The Twilight Zone
n an interesting mix of the old and new, UPN's The Twilight Zone takes on two classic episodes from the original series with a sequel to "It's a Good Life" and a remake of "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street."
In "It's Still A Good Life," 40 years have passed since the residents of Peaksville, Ohio, first discovered that little Anthony Fremont (Mumy) had a mind so powerful he could read people's thoughts and send them to "the cornfield" if they didn't think good thoughts. Anthony made everything but Peaksville go away, along with electricity and cars. And now Anthony is all grown up and the residents still live in terror of him.
However, Anthony has a daughter of his own named Audrey (played by Mumy's real life daughter, Liliana Mumy). She's 6 years old, and when Anthony's mother, Marion (Leachman), discovers Audrey has powers of her own, Marion realizes it may be her one chance to get rid of the monster to which she gave birth.
In "Monsters on Maple Street," the threat of terrorist attack has replaced alien invasion in this timely remake. Andrew McCarthy portrays a middle-class man who has little patience for his neighbors' superficial concerns about holiday decorations and other neighborhood issues. However, during a neighborhood meeting, something knocks out their electricity, phone and cars. Suddenly, these friendly neighbors find themselves cut off from the outside world.
Unsure of what's happened, the neighbors worry that it might have been a terrorist attack, and perhaps the terrorists are living right in their own neighborhood. The new neighbors haven't been very friendly, and they won't come out of their house. As fears reach a fever pitch, the neighbors make a startling discovery and decide they are going to find out about the new family one way or another.
A good trip back in time, a really good trip!
It's a risky proposal to revisit classic material from one of the most beloved series of all time. However, it's not surprising that the producers of The Twilight Zone were drawn to these stories. With the availability of Mumy and Leachman for "It's Still a Good Life" and the downright scary timing of "Monsters on Maple Street," The Twilight Zone puts new twists on both stories.
While anthology shows are generally uneven by their very nature (including the original Zone), the new Twilight Zone has done a good job at bringing this series into today's world by dealing with the all-too-real spooky issues that face us every day. Both episodes are updated nicely, mixing the tones and emotions of the classic episodes with today's concerns.
"It's Still a Good Life" is a strongly written episode with an outstanding performance by Academy- and Emmy-Award winner Cloris Leachman. Mumy's continuation in the role he created so memorably as a child 40 years ago is chilling, and his young daughter's resemblance to him gives us the illusion we've stepped back in time.
"Monsters on Maple Street" is a well-done remake that keeps the original episode's focus on the fear and paranoia of living in an uncertain world. While it seems curious that no one takes a hike down the road, the scenario created for the characters in this Twilight Zone world is all too close to what's going on in the real world today.
So are these new episodes modern-day classics that rival the original episodes? No. Both original teleplays were written by the man himself, Rod Serling. They were stark, terrifying and original. However, the new Zone episodes each have something new to say, and that makes them worthy.
Rod Serling is long gone, but not forgotten. Revisiting his episodes through their updates, "It's Still a Good Life" and "Monsters on Maple Street," reminds us of that while taking us back into The Twilight Zone. Kathie
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