Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Twilight Zone (2002): The Best and The Worst

Happy New Year!
In 2002 UPN revived The Twilight Zone with stories that were more topical and edgy. Being produced after 9/11, there were stories that touched upon homeland security and terrorism. The biggest example being The Monsters are on Maple Street. A retelling of the 1960's Twilight Zone episode, The Monsters are Due on Maple Street. The original story dealt with the fear of an alien invasion (allegory for a communist invasion). The updated 2002 version dealt with the fear of a terrorist attack.

The 2002 Twilight Zone intro music was covered by Jonathan Davis of Korn. It's not as good as the 1985 Grateful Dead cover. Actually, a lot of things in this updated version didn't measure up to its predecessors. The 2002 Twilight Zone didn't have a lot of positives going for it. Most of the stories were bland with bad cheat twist endings or, endings that just lead to nowhere. Some of the directing was boring. There were a lot of unlikable characters. In fact, the series was so bad the show was cancelled after the first season.

For the sake of doing this list, this was my 5th attempt at watching the show since the first time I watched it in 2002. I'd finally succeeded in grinding through the 44 episodes. Not all of them were bad. There were some exceptional episodes that's worthy of the original and the 1985 series. There were a lot of directors and writers that I didn't recognize. Some of them worked on the shows that I like: Battlestar Galatica, Buffy, Angel, Firefly... just to name a few. There were also a couple of actors who were involved with Battlestar Galactica peppered throughout the series like Rehka Sharma, Kandyse McClure and, Nicki Clyne. But the notable stars advertised at the time were Usher, Jessica Simpson, Amber Tamblyn, Jeremy Piven, Jason Alexander, Elizabeth Berkley and Shannon Elizabeth. I remember the promos on UPN making a huge deal about them being in the "New" Twilight Zone. Another notable name attached was Forest Whitaker. He hosted and narrated each episode in the tradition of Rod Serling who did the same in the original Twilight Zone. Unfortunately, Forest Whitaker was a bit a bland in the role.

Last year, I'd listed 15 of the Best and 10 of the Worst episodes from the 1985 Twilight Zone.

The year before that, I made a list of 15 of the Best and 10 of the Worst episodes from the original Twilight Zone.

This year, I present to you 15 of the Best and 10 of the Worst from the 2002 The Twilight Zone. They are listed in the order presented on the DVD set. The list is right after the "JUMP!".


The original broadcast version of the intro had Rod Serling's image. He was edited out of the DVD release.


A list of The Best and The Worst after the "JUMP!":


THE BEST

1. One Night At Mercy
Season 1
Episode 4
(Broadcast Order 2)
September 18, 2002

Starring Jason Alexander (George Costanza on Seinfeld) as Death who's tired of his job. I thought the twist ending was forced but, Jason Alexander was very entertaining as Death. This episode wouldn't have worked without him.

2. Evergreen
Season 1
Episode 7
(Broadcast Order 1)
September 18, 2002

Amber Tamblyn (Joan of Arcadia) plays a troubled teen whose parents last resort was to get her to be disciplined in the confines of a gated community called "Evergreen." The writing in this episode for the teenagers are horrible. In fact, the writing for kids and teenagers in the 2002 TWZ is out of touch and embarrassing. It's like your uncle or aunt trying to be "hip." "A stash of MP3's." *Face Palm*  The same goes for Mark Snow's music. He did a great job with The X-Files theme but, please Mark Snow, don't write "hip" or "ethnic" music. Overall this was a fun episode. Nothing can keep the young rebellious Amber Tamblyn down, not even embarrassing writing and music except...

3. Time Lapse
Season 1
Episode 10
(Broadcast Order 7)
October 9, 2002

A hospital orderly, Zack Walker, experiences lost time. When he blacks out, he ends up in questionable places and sometimes in dangerous situations. You'll eventually find out what's going on at the end of the episode and the pay off is not bad.

4. Harsh Mistress
Season 1
Episode 11
(Broadcast Order 13)
October 30, 2002

Lukas Haas plays a musician full of ambition and attitude but, low on talent until, he comes across a certain guitar. Like any cursed item stories, you know where this is headed. But it was fun getting there. Lukas Haas was also in a n episode of the 1985 Twilight Zone: What are Friends For?

