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‘The Twilight Zone’: A Viewer’s Guide to Jordan Peele’s CBS All Access Reboot, Episode by Episode

Plus, Peele’s favorite episodes from Rod Serling’s classic series.

The Twilight Zone Steven Yeun

Steven Yeun in “The Twilight Zone”

Robert Falconer/CBS

The signpost ahead reads “The Twilight Zone,” ushering viewers to a realm that at once feels familiar and yet is almost entirely new. Executive producers Jordan Peele and Simon Kinberg have reimagined Rod Serling’s classic horror/science-fiction/fantasy series from the ‘60s for a whole new generation.

At an event in Hollywood this year, Kinberg revealed why it was the perfect time to bring back the show. “I think the world all of a sudden was in desperate need of ‘The Twilight Zone,’” he said. ‘If you said three, four years ago that like a reality star who had no political experience will be the leader of the free world with access to the nuclear button, you think that’s a crazy ‘Twilight Zone’ episode.”

Kinberg also said that the vision Peele and CBS All Access had meshed with how to tell stories while pushing it to the limits. “We would do what Rod’s instinct and impulse was, which was to break barriers, to tell new kinds of stories, to create something that was so outrageous and noisy and dangerous that it wouldn’t fit into sort of the standard way of storytelling,” he said.

As the franchise relaunches with two episodes on April 1, secrecy is paramount as to not reveal the particular twists or spoil any surprises. However, here are a few signposts along the way to help you prepare for and appreciate what’s ahead, episode by episode:

”The Comedian”

Release Date: April 1
Director: Owen Harris (“Black Mirror”)
Writer: Alex Rubens (“The Last OG,” “Key and Peele”)
Additional Cast: Tracy Morgan, Diarra Kilpatrick, Amara Karan
Synopsis: Comedian Samir Wassan (Kumail Nanjiani) wants to be famous…but at what cost? Watch the episode trailer for “The Comedian.”

”Nightmare at 30,000 Feet”

Release Date: April 1
Director: Greg Yaitanes (“Castle Rock,” “Lost,” “House”)
Writer: Glen Morgan and Marco Ramirez; Story by Simon Kinberg, Jordan Peele, and Marco Ramirez. Based on the teleplay and short story “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” written by Richard Matheson.
Additional Cast: Chris Diamantopoulous, Nicholas Lea, Katie Findlay
Synopsis: Journalist Justin Sanderson (Adam Scott) finds the fate of Flight 1015 in his hands. Watch the episode trailer for “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet.”

Sanaa Lathan and Damson Idris, "The Twilight Zone"

Sanaa Lathan and Damson Idris, “The Twilight Zone”

CBS All Access

“Replay”

Release Date: April 11
Director: Gerard McMurray (“The First Purge,” “Burning Sands”)
Writer: Selwyn Seyfu Hinds
Additional Cast: Glenn Fleshler and Steve Harris
Synopsis: Nina (Sanaa Lathan) has an old camcorder that can rewind time, but can it help her ensure the future of her college-bound son Dorian (Damson Idris)?

“It was somewhat inspired by [2003 episode starring Eddie Kaye Thomas] ‘Rewind,’” said Kinberg. “A lot of the episodes are vaguely inspired by original episodes, but that’s just a jumping-off point. We didn’t want the show to feel like it was karaoke of Rod’s original show. We wanted it to feel like, at most, it was an homage.”

“A Traveler”

Release Date: April 18
Director: Ana Lily Amirpour (“A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night,” “Legion,” “Castle Rock”)
Writer: Glen Morgan (“The X-Files”)
Additional Cast: Marika Sila
Synopsis: On Christmas Eve in Iglaak, Alaska, a mysterious traveler (Steven Yeun) wishes to be pardoned by Captain Lane Pendleton (Greg Kinnear).

“The Wunderkind”

Release Date: TBA
Director: TBA
Writer: TBA
Cast: John Cho, Allison Tolman, Jacob Tremblay, Erica Tremblay
Synopsis: TBA

”Point of Origin”

Release Date: TBA
Director: TBA
Writer: TBA
Cast: Ginnifer Goodwin, James Frain, Zabryna Guevara
Synopsis: TBA

Taissa Farmiga, "The Twilight Zone"

Taissa Farmiga, “The Twilight Zone”

CBS All Access

Untitled Episode

Release Date: TBA
Director: Christina Choe (“Welcome to the DPRK,” “I Am John Wayne,” “The Act,” “Queen Sugar”)
Writer: Heather Anne Campbell (“Corporate,” “The Eric Andre Show”)
Cast: Rhea Seehorn, Ike Barinholtz, Taissa Farmiga, Percy Hynes-White (who plays Seehorn’s son)
Synopsis: The cast teased details for the episode below:

“It definitely dealt with the overall theme of toxic masculinity, I would say, which we are definitely being strangled by,” said Barinholtz. “I don’t even think this was their intention, but I felt it had tones of one of my favorite episodes, which is, ‘The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street.’”

