Dropping on April’s Fools Day, the first two episodes of a reimagined The Twilight Zone are now available on CBS’s streaming service, CBS All Access. Putting such a popular science fiction property on their paid service, having done so already with their prequel Star Trek: Discovery. By offering well sought after shows on their paid service that might have otherwise failed, CBS has made sure that they are a name to remember alongside the giants Netflix and Hulu. This version of the show features new master of horror Jordan Peele in the Rod Sterling presenter role, delivering the iconic intro and outros that The Twilight Zone are known for, and is just as good as any of the episodes from the original run.
Beware, there are some spoilers in what follows.
The first season drops with the first pair of episodes, one completely new, and the other a take on a classic episode. “The Comedian”, the first of the pair, stars Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick, Silicon Valley), Amara Karan (The Night of), Diarra Kilpatrick (The Last O.G), and Tracy Morgan. It follows Nanjiani, playing the titular Samir Wassan, whose political observations don’t go over well at the club. Morgan, as the famous comedian J.C. Wheeler, who offers Wassan advice. Be more personal in his performance and the crowd will eat it up, but beware, what you give up will be gone forever. Following that advice, he realizes that it’s true, but at a terrible cost, and he must decide what he’s willing to do to be successful.
As a start for the new series, “The Comedian” is a solid double. Not quite a home run, as the twist is obvious from the set up, and by the end, both Nanjiani’s and Morgan’s acting becomes a touch too hammy for my personal tastes, but while I saw it coming, how it was executed was excellent, and seeing such a diverse cast, nearly all named character in the episode was a person of color, including Kilpatrick’s Didi, a black lesbian. It made for a delightful watch, and a great way to begin the series.
“Nightmare at 30,000 Feet”, a modern retelling of the classic episode starring William Shatner from 1963, is the second episode. This version of the tale follows anxiety-ridden investigative journalist Justin Sanderson, played by Adam Scott (Pretty Little Liars, Parks and Recreation), who gets on a plane to Tel Aviv, finding an MP3 player with a podcast loaded onto it, voiced by the host of the amazing podcast Hardcore History, Dan Carlin, which describes in the past tense, the disappearance of the very plane they’re on. Again, the episode is a solid double, as how Scott plays off of the podcast portelling his doom was a little too smooth, he too read to believe a podcast on an antiqued device he just happened to find was accurate, and the episode bounces from possible cause to cause of the crash without sitting with any of them long enough for them to be believable. At the same time, however, “Nightmare” is filled with callbacks to the episode it’s based on, and while everyone knows how the plane crash comes about, based on the actions of the person trying to stop it, the final twist at the end I didn’t see coming, and was interesting.
Each week, beginning on the 11th, new episodes will drop on CBS All Access on Thursdays. Personally, I do not enjoy the once weekly release these streaming services use for some of their shows. When I watch a show on a format like streaming, I want to be able to watch it at my leisure. The once weekly formatting, especially for an anthology format where each episode is standalone, waiting seems like an echo of a largely bygone era.
All in all, these first two episodes were fun to watch, and I can’t wait to see the others and report back once the season is through. With Jordan Peele attached to the series, I faith that the stories will be more than up to snuff.
The Twilight Zone is now streaming on CBS All Access, and on CBS.com
David Castro is a Puerto Rican writer from New York City. He has worked on the upcoming Undead supplement for Chill Third Edition and is working on launching a Patreon. You can find him on Twitter (@theinkedknight), on Tumblr (thedevilsyouknew), on Facebook (facebook.com/inkstainedstudios), and at davidrcastro.com.