Worth Watching: Jordan Peele Revives ‘Twilight Zone,’ Nat Geo’s ‘Hostile Planet,’ Kimmel Goes to Vegas
A selective critical checklist of notable Monday TV:
The Twilight Zone (CBS All Access): Rod Serling may never have foreseen the new dimension we know as streaming TV, but he would likely have approved of Jordan Peele‘s latest incarnation of his enduring and iconic supernatural anthology of the strange and wondrous. Launching with two episodes on April Fools’ Day — though no fooling, this is great storytelling — the new Zone will drop future episodes on Thursdays starting April 11. The series hits an early high with its new twist on the classic “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet.” Starring Parks and Recreation‘s Adam Scott in the role immortalized by William Shatner in 1963 (and by John Lithgow 20 years later in the Twilight Zone feature film), this episode flips the premise on its head. The menace in the skies isn’t so much on the wing of the plane, but inside the dangerously paranoid actions of journalist passenger Scott. The bold twist ending is classic Zone. In another longer (perhaps too long) episode, Silicon Valley‘s Kumail Nanjiani is terrific as a struggling stand-up comedian who learns that every joke has a price. Tracy Morgan guest-stars in “The Comedian.”
Hostile Planet (9/8c, National Geographic): As the title suggests, this is no warm and fuzzy nature program. Bear Grylls is host/narrator for a wide-ranging six-part series capturing life at the extremes for animals coping with life-altering climate change as well as the ever-present danger from predators and other challengers. The first episode takes us to “Mountains,” from the Himalayas to the Rockies and the Arctic, with snow leopards and baby barnacle goose chicks literally going over cliffs in desperate survival scenarios. Also harrowing: the plight of gelada monkeys in Ethiopia, forced to climb every higher to find enough grass to live on, while fending off attacks from other tribes.
Jimmy Kimmel Live! (11:35/10:35c, ABC): The late-night host goes on the road to the town of his childhood, Las Vegas, for a week of shows from Caesars Entertainment’s Zappos Theater inside Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. His guests will include Tiffany Haddish, Kevin Hart, Seth Rogen, Celine Dion, James Taylor and members of an obscure clan called the Kardashians.
Inside Monday TV: Kids’ network Nickelodeon celebrates its 40th anniversary today with a marathon of fan-favorite episodes of series including SpongeBob SquarePants, plus the premiere of a new prank series The Substitute (2 pm/1c). Henry Danger star Jace Norman guests in the opener, wearing a prosthetic disguise to go undercover as a faux substitute teacher, pranking unwitting students… Now that the roster has been trimmed to a Top 20, ABC’s American Idol (8/7c) gives each singer a chance to belt out a solo at L.A.’s Wiltern Theater in hopes of moving on to the live shows later this month… Renewed for a second season, CBS’s reboot of Magnum P.I. (9/8c) wraps its freshman year with Magnum (Jay Hernandez) confronted by the return of Hannah (Jordana Brewster), his ex. She’s got a shotgun wound and a mission: to find her missing father from the CIA. In other news, Magnum suggests to Higgins (Perdita Weeks) that he join her as his P.I. partner. Let the unresolved sexual tension continue to simmer until the fall.