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Twilight Zone - 19.2.03


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#1 of 16 Adam Lenhardt

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Posted February 19 2003 - 03:00 PM

It says something when the best episode of the new series so far is a direct remake of one of the originals...

The sequel to "It's A Good Day" was being hyped as the huge turnaround point for the new series. While it was interesting to see the effects years later on one of the alternate universes that Sterling and Co. created, I was hoping they would do something more with it. Turn it around perhaps, having the father get a taste of his own medicine. Have the daughter's cruel and selfish behavior reveal to Bill Mumy's character his own character faults. As it was, interesting and disturbing but little else.

The remake of "Monsters on Maple Street" was just as good as the original, a direct retelling that shows how timeless the points the original series made really were. The acting and direction... spot on. I liked it a lot, and it had me hooked. Too bad all the ideas are several decades too old.

#2 of 16 Rex Bachmann

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Posted February 19 2003 - 06:59 PM

Adam Lenhart wrote (post #1):

Quote:
It says something when the best episode of the new series so far is a direct remake of one of the originals. . .


I'm a long-time fan of the original and a regular viewer of the new (new) series and I don't see where these remakes are particularly any better than the other current-era episodes (many of which are, in fact, uncredited remakes of episodes of the original TZ and/or episodes of other series of the past).

Quote:
The sequel to "It's A Good Day" was being hyped as the huge turnaround point for the new series. . . .


First of all, a detail. The original episode---and the Jerome Bixby short story on which it was based---is entitled "It's a Good Life". Next, "hype" is right. There's no "turnaround" here, just a desperate grab for ratings, trading openly, for a change, on the faded glory of the original.

Quote:
. . . . I was hoping they would do something more with it. Turn it around perhaps, having the father get a taste of his own medicine. Have the daughter's cruel and selfish behavior reveal to Bill Mumy's character his own character faults. As it was, interesting and disturbing but little else.

This show is permanently addicted to the "surprise ending". The "surprise" here is set up through the misdirection of the characters and the audience by the little girl's initial expression of hate for her father. One is led to expect Anthony to receive his come-uppance for 40+ years of selfishly terrorizing his little home community and---BAM!---one gets just the opposite.

The remake---I mean sequel---is, in fact, less than meets the eye. The original was, in addition to being a chilling little story about a monster child---a still mostly tabooed subject in film and tv at the time---, meant as a cautionary tale about people's cowardice in the face of being terrorized at a direct level. No one's willingness to risk his life even in the presence of monstrous caprice and threat to that life condemned the surviving community to a sort of permanent hell of fear, oppression, and repression. (No singing, etc.)

By contrast, what was the moral here? "The apple does not fall far from the tree"??? The few acts of courage in the story result in nothing but the expected punishment, and the surviving protagonists remain unchanged. Anthony's final(?) words: "I've never seen anywhere but Peakesville", for me, don't cut it as a sound indicator of character transformation. (And what do you think Anthony is about to do with (i.e., to) the obnoxious hornblower who has stopped by the road at the end of the episode?) Surely this remake is a step waaaaay down from the original.

Quote:
The remake of "Monsters on Maple Street" was just as good as the original, a direct retelling that shows how timeless the points the original series made really were. The acting and direction. . . spot on. I liked it a lot, and it had me hooked. Too bad all the ideas are several decades too old.

If the points are truly "timeless", it doesn't matter whether the ideas are several decades, or several millennia, old, now, does it? The problem here is that, without a set-up substantially different from the original version's there's absolutely nothing fresh or new about it, and, therefore, no compelling reason to retell the same tale at all. The "message" of the story is exactly the same. Substituting the covert military for outer-space aliens, with the "average citizens in suburbia" serving as guineau pigs, again, is trivial. Even old wine occasionally needs new glasses. Here the "glasses" are almost completely the same. A pointless remake, indeed.

In all, this program isn't as good, or as satisfying, as the first season of The New Twilight Zone of the 1980s. Those were, at least, fresh stories, occasionally outstandingly done.
"Delenda est . . . . "

 


#3 of 16 todd s

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Posted February 20 2003 - 04:30 AM

I found it freaky how much Bill Mumy's daughter looks like him. Posted Image
Bring back John Doe! Or at least resolve the cliff-hanger with a 2hr movie or as an extra on a dvd release.

#4 of 16 Nelson Au

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Posted February 20 2003 - 04:32 AM

As I started to say on the "Crash Landing" Star Trek thread, I was surprised by the commercials for this episode. I didn't know about the hype. So it was a surprise for me to see it right after "Future Tense".

I do not watch this new Twilight Zone, I saw a few shows, but I did not get into it at all. Nothing really new about it.

The original "It's a Good Life" is one of my favorites. I looked forward to seeing this after the exciting Enterprise. While I agree with the above comments that the show didn't advance Anthony at all, it was such a surprise for me to see it that I was into it.

I did feel a chill down my back when Anthony's daughter turned and took out the people in the town. The ending was fun for me in that now father and daughter will now wreak havoc on the world.

As a piece of stunt TV, it was great to see Billy Mumy and Cloris Leachman together again and to have Mumy's daughter in it too. Maybe it is a nice piece of TV history.

Nelson

#5 of 16 Hunter P

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Posted February 20 2003 - 07:45 AM

I really hope they don't remake the "Eye of the Beholder" episode. I would be seriously pissed off if they did. Especially since I KNOW that the direction on the remake won't do the original justice. The direction, lighting and editing was so integral to this episode. Please don't touch this classic.

Why don't they just get Ted Turner to colorize all the old black-and-white episodes and call it "new and improved"?Posted Image
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#6 of 16 Rex Bachmann

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Posted February 21 2003 - 10:28 AM

(post #2):

Quote:
There's no "turnaround" here, just a desperate grab for ratings, trading openly, for a change, on the faded glory of the original.

Sci-Fi Wire: "UPN In The Zone"

dateline: February 21, 2002 [sic for 2003], 9:00 a.m. ET:

Quote:
An episode featuring back-to-back remakes of two popular stories from the original Twilight Zone boosted UPN's new series to ratings victory, the network announced. The episode, which aired on Feb. 19, was viewed by 3.3 million viewers and earned the series its highest rating since Oct. 23, 2002.

The episode's two half-hour segments included "It's Still a Good Life", a sequel to a 1961 episode in which Billy Mumy played a boy with the power to make whatever he wished come true, and "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street", a timely remake of an episode which first ran in 1960.

Enterprise, which follows The Twilight Zone,
[[ahem!] Here the lister shows that he's on acid.] also benefited from the increased viewership, garnering 4.6 million viewers, the largest Wednesday night audience since Nov. 4, 2002.


TRANSLATION: Expect more remakes of and "sequels" to the "classics".
"Delenda est . . . . "

 


#7 of 16 Jason Seaver

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Posted February 21 2003 - 12:00 PM

I doubt it - considering the ratings The Twilight Zone usually gets, I doubt they'll have time to put more remakes and sequels into production before it's canceled at the end of the season.

FWIW, I enjoyed the hour, although I've never seen the originals (I don't know if I've seen any of the original Twilight Zone, for that matter - I really should start plunking down for DVDs). "It's Still A Good Life" was clearly a labor of love for Bill Mumy & Ira Behr, and I almost wish it had gotten a full hour, give it room to breathe (there's an interview with Mumy on AICN where he mentions a continuation to "It's A Good Life" had once been considered as a feature); "The Monsters On Maple Street" (I think they changed the title) was a little overdone, but worked for me.

One thing I wonder about re this incarnation of The Twilight Zone is how well the "urban" episodes do relative to the rest. I've noticed a fair amount of R&B stars doing guest shots, and it seems like a fairly sensible thing to do - UPN often seems to be the only broadcast network that really tries to cater to the black audience, and I seem to recall reading somewhere that horror movies do unusually well in predominately-black neighborhoods. I'm probably looking to closely at demographics here, but I've got to believe the network execs are too.
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#8 of 16 Nelson Au

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Posted February 22 2003 - 04:46 AM

Jason-

The sequel to It's a Good Life was funny in how they all acted the same way the people did in the original. The use of the key lines, " It's a good thing, it's really good Anthony" was a hoot. You must see it.

The remake of Monsters on Maple Street was not bad in that the original was pretty much the same. Almost like the remake of Psycho a fews back. The only difference was computers and cell phones and terrorists in place of aliens.I think the original had the same level of paranoia, but it was better directed and the use of the camera was better staged. Black and white photography greatly added to the mood of the piece.

#9 of 16 Rex Bachmann

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Posted February 22 2003 - 02:48 PM

Jason Seaver wrote (post #7):

Quote:
FWIW, I enjoyed the hour, although I've never seen the originals (I don't know if I've seen any of the original Twilight Zone, for that matter . . . .).

