Today, March 25th, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia celebrate the 1960 premiere of “People Are Alike All Over.”
Beloved Roddy McDowall portrays reluctant astronaut Sam Conrad, whose journey to Mars with fellow space jockey Warren Marcusson (Paul Comi) ends with a crash landing. Marcusson is badly injured and Conrad is terrified of opening the hatch. He eventually does and discovers a large group of seemingly friendly humanoid Martians, including gorgeous Teenya (Susan Oliver).
In fact, these Martians are so friendly that they give Conrad his own house, complete with a bar and booze. How friendly can you get? However, this is a Rod Serling teleplay, so don't get too comfortable – eerie twists ahead.
One of the wonderful aspects of The Twilight Zone is the show's ability to give prominent character actors their time to shine. Roddy McDowall had been performing regularly in films since the late 1930s, but he was rarely the star — the Zone gave him the coveted lead in "People Are Alike All Over" and he nailed it. