DVD Review: The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series (Hosted by Jordan Peele)

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The Twilight Zone is one of the key cult shows in television history. From its debut in 1959, the anthology series set the high mark for a tales that grabbed and audience’s attention and didn’t let go until the breath-taking final twist. Rod Serling was the perfect host for the show. He’d pop up on the set and give us a little introduction as to why a character had ventured in The Twilight Zone. Even after the show went out of production in 1964, the series never left the airwaves. The reruns were gold and pulled in the same level of ratings as the local news in certain markets. The marathon of episodes on SyFy on New Year’s Eve is still a major event even with the complete series out on Blu-ray. Whenever a new twisting anthology series would show up on the dial, the first thing a reviewer did was compare it to The Twilight ZoneBlack Mirror had to measure up against Serling’s masterpiece. Twice already the series name and attitude has been revived. First in the mid-80s as an hour version on CBS with the Grateful Dead doing the theme song. Back in 2002, the UPN (remember that network) brought on Forest Whitaker (Ghost Dog) as the new host for the shocking tales. So it wasn’t a shock when the announcement came that The Twilight Zone was coming back with Jordan Peele (Get Out as the new host. It was a twist when instead of being on CBS, the new episodes would be streaming on CBS All Access. If you live in a place with limited internet action or high price for streaming data, you can finally enjoy this latest version when The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series arrives on Blu-ray.

“The Comedian” has a comic (The Big Sick‘s Kumail Nanjiani) who bombs on stage with a routine about the Second Amendment which doesn’t split the audience’s side. As he fears his career is in a talespin, he encounters a legendary performer (30 Rock‘s Tracy Morgan) that gives him a bit of advice. He needs to be more personal in his act. But the comic does tell jokes about things close to him and finds that his new approach to comedy has a major consequence. “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet” is a play on the classic episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.” The original was about William Shatner getting a fright on red eye shuttle. On this new flight, Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation) boards an airplane that seems a bit off. When doesn’t boarding a plane seem right anymore? Instead of a beast on the wing, Scott gets a jolt when the podcast he’s listening to on his tablet turns out to be about his flight. Is this a big prank? Or is he being tipped off to a terrorist attack so that he can stop it? This episode really does a fine job of adapting the classic story to these new times. “Replay” has a mother and son on a trip to his new college. The mom discovers that not only does her old camcorder still work so she can document the journey, but the rewind function is extra powerful. She has to rely on this feature since they seem doomed to be tracked by a bigoted police office no matter what choices they make. “A Traveler” has a mysterious man (The Walking Dead‘s Steven Yeun) turn up in a jail cell on Christmas Eve. He’s there to meet the police Captain (Autofocus‘s Greg Kinnear) and enjoy the world famous parties from this tiny place in remote Alaska.

“The Wunderkind” has John Cho (Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle) get a small boy elected to the White House. But this proves to be a nightmare when the kid turns out to be a brat that doesn’t care about doing the job. Can Cho fix his mistake? This might be a fun episode to show for your parents that watch a certain news channel all day long. “Six Degrees of Freedom” has a spaceship launching from Earth to Mars as nuclear war breaks out. They might be the last humans alive on the long journey. But can the six astronauts deal with each other to save mankind from vanishing? “Not All Men” has a storm of tiny meteors land on a city. This causes men in the area to lose control of themselves in rage fits. But did the meteors cause this outbreak of violence? “Point of Origin” is an immigration nightmare for a wealthy woman. “The Blue Scorpion” has Chris O’Dowd (The IT Crowd) inherits a unique gun after his father dies. He’s not sure what to do with the pistol and the bullet with his name engraved on it. O’Dowd plays the role with a serious tone that works. “Blurryman” is a meta episode where an episode starring Seth Rogen (The Green Hornet) has to get a last minute rewrite when things don’t click for host Jordan Peele. The writer (Atlanta‘s Zazie Beetz) digs into the nature of what makes The Twilight Zone special while she’s being pursed by a strange figure.

This third revamping of The Twilight Zone is willing address many of the issues that Rod Serling held close to his heart. Serling marched with Martin Luther King Jr. so he was not just about entertaining. He was political and topical. Jordan Peele and his crew don’t back off either with episodes about race relations, guns and men without manners. There were more to the original episodes than a cute twist. It’s good that this version isn’t going to backdown and end up with tepid tales. Perhaps this is part of the freedom of being on streaming is they don’t have to worry about appealing and not offending the masses? Another advantage of the new Twilight Zone being on streaming is that the episode running times can vary. The 10 episodes run between 30 and 45 minutes. This allows the creative team to not either cram a story or stretch it out. The stories don’t have to be timed to commercial breaks. This is a fine start for the first season of The Twilight Zone.

