Worst to Best
CBS All Access Twilight Zone
Season Two

On June 25th 2020, CBS All Access released all ten episodes of the new Twilight Zone season at once. Again hosted by Jordan Peele, this time the regarded filmmaker also took a turn to write one of the episodes...


Once again, the series is titled "The Twilight Zone" onscreen, and the only reason for its listing as "CBS All Access Twilight Zone" here is to distinguish it from the 1959-1964 series when ordering these articles. Please join me in ranking the season from worst to best.
Please note that while an effort has been made to avoid excess spoilers in this article, some plot points are inevitably discussed in some of the entries, and seen in some of the screen capture images.

10 8

The shortest episode of the season at just 31 minutes, crueller critics might suggest that this is around 31 minutes too long. The only episode of this superior second season to be truly below-par (although the next two come close), it features an Arctic base and a giant, prehistoric octopus... which, perhaps true to form for this version of The Twilight Zone, is described as a "motherf***er".
      Writer Glen Morgan wasn't unfamiliar with Arctic base stories, having co-written the X-Files episode Ice back in 1993. It's quite astonishing that a writer of Morgan's pedigree could deliver a plot and script so bad, or so misguided. Heavily exposition-based and ludicrous in intent, when an octopus starts using a mobile phone to connect to the internet, you do have to wonder who this episode is for, or what connection it actually has to The Twilight Zone.

9 You Might
Also Like

Over the course of three revival series, seven of the original series episodes have been remade, while Dead Man's Shoes has had not one but two inspired-by-cum-remakes. However, along with 2002's It's Still A Good Life, this is the only instance of an episode that's written as a sequel to an original series story.
      Sadly, this follow-on from 1962's To Serve Man is a tonal mess, mixing kooky consumer satire with discussions of stillborn babies and 9/11. It doesn't help that To Serve Man, one of the most famous episodes of the programme, was such a "straight" story, a tale of cannibalistic aliens and flying saucers that dared to take itself seriously. Here the returning Kanamits look cheap, silly (perhaps not helped by being out from under the cover of black-and-white) and are on the verge of send-up.
      It's very much a commonplace happening in modern TV SF, where meta dialogue likes to tell the audience that, yes, we know it's all quite silly, but we're in on the joke too, so it doesn't count. But while deconstruction has its place in television, sometimes things can be deconstructed until there's nothing left but a hollow simulacrum.

8 A Human Face

Sequencing is important, and so maybe it's not a great idea that this "monster/alien of the week" story immediately followed 8. That said, this time around the series caught up with modern trends and released all ten episodes together, so you can effectively watch them in any order you choose.
      Possibly tagging this one as an "alien of the week" story is a little shallow, as the story sees the alien take on the form of a couple's daughter who committed suicide, and attempts to build an emotional connection with them. Sadly, it's not enough story to stretch to the full duration, and often seems stuck in a holding pattern, retreading the same familiar themes and exposition over and over until it ends, an approach that eschews any notion of subtlety.
      Lastly, while the "easter eggs" to the original series are a little more discrete this time around, they still cause some tonal issues. A shot of a toy robot based on the creatures from the original series' The Invaders is fine, but episodes feature the company Whipple's, and, here, Dingle's removals. A nod towards Mr. Dingle, The Strong and The Brain Center At Whipple's respectively, both names are far too flippant to slot into more serious stories like this one, and detract from the fabricated world that the programme makes such pains to establish.

7 Try, Try

Season one of the CBS All Access Twilight Zone wasn't exactly wall-to-wall stars, but did feature some notable names. Episodes included appearances from Seth Rogan, Greg Kinnear, Jason Priestley, Chris O'Dowd, Ginnifer Goodwin, Kumail Nanjiani, John Cho, Adam Scott, Steven Yeun and Tracy Morgan.
      Season two doesn't have the same amount of "name" actors, possibly a factor in the season appearing to not have received as much publicity as the first. Aside from a George Takei cameo in You Might Also Like, arguably the biggest "name" of season two is here, with Topher Grace acting alongside Kylie Bunbury. While they try hard, this instalment does tread familiar, Groundhog Day/Russian Doll paths, only without the fun and quirks those two productions brought to the screen.
      Things do get interesting in the final act, where Marc (Grace) turns out to be the ultimate worst date, though interesting themes about manipulation and gender politics are ultimately given short shrift in favour of Claudia (Bunbury), kicking, in her words, "his ass". The revelation that violence will solve a threat from males isn't perhaps one that will be of comfort to less capable women than the formidable Claudia. Ironically enough, what the script needed more than anything was for the writer to repeat his day a few more times, and use those extra days for a few more drafts.

6 Ovation

In February 2020 Amazon Prime released a new series featuring Al Pacino: Hunters. The creator of that series, David Weil, gets the story credit here, while Emily C. Chang and Sara Amini (who also wrote the season opener, Meet in the Middle) are credited with the script.
      It's not an especially new idea - an aspiring singer gets given an amulet that brings her fame, but at a cost - and features a heavily-telegraphed "twist" that most would be able to see coming. But while it may be a somewhat familiar story that covers predictable ground, it's pleasant enough, and Jordan Peele gets a witty, silent sign off.

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