"The Twilight Zone: And When the Sky Was Opened (#1.11)"
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Reviews & Ratings for
"The Twilight Zone" And When the Sky Was Opened (1959)

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41 out of 47 people found the following review useful:

That's Not the Way I Remember It

Author: dougdoepke from Claremont, USA
4 July 2006

Space probe returns with three astronauts. However, strange things start happening to them as they glory in their triumph.

One of series' spookiest entries. It's fascinating to watch the byplay between the fun-loving astronauts spiral away from flyboy hijinks into the nervous hysteria of brave men caught up in the inexplicable. Some fine group performances, especially Rod Taylor's whose mounting panic reminds me of Kevin Mc Carthy's unhinged doctor in Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The brief shot of this cool professional coming unglued while posed against a cosmic starscape could serve as an icon for the entire series. Note also the clever touch of posing Charles Aidman against a faintly blinking neon, implying that his stay on earth is shaky at best. Speaking of the bar scene, watch the busty babe's amusing what's-his-line-gonna-be reaction to Taylor's aggressive approach. It's this contrast between the seemingly normal and the emerging paranormal that heightens the show's effect. One teasing question presented is how much our sense of reality depends not only on what our five senses tell us, but on how much we can agree on. That is, a reality composed not only on what we've seen, but on what we can agree on having seen. Put the two in conflict and worlds, like Taylor's, come apart.

Outstanding episode. One of the series' best.

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22 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

An Episode which Shakes our Sense of Reality

Author: philhodgman from United States
22 September 2008

Rod Taylor and Jim Hutton give appropriately creepy performances in this tale which explores the tenuousness of perceived reality. Three astronauts are in the hospital after their spaceship crashes to earth. The spaceship had been out of communication with Mission Control for some time prior to its being found in the desert with all three astronauts alive.

As the astronauts are released from the hospital, the world as they know it turns upside down, one astronaut at a time. By the time the episode ends, the viewer is left questioning basic premises of our existence, such as memory, observation, existence itself.

Rod Taylor's character is strong and confident, then confused and unsure, and finally desperate and panicky as he tries to figure out what is happening to everyone's memory.

The story poses large, existential questions, of "another dimension," worthy of portrayal in the Twilight Zone.

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13 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Astronauts start feeling spaced out.

Author: tyler-and-jack from Edinburgh.
14 August 2012

Yet another in a long, looooooong line of near-perfect episodes that made up any series of The Twilight Zone, "And When The Sky Was Opened" gets everything just perfect and really mixes in sci-fi elements with supernatural mystery without unnecessary explanation. A premise is offered, things are played out and the end result is so much more important than any rationalisation or explanation could be.

Based on a short story by the great Richard Matheson, and directed by Douglas Heyes, this episode concerns three astronauts who are recovering after crashing back to Earth in an experimental spaceship. They seem to have escaped relatively unscathed but the worst is yet to come as, slowly but surely, a feeling of not belonging starts to settle on them, one at a time, and they start to feel themselves losing touch with the reality around them as everyone else starts to act as if they've been erased from existence.

Rod Taylor gives an effective and powerful central performance, ably supported by Jim Hutton and Charles Aidman, but the real power here comes from the way in which that feeling of unease and losing touch with everything around you is evoked. Although it's never so literal, viewers start to will the characters to keep their feet rooted on the solid ground that they managed to get back to. As the situation gets more disturbing, and the characters get more frantic, it remains something that also feels very real and really disturbing.

It may not be one that makes the Top 10 for many fans of the show but that's more to do with the overall quality of almost every episode as opposed to the quality of this particular, haunting tale.

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10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Intriguing Disappearances

Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
24 January 2014

The astronauts Lieutenant Colonel Clegg Forbes (Rod Taylor), Major William Gart (James Hutton) and Colonel Ed Harrington (Charles Aidman) disappear from the radar for twenty-four hours during an experimental flight with the model X- 20. They crash on the desert when they return to Earth and Major William Gart breaks his leg and has to stay in the military hospital. However Forbes and Harrington are immediately discharged and they go to a bar to celebrate. Out of the blue, Harrington does not feel well and calls his parents that do not recognize him. On the next moment, Harrington vanishes from the booth and also from the newspaper and only Forbes recalls him. He runs to the hospital and Gart has no recollections about Harrington. When Forbes leaves the room, he disappears and then Gart and the X-20 model.

"And When the Sky Was Opened" is an engaging episode of "The Twilight Zone" about intriguing disappearances of three astronauts and a project. The beginning is ambiguous and the viewer is not sure whether Lieutenant Colonel Forbes has a daydream with his friend Colonel Harrington or not. But the conclusion surprises and is excellent. My vote is nine.

