A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this remake of the 1960s televison series deals in psychological tension. While there is some actual violence, it's usually more passive (i.e., a character is hit by a car) than hostile. The truly scary part of the series occurs inside viewers' minds when creepy scenarios meet supernatural elements, like mind reading, life after death, and imaginary creatures. Each episode effectively serves as a mini morality tale, so parents may want to be prepared to discuss their views on the episodes' subjects. Expect some mild language ("bastard," "jackass") and some occasional drinking.
What's the story?
The second remake of the 1960s series, THE TWILIGHT ZONE (2002) skews towards a younger, teenage audience than the original, and features a number of actors who would later make it big, including Hayden Christensen, Portia De Rossi, Jeremy Piven, and Robin Tunney. Each 30-minute episode is a separate, self-contained narrative, similar to the original series' set-up. The only recurring character is host Forest Whitaker, who introduces and then concludes each episode. The majority of episodes feature new storylines, though there are some remakes of original episodes, including "The Monsters Are On Maple Street" and "The Eye of the Beholder."
Is it any good?
On its own, this sci-fi series fares reasonably well. The writing is solid, and constant cameos by famous or up-and-coming actors are definitely a fun touch, especially for a teen audience (Jessica Simpson guest starring as a babysitter paranoid about a doll collection is definitely entertaining). However, it's impossible not to compare this series to the original. To ask Forest Whitaker to step into Rod Serling's shoes is a difficult request, and the normally excellent actor is unconvincing as the new host in the updated version of the show. Also, the episodes aren't consistently good, and very few will pull at you for much longer than the time it takes you to watch them -- there's no similarly affecting image as that of the gremlin on the airplane wing from the original's "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet."
On the bright side, the writing is lively and imaginative, and viewers will be treated to television that will surprise with twist endings and impossible scenarios. But even though the series isn't terrible, viewers would be better served by watching the original Twilight Zone.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about imagination and fear. What do you find more scary, the violence in the series or the psychological elements? How can one's imagination create more fear than the actual situation?
Do you think the episodes contain lessons or are they purely for entertainment? What kinds of things do these episodes make you think about?