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‘Star Trek: Discovery,’ ‘Twilight Zone’ Bring Energy, Emotion to PaleyFest

Both the CBS All Access shows “Star Trek: Discovery” and the upcoming “Twilight Zone” reboot held PaleyFest panels on Sunday, with both sets of cast and creators bringing energy, humor, and emotion to the stage.

Both panels were moderated by Variety‘s executive editor of TV, Daniel Holloway. First up was “Discovery,” where series star Doug Jones told the crowd about the evolution that Commander Saru has undergone this season since losing his threat ganglia.

“The character was developed with the understanding that he’s based in fear,” Jones said. “I also live my life based in fear and anxiety. So I understood Saru before, and now I’m inspired by him. The writers have given me hope for my own future.”

Wilson Cruz also spoke about the complex relationship between his character — Dr. Hugh Culber — and Lt. Cmdr. Paul Stamets, played by Anthony Rapp. Culber was resurrected this season, but was so out of sorts with his new lease on life that he ended his relationship with Stamets.

“I see it as a man who’s come back from the dead and is trying to figure out how to cope,” Cruz said, with Rapp adding, “Things continue to evolve. We’re grateful we get an authentic, complicated and rich story to play.”

And of course, series co-creator, executive producer, and showrunner Alex Kurtzman was asked what he could reveal about the new Jean-Luc Picard series with Patrick Stewart. While Kurtzman was mostly tight-lipped, he did offer one small update.

“I sat at Patrick’s kitchen table and heard him read the first episode,” he said. “I almost cried.”

During the “Twilight Zone” panel, executive producer and narrator Jordan Peele was asked why he decided to board the reboot of the iconic series.

“At first it wasn’t that appealing,” he said. “Why would we do that to ourselves? This is not a show that you can reboot and take it lightly. For us, the producers and many of the actors and the crew, it’s the greatest show of all time…I sat down with Simon [Kinberg] a couple of years ago and did the whole ‘OK, this is too big a show to reboot, but if we were going to do it, how would we do it and why?’”

“One of the things we kept coming back to was the timing felt right because one of the sentences you hear often for the past couple of years is, ‘It feels like we’re living in the f—ing “Twilight Zone,”‘” he continued.

Fellow executive producer Kinberg also addressed the potential pitfalls of rebooting the show as well as the legacy of “Twilight Zone” creator Rod Serling.

“The biggest danger is doing a karaoke version of what Rod was doing,” Kinberg said. “To just do a carbon copy of the show that was created 50 years ago. Even though those issues Rod was dealing with and the way he was telling the story are as relevant today as they were then, you want to be as bold and provocative and original as Rod was.”

“I think one of the things that really opened this up for was learning that [Serling’s] a humorist,” Peele added. “We think of him as a horror, science fiction master, but he really is a perfect-pitch tone of comedy. In thinking about his tone, we got to this thing that we’re calling the ‘Serling Link.’ One of the greatest episodes, ‘To Serve Man,’ is basically a long, pointed dad pun. And it’s this terrifying story that develops in front of you and at the end you are there with it. Only in retrospect years later do you realize that is a kind of silly joke, a kind of satire.”

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