Laugh & The World Laughs With You
Following his recent movie success, Jordan Peele returns to the TV scene, fresh off the mediocre YouTube offering Weird City. His much anticipated Twilight Zone reboot gets off to a surprisingly good start, managing to nail the right elements from the original series while injecting enough originality to avoid it feeling like a cheap cash-in.
The first episode, The Comedian, sees aspiring comic Samir learn the hard way there’s no shortcut to success. After a flurry of failed sets that see him bomb on stage time and time again, he’s approached by J.C. Wheeler, a prolific comic that gives Samir some cautionary advice on how to succeed. Taking this on board, Samir adapts his act, riffing about those closest to him only to see them fade out of existence after the punch-line is delivered for each joke.
This brings up an interesting moral dilemma for Samir as he juggles his newfound success on stage with his current family life which slowly begins to disintegrate before his eyes the more he embraces the comedy. This cautionary tale around work/life balance ultimately brings the series back to its roots in the late 50’s. This blend of the strange and surreal contrasts beautifully with the relatable social issues affecting people’s lives.
Stylistically, there’s a good variety of camera shots used here too that really accentuate the tone of the episode. From the slanted, angled shots to the intimidating use of silence during the uncomfortable moments of Samir’s sets, the cinematography in general helps to bring the most out of the episode.
The segments involving Jordan Peele as the narrator is a great throwback to the original series too, with Rod Serling’s original role replicated perfectly here. While Peele is unlikely to stamp the same authoritative mark Serling did all those years ago, it’s still a good way to pay homage to the original series.
It’s still far too early to say whether The Twilight Zone will live up to the lofty expectations of the original series but there’s enough here to certainly hold out some promise. Although the episode does feel a tad overlong and could have done with about 10 minutes edited out to make for a tighter script, there’s enough here to make for an intriguing and exciting prospect going forward.
Whether this one will end up like Weird City and countless other forgettable anthology shows is still up for debate but for now, The Comedian is a great way to start off this highly anticipated series.