Monday, October 3, 2022

Critics Divided Over Jordan Peele’s ‘The Twilight Zone’ – Here’s What They’re Saying

(L-R) Moderator KC Ifeanyi director Jordan Peele and actor Lupita Nyong’o on stage during The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences official screening of Us at the MoMA Celeste Bartos Theater on March 18, 2019 in New York City.
(Source: Lars Niki/Getty Images North America

*Some might say that the best thing about the CBS revival of “The Twilight Zone” is having Jordan Peele behind it. Others might argue the exact opposite while criticizing the filmmaker for serving up a contrived hot mess.

This new Twilight Zone will only be available on CBS All Access, where you can currently watch the first episode for free. As reported by Business Insider, the reboot currently boasts a 79% on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics have praised the comedian-turned-director as a great host and showrunner, while others believe many of the episodes failed to impress.

The original “Twilight Zone” was a sci-fi anthology television series created and hosted by Rod Serling, which ran for five seasons on CBS from 1959 to 1964. Each episode often ended with a surprise ending and a moral/social message.

But fans and critics are not here for Peele’s take on the cult classic.

Business Insider shared some of the reactions from TV critics who watched the first four episodes and posted their impressions — see below.

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Peele is great as a host and showrunner:

“He’s as skilled a comic actor as he is a suspense filmmaker – a baroque chameleon in Peter Sellers mode – and he understands how to channel Serling while inscribing the host-guide role with his own artistic and political signatures.”

– Matt Zoller Seitz,Vulture

“Serling could bypass the limitations of typical television, like censorship and self-parroting, by moving to a new topic and temperament each week, allowing him to explore whatever mattered most as he was writing. Peele latches onto a similar mentality while shifting between moral lessons on the cost of fame, to being black in America, to a world imprisoned by its borders.”

– Ben Travers, Indiewire

“My favourite part of the new series is Peele’s take on The Narrator. There’s something magical about Peele’s performance. There’s a twinkle in his eye, a gentleness to his telling of these warning-stories, and an otherworldly knowledge perfect for the series.”

– Joelle Monique, Pajiba

Some critics found it too straightforward and contrived:

“These episodes have precious little to say about investigative podcasts or about contemporary comedy beyond acknowledging they exist: These facts of life are simple jumping-off points for macabre and laboriously built stories that end with a tidy, cruel joke.”

– Daniel D’addario,Variety

“The first four episodes are all bad, a mess of sleepy conceits grasping toward topicality with on-the-nose dialogue spoken by boring characters. A couple sharp performances can’t triumph against nonstop plot contrivance.”

– David Franich, EW

Others loved the tone and social commentary:

“The tone and pace immediately place the show in the’ Twilight Zone,’ even as the visual style, which uses wide lenses to emphasise a sense of distorted reality and to isolate the primary characters, establishes a distinct identity for Peele’s incarnation of the show.”

– Russ Fisher, Birth.Movies.Death

“The new ‘Zone’ looks at paranoia, class disparity, artistic anxiety, xenophobia, racism, and other hot-button topics from the perspective of an outsider who had to fight for his piece of American pie, in contrast to the more abstract, theoretical diagnoses and warnings of Serling, who was as woke as a rich white guy could be in the middle of the 20th century but was nevertheless incapable of taking a ground-level view of the problems his series identified.”

– Matt Zoller Seitz, Vulture

“What happens when the myth you sold out to becomes the lie that will condemn you? Don’t be too surprised at an answer that is both inevitable and unforgiving. But with these two, Peele locates that Serlingesque disconnect of the world as we’d like it to be and the world as it really is. The latter is scary enough.”

-Verne Gay, Newsday

“Replay” is considered the best of the four episodes:

“‘Twilight Zone’ is at its best when it’s speaking to greater issues like ‘Replay,’ but also when it keeps it simple, throwing one life-changing, otherworldly abnormality in what should be an average day.”

– Hazel Cills, Jezebel

“‘Replay’ becomes less about the sci-fi element and more a sobering reality… Classic peak ‘Twilight Zone,’ a head-trip that doubles as a truth.”

– Vinnie Mancuso, Collider

“‘Replay’ has a fresh, visceral horror, thanks to Lathan’s anguished performance.”

– James Poniewozik,The New York Times



Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is an entertainment reporter with over 15 years of experience working in the film industry in areas including production and post-production, marketing, distribution, and acquisitions. She has worked for legendary film producer Roger Corman, Quentin Tarantino's production team at Miramax, the late Larry Flynt, MTV/ VH1, Hallmark Channel, Paramount, Jim Henson Co., Parade Magazine, and various LA-based companies representing above-the-line talent.




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