On Dec. 19, it was announced that Bryan Singer (director of "X-Men") will try his hand at another television reboot. And not just any reboot -- CBS has green lit a new version of "Twilight Zone," the classic that aired between 1959 and 1964, and saw updated versions in the 1980s and again in 2002 (in which Jessica Simpson even made an appearance).
But this isn't Singer's first attempt to revive a beloved franchise. In addition to "X-Men," the director helmed a 2012 update of "The Munsters" as a pilot for NBC. Unfortunately for him, the show was axed in October, and ended up airing as only a Halloween special called "Mockingbird Lane." Is that what we should expect from "Twilight Zone 4.0"?
Well, it depends. While shows like "Mad Men" (set in the '60s) and "The Hour" (set in the '50s) drench fans in nostalgia, it doesn't necessarily inspire mass audiences to go back and watch television programming of the time. What was creepy and weird in the '50s and '60s doesn't translate as well today -- especially the social commentary the "Twilight Zone" narrative tended to revolve around. If people want to get the full "creeped out" experience the original "Twilight Zone" gave viewers several decades ago, a reboot would be necessary to appeal to viewers and their current social landscape.
However, that technique doesn't always work. "Knight Rider" attempted a modern reboot in 2008, but it was cancelled after one season since the premise suffered from abysmal writing and a lack of originality (although Val Kilmer as KITT was an inspired touch). True, a reboot rides the coattails of an existing show, but uniqueness is still necessary.
Enter: TNT's 2012 reboot of "Dallas," which still banks on adoration of the series' original fan base, but draws new viewers in thanks to melodrama -- steamier plots coupled with what momentous fortune can buy in 2012 -- that reflects the current age. The same can be said for "90210," which only had the zip code in common with its predecessor, "Beverly Hills, 90210." The reboot's characters are nothing like those on the original program, and their struggles (hit-and-runs, casual drug use, and sexual assault) are far more controversial than, say, Kelly Taylor's short-lived addiction to diet pills on the original series.
But "Doctor Who" takes the cake. Though its sci-fi and time travel premise carried over from the '70s, the writers' ability to create three-dimensional, realistic characters connect with a 2012 audience. Instead of relying on the kitsch factor of the original version, creators built upon it: there's comic relief, but the emotions the characters experience are real and raw.
If 2013's "Twilight Zone" can follow the same path, it will succeed. As proven by the success of "American Horror Story," audiences liked to be freaked out, and since "Twilight Zone" did that in spades, it's more than possible for Singer to recreate a series that will haunt today's viewers. Maybe even with a cameo by William Shatner.