By Samantha Wahl, Staff Writer
A mainstay of TV history, The Twilight Zone has become a staple of pop culture. And a very prolific one, at that. From the beginning of its run in 1958, there have been a total of 264 episodes aired. These have been spread across three series: the original starting in ’58, then a revival in 1985, and a second revival in 2002.
And now The Twilight Zone is hitting the airwaves for a fourth time. This time, Jordan Peele and Simon Kinberg will be at the helm.
Peele is well known as the director of the hit 2017 film, Get Out. He is also noted for comedic work, as one half of the duo Key and Peele.
Kinberg, on the other hand, is less of a household name. However, he is a behind-the-scenes juggernaut. Kinberg’s credits as a producer include Logan, 2015’s Cinderella, Deadpool, and The Martian.
Synonymous with the original Twilight Zone was its creator, narrator and host, Rod Serling. Serling. In his iconic voice, Serling would introduce each episode, then reappear at the end to comment on the story’s ending.
He would also usually explain a moral that could be gleaned from the episode. And there usually was quite a moral.Over the years, Twilight Zone episodes handled everything from Cold War anxieties to the idea of space travel. Episodes would commonly have themes related to human nature, like the dangers of conformity, the idea of death, or the idea of selfhood.
The Twilight Zone was certainly made to entertain, and some episodes were less allegorical than others, but social commentary was often at the heart of classic episodes.
That’s something that Peele looks forward to reviving in his series: “Rod Serling was an uncompromising visionary who not only shed light on social issues of his time, but prophesied issues of ours,” he says. “I’m honored to carry on his legacy to a new generation of audiences as the gatekeeper of The Twilight Zone.”
It’s interesting to note that Peele’s directorial debut, Get Out, followed a relatively similar formula to most Twilight Zone episodes; it began as a seemingly normal day in a character’s life, followed by a horrifying twist, with dramtic irony used to highlight a real social issue.
Between Peele’s body of work and his comments concerning “shedding light on social issues”, tt sounds like we can expect to see social commentary, which lends the old Twilight Zone so much timeless meaning, from Peele and Kinberg’s new Twilight Zone.In addition to a role as the executive producer of the new series, Peele will be taking over the mantle of narrator, the same role that Rod Serling had in the 1958 series.
One contemporary series that has attracted comparisons to The Twilight Zone is the BBC’s series Black Mirror. Similarly to Twilight Zone, Black Mirror focuses on the idea of alternate realities gone awry; the difference lies in the focus of each series.
Black Mirror, named after the appearance of a powered-down electronic screen, focuses mainly on technology, and how it could shape dystopian futures by reacting with human nature in unexpected ways.
The Twilight Zone would do that occasionally- for example, the 1964 episode “The Brain Center at Whipple’s” deals with the mechanization of factory work, and workers’ anxiety that human beings could be replaced by machines- but by and large, it focuses much less on technology. There is certainly room for both programs in contemporary television.
The worlds of The Twilight Zone are not frightening because of the tools used by their characters, but because of the natures of the characters themselves.
The Twilight Zone shows things that could potentially happen in our world; where life in Black Mirror, and many other shows, tends to be fundamentally different from ours, The Twilight Zone’s world is frightening because of its striking resemblance to our own. If there is anyone who can bring us back into that uncanny valley of creepiness, the powers that be seem certain that it’s Jordan Peele and Simon Kinberg.