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Jordan Peele’s The Twilight Zone: First Impressions ( Episode 1 Review)

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Jordan Peele’s The Twilight Zone: First Impressions ( Episode 1 Review)

A poster for the Twilight Zone...will you watch?

A poster for the Twilight Zone...will you watch?

CBS

A poster for the Twilight Zone...will you watch?

CBS

CBS

A poster for the Twilight Zone...will you watch?

Tucker Price, Staff Writer

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When I was a small child, my parents only let me watch shows that they or my brother had grown up with. This meant that I was surrounded by 90’s cartoons and 60’s sitcoms, and I didn’t complain one bit. One show that they let me watch, which interested me more than others, was The Twilight Zone. The Twilight Zone was just one of those shows that jumped out at you, like a well placed scare. It followed the unspoken rules of short stories: short, sweet, and unmistakably haunting. So, when I saw that Jordan Peele, an actor, comedian, and director of the films Get Out and Us, was joining a reboot of the series, I was excited to say the least. Jordan Peele’s films already had a Twilight Zone vibe. Get Out is chilling in its own right, as a story that is not only eerie, but also carries a political message. Us, Jordan Peele’s second and latest film, tells a story that is just as interesting, if not more so. The film ended in such a way that turned people off to it. It went to a dark place; people couldn’t handle it. So, after seeing the film last Friday, I was more excited than ever. If Peele went to the same dark place that he had gone to while writing the ends of both Get Out and Us, then this reboot could very well be a masterpiece of modern television. And so, on the Monday of April 1st, 2019, the *new* Twilight Zone was released. Was I right? It’s hard to tell. This review contains spoilers for the Twilight Zone, so be warned.

The first episode is called “The Comedian”, and it exhibits a chilling concept. The episode begins with a comic named Samir Wassam who is down on his luck; his comedy never hits the correct bases, and he is decidedly unfunny. That is, until he runs into J.C Wheeler (a famous comedian), who tells Samir the secret to what he sees as good comedy, which is to tell stories that come from his own life. So he tries it, first with a set about his dog, and the bit does well. The audience actually laughs. When he comes home, however, he finds that his dog never really existed. This concept continues throughout the episode. He talks about one person, they stop existing. He talks about another person, they completely disappear, but the audience continues eating up his comedy.

The episode starts out strong. The concept is inherently creepy, and is executed incredibly well. As he makes sets about more and more people, more and more people disappear from his life. Sometimes he will start the set off with some political material, and nobody laughs. The next second, he makes a joke about someone in his lifetime and everyone laughs hysterically, almost abruptly. It is unsettling, and intentionally so. As the episode continues to unfold, however, the concept begins to run a bit dry. The idea is used loosely, and keeps getting used until the novelty wears off. One of the original charms of The Twilight Zone was its shortness. Every episode gets its point across quickly, and leaves the viewer thinking about it, after it is finished. This first episode of the new series is a little too drawn out. The time of every episode has been stretched out from an average of 15-20 minutes to around 45 or 50. While this creates more time for the characters to develop, it sort of takes the initial shock away from the concept. Less is left for the audience to interpret, and therefore less of a lasting impact is left on the viewer.

The episode ends just as you might think: Samir recognizes the errors of his ways, and as a final comedic act he decides to talk about himself, making him and his actions disappear. In classic Twilight Zone fashion, the narrator reveals himself and vaguely explains the error in the main character’s ways, ending what he says with a mildly cheesy line revolving around the series’ title, just as the episodes always ended. Though it follows the same beats as the original series, does it even hold a candle to it? After some careful consideration I believe it does, or at least in the case of the first episode. Throughout “The Comedian”, I noticed a familiar feeling that I had not felt in previous attempts at remakes or reboots of the franchise: genuine unease. Tension is effectively built up, making you feel just as uncomfortable as ever. Even the little things cause tension: the way the audience laughs, the subtle nods to the original series in the background, how each character is framed, and so on. Everything effectively culminates into one large uneasy feeling, and it creates a spectacular effect on the audience.

The start of this reboot is not perfect, but some impressive groundwork is laid. While it is not yet as good as the original series, it is well on its way to continuing its legacy.

About the Writer
Tucker Price, Staff Writer

Tucker is a junior first-year staff member. He was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, then moved to Cary in 2013, and is an active member of the Green...

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