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The Twilight Zone: "The Wunderkind" S1.E5 (Review)

The science fiction anthology The Twilight Zone has returned to television, technically CBS All Access' streaming service. Originally aired in 1959, The Twilight Zone has been revived twice, and this is the third attempt to recreate the magic of the original series. We'll be reviewing the first season.

NOTE: I skipped over "A Traveler" to watch "The Wunderkind," so the "Traveler" review will come later on.

In "The Wunderkind," Raff Hanks (John Cho) is a campaign manager who was disgraced when he failed to get the President re-elected, but he gets an idea as crazy as it is ingenious. An eleven-year-old YouTube star Oliver Foley has announced he's running for President, and Hanks decides to make him a real candidate. While everyone thinks it's a joke (including Oliver), Hanks pulls some strings and turns the young boy into a sensation. Hanks just plans to use the campaign to get back in the news, but to his horror, the boy wins the election, and Hanks is forced to confront the monster he created.

This episode is about as blatantly political as the show has gotten, and there are a lot of parallels to modern politics, both intentional and unintentional. There are themes of the dangers of populism, and the sideshow circus that elections have become. There's also fun and bizarre visuals of the President as a spoiled brat, riding through the White House on a tricycle, and putting penguins on the front lawn.

I thought the overall concept was well-developed, even explaining how an eleven-year-old can legally run for President (by having his mother's name on the ballot). Unfortunately, I wanted the story to take a turn to science fiction, and "Wunderkind" wasn't a science fiction concept in the traditional sense. It was more of a satire, and while I thought it was funny and clever and timely, I didn't think the story belonged on the Twilight Zone.

I would give it five stars if this was a generic anthology series, but it's only getting three stars on the Twilight Zone.

What did you think of the episode? Let us know in the comments below!

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