Today, March 30th, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia celebrate the 1962 premiere of “The Little People.”
The last time we saw actor Claude Akins on TZ, he was trying to cope with "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street"; here. he's Commander William Fletcher, a U.S. astronaut teamed with Navigator Peter Craig, portrayed by Joe Maross, who previously served as Fritz Weaver's space pilot buddy in "Third From the Sun." Both astronauts have landed on an alien world to repair their damaged ship ... and where Craig discovers a fascinating civilization of microscopic people beneath his feet.
Now, we're already getting the impression that Craig doesn't like Fletcher – he's ornery, disrespectful and talks back – but after his discovery, he becomes obsessed and possessed with the notion that he's a God to these "little people" ... a notion that can't end well.
This was another inspired Rod Serling teleplay, and it's backed by some equally inspired direction by William F. Claxton, who previously helmed "The Last Flight." Claxton never shows you the little people, but you get to see teasing glimpses of miniature trees, trucks and a marina. It's all pretty fascinating, and certainly aided by two sparkling performances from Akins and Maross.
So let's raise a tiny glass of suds to the continuing genius of Rod Serling, tiny civilizations wherever they may flourish, and another riveting detour into The Twilight Zone.