‘Twilight Zone’ jumps to new dimension with host Jordan Peele

April 1, 2019

By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Starting on Monday, it’s a new time and space for mind-bending 1960s TV show “The Twilight Zone.”

Sixty years after its television debut, the classic anthology series will be reborn on the CBS All Access subscription streaming service. Jordan Peele, the comedian and filmmaker behind horror hits “Get Out” and “Us,” steps into the narrator role once filled by Rod Serling, the show’s creator.

The foreboding theme music is back, as is the mix of science fiction, suspense and thought-provoking social commentary that hooked generations of fans to the show, which ran from 1959 to 1964 and is still widely aired in reruns.

Peele, who is also an executive producer of the show, said he was initially reluctant to take on a show considered by many critics to be among the best in TV history. He said he set aside his reservations once he discovered an “underlying positivity” put forth by Serling, who died in 1975.

“One of the things that opened this up for me is realizing he’s a humorist,” Peele said recently at The Paley Center for Media’s PaleyFest in Los Angeles. “We think of him as a horror, science-fiction master, but he has a perfect pitch tone of comedy.”

The revival promises to tackle some of humankind’s deepest and most universal issues, which was a hallmark of the original series.

“You name the big themes in life and in art, and you can find it in ‘The Twilight Zone,’” said Arlen Schumer, a pop culture historian and author of the book “Visions from The Twilight Zone.”

“You will find the entirety of the human condition, with all the great themes of life and death, of love and war, of peace and hatred, of rich and poor,” he added.

The kickoff to the new series is called “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet,” a homage to a 1963 episode about an airplane passenger

who starts to question his sanity. “Parks and Recreation” actor Adam Scott plays the terrified traveler, originally portrayed by William Shatner, later of “Star Trek” fame.

Other installments tell completely new stories. The second episode features “Silicon Valley” star Kumail Nanjiani as a comedian who must decide how far to go for a laugh.

Seth Rogen, John Cho, Ginnifer Goodwin and others will appear in later episodes.

While two earlier TV reboots were poorly received, critics have embraced the latest version. Eight-two percent of reviews collected by the Rotten Tomatoes website were positive ahead of Monday’s debut.

CBS All Access, owned by CBS Corp, will release two of the 10 new episodes to its U.S. customers on Monday. Next stop? A new episode every Thursday beginning on April 11.

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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