There are plenty of new adventures to be had in the new “Twilight Zone” series from CBS All Access, but the past is still very important to this modern reboot of the series. The premiere episode, “The Comedian” (which we reviewed at this link here), was filled with nods and references to the past, and here is a list of everything we saw during those 55 minutes.
Beware! This article is filled with spoilers, so if you have not seen the episode yet, we suggest you watch it here before reading.
This is one of the earliest shots in the episode, and of course it turned out to be a very important element later on (which we will discuss further below). Were you as creeped out by me about the wallpaper at the comedy club? If you were paying attention, you might have noticed some of the denizens of this image have smushed features, including lips and noses.
This references the classic “Eye of the Beholder” episode, where those pig-faced people were the truly beautiful ones in a very memorable show. Maybe not so pretty by todays standards, but it’s something that everyone who knows about the original Twilight Zone remembers to this day.
This wall is important at the end of the episode as well, and is a reference to another thriller, but not The Twilight Zone. It turns out that the comedians who accepted this deal with the devil all ended up as part of the wallpaper, a reference to the end of Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining”.
While we are still in the club, did you notice some familiar faces on the side of “Eddies'” stage? You may recognize those from the episode “The Mask”, where a group of people are waiting for the death of a rich relative and are forced to wear masks that mirror their personalities.
Here is a real subtle one for you. Did you wonder why that bus stop looked so different from everything else in the episode? It was meant to stand out, and is a reference to another episode from the OG series. “The Fever” starred Everett Sloane as Franklin Gibbs, who is pursued by a maniacal slot machine. The bus stop was named in honor of this character, and it looks like his spirit has joined the electronic world after all.
You should never trust a name in The Twilight Zone, as chances are it references someone. Case in point, the jerkbag comedian who antagonizes Samir is named Donner. This character is most likely named after Richard Donner, who directed many episodes of the original series, including “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” with William Shatner.
You may also know that name from “Superman”, “Superman II”, “Lethal Weapon”, “The Omen”, “Free Willy”, and plenty of other huge movies and TV shows.
Speaking of names, there were a bunch of references in Samir’s contacts on his phone, as well as his notebook when he was researching victims. There was Al Cadwallader, who was the alter ego of the devil in “Escape Clause” (more on him later), James Corry from “The Lonely”, Henry Corwin from “Night of the Meek”, Al Denton from “Mr Denton on Doomsday”, and James Embry, who we will talk about more in-depth further down this article.
Other names that show up happen while Samir is searching his social media for more people to take out. This list includes “Mouth” McGarry from the episode “The Mighty Casey”, Paul Grinstead from “Mirror Image” (which was also the inspiration for Jordan Peele’s latest horror movie “Us”), and Joey Crown from one of the more hopeful and optimistic episodes of the original show, “A Passage for Trumpet”.
Dee Dee is drinking Kanamit Lager, a fake beer that we wish existed. Why? Because it’s a reference to another classic episode that we love, “To Serve Man”. Kanamit is the name of the aliens that planned on cooking up all the humans on earth, so it makes sense they would lull us into a false sense of confidence while boozing us up, making us easier to conquer.
At one point in the dressing room, we see a ventriloquist’s dummy hanging out. You may recognize that dummy from the original series episode, “The Dummy”, as well as a few others. In fact, that is THE actual dummy from that episode, and not a replica. Believe it or not, there is actually more to that Easter Egg than just his appearance.
While Samir is having his fight with JC Wheeler, he says, ““I wanted to be Chris Rock, not evil David Copperfield!” Turns out that the dummy is owned by the real David Copperfield, and that was a subtle nod to him.
Oh, and in case you were curious, the dummy’s name is Willy. Now you have a name to go along with the puppet when he comes to haunt your nightmares.
“It’s the actual dummy from the original ‘Twilight Zone.’ David Copperfield owns it and he said, “I’ll let you borrow it for free, if you just make a reference to me,” Morgan explained to The Wrap. “And so Kumail had that joke.”
Since we are in the dressing room, let’s talk about that wall of names there. Surely there had to be an Easter Egg in there? Don’t call me Shirley (I don’t think that joke works as well when it’s written), and yes it was!
The name James Embry stands out, because it’s the main character from “King Nine Will Not Return”. Also worth noting, that original series episode was the first episode where Rod Serling appeared on camera at the beginning to introduce the show.
Another name you can spot on the wall is William “Fitz” Fitzgerald, who was the protagonist of the episode “The Purple Testament”, where Fitz can see when one of his squadmates will die in battle during WW II.
If Tracy Morgan was not playing the Devil, he was certainly portraying some malicious entity – and having a lot of fun doing it!
Making deals with the devil is not uncommon for the original Twilight Zone series. In fact, the Devil appears plenty of times in the show in different ways. You can find this creature in “The Howling Man”, “Escape Clause” and “A Nice Place to Visit” to name a few.
Most of the time, he is wheeling and dealing, but “The Howling Man” is a different story entirely, and if you have never seen it, I suggest you track it down and watch it right now.
And that is every Easter Egg from the Twilight Zone season premiere “The Comedian”, at least as far as we can tell. If we missed anything, let us know. As for future episodes, good luck hunting – we will report back to you soon after we watch it!