Trailer after trailer has teased fans of the strange and suspicious, tantalizing them with star-studded snippets of Jordan Peele’s reboot of genre anthology series The Twilight Zone. Now the first reviews are out and fans know a little bit more about what to expect — and Peele keeps his run of horror-helming unmarred.
The clips have looked good, but the CBS All Access show needed to execute its twisted stories of horror and sci-fi in order to live up to the beloved original. Did it work? Does it hang with one of the best shows of all time? We’ll let the critics say in their own words:
Variety’s Daniel D'Addario writes that the show is a “mismatch of talents” between Peele, his cast, and the classic format of the original. What the critic calls a “flavorless homage” lacks much of the original’s thematic bite — no oomph behind the horror, the twists, and the surprise. D’Addario compares it to Black Mirror, a show which he says does these things better. In the end, the show has too many details, too-long episodes, and not enough behind them all.
Ben Travers over at IndieWire, on the other hand, disagrees with basically all of that. He thinks the new version of the show is “thoughtful, personal, and aggressive in its mission to expand our perspectives,” which ends up making it a “more than worthy follow-up.” However, he too notes that some episodes are far too long — something that is handled on a case-by-base basis rather than a broad damnation of the series. His final praise goes to the creative hiring of the series, noting that cast, writers, and directors are all sleeper favorites getting to express themselves under a creative lead out to make his mark.
According to Slashfilm’s Chris Evangelista, the truth is more mixed. Some work and some don’t: It’s the nature of the anthology, but when it all clicks, the results are “exquisite.” Some of this inconsistency is because the episodes seem to have a hard time sticking the landing. The acting, the plotting — it’s all fun. But when it comes to nailing the twist and making it stick like the original’s elegant finales, that’s when Peele’s revival balks.
Finally, TV Guide's Tim Surette explained that the homage is actually “loving” and is the first to “live up to the feel of the original.” Peele himself is billed as the best bit of the show, simply because his dark-suited stoicism is so nostalgic for Rod Serling’s original narrator. Surette writes that when judging the episodes, it’s always easier to value “their peaks rather than their valleys” — something that’s held true for anthologies since their inception. He agrees with his peers that while there’s inconsistency here, enough good is done to make the trip out of the dimension worth it.
The Twilight Zone premieres April 1.