It is a fact, commonly accepted by fans of horror and science fiction, that The Twilight Zone holds a very special place in television history. Show-runner Rod Serling, who also wrote the script for Planet of the Apes, combined simple morality tales and speculative plot elements in order to carve a distinct niche in television.
The Twilight Zone has been revived multiple times to multiple degrees of success. However, now it's Jordan Peele's turn at bringing the classic franchise to life. But can it work? Peele has gained a massive degree of success following the release of Get Out, but can he really offer audiences the same experiences Rod Serling offered back in the '60s? Will Jordan Peele's revival of The Twilight Zone work or will it fail to leave an impression on audiences?
10 Won't Succeed: It Might Copy Too Much
One of the flaws of prior revivals of The Twilight Zone is that it felt the need to copy older episodes, thus feeling like nothing more than the old thing, but shinier!
With news that one of the first episodes proposed was nothing more than a sequel to the classic "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" William Shatner episode, it isn't unreasonable to claim Jordan Peele might not be offering that much unique material for audiences.
9 Will Succeed: The Showcasing Of New Talent
What many older television anthologies offered was a chance for otherwise unrecognized talent to gain a chance to prove themselves before they had access to larger opportunities. Richard Matheson, the writer of I Am Legend and Hell House, wrote many episodes of the original Twilight Zone alongside Rod Serling. Harlan Ellison was one of many writers who worked on the '80s revival (along with a large cast of other talented individuals).
Jordan Peele's revival may be a chance for future masters of the craft to showcase their storytelling talents to the world.
8 Won't Succeed: CBS All-Access
The biggest issue with Jordan Peele's The Twilight Zone revival may be the biggest issue with Star Trek: Discovery: CBS All-Access. With all the streaming services people need to pay for nowadays, will audiences really pay for another streaming service?
Even if the series is a masterpiece, even if everything turns out wonderfully, will it find its audience? If it can't find its audience, will it ever be able to succeed at all?
7 Will Succeed: Higher Budgets (And A Producer Who Can Stretch Them)
The continuous weakness of every version of The Twilight Zone is that they are restricted by low budgets. Some episodes manage to succeed within these constraints. Others didn't. This is even worse with the 2000s series, where television started to tell larger and larger stories but lacked the budget to do enough.
However, Jordan Peele, while he has access to higher budgets, worked with Blumhouse. Blumhouse is known for releasing low-budget films that make the most of every cent. With Peele as a producer, it seems logical that he'd be able to stretch his higher budget as much as possible to create quite possibly the best effects in Twilight Zone history...
6 Won't Succeed: It May Draw Too Much From Other Anthologies
The Twilight Zone inspired several other anthology series in its day. Some are cultural landmarks in their own right, from The Outer Limits, Night Gallery, Tales from the Crypt, and Black Mirror. One issue with the '80s revival is that it drew a lot of influence from The Outer Limits, which left it without a distinct identity.
Jordan Peele's revival needs to approach its stories carefully. If the series feels too much like a Black Mirror rip-off, it will fail to succeed. It needs to hit the right notes.
5 Will Succeed: The '80s Revival Drew A Lot Of Great Talent
People often forget how, following the success of Twilight Zone: The Movie, the '80s revival managed to draw in a lot of talented writers. Aside from using rejected Rod Serling scripts, the '80s revival used scripts written by Harlan Ellison, George R. R. Martin, Rockne S O'Bannon, Geg Bear Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, and Stephen King. Horror legends like Wes Craven and William Friedkin directed episodes. And every famous star had an appearance; everyone from that era appeared at some point.
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For those who dismiss the '80s revival as just a cash-in, they often forget the show drew in a lot of talented writers and directors who produced material that stands up very, very well.
The problem is the show didn't have the feel of Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone since every writer and director brought their unique flair to their episodes. Still, if Jordan Peele as producer unifies and focuses the tone of the series, perhaps the revival might work.
4 Won't Succeed: Prior Revivals Haven't Caught On
While the '80s revival and movie have their fans, no one can ever pretend that this Twilight Zone ever held a candle to the original series. Not that it was bad, it just didn't catch on in its time. It doesn't help that other shows hit airwaves during and after The Twilight Zone's run that really did eclipse it. Tales from the Crypt offered mainstream viewers what they really wanted: visceral, over-the-top horror-comedy. Star Trek: The Next Generation offered even more social commentary as seen through a speculative lens.
And no one even watched the 2000s revival...
So why does anyone think this revival, apart from a successful advertising campaign, will catch on any better?
3 Will Succeed: Jordan Peele Is A Talented Writer
Rod Serling and Jordan Peele really do have a lot in common. Both are writers noted for offering relevant social-political commentary through genre fiction. They are both critically beloved writers, and they have surprisingly similar styles of writing, with lots of build-up leading to unbelievably cathartic and clever build-ups.
While Peele is not going to be writing every episode, as he really isn't the show-runner, Marco Ramirez is. However, Jordan Peele, as narrator and producer, will exert that same influence Rod Serling had on his original series. Considering their similarities as writers, this indicates audiences may be ready for a real revival of the original in ways prior revivals have not been.
2 Won't Suceed: Do We Need The Twilight Zone?
The Twilight Zone served a valuable role in the '60s. It contextualized the dread and anxiety felt throughout the decade, addressing huge cultural problems as well as universal fears. Even some episodes that addressed issues relevant seemingly only to the '60s remain relevant today. While "The Shelter" may not seem relevant today (we aren't so afraid of a bomb that we'd build a shelter), the idea that civilization breaks down given a little push is an evergreen concept.
The '00s revival, which only lasted one season, attempted to re-make story plots from the original, but it consistently felt as if they were just retreading old ground with less subtle messages.
Jordan Peele's The Twilight Zone revival really can't do anything the original already has, other than re-contextualize old messages we already saw decades ago that are still relevant. Why does this show need to exist, other than to profit off the original's legacy? Is there artistic merit to it?
1 Will Succeed: We Need The Twilight Zone
Perhaps we do need it.
Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone is always going to be there for us. The '80s and '00s revivals didn't erase the old series from existence. In addition, each Twilight Zone revival before, while never as successful as the original, is not without merit. They came in times society needed the series.
But now? Society is so conflicted, so divided, that contextualization is desperately needed and wanted. Relevant social commentary on society itself is required. Many anthology series exist, but none of them address the social-political talking points The Twilight Zone addressed in its run.
Jordan Peele's The Twilight Zone revival might just offer us something no show currently is: our world seen through a dark glass.