5. Azoth the Avenger is a Friend of Mine
Season 1
Episode 13
(Broadcast Order 10)
October 16, 2002

Rory Culkin, Macaulay Culkin's brother, plays a lonely kid who gets beat on by bullies and abused by his father. He seeks help from a comic book character named Azoth played by Patrick Warburton (Puddy of Seinfeld). Rory Culkin whispers through this episode with as little emotion as possible, much like his performance in Signs. What gets this episode on the Best List is the way Azoth's "heroics" was handled. It was unintentionally funny, I had fun watching. The 2002 TWZ being a New Line show, a ton of Lord of the Rings merchandise showed up in this episode. Keep an out for Lord of the Rings stuff and New Line name drops throughout the series, it definitely helps with making it less of a chore to view. You can even make a drinking game out of it.

6. Sensuous Cindy
Season 1
Episode 17
(Broadcast Order 17)
November 13, 2002

Jaime Pressly (Joy of My Name is Earl) plays a virtual reality program named "Sensuous Cindy". Like all the virtual seductress episodes in SciFi TV, I was expecting this episode to be out of touch and cliched. It still was but, Jaime Pressly's and Greg Germann's performances made it a fun watch and at the end... um... anyway Tiffany Lyndall-Knight who plays the Cylon Hybrid in Battlestar Galactica is the wife in this episode.

7. Mr. Motivation
Season 1
Episode 19
(Broadcast Order 19)
November 20, 2002

Charlie Stickney receives a talking doll with a mind of it's own as a birthday present from his boss. The doll helps him get his office crush and a promotion. This episode reminds me of A Penny for Your Thoughts from the original TWZ.

8. Sanctuary
Season 1
Episode 20
(Broadcast Order 20)
November 20, 2002

This episode starts off with an annoying sports agent named Scott Turner who gets a flat tire and causes a stand still traffic jam. Equipped with his blue tooth, the douche walks into the woods and gets lost. He comes across a beautiful garden and an inviting house. He also finds Elizabeth Berkley (Jessie from Saved by the Bell) in the house, looking as confused as he is. I didn't care much for the selfish Scott Turner character and I felt that he did not deserve to come across "the Sanctuary." This was the episode's flaw. If not for Elizabeth Berkley's charisma this could have been one of the worst episodes. Her acting has been made fun of in the past but she's pretty good in this. The episode should have started off with Elizabeth Berkley instead of making her the "twist" for the cold opening.

9. Gabe's Story
Season 1
Episode 24
(Broadcast Order 23)
December 11, 2002

Christopher Titus plays Gabe, a man who seems to always get the short end of the stick. After sustaining a head injury during a car accident, he's able to see why he's been so unlucky. Christopher Titus makes this episode fun to watch. Especially later in the episode when he meets Sarah Strange's character. Sarah Strange was the voice for Ranma (boy) in the anime series, Ranma 1/2.

10. The Monsters are on Maple Street
Season 1
Episode 31
(Broadcast Order 32)
February 19, 2003

An updated version of the Monsters are Due on Maple Street from the original TWZ. This time the residents of Maple Street are worried about a terrorist attack instead of an alien invasion. Titus Welliver who plays the Man in Black in Lost is the angry neighbor in this.

11. It's Still a Good Life
Season 1
Episode 32
(Broadcast Order 31)
February 19, 2003

A direct sequel to It's a Good Life. This episode is easily the best of the 2002 series. It's interesting and quite awesome to see Bill (Billy) Mumy reprise his role as Anthony Fremont, "The Monster of Peaksville." Cloris Leachman is also back as Agnes Fremont (Anthony's mother). It's 40 years later and "the Monster" has a daughter named Audrey. Agnes discovers that Audrey has the same powers as her father and she might even be more powerful then he is. Audrey might be the key to free the people of Peaksville from Anthony's reign of terror. Audrey is played by Bill Mumy's real life daughter, Liliana Mumy. A very good episode. I think good thoughts about this episode.