Then, if you meet the ethnic/racial, age ("gen X or Y"), and income criteria, YOU are just the audience this show is aimed at. You feel no insult at the blatant "rip-off" of plain remakes or at the fundamental sterile cynicism that informs needless "sequels". It's all new to you and that's what the producers and marketeers are counting on.

Quote:
. . . . considering the ratings The Twilight Zone usually gets, I doubt they'll have time to put more remakes and sequels into production before it's canceled at the end of the season.


I wouldn't be so sure of that, if I were you. "The Twilight Zone" is a notable "brand" in the culture, and one that is wholly owned by the corporate entity that, through its different divisions, is producing the show and broadcasting the show. Don't be surprised, if it finds "new life" [ha! ha! ha!] in a further season (even if "retooled").

Quote:
I've noticed a fair amount of R&B stars doing guest shots,

Actually, they've (almost?) all been "rap" stars, not "R&B" artists. There is a difference.

Quote:
I'm probably looking to[o] closely at demographics here, but I've got to believe the network execs are too.

Of course, they do! I've tried to hammer this home over and over and over (and over) again, but many refuse to believe it: EVERYTHING you get to see and/or hear in popular broadcast or other electronic media today has been considered from a MARKETING perspective before it's been approved for production. Literally, everything. Ever wonder why so many British (and, lately, Australian or New Zealand) actors are popping up all over the place in American films, and even television programs, in roles that do not specifically call for "international" (i.e, foreign) persons or their accents??? Well, naturally, it's because the studios want to sell all this programming to foreign---excuse me, "international"---markets and think that putting non-Americans even in thoroughly American settings (and quite often playing American characters) will draw larger audiences in those markets.

And I've said this before and it also bears repeating: blacks form a marked category in not only American, but in any so-called "Western" culture and, so, their appearance in any popular forum is no accident. Look, for example, at the fast-food commercials ("Mickey D's" and others) on American tv and you'll see a lot of dark-brown faces. Guess why?

Some may remember that, about 10(?) years ago or so, the Disney Corporation settled a lawsuit filed, as I remember it, by a black family whose child was (allegedly) prevented by an admissions employee from becoming the billionth visitor to Disneyland . After that settlement the number of black faces went way up in those Disneyland/-world commercials, I noticed. No connexion? I doubt it.

It should, then, be no surprise that such thinking goes into casting on this show or, for example, on any of the cop-buddy movies on the big-screen, many of which by now almost always have the obligatory black "sidekick" (or police superior). (Anyone else remember the so-called "Q-ratings" (public-popularity and name-recognition ratings put together by Hollywood (& Madison Avenue???) marketing departments) that many black film actors were complaining about in the 1980s? Now that's "demographics"!)

Who or what gets to appear (and also, who or what doesn't) in film or tv, on records, etc. is always demographics-driven, as is what is featured and for whom it is prepared in almost all the rest of consumer-oriented capitalist endeavor these days. Never forget that for even a moment.
"Delenda est . . . . "

 


#10 of 16 Rex Bachmann

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Posted February 22 2003 - 03:15 PM

Nelson Au wrote (post #8):

Quote:
Black and white photography greatly added to the mood of the piece.

That's an understatement, if there ever were one. Black-and-white photography was essential to the moods of the original TZ episodes, and one reason the newer versions don't work for those of us who are priorly familiar with the originals is that the dreamlike---or, better---the nightmarish quality of the originals cannot be adequately duplicated in Technicolor®, or whatever it is they're using these days. I don't know why exactly, but I think that perhaps the "loudness" of the colors inevitably brightens the mood of the piece, despite any writer's, director's, or cinematographer's best efforts, whereas the very grayness of the originals dampened or muted that mood.

That applies also to producer Pen Densham's other epigonal commercial "take-off", The (New) Outer Limits, whose original was likewise produced in glorious black-and-white.

Despite their richer palatte of colors, the "take-offs" inevitably pale in comparison to the gray-shaded originals.
"Delenda est . . . . "

 


#11 of 16 Rex Bachmann

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Posted April 11 2003 - 02:01 PM

(post #6):

Quote:
TRANSLATION: Expect more remakes of and "sequels" to the "classics".


Jason Seaver wrote (post #7):


Quote:
. . . . considering the ratings The Twilight Zone usually gets, I doubt they'll have time to put more remakes and sequels into production before it's canceled at the end of the season.


