From 1959 to 2019 – here’s what you need to know about The Twilight Zone...
What is the Twilight Zone?
“There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.”
Those were the opening narrations for the first season of The Twilight Zone when it premiered on CBS back in 1959. Drawing on science fiction, fantasy and horror, it was (and is) an anthology series in which every episode is a standalone tale of strange and unusual events befalling everyday human characters.
A passenger on a plane who is the only person that can see a creature on the wing…
A neighbourhood turning on itself when fear leads them to believe a power outage is an alien invasion…
A murderous doll long before murderous dolls became common household items…
Given every story had a moral to it, The Twilight Zone could be summed up as a collection of creepy, disturbing modern-day fables that have had such an effect on people, not only did the show run for five seasons, it’s spawned countless spin offs such as a radio show, comic book, magazine, live theatre, video games, a 1983 Spielberg movie, reboots in 1995, 2002 and now in 2019.
Who are Rod Serling and Jordan Peele?
Writers, producers, directors, general masters of storytelling the pair of them. And boundary-pushing story tellers at that. Rod Serling created the original Twilight Zone and Jordan Peele heads up the latest iteration.
Known as the ‘angry young man’ of Hollywood, Serling was a bit of legend who constantly came to blows with execs and sponsors over corporate censorship like characters not being able to ask for a match if a show was sponsored by a lighter company. Never mind controversial topics like the Vietnam War.
In many ways, The Twilight Zone came about as way to get around this censorship. As Stephen King said “Fiction is the truth inside the lie”, and Rod Sterling used science-fiction to tackle issues such as bigotry, racism, sexism, war and so on.
Sterling wrote 94 of the original 156 episodes and served as the show’s iconic (chain-smoking) host and narrator.
Photo Cr: Robert Falconer/CBS © 2018 CBS Interactive. All Rights Reserved
When it comes to using horror as a tool for tackling real-life issues, you can’t go past Jordan Peele. Of Comedy Central’s Key & Peele fame, the writer, director, actor, comedian and producer became a household name with his 2017 horror movie Get Out – a film about a black man who discovers some very disturbing stuff about his white girlfriend and her family – which he won an Academy Award for. And even more recently with Us – a film about a family in a fight for survival against a murderous family who look exactly like them.
Peele’s films are thought-provoking “smart horror” films; stories in which we humans are the monsters. So there couldn’t be a more perfect fit for The Twilight Zone’s 2019 reboot in which Peele serves as producer, host and narrator.
Why reboot what’s already perfect?
“The realisation, for me, was that it was an opportunity to attempt to continue with Serling’s mission,” Peele told Variety. “If we approach it without ego and sort of bow to Serling, that will hopefully suffice for our fellow Twilight Zone fans but also bring back a show that I think is needed right now. Because it’s a show that has always helped us look at ourselves, hold a mirror up to society.”
Who’s in it?
The thing about an anthology series with standalone episodes is that you can trot out a slew of talented actors like John Cho, Jessica Williams, Adam Scott, Ginnifer Goodwin, Tracy Morgan, Greg Kinnear, Seth Rogen, Taissa Farmiga, Zazie Beetz, Betty Gabriel and so many more.
When and where to watch it?
You can watch the first episode of 2019’s The Twilight Zone for free on 10 and 10 play Thursday April 18 at 10.30pm.
You can also catch up on the first episode for free on 10 play Friday April 19 from 3am.
And once you’re hooked, sign up to 10 All Access to be able to stream the rest of the series (the first four eps instantly and one every week after that).