With anthology shows only becoming more prominent in recent years thanks to series like “Black Mirror” and “Love, Death, and Robots,” it seems as fit a time as any in the television landscape for “The Twilight Zone” to burst back onto the scene. With its first episode “The Comedian” — ironically airing on April Fools — the classic returns with as much intrigue and social commentary as ever.
“The Comedian” stars Kumail Nanjiani as Samir Wassan, a struggling comedian who starts to see success after learning he can bring the house down by talking about the people in his life. This newfound knowledge comes at a high price, however, as the comedian learns that everyone he jokes about disappears. With his fame only continuing to grow and the people who support him gradually dwindling, Samir continuously finds himself struggling with the morality of his decisions.
"It takes a look at the inherent selfishness required to garner success, and demonstrates the inevitable loneliness that such success will provide."
In its first episode, the reboot manages to maintain the social insight and innovative concepts the series has come to be known for. “The Comedian” in particular provides a thoughtful dialogue about fame in today’s world. It takes a look at the inherent selfishness required to garner success, and demonstrates the inevitable loneliness that such success will provide. The episode asks viewers if the fame they constantly seek is truly worthwhile, as — like the episode says — anything in your life that you choose to give to the audience will be gone forever.
The episode also receives a strong performance from its lead star. Nanjiani manages to depict a desperate and needy man who is not prepared for the costs of that which he wants so badly. Samir becomes a character who is immediately relatable, as all of us — at one point or another — have wanted to be recognized for doing something good or worthwhile. This is something that the character typifies.
Also worth noting is the show’s production quality. Unlike its 1960s counterpart, the reboot presents a far more cinematic experience than ever before. The shots in this episode are far more crisp, colorful and dynamic, and the messages at the episode’s core only prosper as a result. The higher production value makes the series seem more important and is a welcome change to the new series.
"While it does manage to be both highly intriguing and thought-provoking with the ideas it presents, the episode ends up being extremely predictable."
Though the episode did a great deal for being the start of the reboot, there were some noticeable flaws that plagued “The Comedian.” While it does manage to be both highly intriguing and thought-provoking with the ideas it presents, the episode ends up being extremely predictable. No unexpected turns or developments really occur during the episode’s runtime, and I personally was able to predict how the episode ended from the initial synopsis alone. While “The Comedian” is not necessarily held down by this fault, it certainly does not help when an episode that is trying to be mysterious and absorbing cannot present many surprises.
Despite the episode’s predictability, “The Comedian” manages to produce an appealing story that presents ideas about our world that will leave viewers thinking long after the credits. It is a good start to the continuation of one of television’s most important shows, and is certainly a world that is worth stepping into.
Final Grade: B+
Joseph Marz is a TV columnist for the Daily Cardinal. To read more of his work, click here