We often say that we feel like we’re living in an episode of The Twilight Zone when something is strange or even seems a bit supernatural. The series, which aired from 1959 until 1964, is culturally beloved. Jordan Peele’s new Twilight Zone, which started airing on CBS All Access in April 2019, has been eagerly anticipated by fans of his work and critics alike.
Any reboot is going to have hits and misses, and the same thing is true of Jordan Peele’s version. Here are five things that we love about the new Twilight Zone and five that we don’t love.
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10 Love: The Cool Opening Credits
Fans of the original show are most likely relieved that the new version kept a similar tone going with the opening credits.
A door opens onto a hallway and then we hear “You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of one’s fears and the summit of one’s knowledge. You are now traveling through a dimension of imagination. You’ve just crossed over into the twilight zone.”
The words are very similar to what was in the original opening credits, although with some small changes. It works really well and sounds both poetic and eerie.
9 Don’t Love: The Critical Response
As soon as critics started reviewing the 2019 Twilight Zone, it became clear that the critical response has been pretty negative. Sure, some critics have said positive things and they appreciate some of the episodes more than the others. But the general feeling is that the original is better.
Whenever we’re really looking forward to a new TV show or film and then read reviews saying that it’s not that amazing, it can really put a damper on things. We’ll have to see how critics respond once more episodes start airing.
8 Love: The Cinematography
Simply put, watching the 2019 Twilight Zone is a great experience as the series is shot beautifully. The second episode “Replay” is particularly gorgeous. The mother and son drive by fields and the driving scenes alone could be their own movie.
The first episode “The Comedian” is nicely shot, too, with some really gorgeous shots of the main character, Samir Wassan, leaving the comedy club at night. The second episode “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet” doesn’t stand up quite as well but is still fairly well done.
7 Don’t Love: The Show Is Uneven So Far
While the third episode “Replay” is definitely the star of the show and top-notch quality, the same can’t be said for the other two episodes that have aired so far. The quality of the show has been pretty uneven and that is something that we don’t love.
We’re hoping that changes as more episodes air, and we’re sure that they will be great since we have faith in Jordan Peele and the all-star cast. It’s just interesting to note that the three episodes almost feel like they’re not part of the same series.
6 Love: The Socially Relevant Stories
We love the socially relevant stories on the new Twilight Zone, especially in the second episode “Replay.” The storyline is innocent enough at first: a mom driving her son to college. It’s a whole new life for him and she has to get used to leaving him behind and letting him grow up.
The drive turns out to be anything but innocent and Jordan Peele presents racism as the horror that the mom and her son have to run from at any turn. In particular, she keeps running into the same cop who is anything but kind toward them.
5 Don’t Love: The Second Episode Is A Remake
“Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” is a classic Twilight Zone episode. The original aired in 1963 and starred William Shatner. The respected actor played Robert Wilson, a man who saw a creature on the wing of the plane. Everyone thought he was just nuts, but he knew that what he was seeing was real. There is another version of this episode in the 1983 movie version of the show.
We don’t love that the 2019 Twilight Zone remade this episode as “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet.” It would be so much better if every episode was totally brand new, especially since we know that the talented cast and crew are definitely up to the challenge.
4 Love: Jordan Peele’s Narration
Since Jordan Peele is an actor as well as a filmmaker, we might have expected him to act in one of the episodes of the 2019 Twilight Zone. Instead, he is the narrator, and that’s another thing that we really love about the series.
Jordan Peele does an amazing job narrating each episode. Just like the old-school narration of the original version, he speaks at the beginning and end of each episode. He tells the audience just enough to know what’s going on… although, of course, this is the twilight zone so you never really know what is going on. Jordan Peele’s narration is smart, sophisticated, and well-done.
3 Don’t Love: The Heavy-Handed Dialogue
Unfortunately, some of the dialogue is very heavy-handed and can feel awkward at times. For example, much of the dialogue in the first episode, “The Comedian,” seems kind of stiff. The narration in that episode says, “Samir Wassan is an artist of great principle. A man who refuses to compromise his beliefs for a cheap joke.” We would totally understand that without having it explained to us in such an obvious way.
This is both surprising and disappointing, especially given the intelligent and sophisticated dialogue in Jordan Peele’s 2017 film (and the movie that brought him fame and won him an Oscar), Get Out.
2 Love: The Talented Cast
One thing that we love about the new Twilight Zone is the super talented cast. Kumail Nanjiani and Tracy Morgan are in the first episode “The Comedian,” Adam Scott stars in the second episode “Nightmare At 30,000 Feet” and Greg Kinnear stars in the fourth outing “A Traveler.”
Stars who will be in future episodes include Chris O’Dowd, Jon Cho, Ginnifer Goodwin, and Taissa Farmiga, to name just a few. It’s really important that this cast is so strong as that could really make or break it. Thankfully, the talent pool is there, even if critics don’t love every single episode.
1 Don’t Love: The Second Episode Falls Flat
Besides the second episode “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet” being a remake of an original Twilight Zone episode, there is something else that we don’t love about it: it falls really flat.
The problem is that in the original, there is a monster on the wing of the plane, and that is really scary and unnerving. But in the 2019 version, Adam Scott’s character, Justin Sanderson, is listening to a podcast that has essentially replaced the monster. Sure, the podcast tells the story of what is about to happen to him and the plane, and that’s anxiety-inducing. But a podcast isn’t anywhere as scary as a monster.