Few details regarding Jordan Peele’s upcoming revival of the classic sci-fi anthology The Twilight Zone are available (although CBS All Access did tweet that production has officially started!), so we don’t know yet if the series will be all original stories or a mix of originals and remakes. Having been a fan of the original show since I was a child, I hope they remake some of the classics as well as creating their own. Here are 5 episodes they could reboot:
One of the darker episodes of the original series, “Printer’s Devil” is still relevant today. In the episode, a devilish Burgess Meredith appears when an honest but struggling newspaperman (Robert Sterling) is about to give up the ghost in the face of a larger competitor trying to force him out. Meredith as Mr. Smith can get the circulation numbers up, but at what cost?
Fake and manufactured news, media consolidation, deals for your very soul? “Printer’s Devil” was released in 1963, but could’ve been written yesterday.
“The Shelter” shows just how fragile the facade of unity can be in a neighborhood (or a country) when things go bad. Doc Stockton (Larry Gates) puts the effort into building a nuclear shelter for himself and his family. His friends and neighbors laugh at him behind his back until a news report hits that bombs are about to drop. The rest of the neighborhood isn’t prepared and tries to get into his shelter, but there’s only enough supplies for his family. Outside the shelter, the seemingly friendly neighbors devolve in bigotry and violence.
Sadly, the threat of nuclear war and violent bigotry have been brought into the news lately at a rate not seen since the episode was released in 1961.
Caesar and Me
Before Jordan Peele got into sketch comedy and long before he became an Oscar winner, he went to Sarah Lawrence College – for puppetry. Remaking this episode – about a ventriloquist whose dummy convinces him to commit crimes – would not only be in Peele’s wheelhouse, but it would be a good opportunity to improve on one of the more poorly executed installments of the original series.
As an added bonus, this could be a chance for Peele to bring back another conniving, Vaudevillian miscreant – Little Homie from Key & Peele.
A Penny For Your Thoughts
Rod Serling was many things: a television innovator, a science fiction visionary, a skilled orator. One thing he wasn’t, however, is a master of comedy. Jordan Peele has proven that he is. A lot of the comedic episodes of the classic Twilight Zone get by more on charm than on actual humor, and this is one area where Peele can easily outdo his predecessor.
This episode featured a great performance by Bewitched’s Dick York as a bank clerk who gains the ability to read people’s thoughts when a coin he flips lands on its edge. The concept could be expanded in many ways (the barrage of political ads on TV this time of year makes one consider the frightening possibilities of finding out what our elected officials really think).
Eye of the Beholder
Considered by among the best episodes of the original series, “Eye of the Beholder” is a masterpiece of “shadow and substance”. Director Douglas Heyes and Director of Photography George T. Clemens led the audience on an intriguing and scary voyage through misdirection and inventive camera angles. If you somehow aren’t familiar with the episode, I won’t spoil it for you – seek it out and watch it for yourself.
My favorite aspect of The Twilight Zone is that it encourages the viewer to think. This episode deals with topics such as the absurdity of beauty standards and the danger of authoritarianism.
There are dangers in attempting to remake classics, but if done correctly, this tale could prove a chance to do the original proud.