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The Twilight Zone reboot: New promo spot, release date, cast and more

The Jordan Peele-fronted remake of the classic TV series kicks off April 1, with Ginnifer Goodwin and Ike Barinholtz among the latest additions to the cast.

Tamara Palmer Contributing writer
Tamara Palmer is a DJ, author and publisher of the small-batch print magazine California Eating.
Tamara Palmer
5 min read

Get Out writer and director Jordan Peele and Simon Kinberg, a producer and screenwriter whose credits include penning the films Sherlock Holmes and Mr. & Mrs. Smith, are executive producing the latest incarnation of The Twilight Zone, coming to CBS All Access on April 1. (Disclosure: CBS is CNET's parent company.) The show got a creepy new extended promo spot during Sunday's Super Bowl that sees the game's broadcast get cut off, and then shows Peele sitting in an empty stadium. The spot is fans' first peek at Peele stepping into Rod Serling's iconic role as host and narrator of the show. 

The time is super ripe to remake the original television series, which ran from 1959-1964 and remains a prescient thriller anthology that collectively explores still-vital themes of the human condition, including the fear of war, famine and apocalypse and the anger and madness that arises when the easily manipulated are confronted by the thought of the "other." In a super fun way, promise, but you can discover that for yourself.

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Original Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling, in 1963.

Original Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling, in 1963.


What is the meaning of The Twilight Zone?

"There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man," original series creator and host Serling said in the intro to Season 1, which started on Oct. 2, 1959. "It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is in the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone."

Who will host the new Twilight Zone?

Peele said he was initially reluctant to also step into the host role, but he has since reconsidered and confirmed (although it's still unclear if viewers will see him on camera).

"The realization, for me, was that it was an opportunity to attempt to continue with Serling's mission," Peele told Variety when the reboot was announced. "If we approach it without ego and sort of bow to Serling, that will hopefully suffice for our fellow Twilight Zone fans but also bring back a show that is needed right now. Because it's a show that has always helped us look at ourselves, hold a mirror up to society."

Jordan Peele

Jordan Peele will host the Twilight Zone reboot.

Angela Weiss/Getty Images

How many versions have there been?

The original Twilight Zone aired on CBS from 1959-1964, followed by a remake from 1985-1989. UPN created a third version, narrated by Forest Whitaker, that aired from 2002-2003.

Can I watch each version?

The five-season original show had a total of 156 episodes. You can view 10 episodes for free on CBS.com, and seasons 1 through 3 plus season 5 are available to subscribers of Amazon Prime and Netflix. The comparatively rare hour-long season 4 episodes (in addition to the rest of the series) is at Hulu and CBS All Access.

The 1980s Twilight Zone and 2000s Twilight Zone are tough to find, outside of some rogue YouTube uploads. If you're a completist, you can find the old DVD set at Amazon for the former version, which Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin worked on. 

And the new Jordan Peele version, of course, is exclusive to CBS All Access. 

I never saw it, but why do I already know that theme song?

Twilight Zone's musical scores as well as the original theme song by Marius Constant, a French composer born in Romania, have been sampled or interpolated dozens of times above board and infinite times without permission by rock groups, hip-hop artists, electronic music producers and more. Among some of the more well-known acts to sample or replay the theme's main riff are Manhattan Transfer (whose 1979 song "Twilight Zone" may be the first example of actual sampling of the theme), Insane Clown Posse, Dr. Dre, Dr. Octagon and Lil B. And while they didn't directly sample the theme, a Dutch band called Golden Earring had an international hit in 1982 called "Twilight Zone."

CNET’s 12 favorite Twilight Zone episodes

See all photos

Will the new version remake old episodes?

Executive producers Peele and Kinberg have remained mum so far on the topic, but they'd be continuing with the precedent set in the two remakes if they did. They've revealed their Top 10 all-time favorite Twilight Zone episodes, which might offer clues about which ones they'd like to remake -- or would never dare touch.

Who will be in it?

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Jessica Williams will appear in an episode of the rebooted Twilight Zone. 

Jim Spellman/WireImage

Ginnifer Goodwin, best known for her roles in HBO's Big Love and ABC's Once Upon a Time, will cross into the Twilight Zone, CBS announced on Feb. 7. 

January brought word that Taissa Farmiga (The Mule); Rhea Seehorn (Better Call Saul); Ike Barinholtz (writer and producer on The Mindy Project) and Luke Kirby will star in an upcoming episode. Kirby is a series regular on The Deuce on HBO, and has a recurring role as Lenny Bruce on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.  

Jessica Williams and DeWanda Wise will also appear on the show. Williams, a former Daily Show correspondent, appeared in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and co-created the live show and podcast 2 Dope Queens. She has also signed on for a Hulu adaptation of Four Weddings and a Funeral. Wise stars as Nola Darling in the Netflix adaptation of Spike Lee's She's Gotta Have It.    

We also know Adam Scott of Parks and Recreation will enter the fifth dimension. And Kumail Nanjiani will star in an episode written by Alex Rubens (The Last OG, Key and Peele). Kinberg told Collider they've also had "plenty" of interest from major film actors to appear in an episode. The publication reported that the premiere will be directed by Gerard McMurray, whose credits include Burning Sands and The First Purge.

"It is socio-political and tackles big themes, but in fun, science-fiction genre-y ways -- the same way Get Out did," Kinberg said in the interview, where he also cited the Netflix series Black Mirror as "inspiration."

This story first published Oct. 10, 2018 and will be updated as news comes in. 

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