Imagine, if you will, a television series so iconic that nearly sixty years after leaving the air, its theme music and key episodes remain unmovable fixtures in American popular culture.
Imagine also, then, that an entire generation of potential viewers have been robbed of the joy of discovering said television series by corporate shortsightedness.
Until very recently, The Twilight Zone was available on a number of streaming platforms. Amazon, Netflix, Paramount Plus, etc.
Now, however, it’s only available on Paramount Plus.
When I was a kid, I discovered Zone on a late night airing on PBS. I stumbled across it by pure chance, and was immediately hooked.
I know younger people who discovered the show in much same way, but via Netflix.
That’s never going to happen again.
The only people, from now on, who are going to watch the show are the ones who make up its current audience. Same goes for Star Trek, because they’ve done the same thing with that franchise. No more college kids are going to discover and binge watch Voyager or Deep Space Nine.
“Those shows are all old,” you might argue. “Nobody under 40 is going to watch them anyway.”
Twilight Zone and Star Trek were both really old when I started watching them, so I’m not buying that take. Shakespeare is old. If we took him out of school curriculums, people would forget who he was, too.
My point? Nobody subscribes to Paramount Plus for any reason other than they’ve been strong-armed into doing so. Wanna watch Star Trek Discovery? Gotta subscribe!
Sure, it’s better than CBS All Access, because it’s got a ton of old paramount movies, but why not make TZ and older Trek shows free, like Peacock does with some of their older properties? It’s the smarter move, because it ensures the legacy of those properties. What Viacom is doing with TZ by hiding it behind a paywall is killing it. No one who hasn’t seen the show is going to seek it out. The Twilight Zone finds you, on a dark and stormy night, when you’re least expecting it. It reaches across time and resonates with viewers of any decade.
It’s as important to TV as Citizen Kane is to film. It’s still relevant. It’s timeless. It’s art. Viacom has decided to ensure the world forgets it ever existed.