I was pretty excited when I heard that CBS All Access was rebooting “The Twilight Zone” series. I was a big fan of this anthology series when I was younger and it played on free TV every Friday night. I was looking forward to see how the new version fared because the series has had its fair share of reboots over the years. The opening salvo “The Comedian,” however, was far from impressive and I don’t think best way to inspire interest in the franchise for a new audience. The fact that the show is now narrated by “Get Out” and “Us” director Jordan Peele, on the other hand, is pretty cool. (He takes over narrator duties from the show’s creator Rod Serling)
Synopsis: Samir Wassan (Kumail Nanjiani) is a struggling comedian who fails to connect with his audience with his social commentary. No matter how hard he tries, he can’t seem to hit the right note with the crowd. One night, he meets ace comedian J.C. Wheeler (Tracy Morgan) at the bar where he performs and the star gives him a piece of advice to make it in the comedy world. It seems though that the price of fame may be steeper than he expected, and weird things start to happen as he finally elicits some laughs from the crowd.
Okay, for those who are not familiar with “The Twilight Zone,” its basically the great granddaddy of “Black Mirror.” Its an anthology series that crosses genres and often premises on the weird and the fantastic. “The Comedian” is the opening salvo of the reboot but like Samir’s act, it really took me a while to warm up to it. (Don’t worry, the succeeding episodes are better).
First off, the character of Samir in general, was not likeable — at all. He was all knowing and looked down at his audience as idiots and his act was a reflection of his disdain. After being handed the secret to success, he uses it much like a death note, also cloaked with the idea that he was better than everyone. This was not a quality that endears a character to the viewers, believe me. And the fact that Samir has this satisfied twinkle in his eye when he assassinates the character of his target on stage, makes him more of a villain than a hero.
I don’t worry for Samir when he finds himself in a bind and he has to pay heavily for his carelessness and arrogance. Throughout his journey and realization, I never felt connected to Samir and that, I think is a failure on the part of writers and the director because this was the guy everyone should be rooting for. I was not worried about his fate and was actually glad when the episode came to an end.
Honestly, it took me several tries to get through this episode because the ending was already a given from the first moment he received the gift. And secondly because for an episode entitled “The Comedian,” there was really nothing funny about the jokes delivered the entire episode, just derogatory, malicious rants at people who just happened to be there. It was boring as heck. There, I said it.
All in all, of the episodes that I have watched, “The Comedian” was the weakest and I think it was a bad idea to lead the series with this episode. It was sub par for “The Twilight Zone” standards but don’t lose hope after this one because the other episodes do deliver on expectations. “The Twilight Zone” is well worth following.
Check out the opening clip of “The Comedian” and see if it matches your taste: