The Twilight Zone: 5 series inspired by the original television show
Returning to the London stage, The Twilight Zone mystified West End audiences at the Ambassadors Theatre. Based on the 1950s cult television show of the same name, we take a look at future programmes inspired by the CBS television series, with the stage adaptation of The Twilight Zone set to conjure up similar levels of intrigue.
Television shows inspired by The Twilight Zone
First aired in 2011, the Emmy Award-winning television show Black Mirror shares key similarities to The Twilight Zone. Although each episode tells a self-contained story, a running theme throughout every episode is that they illuminate topics relating to technology, society and relationships. In an interview with The Guardian, Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker spoke of his adoration to the television show and how the programme developed science fiction as a genre. In particular, he wanted Black Mirror to reflect this, and show the area “between delight and discomfort” to highlight “the way we live now – and the way we might be living in 10 minutes time”. See the similarities between Black Mirror and The Twilight Zone at the stage production, with scenes blending attitudes and emotion to create an eerie atmosphere.
The television series set in a highly successful New York advertising agency is said to have been influenced by The Twilight Zone, with the show’s creator Matthew Weiner quoted saying “there is a little Twilight Zone-ness to it”. The inability of the show’s lead character Don Draper to emotionally connect with fellow colleagues, as well as the presentation of past lives and ideologies reflects how The Twilight Zone would offer up explicit social commentary.
Posing questions of a similar vein to The Twilight Zone, Westworld shares similarities with the 1950s television series. From the first episode that aired in 2016, audiences drew an immediate likeness, with camera angles and character interactions displaying juxtapositions between time, place and identity just like its 1950s influential predecessor. Westworld viewers are lulled into a false sense of security ensuring audiences are unable to predict what happens next. This sense of jeopardy is echoed in The Twilight Zone, sure to excite audience members at the Ambassadors Theatre.
The X Files
Originally aired from 1993 to 2002, The X Files returned for a second revival in 2018, with the recent revival echoing Twilight Zone episodes first screened over 50 years before. In particular, “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” is said to borrow elements from the CBS show as it is concerned with the Mandela Effect (the phenomenon of many people misremembering a fact or event that it is then believed to be true). In an interview, the episode’s writer Darin Morgan said he wanted to create an episode that set out to explore and mimic one of his favourite childhood shows, creating a television experience with audiences having “no idea what (they) were going to see”.
American Horror Story
With each season focusing on a different world from one series to the next in a similar fashion to the different worlds in The Twilight Zone episodes, American Horror Story is an anthology television series that allows audience members to consider what may happen in alternative realities. Since “Murder House” was aired in 2011, the show hasn’t shirked away from a political discussion; its seventh season “Cult” spoke out on the 2016 American presidential election. As well as this, cast members appear in numerous seasons in an array of different roles, meaning viewers can learn about the actors and look forward to their new characters. Inspiration from urban legends and creepy childhood dolls make it clear that American Horror Story storylines and flash moments are motivated by The Twilight Zone.
As well as television shows, many stage productions are inspired by films. Read all about 12 of the best musicals with a story, characters and songs directly taken from some of the biggest blockbusters.
Photo credit: Marc Brenner