new twilight zone series

The original incarnation of The Twilight Zone belongs on any shortlist of the best and most influential television shows ever made. Rod Serling’s classic anthology series, which told one-off science fiction, horror, and fantasy stories that ranged from comical and melodramatic to unsettling and downright terrifying, still holds up today as a high-water mark for genre TV and required watching for anyone who enjoys good things.

And every few decades, someone tries to revive it and we’ve been due for another version for some time. Now, CBS has announced a new incarnation of this iconic series, but like so many episodes of The Twilight Zone, there’s a twist involved: it’s going to be interactive. Whatever that means.

The Wrap reports that Interlude, the interactive media company best known for that (still really impressive) “Like a Rolling Stone” video from a few years back, has signed a deal with the network to produce a series that will allow viewers to interact with the show as they watch it. Specific details remain under wraps, but they toss around phrases about audiences being able to “step in and become a part of the story” and “change and adapt the story based on what he or she feels.”

It sounds a bit like Interlude and CBS are taking a page from the video game realm, which means the hiring of Ken Levine to write and direct the pilot makes a lot of sense. Levine is best known for creating, writing, and acting as creative director on BioShock and BioShock: Infinite, the massively popular and stunningly crafted first-person adventures developed by Irrational Games, so he knows a thing or two about interactive entertainment.

This news arrives some time after our previous Twilight Zone reboot update. Bryan Singer was attached to produce a new series for CBS for quite some time and a feature film version of the series was being developed before seemingly vanishing into thin air a little while back. So while all of this is very interesting and very intriguing, Interlude and Levine actually have to do what many smart people have spent the last decade-plus trying and failing to do. They actually get this show to exist in some capacity beyond a headline.

Although CBS and Interlude’s statements are vague to the extreme, the suggestion here is that the new Twilight Zone will offer incentive for viewers to re-watch the same episode multiple times. “As with all other Interlude videos, viewers can return repeatedly and have a different viewing experience each time,” is a juicy quote, which seems to indicate that this show will either be a choose-your-own-adventure style experiment or will somehow allow audiences to view the story from differing perspectives. Either option sounds intriguing and the whole project sounds like it would be right at home as a CBS All Access exclusive, right alongside that upcoming Star Trek series.

Gimmicks aside, Levine and Interlude need to remember that the original Twilight Zone worked because a murderer’s row of writers (namely Rod Serling, Richard Matheson, and Charles Beaumont) were given the wiggle room to tell astonishing and compelling genre stories that shattered the mold before remaking that mold in a new image. Interactive stuff is secondary to great stories told well.

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