Farmiga said, “I play Annie. She’s a girl in her 20s who really focuses in on work and the professional aspect of her life. When I read the episode, it was something that very much mattered to me. I don’t know if that’s just solely my age and being part of this millennial generation, but I feel like this episode is definitely going to have a lot of people talking. I think the message is pretty straightforward and clear.”

“I think the overall message I hope people get from the episode is that we all have to support each other doing the right thing,” she said. “It’s so easy to get caught up in what you feel is right or decent when really the people around you think you’re acting indecently. So just making sure that we’re all on the same page about what’s right and what’s wrong.”

Untitled Episode

Release Date: TBA
Director: TBA
Writer: TBA
Cast: DeWanda Wise, Jessica Williams, Jefferson White, Lucinda Dryzek, Jonathan Whitesell
Synopsis: Wise teased details from the episode below:

“It’s very small ensemble. Our episode is very contained,” Wise said. “My character is named Alexa Brandt. She’s in charge. It’s interesting because I got the offer and I was surprised I hadn’t played this role [before] because there’s an aspect and element of my background that fits directly.”

In the video below and the extended trailer, Wise and her castmates can be seen in what appear to be spacesuits on some kind of ship.

”Untitled Episode”

Release Date: TBA
Director: TBA
Writer: TBA
Cast: Zazie Beetz, Betty Gabriel
Synopsis: TBA

”The Blue Scorpion”

Release Date: TBA
Director: Simon Kinberg
Writer: Glen Morgan
Cast: Chris O’Dowd, Amy Landecker
Synopsis: Kinberg said, “The thing that I’m most excited about yet I can’t talk about [is] the season finale. I directed the season finale. That one is going to blow some minds.”

It was also announced that Seth Rogen would star in one of the episodes listed above, written by Alex Rubens. No other details were given at the time.

Seth Rogen, "The Twilight Zone"

Seth Rogen, “The Twilight Zone”

CBS All Access

Bonus Signposts

The producers have also reiterated there will be plenty of references and homages to Serling’s classic series. If viewers want a starting point for those 156 episodes, both Peele and Kinberg have shared their five favorite episodes of the original series, which may yield some clues as to what to expect in the reboot. All episodes can be streamed on CBS All Access and Hulu, as well as select episodes on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Jordan Peele’s favorite classic “Twilight Zone” episodes:

  • “To Serve Man” (Season 3, Episode 24): The Kanamits, 9-foot-tall aliens, arrive on Earth with one lofty goal: to serve man.
  • “Mirror Image” (Season 1, Episode 21): Millicent Barnes sees her double at a bus terminal. Peele also revealed that this episode inspired his story for “Us.”
  • “Living Doll” (Season 5, Episode 6): Erich (Telly Savalas) is displeased when his wife buys an expensive doll for his step-daughter. He becomes even more displeased when the doll tells him it doesn’t like him.
  • “A Kind of Stopwatch” (Season 5, Episode 4): Patrick Thomas McNulty, a long-winded and self-absorbed know-it-all, is given a fantastic device which brings literal meaning to the expression “stop the world; I want to get off.”
  • “The Invaders” (Season 2, Episode 15):A flying saucer lands in the attic of an isolated house inhabited by an impoverished woman (Agnes Moorehead) – who soon becomes panic-stricken as tiny spacemen begin to stalk her.

Simon Kinberg’s favorite Classic “Twilight Zone” episodes:

  • “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street” (Season 1, Episode 22): Paranoia strikes the residents of Maple Street when they believe human-looking aliens have invaded the neighborhood.
  • “Time Enough at Last” (Season 1, Episode 8): A bookworm (Burgess Meredith) yearns for more time to read – then a nuclear holocaust leaves him alone in the world with lots of time, plenty to read and one ironic twist.
  • “It’s a Good Life” (Season 3, Episode 8): Little Anthony Fremont controls an entire town with his ability to read minds and make people do as he wishes. Which is a real good thing.
  • “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” (Season 5, Episode 3): Mr. Wilson (William Shatner) believes he sees a gremlin on the wing of a commercial aircraft he is a passenger on.
  • “Eye of the Beholder” (Season 2, Episode 6): A young woman is forced to undergo experimental treatments in an attempt to make her appear “normal.”

Watch the extended trailer for “The Twilight Zone” below:

”The Twilight Zone” will premiere with two episodes on April 1, followed by a new episode every Thursday beginning April 11 on CBS All Access.

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