Three U.S. astronauts blast off from Earth on an initial test flight in an experimental rocket-ship, but during the flight into space the ship disappears from radar, then reappears. On ...
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Three U.S. astronauts blast off from Earth on an initial test flight in an experimental rocket-ship, but during the flight into space the ship disappears from radar, then reappears. On return, the rocket-ship is hangared and put under a tarp, pending an investigation. One crewman is hospitalized for a leg broken on landing, and is visited by the other two. Next the pair go for a drink, and then one crewman phones his parents from a bar phone-booth - but they say they have no son! The astronaut immediately disappears, and no one in the bar remembers him, except the other astronaut in the bar, the Captain. Written by
Although not in the script, Douglas Heyes told Rod Taylor to jump through the bar window because he felt his character was in such a fever pitch it only made sense. Rod Serling saw the scene and liked it enough to approve the change. See more »
In Rod Serling's opening narration, we are told that the 'X-20 is an experimental Air Force interceptor that has been 900 miles into space'. That altitude is far beyond the capability of fighter jets; even if the X-20 *did* attain that high of an altitude, the aircraft and its crew would be exposed to the radiation of the Van Allen belts. By comparison, the space shuttle typically operates at altitudes between approximately 180-240 miles. To be fair, in 1959 this was not well understood yet. See more »
Rod Serling - Narrator:
Her name: X-20. Her type: an experimental interceptor. Recent history: a crash landing in the Mojave Desert after a thirty-one hour flight nine hundred miles into space. Incidental data: the ship, with the men who flew her, disappeared from the radar screen for twenty-four hours.
Rod Serling - Narrator:
[continuing narration, subsequent to character dialogue]
But the shrouds that cover mysteries are not always made out of a tarpaulin, as this man will soon find out on the other side of a hospital ...
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This eerie episode from Season One reminds me a bit of the Final Destination films, in which a group of characters miraculously escape death only for fate to catch up with them a little further down the line. Here, it is three astronauts who somehow survive a perilous return from outer space in an experimental craft, only to mysteriously disappear one-by-one, their whole existence wiped from the memory of mankind.
For a change, the ending to this story is not much of a surpriseit's obvious from the moment Lieutenant Colonel Clegg Forbes (Rod Taylor) reveals to fellow survivor Major William Gart (Jim Hutton) his suspicions about what is happening to them that both men will share the same fatebut it is this inescapable inevitability that makes the story so gripping. Watching Forbes struggling to convince his fellow astronaut of their terrible predicament is chilling stuff, but the real kicker comes when Forbes disappears, leaving Gart with the horrifying realisation that he will be next.
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