Today, February 7th, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia celebrate the 1963 premiere of "Death Ship."
TZ veterans Jack Klugman and Ross Martin star opposite newcomer Fred Beir in a riveting Season 4 one-hour episode about three spacemen who land their saucer on an alien world. A few hundred feet away is a crashed wreck of a saucer that looks just like theirs... and inside are the bodies of three men...
This was one of those episodes during which you kept thinking someone like Wickwire in "Elegy" would suddenly reveal himself and explain what's going on. It also reminded me of the Star Trek pilot episode "The Cage," which features aliens that can control your mind. Is someone messing with these spacemen? Is it all a hallucination? Three excellent actors play this out via a terrific Richard Matheson teleplay, directed by Don Medford.
It's fun seeing Klugman as a space traveler, as he's usually a guy from the street – a bookie, a pool player, or a down-on-his-luck horn player. Martin is always fun to watch – very focused, very serious (and of course, in The Wild Wild West, he was a man of a thousand faces). And Fred Beir makes for a fresh face that fills out the hand nicely.
So let's say a prayer for the crew of spaceship E-89 – perhaps caught in a Flying Dutchman/Groundhog Day repeat scenario, or maybe they'll find a glimmer of hope – always a possibility in the odd universe we call The Twilight Zone.