Created by Rod Serling, the television series The Twilight Zone really shook its viewers during its initial five season run back in 1959 to 1964, which is why we keep seeing new versions of it. There was Twilight Zone: The Movie back in 1983, a revival series that ran for three seasons in the ’80s, the recent Jordan Peele-fronted revival that went for two seasons, and more. Including a one season run on the UPN network back in 2002 – ’03. Ira Behr was an executive producer on the UPN Twilight Zone, which was hosted by Forest Whitaker, and during a recent interview with Syfy Wire he revealed that working on the show’s 43 episodes wasn’t a very good experience.
Behr said, “When they offered it to me, I just thought, ‘It’s The Twilight Zone!’ I like the Twilight Zone!’ I’m always looking for something new to do, so an anthology sounded good. And it went downhill from there.“
It went downhill quickly, as the network executives shot down the idea Behr and his collaborators wanted to bring to the screen as the first episode of this new version of The Twilight Zone, a story about a genetically-engineered fetus that plans to kill its parents. “The response was, ‘No! We’re not doing that episode. It makes us uneasy.’ It’s the f***ing Twilight Zone, it’s supposed to make you uneasy. And from there on, it became a bit of a hell to get stories past that were Twilight Zone-specific according to them. And since they were throwing out stories left and right, you’re trying to find time to produce a show and produce scripts. Anthologies do not need all those chefs. … After they stuck us in a hole so deep that we couldn’t see daylight, they said, ‘Oh, now we’re gonna help you! (Remake the original Twilight Zone episode) ‘Eye of the Beholder.’ [We said:] ‘We don’t want to do ‘Eye of the Beholder.’ [And they said:] ‘(Remake the original episode) The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street!’ [We said:] ‘We don’t want to do that.’ [And they said:] ‘No, you have to because this is what you need and we’re making your lives easier.’“
Behr admitted that some good episodes did come out of the struggle, and they were able to get a lot of good actors to appear on the show. So even thought there was a lot of stress and frustration, he still wanted to make another season. “I asked the staff, I said, ‘Look, if by some miracle we come back, is anyone willing to do this a second time?’ And every one of them said, ‘Yes.’ In spite of all the s*** that went down, it was like, ‘Nope, we survived it. The second season might get better. Maybe they’ll leave us alone. It’s still The Twilight Zone. It’s still a chance to do something different each week. It’s still a challenge.’“
But they didn’t get the chance. That was the end for their version of The Twilight Zone, and UPN ceased broadcasting just three years later.
Are you a fan of the 2002 – ’03 season of The Twilight Zone? Share your thoughts on this one by leaving a comment below. I have to admit, I haven’t seen any episodes of the UPN run.