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Another reboot of The Twilight Zone is in the works to air on the CBS streaming channel. Jordan Peele, who helmed the horror film “Get Out,” will produce the series. The original series began its run in 1959. In 1985 CBS brought the anthology series back. And it was revived again, unsuccessfully, by the UPN network.
The problem with any reboot of The Twilight Zone is the absence of Rod Serling. Not only did he pen 92 episodes but he set the tone for the series and hired acclaimed writers such as Richard Matheson, Charles Beaumont, Earl Hamner and George Clayton Johnson (among others) to adapt their short stories for the show. What followed was arguably the best anthology series to air on television (Harlan Ellison had a big hand in the 1985 adaptation, but left in a huff after a dispute).
Unlike the original, the first reboot was an hour long and included two and sometimes three stories. Some were quite good, the majority mediocre, and a few pretty horrible. But without Serling, there was no unifying theme, which led to its ultimate demise. While I watched the UPN reboot I have to be honest and admit I can’t remember a thing about it (which speaks for itself!).
So, can we expect better from Peele? It remains to be seen but I’m skeptical. Reboots have always been tricky on television. For every success there any number of failures. And a success with ratings doesn’t indicate a critically acclaimed accomplishment.
The best reboot, in my opinion, was Battlestar Gallactica, which completely deviated from the campy original in tone. Whatever Peele produces, sadly for him, will invariably be compared to the original. There are just some shows where a reboot can’t hope to meet expectations.
Remember the shot-for-shot remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (based on the Robert Bloch novel)? A bomb both critically and at the box office. Bates Motel, the prequel which ended its run last year, fared far better as it dealt with the backstory leading up to Psycho. It can’t be considered a reboot. The various Star Trek television offerings were smart enough not to involve younger versions of the original cast.
Peele, it is said, will hire the best horror, sci-fi and fantasy authors for his reboot. All well and good, but can he instill the tone that made Serling’s original an enduring classic? I’m obviously withholding judgment until the series airs, but from past offerings, I’m more than a little skeptical. What about an anthology series with a different name? Why throw it under the bus from the start intentionally comparing it to Serling’s series with the same title?
What are your thoughts? Send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time,
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