SciFiWire: "Another Zone Remake Due"

dateline: April 11, 2003, 9:00 a.m. ET

Quote:
Producers of UPN's new Twilight Zone series are once again going back to the well with a remake of another classic episode, "Eye of the Beholder," written by Rod Serling. The remake will air at 9 p.m. April 30, the network announced.

Molly Sims stars as Janet, a woman desperate to conform to her society's physical ideal by going under the plastic surgeon's (Reggie Hayes) knife for the 11th time. This final effort leads her into a literal chamber of horrors. David Ellis (Final Destination 2) directed from Rod Serling's script.

The original "Eye of the Beholder" aired Nov. 11, 1960, and starred Donna Douglas (The Beverly Hillbillies) as Janet.

"Delenda est . . . . "

 


#12 of 16 Jason Seaver

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Posted April 11 2003 - 02:25 PM

Huh. I see they say "directed from Rod Serling's script". Not that I think New Line/Trilogy's writers could improve on Serling, mind you (not even Behr).

That said, I kind of hope they do somehow manage to get renewed. Even if only one out of three or four really work, I like the idea of there being a place on TV for the short story (I haven't seen an ad for Exposure on Sci-Fi for a while).

One thing I'd like to see them do is bring in more folks like Eriq LaSalle. The episode he wrote, directed, and starred in likely won't be remembered alongside the original series, but there was something remarkably refreshing about it. It was enjoyable to watch in a way many other episodes aren't. Maybe it was because LaSalle had that one story he wanted to tell, and didn't have to worry about writing at least six others and trying to work as a producer, too. It strikes me that the staff approach to writing TV just might not work for a show like The Twilight Zone.
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#13 of 16 Hunter P

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Posted April 30 2003 - 11:12 AM

I really hope they don't remake the "Eye of the Beholder" episode. I would be seriously pissed off if they did. Especially since I KNOW that the direction on the remake won't do the original justice. The direction, lighting and editing was so integral to this episode. Please don't touch this classic.


NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO *inhale* OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

My worst fears have been realized.
GIR, UNLEASH THE MONKEY!
MONKEY!
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#14 of 16 Rex Bachmann

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Posted April 30 2003 - 03:19 PM

Hunter P wrote (post #13):

Quote:
My worst fears have been realized.

An empty, totally needless remake. Made for young'ns who won't bother to look at the old (but easily available) black-and-white original. Adds absolutely nothing to The Twilight Zone repetoire---or to anything else. For a short while I thought they were going to play on race differences, since the doctor was obviously going to be black (we could see his hands) and the "imperious leader" on the screen was pretty obviously also played by a black actor (Roger Cross). But then the nurses all seemed to be white, so that would've been totally tricky. So, then I thought, what new twist will they give this (otherwise) exact copycat story? None. The make-up makes all the "normal" people look like burn victims instead of (sort of) like the "pig people" of the original.

The only change in the script that I could detect (I think) was the absence of the line in the original where the doctor tells Miss Tyler that she will be placed where "people like her are congregated", and she retorts angrily "You mean segregated, Doctor, don't you?!?", with accompanying rant. Maybe it was in there somewhere in this production and I just missed it.

And, man, I like Mark Snow's music normally, but in this show it keeps reminding me of The X-Files, which further reminds me how much I want and deserve something so much better than these tired retreads (covert or overt).
"Delenda est . . . . "

 


#15 of 16 Nelson Au

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Posted April 30 2003 - 05:01 PM

Agreed Rex. I think it was a word for word remake too, except for some minor adjustments. It was as bad as the remake of Psycho. It looked like an attempt to do the same thing, same words, camera work.....except the actors were not as good as the originals.

Nelson

#16 of 16 Jack Briggs

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Posted May 01 2003 - 04:32 AM

An empty, totally needless remake. Made for young'ns who won't bother to look at the old (but easily available) black-and-white original.


You took the words right outta my keyboard, Rex. I tuned in to see if this could equal the Psycho "remake" in terms of sheer uselessness. It did.

The original was substantive, haunting, and now resonates in the popular culture. Last night's ordeal was just pathetic, and possessed none of the nuances of the original.

At least the Showtime take on The Outer Limits attempted to try something a little different with its remake of "Feasibility Study" from the original series. It was an ambitious and honest failure. This thing from last night was an insult.


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