The Twilight Zone is, arguably, one of the most well known shows to ever grace TV screens. Interestingly enough, the show only ran for 5 seasons after which it was canceled by CBS. However, a few weeks ago there was an announcemet that The Twilight Zone was getting a reboot (again) from Kevin Levine, the creator of the BioShock video game franchise. This will be the second attempt to revive the show since its original run in the 1960's. However, I can't help but have a burning question:
Do We Need a Twilight Zone Reboot?
Clearly CBS and Mr. Levine think so, yet I'm pretty on the fence about this idea. I see the potential with the project, but I also have some apprehension. Levine is supposed to write and direct the pilot, but it is unknown who will take over from there. That alone can be misleading because a pilot is all CBS needs to confirm or deny an order for more episodes. The quality of the show could drop off the map immediately after it's handed down to someone else. It's also unclear how the project will be taking form - the show is supposed to be an "interactive" experience wherein the viewers will control the course of the story. That's an ambitious idea, one that could give people the idea that they have a multitude of choices, but are actually limited to less than a handful.
At the same time, it's probably a good thing the show is being rebooted. The original show, as amazing as it was, could not actually sustain itself which lead to its cancellation. However, Rod Serling himself was not present when the project ended due to the stress he faced for the initial three seasons. The rights were ultimately sold to CBS which brings us to now. The benefit of rebooting the show now is the budget will be much larger because the studio can afford it. Add to it the fan base that has developed over the past half century and you've clearly got a formula for success.
A Look Back on Rod Serling's Legacy
The story of The Twilight Zone is more a tragedy with Rod Serling being our tragic hero. I don't intend to go into the details of that, I feel this isn't the article for that. Instead, I'll stick to the idea of whether we need a reboot or not by examining the show itself. If you're interested in the behind-the-scenes tale of The Twilight Zone's history, you can find that here. So, let's examine what made The Twilight Zone so popular and why it could be just as great now:
From a historical perspective, the show was the first of its kind. The pilot itself was, and still is, far different from anything anyone had ever seen. The narrator starts his show by talking to the audience. Not only that, he openly refers to them as investors in his little project. Serling decided to start his series out by being brutally honest: this is a TV show, this is the basic premise, this is what we hope to achieve over the course of the show. Right from the start he kept the show simplistic and even at the time, extravagance was huge. Instead, the show opens humbly and the point is to tell a story, yet educate people. This was the beginning of television becoming extremely popular as a form of escapism, so for Serling to stop and attempt to give people something more than the news or a distraction from the world around them was irregular to say the least.
From a contemporary perspective, it's interesting to see how historical context so heavily influenced the show. Being created during the Cold War and the beginnings of space exploration, science fiction became the central focus of the show's concepts. This led to plenty of episodes involving space travel, aliens, and occasional jabs regarding the Cold War. But it also took on a tone similar to Ray Bradbury in that some episodes gave glimpses into what potential futures we're facing given existing circumstances. The perfect example of this is my personal favorite episode: The Obsolete Man. The basic premise of the episode is that in the future, there will come a time wherein the government will hold daily or weekly hearings to determine a person's value in relation to the government's activities. If they are deemed ineffective (or obsolete) they are sentenced to death which is broadcasted live for the world to watch. I won't link the full episode here; however, you can get a feel for it with this clip:
If nothing else, this episode is a powerful warning against Communism and the promotion of individuality. It's also a nice reference to Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 with libraries being deemed unnecessary. This is but one of many episodes that could be named for their merit.
So, Should It Be Rebooted?
Yes, within reason. While it's not possible to ever recover the original essence of the series, a contemporary version could lead to a revival of the original series. It wasn't until recently that I even considered looking into the show and assuming this reboot is done well enough, there's a good chance more people will start looking into the original. There's definitely a new approach being attempted here, one that feels closer to the original idea and it's important that a reboot tries to reinvent an idea while keeping the core intact. Judging by the way Levine has talked about the show, he understands what he's walking into and will set the foundation accordingly:
"Playing my games, you can probably tell Twilight Zone is something I grew up with. They speak to a larger truth. They’re morality plays, fables, and often they’re about a character who is going through an experience that’s central to their life but also speaks to a larger part of the human condition. I don’t think [Rod] Serling, at the beginning, set out to be a science-fiction writer. But he found that this is a great medium to do metaphor.”
My only fear is that show ends up becoming something similar to Defiance with Syfy. I highly doubt it will given the company and people behind this production, but the possibility is always there.
Source: Coming Soon