Everyone remembers the classic 1950s television series, The Twilight Zone, but it seems like it’s later incarnations have vanished into obscurity. This is a real shame, because the 1980s version was simply fantastic.
Yeah, I realize I may be biased because the show originally aired while I was very young and impressionable. However, I’ve gone through almost all of them again and many of them still hold up.
Here’s a few reasons to check out the 80s version of Twilight Zone. Sadly, there’s only three seasons of the series available, that also makes it a quicker watch if you want to binge it all.
There Were Big Names and (Now) Familar Faces
The line up for writers, directors, and actors is pretty noteworthy, especially early on in the series. You’ve got the likes of George R.R. Martin, Stephen King, and Harlan Ellison for writers. Directors included Wes Craven and William Friedkin. For actors you get Bruce Willis (with hair!), Helen Mirren, and Morgan Freeman among many bigger names. And there’s a lot of staples of 80s TV and movies that’ll have you yelling, “Oh that’s that guy!”
The Creepy Opening
The 80s version of the opening rips on that classic Twilight Zone opening, but put its own unique and excellent spin on it. It’s got some weird sounds, heartbeat and animal like noises, it’s all very disconcerting and then a bit of the classic Twilight Zone theme comes in.
And the visuals? Gotta love the cool looking miniatures, which lend an even (perhaps unintentional) surrealism. There’s a cool one second shot of Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling.
It’s interesting to note that legendary rock/jam band Grateful Dead composed this new theme song.
The original Twilight Zone featured Rod Serling appear on screen to provide episode introductions. The 80s version features the voice of actor Charles Aidman. Aidman doesn’t appear on screen, which seems like a good move considering he’d have been directly compared to Rod Serling who cast a long shadow over the series. Aidman provided a steady, slightly gravely delivery that was perfect for this incarnation of the show. However, when season three he was replaced as narrator and his narration was re-recorded by another actor for syndication. Ouch. Still, the episodes with Aidman have a much better quality in their intros.
If you go back and watch the classic Twilight Zone from start to finish, you’ll see all the classics that everyone remembers. You’ll also see a ton of duds that nobody rightfully remembers. The 1980s version is the same way and just like the original there are some amazing gems among the three year run of the series.
In the future, I’ll probably come up with a long list of my favorites, but one of my favorites is called, “The Shadow Man” which was directed by none other than Joe Dante and written by the legendary Rockne O’Bannon. It’s one of those episodes you really need to see for yourself for a great payoff. Here’s a link to the episode, watch it while it before it’s taken down.