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Twilight Zone Reboot: 10 Episodes Jordan Peele Should (Maybe) Remake

5 days agoby: Eric Walkuski

I'm a Twilight Zone fanatic. Now only favorite TV show of all time, it's basically my favorite anything of all time. I'm not the first and I won't be the last to claim this, naturally, as it has certainly been more influential than almost any other sci-fi/horror television program in history.

And while it would be easy to scoff at another attempt at rebooting the title, I find myself all too intrigued at the prospect of seeing Jordan Peele put his own spin on it. (It was recently announced that Peele's reboot at CBS All Access is moving ahead at full speed.) Peele, producer Simon Kinberg and their team of writers are, like all of us, living in scary, uncertain times; THE TWILIGHT ZONE often used its fantastical tales to tell incisive, poignant stories of human nature, often pointing out how cruel, manipulative and spiteful our species can be. So if we're to get a new version of THE TWILIGHT ZONE, man, now seems like a pretty good time.

It is very likely Peele will be serving us brand new stories and not bothering to remake any of the original classics (which both the 1980s and 2000s iterations of the series did), and that is perfectly fine with me. Based on Key & Peele and GET OUT, it's clear the actor-writer-director doesn't want for fresh ideas. That said, if Peele does decide to put his own spin on a few beloved episodes, I can't deny I'd be very curious to see the results. Just in case he's toying with the idea but doesn't know which episodes would be ripe for remakes, I've compiled a handy list of the titles I think would be fascinating to see updated, taking into mind both Peele's talent for socially-conscious satire and his newfound ability to scare the crap out of people.

THE MONSTERS ARE DUE ON MAPLE STREET (SEASON 1, EPISODE 22)

This one, to me, seems the most obvious. A searing and suspenseful look at just how easy it is for people to turn against each other, MONSTERS imagined a wholesome, All-American neighborhood tearing itself apart after the power stops working. While the people in this episode are ostensibly searching for an imposter from another world (they hastily presume an alien among them is responsible for the power outage), what's really going on is their facades of normalcy have broken down and allowed them to be as ugly, ignorant and prejudiced as possible. A critique on how a seemingly average group of people can swiftly turn into a lynch mob? Sounds timely, and also like something Peele can handle with aplomb.

MR. BEVIS (SEASON 1, EPISODE 33)

Part of me thinks if Peele is going to remake any Twilight Zone episodes, he should only remake the poor ones. If that ends up being the case, Peele might be wise to take a crack at MR. BEVIS, one of the Zone's comedic episodes, about a well-meaning goofball who learns he has a guardian angel. The Twilight Zone was adept at the science fiction, fantasy, horror and drama genres... but comedy was most definitely not its forte, and MR. BEVIS is, sadly, a corny and unfunny entry. As it happens, Peele is quite accomplished at being funny, so maybe he's the one to finally inject genuine laughs into an episode that lacks them.

A WORLD OF HIS OWN (SEASON 1, EPISODE 36)

Another comedic episode from the Zone, although this one works a little better than most. Focusing on a playwright who can make anything he wants manifest in front of his eyes just by describing them, A WORLD OF HIS OWN has a protagonist who is, shall we say, problematic when considered now (the dream girl he creates is a beautiful blonde who waits on him hand and foot), but there are plenty of routes one can take with the basic concept. Peele, an excellent writer himself, could likely think of a world of possibilities when playing with the notion of a creative mind who can make anything at all come to life just by using his imagination.

THE OBSOLETE MAN (SEASON 2, EPISODE 29)

It was never a secret that Rod Serling's greatest fears stemmed not from UFOs or monsters, but from very real phenomena such as fascism and totalitarianism. In THE OBSOLETE MAN, he envisioned a bleak future where anything close to free speech, religion or even opening up a book is punishable by death. Clearly, such a scenario was Serling's worst nightmare. Most likely, it's Jordan Peele's too.