The second season starts out with “Meet In the Middle” that takes things to an extreme. Jimmi Simpson (Westworld) is zoning out on a first date when he hears a woman’s voice. But it’s not his waitress or his date or a previous date. The woman’s voice is coming from inside his head. He has somehow psychic bonded with a woman in a distant town. Is this a sign that the two are meant to be together since they bonded in such a strange way. “

Like the previous season, there is no uniform time for the episodes since streaming doesn’t require a timeslot or commercial breaks. So the mystery at the core of the episodes takes its own time to evolve. The episodes flow between a little over thirty minutes to around forty-five minutes. The 10 episodes don’t drag as they pull you into The Twilight Zone. “Downtime” has Morena Baccarin (Deadpool) as a hotel manager who gets thrown off when the world around her seem to be checking out. This episode was written by Jordan Peele. “The Who of You” has a down on is luck actor deciding to rob a bank to make ends meet. But during the hold up, he makes an extremely unconventional escape. Billy Porter (always guessed as a contestant on The Masked Singer) plays a man who might find out what’s happening to the actor who keeps slipping through various characters. “Ovation” has is about the darker side of singing competition shows. Making it darker is Paul F. Tompkins.

“Among the Untrodden” has a new girl show up at a boarding school only to really change the student body. “8” sends Joel McHale (The Soup) into outer space in search of an intergalactic squid. But is the squid more than a tentacles from beyond? “A Human Face” gets weird for Jenna Elfman (Dharma and Greg) and Christopher Meloni (Oz) as an alien take the form of their dead daughter. Can they deal with this much? “A Small Town” has a fix it guy working on a model of his town. Except he doesn’t realize that the miniature town has power over the real town. “Try, Try” sticks Topher Grace (That ’70s Show) into a time loop as he professes his love for a woman. What is causing this weirdness? “You Might Also Like” is about people wanting to order a mysterious egg that’s advertised on TV. But what is it? The episode is star studded with “It Girl” Gretchen Mol, Gil Bellows, Colleen Camp, Dona Dixon and Star Trek‘s George Takei. This is good that Takei is back in The Twilight Zone since his original episode from the time of Rod Serling featured a controversial Pearl Harbor storyline. There’s no bombings here.

Like the previous season, there is no uniform time for the episodes since streaming doesn’t require a timeslot or commercial breaks. So the mystery at the core of the episodes takes its own time to evolve. The episodes flow between a little over thirty minutes to around forty-five minutes. The 10 episodes don’t drag as they pull you into The Twilight Zone.

After two seasons, Jordan Peele decided he was good with his time as host, caretaker and guiding force of The Twilight Zone. That’s why this is The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series. He had been able to put his own imprint on the series without making us forget that Rod Serling was the creator.

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The episodes look great with stylized camera angles. The audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and Dolby Digital Stereo. You can get swept up into The Twilight Zone with your home speakers. The episodes are subtitled.

Episodic Promo (0:57) are teasers for each episode. Unlike so much streaming stuff that’s dumped all at once on a service, The Twilight Zone was uploaded one episode per week so there needed to be teasers promising the next stop is The Twilight Zone.

Opening the Door To … are two minute long pieces that take viewers behind the scenes on each episode.

Deleted and Extended Scenes are provided on many of the episodes.

Audio Commentary on “Blurryman” features Alex Rubens and Audrey Chon. “Not All Men” has Win Rosenfeld and Heather Anne Campbell discuss the episode. “Replay” has Win Rosenfeld and Selwayn Seyfu Hinds talking about the supernatural camcorder.

Music Video to “The Wunderkind” (1:48) is how you bust a move to be president.

Season 1 Promo (1:25) gives clips from the 10 episodes.

Remembering Rod Serling (36:51) goes into the life and times of the man who created The Twilight Zone. They show that he wasn’t just out to entertain people. He wanted his show to mean something deeper.

Gag Reel (2:45) has goofy moments when the camera was running. There’s a fine moment when dogs meet a kid in the Oval Office.

Crossing Over: Living In the Twilight Zone includes Part One – a Dimension of Mind: Development (28:32) and Part Two – A Dimension of Sight and Sound: Production (38:03) Jordan Peele discussions how the original show helped us get a grasp on so many of the changes happening in the early ’60s including Civil Rights, the Cold War and changes in the perception of what’s a normal life. There’s talk of various ways to approach bringing the show back. They want to the new show to reflect what’s going on today when people feel like they’re living in a Twilight Zone. There’s talk of Jordan Peele’s role on the revival. The second half is how excited the production team is that each week, they create a whole new world since nothing is the same from episodes to episode outside of Jordan Peele’s suit.

Black and White Versions of each episode is included. You can watch the new episodes in the same monochromatic tones as the original series with Rod Sterling.

Deleted and Extended Scenes are four of the episodes.

Gag Reel (4:12) starts off with a plea for someone to call action. Jordan Peele is not a one take wonder. It’s also a miracle that Joel McHale can remember his lines.

CBS DVD presents The Twilight Zone. Starring: Jordan Peele, Seth Rogen, Adam Scott, Taissa Farmiga, Rhea Seehorn, Joel McHale, Billy Porter, Gretchen Mol, George Takei and Tracy Morgan. Rated: Unrated. Boxset Contents: 20 episodes on 7 DVDs. Released: October 4, 2022.

Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.