The1985 TWZ had an unofficial sequel to It's a Good Life called, the Toys of Caliban. If you'd like to watch that episode and It's Still a Good Life, you can follow the link below:

It's Still a Good Life and the Toys of Caliban (Youtube)

Most of the 2002 TWZ episodes can be found on youtube. Which saves you money from buying this less than mediocre series on DVD. But, it's good that they made this series. It's a very idea Anthony. I'm thinking good thoughts.

12. Memphis
Season 1
Episode 34
(Broadcast Order 33)
February 26, 2003

Directed, written and starring Eriq La Salle (Dr. Peter Benton of ER), this episode is a lot like the 1961 TWZ episode, Back There. After getting hit by a car Eriq La Salle is transported to 1968 Memphis and has a chance to stop the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It could have been a generic episode with some bad Mark Snow "ethnic" music but Eriq La Salle wrote a pretty good screenplay. Eriq La Salle's performance was pretty good too. As well as Vivica A. Fox's performance and the kid who played her son. I like how this episode comes around at the end.

13. The Placebo Effect
Season 1
Episode 35
(Broadcast Order 35)
April 02, 2003

This episode would have been just alright but Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator) presence made it better. He plays a hypochondriac who's able to spread a deadly plague from space just by imagining it. Sydney Tamiia Poitier plays the doctor who's trying to find a cure for the "imaginary plague." If Sydney Tamiia Poitier's name seems familiar, it's because she's the daughter of actor Sidney Poitier. She was also Jungle Julia in Quentin Tarintino's Death Proof, the second segment of Grindhouse.

14. Burned
Season 1
Episode 37
(Broadcast Order 44) May 21, 2003

Jason Bateman (Michael Bluth of Arrested Development) plays a dubious business man who's willing to do anything to get what he wants. Except going outside because, he has agoraphobia. When he orders an arsonist to burn down a house for the insurance money, something goes wrong. Jason Batmen pays the TWZ consequences along with everyone who was involved. I keep thinking Jason Bateman's character as Michael Bluth and the title Burned is referring to the Cornballer. Angela Featherstone, the S-Mart girl in Army of Darkness is in this episode.

15. Eye of the Beholder
Season 1
Episode 41
(Broadcast Order 39)
April 30, 2003

A direct word for word remake of the original Rod Serling teleplay of 1960 Eye of the Beholder. The direction has been updated and Molly Sims plays Janet Tyler. The original Janet Tyler was played by Donna Douglas, Elly May Clampett of the Beverly Hillbillies.







THE WORST

1. Dream Lover
Season 1
Episode 6
(Broadcast Order 4)
September 25, 2002

Adrian Pasdar (Nathan Petrelli of Heroes) plays a comic book artist who gets bored and draws up his "dream lover:" Shannon Elizabeth (American Pie). Adrian Pasdar's character is another unlikable 2002 TWZ character. All he does is drink, miss his deadlines and dreams up of a submissive slave girl. Speaking of which, Shannan Elizabeth's character is just as unlikable.

2. The Pool Guy
Season 1
Episode 12
(Broadcast Order 9)
October 16, 2002

Lou Diamond "La Bamba, Stand and Deliver" Phillips plays a pool guy who keeps on waking up right after he gets shot in his dreams. Sometimes he'll wake up to find his friend in his room who is played by Erik King, James Doakes of Dexter. This episode is a little over 20 minutes long but after Lou Diamond Phillips' third dream it gets pretty old and the episode drags on to an unsatisfying pay off.

3. Upgrade
Season 1
Episode 14
(Broadcast Order 14)
October 30, 2002

Annie MacIntosh, wishes to have a different family a better family. I found it hard to relate to the Annie MacIntosh character and I found her obnoxious. Her and the writer's vision of an upgrade to the family was treading in dangerous racial territory. This episode has a horrible cheat twist ending that pissed me off. 20 minutes, wasted!

