still does to­day.

Ex­cept, in­stead of re­leas­ing 13 episodes over a five-year-span like Black Mir­ror has, Rod Ser­ling’s epic chunk of a se­ries churned out 156 in nearly the same amount of time. Ser­ling, the show’s cre­ator, was some­how able to spin a never-end­ing ball of yarn, cre­at­ing new sto­ries at a fre­netic pace.

It was en­tirely ahead of it’s time, but also a per­fect rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the fears with which folks in the 1950’s and 60’s lived. The Twi­light Zone re­flected the prob­lems in mod­ern so­ci­ety by cap­i­tal­iz­ing on themes of iso­la­tion and loneliness, su­per­nat­u­ral hor­ror, the un­known and the pre­vi­ously un­ex­plored.

With the re­cent suc­cess of Black Mir­ror, the an­nounce­ment that Jor­dan Peele and CBS are gear­ing up for a Twi­light Zone re­boot should come as no sur­prise to any­one. With Black Mir­ror and Ama­zon’s new Philip K. Dick’s Elec­tric Dreams, there couldn’t be a more ap­pro­pri­ate time to bring back Ser­ling’s swirling, sci-fi noir ex­plo­ration of al­ter­nate re­al­i­ties.

And what a per­fect choice of cre­ator to helm this up­dated ver­sion (which CBS plans to put on its stream­ing ser­vice, CBS Al­lAc­cess). With his 2017 di­rec­to­rial de­but, Get Out, Peele proved him­self ca­pa­ble of cre­at­ing a hor­ror film that was wildly en­ter­tain­ing and in­sanely prof­itable, while also com­ment­ing pow­er­fully and thought­fully on racial prob­lems in to­day’s Amer­ica. Peele has four more so­cial thrillers al­ready planned, hint­ing, per­haps that he shares a vi­sion sim­i­lar to Ser­ling’s, one which could de­liver an ac­cu­rate por­trayal of our mod­ern col­lec­tive fears.

With all that be­ing said, it’s im­pos­si­ble not to think what for­mer ideas Peele might choose to repli­cate in the new ver­sion of the show. There are so many clas­sic episodes he could ex­pand on, or bring into the 21st cen­tury.

EYE OF THE BEHOLDER

An age­less tale about a woman who goes through fa­cial re­con­struc­tion surgery sev­eral times just so she can par­tic­i­pate in her com­mu­nity, Eye of the Beholder showed the van­ity deeply en­trenched in our so­ci­ety. It is set in a world where our con­tem­po­rary beauty stan­dards are in­stead viewed as uni­form ug­li­ness, and vice versa. The episode is named ex­actly for the mes­sage Ser­ling sought to hand out.

An up­dated ver­sion would fit all too per­fectly into our im­a­geob­sessed so­ci­ety.

WHERE IS EV­ERY­BODY?

The first episode Ster­ling ever made was about an iso­lated man who wakes up in a ghost-town. Af­ter a vig­or­ous ex­plo­ration, the sol­dier is shown to be in a hal­lu­ci­na­tory state. In real­ity, he was in a sen­sory-de­prived train­ing prac­tice, pre­par­ing to be an as­tro­naut. The episode ex­plored the im­por­tance of com­pan­ion­ship, and how a lack of it can hin­der one’s abil­ity to live and think clearly.

An ob­vi­ous up­date of this ver­sion could in­clude so­cial me­dia in some for­mat, and the iso­lat­ing ef­fects those out­lets can have on some­one’s men­tal health. Maybe some­one hal­lu­ci­nates that they are wan­der­ing through an end­less loop of pic­ture-per­fect, lonely land­scapes, only to have it later re­vealed that they were merely dream­ing about In­sta­gram.

IT’S A GOOD LIFE

It’s A Good Life could be a gi­ant metaphor for the Don­ald Trump era. Who knew that when Rod Ser­ling wrote this story about a ma­ni­a­cal six-year-old child with power far too great for him, that it would be rel­e­vant to­day? A boy who in­ap­pro­pri­ately re­acts to the slight­est of in­sults and uses his strength in ir­ra­tional ways. Does that sound at all fa­mil­iar?

THE HITCH-HIKER

In the 1960’s ver­sion, a young woman’s drive across coun­try be­comes slowly haunted with the re­cur­ring sight of a hitch­hiker ev­ery­where she goes. Af­ter she stops off to call her mother, we are shown the truth: the woman died in a car ac­ci­dent sev­eral days ago, and the hitch-hiker is a per­son­i­fied ver­sion of Death stalk­ing her.

One of the most bone-chill­ing episodes of The Twi­light Zone would be per­fect for a mod­ern­hor­ror re­make.

NIGHT­MARE AT 20,000 FEET

If you watched this episode dur­ing your highly im­pres­sion­able child­hood years, you likely be­came scared of sev­eral things all at once: Fly­ing in planes, gi­ant moss-cov­ered mon­sters and the pos­si­bil­ity of para­noia.

Now, imag­ine see­ing that mon­ster that shook you at a young age with to­day’s CGI ef­fects? And imag­ine a bud­ding young star like Get Out’s Daniel Kalu­uya be­ing the one to play the para­noid char­ac­ter that Wil­liam Shat­ner made fa­mous back in the 60’s.

STOPOVER IN A QUIET TOWN

Stopover In A Quiet Town was a hid­den gem in Twi­light Zone’s stash of jewelled episodes. A cou­ple wake up hun­gover in a town they’ve never seen be­fore, one made up of props and with the echo of a lit­tle girl’s laugh­ter as the only voice any­where near them. In the end, it is re­vealed that the cou­ple has been trans­ported to a dif­fer­ent world, where they are merely toys in a lit­tle girl’s play area.

Now, this might be a bit of a stretch. But imag­ine Peele and CBS up­dat­ing this story to some­how dis­play this cou­ple liv­ing in a sim­u­lated-real­ity, one they don’t know they’re ex­ist­ing in much like the cou­ple in Ser­ling’s orig­i­nal story. By the end of the episode, their re­al­iza­tion could ter­ri­fy­ingly come to them. It would ac­cu­rately dis­play the grow­ing con­spir­acy fears some have that we are all, in fact, liv­ing in sim­u­lated re­al­i­ties.

CBS

Inger Stevens starred in The Twi­light Zone’s bone-chill­ing episode The Hitch-Hiker, which first aired Jan. 22, 1960.

CBS

Wil­liam D. Gor­don and Jen­nifer Howard in The Twi­light Zone’s Eye of the Beholder, which first aired Nov. 11, 1960.

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