THE SHELTER (SEASON 3, EPISODE 3)

With themes very similar to THE MONSTERS ARE DUE ON MAPLE STREET, THE SHELTER takes a look at a group of friendly neighbors who turn into raving animals when they believe their lives are in danger; in this case, they fear nuclear war is imminent. Nuclear panic seems rather current right about now, doesn't it? While not as powerful of an episode as MONSTERS, this is still a devastating look at how people, when their backs are against the wall, are much more likely to break apart than come together.

IT'S A GOOD LIFE (SEASON 3, EPISODE 8)

This is one of my favorite TZ episodes - very possibly my favorite - so I don't take including it here lightly, but I can't help but think it would be a blast seeing Peele tackle this deeply unsettling and darkly funny classic. Peele has actually dealt with evil little kids before (check out the funny/disturbing Make A Wish sketch from Key & Peele), but he would have his work cut out for him with little Anthony Freemont (played by Billy Mumy), the pint-sized psychopath who uses god-like powers to control everything and everyone in his small town. I know, Joe Dante has already given us a pretty neat remake of IT'S A GOOD LIFE in TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE, but matching this material with Peele's talent for uncomfortable humor is almost too good to pass up.

DEATH'S-HEAD REVISITED (SEASON 3, EPISODE 9)

One of the Zone's most powerful episodes, DEATH'S-HEAD REVISITED is a startling piece of work featuring some of the series' most haunting imagery. A "former" Nazi, utilizing a new identity, returns to the now-abandoned concentration camp he once patrolled in a truly grotesque display of nostalgia, a smile on his face as he gazes upon the hellhole where he tortured and murdered hundreds of innocent Jews. As is often the case for such people under Serling's microscope, this sadistic tourist will learn the hard way you can't go home again, as he discovers the camp isn't nearly as empty as it initially seems. It's an episode that is both spooky and uniquely somber, and if Peele had a mind to remake it, it could be updated to replace WWII with any number of our most recent (and ongoing) wars. Plenty of evil men still walk the Earth, of course, and The Twilight Zone will always be a perfect place to humble them in dramatically satisfying fashion.

A QUALITY OF MERCY (SEASON 3, EPISODE 15)

Not the most memorable episode, but one that deals with a relatable, timeless idea, that of stepping into the shoes of the person you hate. In this case, a young, hot-headed lieutenant is eager to destroy a pitiful battalion of Japanese soldiers toward the end of WWII. Naturally, The Twilight Zone has some lessons it would like to teach him, transforming him into a Japanese officer who is tasked with killing a beaten-down platoon of Americans. These days, many of us could do with a little "spend a day in the other guy's shoes" action, and I bet Peele would find a shrewd angle on this intriguing morality tale.

HE'S ALIVE (SEASON 4, EPISODE 4)

I watched this episode the other day and couldn't believe just how prescient it was. In it, a small-time wannabe fascist (Dennis Hopper, fantastic) heeds the advise of a mysterious man and transforms himself into a confident orator whose hate-filled rhetoric attracts large, enthusiastic audiences. This look at how an insecure bigot uses the cheers of an angry crowd to inflate his ego while stirring up discontent is always going to be timely, and I'd love to see Peele's modern take on the character.

THE OLD MAN IN THE CAVE (SEASON 5, EPISODE 7)

This is a bit of a selfish choice. THE OLD MAN IN THE CAVE is an episode I've always thought could have been terrific, but its big twist is so lame you leave it feeling thoroughly unsatisfied. Living in squalor in a post-apocalyptic desert town, a small group of people follow the instructions of an unseen "old man" who relays his messages - and instructions - through an intermediary. When a rogue army squadron arrives and encourages the people to defy the strict orders of the old man, the people agree to rebel... and pay a price for their faithlessness. It's a fascinating tale for about half its running time (and features a really lively performance by James Coburn), so it's really too bad the identity of the old man is such a let-down. I'd love for Peele to take the basic structure and some of the ideas found in THE OLD MAN IN THE CAVE, shake-up the big revelation, and give us the version of this story we've always deserved.

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