4. Chosen
Season 1
Episode 15
(Broadcast Order 16)
November 6, 2002

Jake Busey (Gary Busey's son) was pretty good in this. His character seemed a bit of an ass at first but he actually develops pretty well, up until the end. It's the twist ending that ruined this episode for me. In the episode, Jake Busey encounters door to door missionaries offering him salvation but, they seem to be involved with the missing persons in town while the world is on the brink of nuclear war.

5. Hunted
Season 1
Episode18
(Broadcasting Order 18)
November 13, 2002

A creature named "Kreetor" troubles a futuristic civilization. A band of volunteers goes out into some nondescript woods to hunt it down. A lot of things made me go "why?" in this episode and it seems as though things happen in this episode for the sake of the twist. This episode just didn't make sense to me. What's going on with the Kreetor vision? Why send civilian volunteers to hunt down this super deadly legendary beast? Why? Huh? What?

6. Found and Lost
Season 1
Episode 21
(Broadcast Order 22)
November 27, 2002

Bill Mumy of It's a Good Life in the original TWZ and It's Still a Good Life in this series wrote this episode. Sorry for putting this in the worst category Bill Mumy. You starred in the best episode of this series though! I get the direction of this episode. If only the Brian Austin Green (Derek Reese of Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles) character was likable. He comes off as a douchebag and doesn't let up. Why do I want to see him get a better life? What makes episodes like Walking Distance work in the original TWZ was that they didn't go for broke with the douche-baggery of the characters during the introduction. Be on a look out for Rekha Sharma (Tory of Battlestar Galactica) in this episode. Also the actress who plays young Bess is young Samantha Mulder, Fox Mulder's sister in The X-Files.

7. Fair Warning
Season 1
Episode 25
(Broadcast Order 26)
January 8, 2003

A woman is being stalked by an admirer who threatens to kill her. But when the police investigates, the man that she suspects is totally normal and he also has a solid alibi. So what's going on? The twist is such a cheat that it really pissed me off. Kandyse McClure, Dualla of Battlestar Galactica, is in this episode which is a positive thing. But she's not in the leading role which, brings us back to the negative.

8. Tagged
Season 1
Episode 30
(Broadcast Order 29)
February 12, 2003

Paul Rodriguez plays a cop who is trying to get a gang graffiti tagger to fess up on a murder. This episode has some pretty awkward "urban" writing. Again, the twist ending really didn't work for me.

9. Developing
Season 1
Episode 42
(Broadcasting Order 40)
April 30, 2003

Robyn Tumney (Christ in New York of End of Days) plays a woman whose fiance gets killed in a car accident. She starts seeing the house they were supposed to move into developing in her pictures. Even though she didn't take pictures of the house. Maybe her fiance is trying to tell her something? I can't really give you the reason why this is on the Worst List without spoiling the ending. There's really no twist, it's just a long drawn out episode. Again, a very long 20 minutes. I know what the episode was going for and they were able to pull off episodes like this in the 1985 TWZ.

10. Homecoming
Season 1
Episode 43
(Broadcasting Order 42)
May 7, 2003

Another sentimental episode that didn't work out. Gil Bellows (Tommy in The Shawshank Redemption) plays Rob Malone, an MIA soldier from the Iraqi War who comes home to his wife and son. You can probably guess the twist early on but, I think the writers were going for something more which, I admire. But something about this episode just didn't work. It felt drawn out and boring.

3 comments:

  1. Fun overview. I'm thinking of doing my own and just casting about to see what all's out there in terms of the same.

    I'm more or less in agreement with you about your worst, although I enjoyed "The Chosen."

    I'm not sure I see how "The Toys of Caliban" is any kind of sequel to "It's A Good Life." I haven't heard that one before... I don't quite see it, myself, but it's an intriguing idea.

    This blog hasn't been active for awhile, so not sure if you'll even see this, but if so - kudos! Thanks for doing this.

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  2. It's strange to me that you'd put The Pool Guy in your worst list. It's easily one of the best of the series! It reminded me a lot of the original episode Shadow Play, with Dennis Weaver caught in a recurring dream where he keeps being tried, convicted, put on death row and executed for murder.

    Anyway, the premise here is just as twisted, Lou Diamond Phillips plays the role well and his character reacts pretty realistically to this constant mind-screwing. Good ep!

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