10 Classic Twilight Zone Episodes as Reimagined by Ken Levine
The original Twilight Zone is revered as one of the most significant television shows of all time. Episodes from its first five seasons have been hugely influential not just on genre fiction but in pop culture, and thanks to streaming services like Hulu and Netflix, they're still widely accessible today. My personal favorites are the ones with only despair waiting at the end, like "And When the Sky Was Opened" and "Midnight Sun," but for most of them, there's usually an overt moral tying up the story.
That facet doubtlessly resonates with Ken Levine (famous for various games with the word -Shock in the title), who has revealed he is developing an interactive reboot of the classic show as "a side project."
Levine, of course, is a philosophical genius and top-notch game director, known for his richly developed worlds and dense moral quandaries, such as: "what if you could save the creepy little girls instead of sucking juices out of them?" and "what if slaves were also bad people?" So we thought we'd take a crack at what the new Twilight Zone might look like under Ken Levine's masterful guidance!
10. The Monsters are Due on Maple Street
The concerned citizens of a suburban community become increasingly convinced their neighbor is a communist, alien, or possibly an alien communist. Despite his desperate pleas that he's normal and capitalist just like the rest of them, he's brutally murdered. However, it turns out he really was an alien (a capitalist one) so it was probably justified maybe.
9. Time Enough at Last
A man who just wants to sit and read gets all the time to do so after surviving a nuclear apocalypse -- but then he breaks his glasses while fighting off the post-apocalyptic splicer mutants who are a metaphor for his lasting egotism. So who is right, really?
8. The After Hours
A woman trapped in a department store not only finds she is actually a mannequin brought to life, but a virtual stand-in for her creator's opinions on women. Stop making porn of her, guys.
7. To Serve Man
A race of seemingly benevolent aliens arrives on Earth promising to cure humanity of all its problems, but actually they're just here to cook us. It's more morally fraught than you expect though because our protagonist once resorted to cannibalism for survival. MAKE U THINK
6. Eye of the Beholder
A conventionally beautiful woman undergoes plastic surgery to fix her 'ugliness' because she lives in a world where human faces look different. Unfortunately, her real ugliness is on the inside!
5. Nightmare at 20,000 Feet
Captain Kirk is on an airplane and sees a metaphor for either Nazi saboteurs or Communist saboteurs on the wing, depending on a coin flip you make near the start. Agency! The story is the same otherwise.
4. Number 12 Looks Just Like You
In a society where all people have surgery to appear as one of a limited set of standard, conventionally attractive bodies, a young woman refuses to change. It turns out she's inside a videogame and the identical bodies are recycled character models. This is an astute commentary on the nature of game development.
3. The Obsolete Man
In a totalitarian future, people hate books so a librarian is sentenced to death, because no one is allowed to switch careers here. For some reason, he gets to choose the manner of his death and rigs it so that his live-televised execution will also kill the man who sentenced him. The twist: the librarian was a hardcore Objectivist and kind of a jerk about it.
2. It's a Good Life
A six-year-old boy spontaneously develops special powers to read people's thoughts and can also will them out of existence if he doesn't like them. The strain of thinking happy thoughts all the time is too much and the boy's father slips into an angry outburst, and so the boy vanishes him to the cornfield. As it turns out, though, the father never intended to have kids and resented his son for existing anyway, so maybe the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
1. The Encounter
George Takei is a Japanese-American whose parents were sent to the internment camps during World War 2. Delivering something to a WW2 veteran, Takei confronts him on what a racist shit he's being. But then Takei gets possessed by a samurai sword discovered in the veteran's attic and kills him with it.
This one is pretty much unchanged from the original.
Many thanks to Danielle Riendeau who contributed #8 and #6 to this list.
Kris Ligman is the News Editor for ZAM, and has a big goofy crush on Rod Serling including that little thing with his teeth. Discuss your favorite Twilight Zone episodes with Kris on Twitter @KrisLigman.