A few days ago, I heard that The Twilight Zone is going to be rebooted. This was incredibly exciting news since I watched reruns of many of the original episodes of this series when I was a kid.
While I am growing a little tired of watching rebooted shows in general, I’m also curious to see how The Twilight Zone is going to be re-interpreted in 2018. The world has changed quite a bit since the first episode aired in 1959, after all.
There were so many parts of the original series that I loved, from the plot twists to the clever re-imaginings of what society could possibly be like. It would take many posts to talk about all of them, so I decided to concentrate on the four biggest ones for today.
If this reboot really impresses me, I do reserve the right to blog about this topic again in the future.
By the way, don’t click on any of the links I’m about to share if you’re planning to watch the original series and want to avoid spoilers for them. All of the links go to Wikipedia summaries of the plots of these classic episodes.
Social and Political Commentary
For example: The Eye of the Beholder, Time Enough at Last, and The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street.
As I mentioned above, one of the things I loved the most about The Twilight Zone was their commentary on American life in the 1950s and 1960s.
The original scriptwriters weren’t afraid to critically examine any number of social ills, especially when it came to exaggerating or inverting them in order to show the audience just how ridiculous or unfair those issues were when viewed from the perspective of outsiders or of people who were most seriously affected by them.
I would be very surprised if the new writers didn’t continue this streak, but I’m hoping they push the envelope much further than it was pushed decades ago. I’d love to see much grittier episodes about the very real dangers of xenophobia, for example, or why blindly following authority figures is so dangerous.
For example: Mute, Stopover in a Quiet Town, and It’s a Good Life.
Children whose personalities and/or supernatural abilities are creepy are one of my favourite tropes in the horror genre in general.
While there weren’t a ton of examples of this in the original series, the small number of episodes that included children who weren’t what they seemed give me hope that this trope will be used again in the reboot.
Horror in Ordinary Settings
For example: Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, To Serve Man, and Long Live Walter Jameson.
There’s something about encountering a monster or other malevolent entity when you least expect it that makes such an experience far more frightening to me than it would be if the characters and audience knew from the beginning what was coming.
The original series did a fantastic job of finding ways to scare the audience without relying on traditional props like a haunted house, a cemetery, or other spooky places. I could have listed many more examples of this kind of storytelling in this section. It was something that the original writers returned to over and over again, and for good reason. Suddenly being shocked by the turn of what sure seemed ordinary events is one of the cornerstones of this series.
Hopefully that means that the new crop of writers will continue this trend. I strongly suspect that this is exactly what they’ll do, but only time will tell if my prediction is correct on this point.
Purposefully Questionable Science
For example: The Midnight Sun The Last Flight, and The Little People.
While I normally expect the science fiction I read to at least attempt to ground their stories with some kind of scientific explanation for why such a thing might occur, I won’t be too annoyed if the new The Twilight Zone occasionally releases episodes that doesn’t bother doing this for the sheer joy of asking questions like, “what would happen if the Earth began moving closer and closer to the sun?” instead.
I’m not a sci-fi purist by any means. There is plenty of room for silliness in the genre if you ask me, and I hope we see it in this series. It’s not like modern science fiction is always accurate! I’ve read and watched plenty of contemporary sci-fi that bends the rules of biology, chemistry, astronomy, and physics just as much as folks did 50 years ago.
Are there any other fans of The Twilight Zone in my audience? Will you be watching the reboot? What do you think of rebooting old shows in general?