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WGA’s List Of Best-Written Shows Of All Time Includes Six Science Fiction Classics

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Science fiction hasn’t always gotten its due. In the past it’s been dismissed as “kid stuff” or somehow less worthy and noble than mainstream fiction. Thankfully we know better than that. At its best, science fiction can examine who we are by exploring who we were, or who we will become. Thankfully, SF has long since proven that it has the potential to tell stories just as exciting and insightful as those of any other genre, but franchises such as Star Trek has proven it can be big business as well. For the purposes of this story, however, we’re not concerned with crass commercialism, but rather the writing quality of some of the genre’s best TV outings.

The Writers Guild of America recently shared their picks for the “101 Best Written TV Series” of all time, and wouldn’t you know it, several iconic science fiction shows were included on the list. Granted, they only occupy six slots out of 101, so I’m thinking there are some serious oversights, but that’s a topic for another day. For now, let’s examine the SF shows the WGA folks did deem worthy or recognition.

X-Files

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Twilight Zone Marathon Showcases ‘80s Episodes By J. Michael Straczynski And Harlan Ellison

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ZoneWhile Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone is rightly considered a genre classic, and indeed one of the most influential TV series of all time, the brand has been resurrected several times over the years. Unsurprisingly, neither the 1983 Twilight Zone: The Movie nor the short-lived 2002 UPN version lived up to Serling’s admittedly high bar. But one version came closer to being a worth successor of the original series than any other: the underrated TV relaunch that ran for three seasons beginning in 1985. If that was before your time, or you’ve simply never seen the ‘80s version, Chiller TV will be airing a marathon of episodes tomorrow, and it’s definitely worth setting your DVR.

There’s a reason the ‘80s incarnations of The Twilight Zone stacks up so well against the competition: it was absolutely jam-packed with talented people who went on to do great things. I’m talking J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5), Rockne S. O’Bannon (Farscape, Defiance), George R.R. Martin (Game of Thrones), and Harlan Ellison (Harlan Freakin’ Ellison). The original Zone succeeded so well for many reasons, but incredible writing was one of the most crucial, and it’s here that the 1985 Zone truly honors Serling’s iconic series.

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Bryan Singer Updates On His Twilight Zone Reboot

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Serling

Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone is justifiably considered one of the landmark programs in all of television history, so it’s no wonder that Hollywood has repeatedly tried to recapture Serling’s lightning in a bottle and relaunch a successful new Twilight Zone. Many have tried over the years, ranging from the semi-successful (the mid ‘80s version) to the utterly forgettable (the 2002 UPN version). The latest reboot attempt has one big thing going for it: it’s the brainchild of director Bryan Singer.

The news of Singer’s Twilight Zone plans first broke last December, and it was instantly more intriguing than that other Twilight Zone project in the works, a standalone movie about time travel. Singer’s project is attempting to resurrect the Zone in more than just name, creating a new anthology sci-fi/fantasy series in keeping with Serling’s original. That’s a more difficult task than you might think: anthology shows aren’t exactly popular these days, and that’s because they’re a tricky beast to tame. Probably the closest anyone has come in recent years is FX’s American Horror Story, which changes setting, characters, and premise with each new season.

While Singer’s Twilight Zone is still a ways down the road, he did provide an update on the project while speaking to IGN.

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Bryan Singer On His Twilight Zone Plans

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Zone

People have been trying to recapture the lightning in a bottle of Rod Serling’s classic Twilight Zone since…well, more or less since the original series wrapped its run back in 1964. Those attempts have varied from somewhat successful — the 1985 version which included the talents of folks like J. Michael Straczynski, Rockne S. O’Bannon, and Harlan Ellison — to the not-so-much — the 2002 UPN incarnation hosted by Forest Whitaker. Now the Zone is back at bat under the guidance of Bryan Singer, who recently revealed his ambitious plans for doing Serling’s creation justice.

Word of this latest Twilight Zone revamp first came around last December, with Singer set to develop, executive produce, and possibly direct the series for CBS TV. Speaking to Total Film, Singer seems quite aware of how the challenge of making a new Twilight Zone work. He seems up for it, however. He tells Total Film:

I’ve taken over The Twilight Zone. I’d love to direct one — at least the pilot. It’s really not easy to jumpstart an anthology show, particularly because it’s hard to pair them with other things. The production is complex too, because you don’t have scanning sets and you have a revolving cast. But I like the challenge.

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Time-Travel Plot Revealed For The New Twilight Zone Movie

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The Twilight Zone

A new Twilight Zone movie has been in development for quite a long time. It isn’t a remake or a reboot of the freaky science fiction TV series of the 1960s; it’s apparently an entry into the series rather than a re-imagining. The new movie will not be an anthology film like many have speculated, but instead one feature-length narrative.

The plot details for The Twilight Zone have been shrouded in mystery, but the fine people at TheFilmStage.com have unearthed a synopsis from a Vulture.com article. The Twilight Zone will feature elements of the TV series that every Twilight Zone fan loves: time travel, outer space, a moral and ethical dilemma, and an odd twist ending. The details read, “A test pilot who winds up breaking the speed of light; when he puts down his craft, he discovers that he’s landed a bit late for supper — 96 years late.”

The Twilight Zone movie project has been in the works for a while, and will see Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Davisson Killoran, and Michael Ireland as its producers. Screenwriter Joby Harold (All You Need Is Kill) took a second pass on the script after Anthony Peckham (Sherlock Holmes) took one on Jason Gothenburg’s (Proximity Effect) original script. Last year, director Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Let Me In) took the helm of The Twilight Zone but then recently dropped out to direct Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Again, The Twilight Zone will be one narrative instead of an anthology like The Twilight Zone: The Movie in 1983, which featured segments from directors Joe Dante, John Landis, George Miller, and Steven Spielberg.

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The Twilight Zone Script Being Re-Done By All You Need Is Kill Writer

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The Twilight ZoneThe new version of The Twilight Zone movie looks like it will be getting a third pass from screenwriter and director of the new Warner Bros’ film, All You Need Is Kill, Joby Harold. The script has already received its second pass by screenwriter Anthony Peckham (Sherlock Holmes) and was originally written by Jason Gothenburg (Proximity Effect).

Joby Harold was one of the writers on the upcoming film, All You Need Is Kill, a sci-fi, action movie directed by Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Jumper) which starred Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. It is to be released by Warner Bros sometime in 2013. Harold also wrote and directed 2007’s Awake starring Hayden Christensen, Jessica Alba and Terrence Howard.

According to Variety.com, Warner Bros wants The Twilight Zone to have more science fiction elements as they are now looking at the film as a new potential tentpole. A release date has yet to be announced, but will be some time in 2013.