011 – And When The Sky Was Opened

Original air date – 12/11/59

Based on short story by Richard Matheson  |  Teleplay by Rod Serling  |  Directed by Douglas Heyes

Starring Rod Taylor, Charles Aidman, Jim Hutton, Maxine Cooper, Sue Randall

Three astronauts in And When The Sky Was Opened (watch here on YouTube) return to earth after their X-20 Dynasour rocket crash lands in the Mojave Desert.

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One of the austronauts, Major William Gart (Jim Hutton, father of Timothy Hutton), is hospitalized for a broken leg after being retrieved from the site. The other two, Colonel Clegg Forbes (Rod Taylor of The Time Machine) and Colonel Ed Harrington (Charles Aidman), are discharged.

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Later at the bar with Forbes, Harrington develops an unsettling feeling as if he doesn’t belong where he is and that he is going to disappear. Breaking out in a cold sweat, Harrington rushes to the phone booth to call his parents, only to hear from those on the line that they have no knowledge of who he is.

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At first Forbes thinks that this is some sort of a prank but when he returns to check on his friend in the phone booth, Harrington is no longer there. And, get this. None of the people at the bar remembers seeing Harrington at all. Before Forbes leaves the bar, he notices that the same newspaper headline that had a photo of Harrington, Gart and him has now changed to a photo of just Gart and him.

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When Forbes visits Gart in his hospital room and tells him what happened to Harrington, Gart also says he has never heard of Harrington and that he and Forbes were the only two on the mission.

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Forbes now believes that they were probably not meant to come back from the mission. This will only mean that one by one, they will disappear. And soon enough, Forbes develops the same delirious feeling that he doesn’t belong, just as Harrington did before he disappeared. He frantically storms out of Gart’s hospital room. Gart quickly asks a nurse to get Forbes back, but the nurse tells him that she doesn’t know of anyone named Forbes. Gart is now the only man in the photo on the front page news. He now understands what drove Forbes to run out and, like him, Gart is going to be next one to disappear…

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Like I mentioned on my previous blog for Judgment Night, any TZ episode (and I remember there are quite a few) with a military or wartime theme makes me doze off. This probably explains why I had not seen this episode until now –probably skipped it when I saw the uniforms in the first scene.

This is the third TTZ episode written by someone other than Rod Serling (although he adapted it into teleplay) and it is the first episode written by the legendary Richard Matheson (I Am Legend) who would go on to write more for TTZ, among them Nick of Time and The Invaders.

I’m glad that I’ve finally seen this episode, especially just a couple of weeks after Taylor passed away at 84. It’s like jumping in a time machine and traveling back to see him so full of charisma at the very start of his acting career.

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