The Twilight Zone (2019): The Twilight Zone: Nightmare at 30,000 Feet
April 3, 2019 7:31 AM - Season 1, Episode 2 - Subscribe

A journalist listens to a podcast detailing how the plane on which he's a passenger will disappear. (2019 reboot of the classic 1963 episode [Wikipedia] )

The Twilight Zone Recap: In-Flight Entertainment (Keith Phipps for Vulture)
It’s courageous for the revived Twilight Zone to remake one of the original series’ most famous episodes so early in its run. Written by Richard Matheson, the original “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” was memorably directed by a just-starting-out Richard Donner and stars William Shatner in one of his most memorable non-Star Trek roles — and it’s already been remade once, by George Miller, as the most successful installment of the ill-starred 1983 Twilight Zone: The Movie, to say nothing of the many parodies it’s inspired over the years. Maybe that’s why “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet” doesn’t really try to remake its predecessor. Apparently taking place 10,000 feet higher in the sky, this new pass retains the idea of a passenger who becomes increasingly distressed while trying to save a flight from a doom apparent to nobody but himself while discarding the rest of the original plot. There’s no gremlin on the wing this time. Instead, the episode pits itself against another familiar Twilight Zone foe: fate.
Also: How a Classic Twilight Zone Episode Became a Recurring ‘Nightmare’ (Keith Phipps for Vulture)

Official trailer on YouTube. Streaming on the pay-for-access CBS All Access.
posted by filthy light thief (14 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The new Twilight Zone premieres with one winner and one… not

Noel Murray, writing for TV/AV Club, was not a fan of "The Comedian," the other episode that debuted on April 1, 2019, but enjoyed this episode.

Unlike Jim Vorel, who reviewed it for Paste Magazine: “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet” Is a Competent but Dissatisfyingly Simple Return to The Twilight Zone.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:33 AM on April 3, 2019

One of my favorite meta TV moments ever is from 3rd Rock from the Sun. John Lithgow picks William Shatner up at the airport. Lithgow asks how the flight was. Shatner says there was a creature on the wing, but no one else could see it. Lithgow, wide-eyed, says "The same thing happened to me!"

I'm looking forward to seeing this new iteration.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 8:48 AM on April 3, 2019 [23 favorites]

This was fantastic. It wasn't completely predictable to me - especially the ending. I liked the use of the podcast and the nod to the original at the end was great. The onscreen podcast was very well done. I listen to a lot of similar podcasts and there was nothing unbelievable about it. I've seen other shows and even fictional podcasts get it wrong and it takes me right out of the show.

I like how this is roughly in our world and our time, but not quite. The airplane looks just a little different than airplanes today, possibly from the near future. The podcast device looks a little different than what we have today, but from the recent past. The best Twilight Zone episodes are like that - very familiar but clearly in an alternate dimension.

Also, the closing credits, song and still image was perfect. That's probably more Twilight Zone-y to me than the opening or the Scary Door/eyeball/etc. because as a kid I'd watch those simple endings trying to figure out what I'd just seen - especially in the episodes where the twist was in the last few seconds or where things weren't completely explained.

I've been really looking forward to this show but I was pretty cautiously optimistic. I am very happy to have liked the first two episodes so much.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 10:53 AM on April 3, 2019 [3 favorites]

A journalist listens to a podcast detailing how the plane on which he's a passenger will disappear.

Wait, is this an episode of "R U Talkin' Airline Disasters @ Me?"
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:02 PM on April 3, 2019 [4 favorites]

The gremlin doll floating in the wreckage was just *chef kiss*.
posted by stet at 1:43 PM on April 3, 2019 [9 favorites]

I gotta say I did appreciate the reference to (Kubrick's) The Shining in that final shot.
posted by Token Meme at 2:47 PM on April 3, 2019

I wish they had given this episode a different name. I felt let down that there was nothing on the wing of the plane. That may make me sound like an idiot, but that old episode is so iconic that I don't feel that dumb for expecting it.

The first half of the episode had a perfect buildup of tension, I thought. And they kept showing the lightning flashing through the window. And there was a moment when I was thinking "show the monster now! Now! Now!!!" because it would have been the perfect moment. Nope.

I respect the choice they made to be sort of political, and have him behave in ways that remind us of real disasters and discord. But the original idea, of seeing something and not being believed, is equally relevant.
posted by heatvision at 4:40 AM on April 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'm a production geek and Ioved the Interplanetary flight poster that the main character stood in front of at the airport. I've got a strong feeling that that's an Easter egg for a future episode.

Also did any one else notice that one of the cover-stars in the Airport lounge book / magazine store was the comedian from the first episode? I couldn't make out the text but knowing that there is going to be some interconnectedness between the episodes made me happy.

I enjoyed it but it made me more unsettled than the first episode because I feel like ' the monster is other people' is always a depressing final message.
posted by Faintdreams at 5:15 AM on April 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

I felt let down that there was nothing on the wing of the plane.

Wait, you didn’t see the monster on the wing of the plane?
posted by chrchr at 9:01 PM on April 5, 2019 [6 favorites]

I think I’ve spotted another Easter egg? In the first ep the comedian makes a joke about a plane crashing into the ocean after a certain percentage of its journey. Isn’t that the same journey (and percentage of the journey) that the flight in this episode makes ?
posted by Faintdreams at 9:28 AM on April 6, 2019

Adam Scott's realization of "Oh, he's the pilot" was exactly what I wanted out of that moment
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 12:57 PM on April 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

So in the denouement, with the start of "Volume 2" of the podcast, we learn everyone survives and is eventually rescued except Justin, and it's implied everyone else kills him and covers it up.

But that means Joe is also rescued. Shouldn't they blame Joe at least as much as Justin, and why didn't they kill him?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:31 PM on April 14, 2019

"But that means Joe is also rescued. Shouldn't they blame Joe at least as much as Justin, and why didn't they kill him?"

Joe wasn't causing stress and trouble for people for very long, once Joe springs into action it's one psycho intercom and they all are knocked out. Justin was visibly causing trouble, looked like a racist spaz who caused a chain of events that lead to their crash. Plus it's a heavy thing to collectively murder a person in polite society, maybe they sober up from their bloodlust after killing Justin and just stay quiet about the whole deal, which generates some mystique for the events.
posted by GoblinHoney at 3:29 PM on April 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

Justin was a reporter in Yemen and witnessed horrible atrocities and reported on them, in the hope that it would change the future. His mantra of the past being the past and the present the present is proven wrong when he gets a message from a future reporter (the past, from the perspective of the podcaster, becoming the present) and finds that even having all the facts, he can't alter events. Just like his reporting in Yemen lead to no political change.

He saw himself as an outsider, merely looking in on the mysteries around him. He left Yemen behind, tried to move on, since he's not a part of that world. But this handicaps him on the plane when he can't see himself as playing a role in the story, even when he's mentioned on the podcast. But he is a part of the story, that's why he can't escape, just like he can't escape what he saw in Yemen.
posted by starfishprime at 2:22 PM on May 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

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