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The Twilight Zone has old fears and new voices: NPR



Jordan Peale acts as a narrator for the new incarnation of Zone of Twilight .

Robert Falconer / CBS


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Robert Falconer / CBS

Jordan Peale acts as a narrator for the new incarnation of the Twilight Zone .

Robert Falconer / CBS

The story of and the plots of a handful of old episodes But it does not spoil the episodes of the new edition that debuted Monday. what can you imagine?

The Twilight Zone runs from 1959 to 1964. It was adapted into a movie in 1983, then re-emerged on television for short works in 1985 and 2002. Now she returns to the CBS service for streaming CBS All Access, a hosted and executive producer of the person who may be the most exciting director in America, Jordan Piel. He developed the new version with a team of executive producers including Simon Kinberg and Glen Morgan (Morgan is one of the main writers behind The X-Files ). Peche, in his films Exit and Us has spent a lot of time thinking about one of the main issues on Twilight What is the most terrible thing you can imagine?

It is true that Serling's show has always been linked, both in text and subtext, to the events at the moment. Fear of nuclear destruction has always been present in the characters who built shelters and feared missiles. Common allegories were related to the civil rights movement and other efforts to avoid systemic injustices. Space travels were everywhere, both as an opportunity and a threat. The human legacy of endless war always hung around the world. Technologies that are not fully reliable, such as robots and large planes, were dangerous, while the technology that seemed to be coming soon, like a journey in time, perhaps even more.

But while the show touched politics, it was lively by something more eternal. This is in the first episode of 1959 called "Where Are All?" In it a soldier wakes up in a city where there are no people, only dummies. Finally, it turns out that he is in fact an astronaut inside the insulating cabin that is being tested for his fitness to go to the moon alone, and that the empty city is a simulation in his mind. Their bosses see how long it takes to get mad without friendship.

This is the fear on which a large part of the twilight zone is based : fear of isolation. Be afraid that the whole community will be lost even if the individual is saved. Serling often argues that the worst thing you can imagine, whatever you think it is, is to ask yourself, "Where are everyone?"

Consider an episode like Monsters are due on Maple Street classified as Serling-classics in which the community becomes convinced that it is the purpose of an alien invasion. Neighbors turn to their neighbors, chaos is coming, and the neighborhood is self-destructing. It turns out that this is what the extraterrestrial invaders expect: they scare people and they will attack each other so fiercely that you will not have to attack them. Of course, this is a story about xenophobia, nationalism – even about the reaction of terrorism. But this is also a story about how sudden uncertainty makes the leap of selfishness so as to sacrifice any sense of community. Bonds are broken. And this, ironically, makes the individual's greatest fears a reality.

Some stories that do not really involve real dangers have a similar structure. At the shelter, the man's neighbors are determined to penetrate his underground shelter under the threat of an alien attack. Not only do they end up breaking their way, although they insist that there is no room and there is no air, but as it is debatable which one should enter if they do not come together, they reveal their vicious thoughts to everyone. another – a man erupts dirty insults to his immigrant's neighbor because it turns out that his neighborhood was as deep as his sense of security. When it turns out that there is no attack, the neighbors realize that they have destroyed their community only because they have felt a danger . Again, people try to reach safety at the expense of the community and they suffer.

In "A Kind Of Stopwatch," a mysterious stranger gives man a stopwatch that stops time. He initially plays with him, causing people to freeze. But then he uses it to steal, and during a robbery of the bank, until the time is stopped and he happily raises a wheelchair with money at the door, he drops the clock and can not restart the time. He has achieved his personal interest and has become rich but faces unlimited isolation. This is certainly "watch what you want" the story, but also your wildest fantasies are worthless if you are literally the only one you have.

This is even reflected in the famous "Time is Finally Enough," where Burgess Meredith just wants to read books and be alone. And when it finally achieves this goal (nuclear bombs allow the original Twilight Zone ] many opportunities to effectively end the world), he breaks his glasses. It turns out that he can not have his ideal life in isolation. Of course, this is in part just a grimly funny story about the painful moment when he loses his dream time to read, but remember: if he still has a community, he can replace the glasses. It's also the price to be alone.