Title (Brazil): "Além da Imaginação: And When the Sky Was Opened" ("The Twilight Zone - And When the Sky Was Opened")

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14 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Consummate Twilight Zone

Author: Hitchcoc from United States
26 September 2008

This is a really wonderful episode. Rod Taylor has supposedly returned from a space trip with two of his fellow astronauts. Their ship has crashed. The story begins as he visits Jim Hutton in the hospital. He is beside himself because it seems that there was a third member of the team who, according to him, has disappeared. As a matter of fact, it's as if he never existed. We then go to flashback and are treated to an eerie sense that not only do these men disappear; then sense their own passage to nothingness. It is never explained to us, but we are quickly pulled into the psyches of the two remaining men. They try to figure out their sense of being and aren't able to do so. This is what The Twilight Zone was all about. It feeds us an enigma and then lets us try to put it all together. One can wax philosophical, but somehow these men disappear and we don't know why.

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16 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Very similar to "Private -- Keep Out!" a short story by Philip MacDonald

Author: jayschif from United States
1 June 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The short story "Private -- Keep Out!" begins when the narrator bumps into his old friend Charles one day after work. At their old haunt for drinks, Charles nervously asks about a man named Adrian Archer. The narrator has no recollection of this man, however, which makes Charles extremely paranoid, since Charles claims all three were good friends and that Adrian Archer had become an overnight Hollywood star. Charles had hoped that the narrator would have remembered Adrian, but apparently no one, including Adrian's parents, believe he ever existed. At the narrator's ignorance of Adrian, Charles suddenly feels like he doesn't belong -- that he will be the next person to be wiped from existence! He goes to the phone to make a call, but doesn't return for 30 minutes. The narrator asks the bartender if Charles is still in the phone-booth, but the bartender has no memory of serving anyone else. Uneasy, the narrator gets a feeling that he will be the next to be erased. The Twilight Zone episode basically steals this story and juxtaposes it with paranoia over space flight. Shot in 1959, two years before the first man orbited the Earth, viewers may have felt such nervousness over what may lie out there in the great void. Personally, I like the short story much better, because it doesn't hint at a cause for the characters' disappearances. Although I wonder how Philip MacDonald felt about having his story ripped off, this episode is well done.

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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

A Great Twist on a Classic Theme

Author: Eric M. Van (emvan@post.harvard.edu) from Watertown, Mass.
16 August 2013

Here we have a story you've seen countless times: someone has experienced something remarkable and unbelievable, and not even his best friend (let alone the bartender in a bar) buys it. "Am I crazy?" wonders the hero. "But no, I can't be; I *know what I saw.* You must believe me! Even if no one in the world remembers things the way I do!" That's the starting point, and then it goes in an entirely unexpected direction.

Some reviewers have stated that the brilliant "twist" is telegraphed very early. This isn't true at all. What they really mean is that the twist is revealed not in the final moments, but several scenes previously, and that the final scenes then play out with a dread that is all the more chilling because is it predictable, inevitable -- to both us and the characters.

Certainly one of the underrated gems of the series.

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Three astronauts return to a strange fate...

Author: toyfreaks from Minneapolis
6 April 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is one of my favorite Rod Serling scripts. Its "suprise ending" is known to the characters and audience almost the whole episode. Yet it is still somehow potently shocking. My gut still knots up every time I see it... because I know what is coming.

Three astronauts return from an aborted space mission. That they returned at all is a mystery which progressively unravels. As the improbability of their survival reveals itself, they begin to disappear, along with any memory of their existence.

Astronaut Colonel Ed Harrington is played in flashback by Charles Aidman, who later narrated the 1985-87 Twilight Zone series. He is the first to disappear, as witnessed by a distressed Colonel Clegg Forbes, played by Rod Taylor. Without any special effect at all, the character simply vanishes out of the story.

Col. Forbes recounts the vanishing to third astronaut Major William Gart, played by a baby-faced Jim Hutton. Maj. Gart, of course, has never heard of Ed Harrington, and the newspaper headline remembers only a two-man space mission.

Col. Forbes' detached confusion is punctuated by his own sudden departure. It is Gart's abject terror at Forbes' disappearance, and the realization that he is next, that sells the whole story home.

Director Douglas Heyes had a dynamic style that brought a Film Noir quality to television production. I will have to check out some more of his television work.

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Final Destination... The Twilight Zone.

Author: BA_Harrison from Hampshire, England
3 May 2012

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 surprise—it'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 fate—but 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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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:


Author: pasmon from Pakistan
6 April 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

When i was watching this episode for the first attempt, I was under the impression that Forbes imagination created two co-Pilots(Gart and HAARINGTON!) to escape the loneliness of space-mission("Where is everybody"). But the ending proved me wrong. It was like that the three astronauts and their ship were deleted from reality like " we delete files from computer", leaving no trace whatsoever. Fortunately, I get to read the plot "Remember me" from Star Trek episode. The plot helped me to make some head and tails of this weird episode. So here is what i think a plausible explanation. Three astronauts and their ship accidentally crashed into an "Alternate universe", where the ship and its crew never existed in the first place. The universe accomodated them for some time and then started erasing their existence one by one("We do not belong here","Somebody or something let us through"). There is also a Medical officer visiting the room "15" with the nurse right after "Gart" disappeared. Perhaps, he was supposed to visit "Gart".

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