8/10 After a disastrous debut season for this revival of Rod Serling’s classic television show, I was pleasantly shocked at what a huge upgrade this season was over season one (2.5/10). I complained about inconsistency in the first season since it was the first season without Serling’s singular vision. Part of what makes this sophomore season so much better is that they went for quality over quantity by reducing the number of episodes from 24 in the first season to just 11 this season. By having fewer episodes to focus on, you can really put more effort and energy into making those episodes fantastic (although the third and final season having 30 episodes is certainly concerning). Another big change was some of the behind the scenes talent. The writer who worked the most on season one (Alan Brennert) only worked on one episode (two segments) this time around. Instead of Brennert, the writer who got upgraded to the most episodes/segments was George R.R. Martin (yes, the very one). Some of the best episodes of season one came from Paul Lynch, who came back for two segments here. Wes Craven came back as well and directed an episode that was much stronger than his season one work. While there was more variety in writers and directors this season, the fewer number of episodes greatly benefited the show and the vast majority of these episodes are strong and memorable. We even got a remake of one of the original 1960’s episodes with “The After Hours” just as season one had remakes of “Dead Man’s Shoes” and “The Night of the Meek”. This second season wisely returns to more of a darker, horror/science fiction feel that the original series had, unlike last season’s more uplifting, family friendly change of pace for the show. We even got some solid social commentary this season as the Cold War was raging and nuclear fears loomed large (“Shelter Skelter” is a great example). Since there are fewer episodes, we get less familiar faces than season one had but still get memorable turns from Shelley Duvall, Fred Savage, Christopher McDonald, Jeffrey Tambor, Joan Allen, etc. As for what didn’t work, two problems that persisted from the freshman season are the visual effects and the scores. While you can’t really blame the visual effects for not having aged well since they only had so much to work with at the time and had a television budget, the visuals still don’t look good. Even worse are the ultra cheesy scores which often don’t even match what is going on onscreen. Finally, while the vast majority of episodes are tremendous, the final few episodes end the season on a rather weak note by saving the worst episodes for the last few. Despite limping across the finish line and the visuals/scores not aging well, this is the best season of any “The Twilight Zone” seasons so far and the best material in the series since 1963’s season four of the original series. While last season could be skipped entirely, this second season of the reboot is a must see for fans of “The Twilight Zone”.

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