Monday, October 17, 2016

A Classic Reborn: The Twilight Zone (1985)

Some might think that Hollywood's current obsession with revisiting its past began in the 80's.

There was, for example, a feature film version of Rod Serling's seminal The Twilight Zone. Produced in the familiar anthology format, with multiple short tales comprising the movie, it did modest business in theatres, with a cast that included Scatman Crothers (ex-Chico & The Man) and Vic Morrow, the latter in his last role.

In 1985, CBS decided to bring back the Zone, with Philip DeGuere as executive producer. They had intended to air the show at 10 pm (ET) on Fridays, just like the original series. However, some genius moved the show to 8 pm. I think Dallas & Falcon Crest were still on the air at the time, which contributed to the 11th hour decision. With Serling having passed on a few years after Night Gallery ended its run, actor Charles Aidman, who'd appeared in 2 episodes of the original series, was the new narrator, but not an on-screen host, like Serling.

While the new Zone got off to a hot start, winning its time slot during the first few weeks, the ratings began to tumble. Despite this, the show was renewed for a 2nd season, expanded to an hour, just like the original series was for a time, and moved to Saturdays. The latter move was a mistake, and after 11 episodes, CBS bade goodbye to the Twilight Zone for the 2nd time.

After a year's hiatus, the Zone returned, this time in syndication, with Robin Ward (ex-To Tell The Truth) replacing Aidman, and even dubbing over Aidman's original narration when the CBS episodes from this era were included. The 3rd season was produced in Canada, as was the case with another CBS castoff, Airwolf, which was picked up by USA Network. However, this reprieve lasted just a year.

Let's serve up the series opener from 1985, "Shatterday", written by Harlan Ellison, and directed by Wes Craven, fresh off "A Nightmare on Elm Street".

I don't recall watching much of this version, so we'll pass on a rating.

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