episode #25 - People Are Alike All Over

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episode #25 - People Are Alike All Over

Post  BoG on Thu Jan 13, 2011 8:39 pm

Air Date: 3/25/60 Arrow written by Rod Serling, based on story by Paul W. Fairman  Arrow Director: Mitchell Leisen
Two men stare up at a rocketship from behind a wire fence; they are astronauts on their last night on Earth; tomorrow they go to Mars. The bigger man (Paul Comi) is matter-of-fact about it, a trained pilot. The smaller one (Roddy McDowall), a scientist, admits that he is frightened (this makes me wonder why those in charge would send this frightened rabbit of a man up into space - there were no other possibles..?).  He is scared of the unknown - strange for a scientist, too. As fate would have it, arriving on Mars, the stronger man is the one seriously injured - for some reason, there is a crash landing. There is a banging noise outside the ship; with the tougher man out of commission, the weaker one begins to give in to his fears.
This is one of those episodes with that cruel twist of fate, the twist ending - what the show is famous for - though it's not quite as effective as the best ones. For one thing, the main character is so pathetic that I sort of wished something bad would happen to him, just to quiet his whining. For another, his fate is not really as horrible as that in those very scary episodes. It's more of a cosmic joke, the whittling down of the human species to something less impressive. And, finally, I think McDowall overacts his role; his stunned reaction at the end and his shouting out to his comrade was a bit too melodramatic. It takes away a little from the biting commentary on human nature, universal as it is, it seems.
It's also kind of a fairy tale in outer space; it's assumed that there are people on Mars for some vague reason and indeed there are... this doesn't make sense except as some parable, almost for kids. I also liked the way the aliens behave behind the man's back; it's like a private joke between them and the audience. It is an intriguing trajectory - first the man consumed with fear, then the unknown revealed as not threatening.. and then the other shoe drops. Rather typical of the Zone. BoG's Score: 7 out of 10
Trivia From the Zone: as with several TZ episodes - this being an early one - the backdrop for MGM's famous Forbidden Planet was used to depict the alien planet (Mars); Star Trek TOS actor alert - Susan Oliver plays one of the Martian people; she later appeared in The Cage, the unaired first pilot for TOS; Paul Comi appeared in Balance of Terror
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