The show of Serling also appreciated the relationship every time he returned to the fear of being disbelieved. The characters saw things that others did not know, they knew things that others did not, and they lived in realities that other people rejected as imagination or even sickness. The very imitated "20,000-feet Nightmare" portrays young William Shatner as a man named Wilson with a fear of flying who can see a monster on the wing of the plane he's a traveler of. What terrifies him is not just the monster; it is that no one else can see it. He has lost the feeling of sharing reality with the people around him. And as a last mercy, as Wilson was thrown out on a stretcher suggested by the medics that they had hallucinated the whole attack (when he actually saved the plane from him), Serling gave his last story. It is clear that Wilson will soon be justified: there is evidence of the monster in the bent metal of the wing, and Wilson will not remain alone in his reality for a long time.

That brings us back to Jordan Piel.

The first two Peel films offer something interesting in the context of the Twilight Zone : What Maple Street may have thought of as a valuable community is just as much a threat as it is to benefit. The host, conspiratorial community of rich white people who could live on Maple Street is the danger. To believe their grace – to fully accept his claims of progressiveness – would kill Chris, the hero of the film. And without revealing too much to us it also tells a story about how what looks functional and decent on the surface can hide many sins. Chris has a part of Wilson's feeling on the plane that he sees things that other people might not or could not want – that no one will believe him for what is really happening. He even wonders if he imagines it, as Wilson does, considering his recent hospitalization and fear of flying. But a difference between Chris and Wilson is that Chris's life has prepared him for that. Chris is ready to find himself in a situation that is not right from the moment he agrees to visit the house of his white girl's family. This skepticism about the community with power over it ultimately saves his life. Chris has his own community, most energetically represented by his friend Rod. But he is at risk from, not protected by the general morality of the neighborhood in which he finds the danger.

So that Piel as a driving force behind the new zone of "Twilight" expects that even though it carries some of the lessons of the original, it will bring new ones. He works very specifically in the thematic presence of white superiority – and then in the understanding that whether the individual will be protected or enriched by the presence of the whole depends on who the individual is. To act as a positive force, the whole must be not only intact but must be moral. Indeed, the first four episodes that were shared with critics while they feel they have different levels of " Twilight Zone -ness," show that this group of writers are interested in various basic fears and various major shortcomings. This is deeply curious about what is moral.

The first two episodes, published Monday, are called "30,000 ft. Nightmare" and "The Comedian". "Nightmare" is not a complete remake of Shatner's episode (which was already reworked in the 1983 film with John Lithgow); this is more a reef on it. The episode presents Adam Scott in a story that has some similar stones about perceived dangers, group dynamics, and what happens when you are not believed. "The Comedy", meanwhile, is the episode that feels the most, out of these four, like the old Zone of the Twilight despite the fact that it is almost an hour, and most Twilight Zone was half an hour. Star Kumail Nanjani plays the role of a comedian who faces one of those strange moments in which power turns out to be incredible in all the meanings of that word. (Disclosure: Nanjani was on the happy hour of pop culture and we know each other a little.)

Two more episodes are coming that critics have seen, and they are the main fears of many different species. One is very timely; so it is more general. But all four of these episodes are marked by strong central performances: Nanjiani and Scott, plus Sanaa Lathan in the third episode and Steven Yuen in the fourth. The story in Yuen's episode leaves little to be desired – and so is Scott even – but the images and acts are in place. (It is interesting that this is not quite different from how I felt Us though less loud, and although Peele was not credited as a writer or director of any of these episodes.)

So far the new Zone of the Twilight is a bit uneven, but the old one. There is no lack of experimental energy or visual imagination; just seems to be still developing his voice. He enjoys the freedom to change the lengths of episodes, which is a function of streaming services. Episodes can be as long as you need. More intriguing actors in the cast have left the season: John Cho, Alison Tolman, Dewanda Wise, Chris O'Dow. All the pieces are in place and these four episodes show that writers have something to say.


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