During the Super Bowl, CBS ran an extended promo for the upcoming Twilight Zone reboot, which is produced and hosted by Jordan Peele. Rod Serling has big shoes to fill, but if we trust anyone with the job, it’s Peele.
I am a lifelong Twilight Zone devotee, and this Super Bowl-themed ad turned my interest level in the new show up past eleven. Jordan Peele and his Monkey Paw Productions are producing the show alongside X-Men movie writer Simon Kinberg and showrunner Marco Ramirez, who has written for shows like Daredevil and The Defenders. It begins streaming on CBS All Access on April 1st.
“Answers are new questions. The unthinkable is expected. When truth is not the truth, what dimension are you even in?” A suited-up Peele asks in the promo, then steps through a famous open door, as strains of the Twilight Zone theme song send shivers down our spine.
While the reboot remains shrouded in mystery (in typical Twilight Zone fashion), we do know that Peele will be hosting and narrating the show (in Rod Serling fashion). It also looks as though they’ll be “remaking” at least some of the classics; Parks & Rec‘s Adam Scott has been cast in “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet,” a remake of the iconic episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” that starred a young William Shatner tormented by a gremlin-like being only he can seem to see outside his plane window.
This isn’t the first or even the second time that the Twilight Zone has seen a TV revival in a new era, but I have a feeling it’s in the right hands and the right moment this go-round.
My favorite episodes of the Twilight Zone are those that rely more on psychological discomfort and surprising twists than more overt scares. Given Peele’s predilection for horror, it’s likely some of these episodes are going to be absolutely terrifying. Yet his deft touch with works like Get Out and the soon-to-be-arriving Us demonstrate that Peele is a master at using genre settings to express social commentary, which is the heart and soul of The Twilight Zone.
This seems like the perfect time in America (and, well, the rest of the multiverse) for a reboot of a show that teaches profound moral lessons. The classic 1960 episode The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street was about Cold War fear-mongering, but it closes with a Serling monologue that is prescient and vital as ever:
The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices – to be found only in the minds of men.
For the record, prejudices can kill – and suspicion can destroy – and a thoughtless frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all of its own – for the children – and the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is – that these things cannot be confined – to the Twilight Zone.
When this episode was remade in 2002, it reflected Americans’ fears of terrorism and focused on government exploitation of said fears. Only imagine what Peele and friends could do here, and with other old Twilight Zone stories to rework and new ones to astonish us. I can’t wait.
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