Tuesday, April 14, 2020

The Twilight Zone (2019) -- Season 1 Episode 10 (Blurryman)

There’s a certain dilemma with reboots and remakes.  If you stick too close to the original, there’s no real point.  You’re not adding anything.  If you try to make it different, you risk straying too far from the original vision.  It becomes a remake in name only.  It’s difficult to find a balance where you’re truly continuing the legacy.

I suspect the new incarnation of The Twilight Zone has been trying to find its footing.  At least one is a remake of an original episode and seems to face that dilemma.  Overall, though, it would seem that some of the episodes are really trying to pay homage to Rod Serling’s vision.

Blurryman is sort of a metafictional take on an episode.  It starts off looking like a regular episode, but it’s not.  Midway through the opening narration, Jordan Peele seems to break character and we realize the episode is about making a Twilight Zone episode.

At the center of this is Sophie Gelson, the false episode’s writer.  Jordan Peele complains that her opening narration isn’t good enough.  So, there’s a rewrite and some cue cards that don’t hold what she actually wrote.

Plus, some footage shows a blurry man that no one noticed.  Each episode seems to have at least once.  (The footage shown is from The Comedian.  I checked and there is actually a person there, although not as blurry.)  The cue cards are written off as a prank.  The footage really isn’t anyone’s fault.  There are several people that should have noticed and the script writer isn’t really one of them.

Blurryman lays on the fright as Sophie descends into horror that occasionally showed up in the classic series.  She finds herself on an empty lot, being chased by Blurryman.  When she finds other people, no one notices her, nor does anyone react to her pursuer.

The ending could be taken one of two ways.  It could be seen as somewhat cheesy and a blatant attempt to appeal to fans of the original series.  Instead, I’d like to think that it’s a great way to acknowledge the original series and maybe try to bring us back to that.  (Maybe the episode’s ending is a little corny, but I like it.)

I can forgive a lot during a show’s first season.  I realize that this is basically a new production.  While it would appear to have influences from earlier incarnations, there will be missteps.  Maybe the self-referential nature doesn’t work all the time here, but I do get the sense that they’re trying.

As Sophie points out, why does it have to be art or entertainment?  Likewise, why does it have to be true to the original series or something new?  It’s difficult enough to find a balance.  It’s even more difficult to find something everyone will like.  Sophie wondered what The Twilight Zone was as a child.  Was it a literal place or was it a part of our imagination?  I think a lot of us have wondered the same thing from time to time.

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