|The first and only season of TZ ran in a one-hour timeslot, but featured two half-hour episodes. The only exception was "The Lineman," which was aired as a two-parter. It was originally scheduled as the premiere but then held back.|
The show featured only a few episodes that might be considered comedic: "One Night at Mercy" which featured a depressed Death played by Jason Alexander; "Mr. Motivation," featuring a beleaguered office worker who receives assistance from a talking motivation doll; and "Gabe's Story" with Christopher Titus as an average joe who discovers everything in his life is scripted by god-like writers.
The rest of the episodes dwelt heavily on the ironic twist featured in the original series. Many of the episodes ("The Pool Guy," "Burned," "Tagged," "Rewind") featured criminals receiving a comeuppance, giving the shows a heavy Tales from the Crypt feel.
Many of the episodes featured relative innocents being ensnared in situations beyond their control. Unlike the original series, the innocents in the newer episodes would often pay with their lives for one mistake ("Night Route," "Chosen," "Sunrise," "Future Trade"), or even for doing nothing wrong ("Another Life," "Evergreen," "The Collection," "Into the Light"). Overall, the new series featured very few redemptions or second chances.
The 2002 series featured two remakes of original episodes, "Eye of the Beholder" being a near-exact remake of the original, and "The Monsters Are on Maple Street," which took the original and added a different more topical ending. Also presented was a direct sequel, "It's Still a Good Life," which brought Billy Mumy and Cloris Leachman back together from the original, added Mumy's daughter as the daughter of his now grown-up character from the original, and brought closure of a sort to the series.
However, there were other episodes that were near-remakes of original TZ episodes. "Into the Light" pursues many of the same themes as "The Purple Testament." "Shades of Guilt" looks at the same story of a man taking on the race of someone else seen in "A Quality of Mercy". "Memphis" like "Back There" saw a man going back in time through unexplained reasons to save a historical figure from being assassinated.
Unlike the original, the series focused heavily on non-WASP protagonists. There were Hispanic street racers, taggers, and pool guys, and African-American rappers, doctors, fortunetellers, and policemen, and many young female protagonists. The influx of female writers and producers on the show, never a strong point of the original series, probably helped to promote more female protagonists. Part of this was also to draw the UPN's then-urban demographic.
The first and only season varied between supernatural and science fiction., with some episodes that were fantastical with no neat pigeonholing into either category.
The show's main problems were being buried on UPN, Forest Whitaker seemed somewhat miscast as the host, and the fact that Canadian production standards made it feel like many other Canadian syndicated shows like the remade The Outer Limits. Some episodes of the series like "Placebo Effect," "Hunted," and "Sensuous Cindy" would have right at home on that series. The fact that several Outer Limits crew like Pen Densham were involved with this series as well didn't help.
Overall, the first season was a minor success. It certainly deserved a second season but such was not to be.