Today, January 15, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia celebrate the 1960 premiere of "I Shot an Arrow Into the Air."
Edward Binns, Dewey Martin, and Ted Otis star in this unforgettable episode about a group of astronauts who crash-land on what appears to be a deserted desert planet. Some are dead, some are badly wounded, and one (Martin) has just lost it. Binns plays mission commander Colonel Bob Donlin, who somehow has to hold it all together (we would later see him as Ike's deputy Walter Bedell Smith in Patton).
Because of its startling twist ending, "Arrow" was another episode that became a major topic of discussion on the schoolyard of my youth. You also saw how this episode inspired Serling's draft of the original Planet of the Apes. I also found it a bit amusing that in a space genre where ray guns were becoming the norm, production decided to give Donlin the anachronistic Sten submachine gun as his primary weapon. Talk about low-tech.
Kudos go to director Stuart Rosenberg for maintaining a gripping tension throughout and to the Death Valley National Park location, which had previously hosted "The Lonely."
So let's drink a few sips from a dwindling canteen to the crew of Arrow 1 and their impossible mission into the outer reaches of The Twilight Zone.