To draw the masses into The Twilight Zone that exists behind the paywall of CBS All Access, the company released the first episode of Peele's new iteration, "the Comedian", for free on Youtube. But is that enough to get audiences to fork over their cash? (Maybe if CBS All Access starts appearing in doorways and starts calling "Franklin"...)
With a premise that mirrors that of Amazon's the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (perhaps we'll do a spoiler-y comparison later), Kumail Nanjiani plays a comic Twilight Zone-bent on "making it," but fails to receive the laughs he so desperately craves, because... well, he's kind of terrible. Politics are funny - just not like that. When he is offered "advice" by a comic legend, he begins to tell revealing jokes about the people in his own life, ultimately playing a game of Death Note, convincing himself that his success is also doing some good in the world. But the more he tells, the more he gives away.
The story of this first episode is interesting enough. A comic's goal is to make an audience laugh, often at the expense of themselves or those in their own lives. But this show takes it a step further. Nanjiani puts up an excellent performance, moving from mediocre comic to crazed narcissist, and Peele makes for a truly unassuming and yet powerful narrator. And the overall message seems to suggest is success really worth it?
However, something that seems to plague a lot of streamable content is that there is simply too much. What often made the original show so creepy was the brief nature of it. Short stories are an art. And short horror, even more so. For this first episode, at least, the descent of a seemingly normal guy into a self-aggrandizing and semantically-not-murdering-but-definitely-murdering character would have been all the more jarring if it occurred at a faster pace.
But then, would people pay to stream a 30-minute episode? Perhaps not.
If you are curious about the show, give the first episode a watch. It is intriguing enough as a story, the performances are excellent, and the cinematography pulls from the original while still making it seem fresh.
Climb aboard, and perhaps after this episode, you'll find yourself a subscriber to... CBS All Access.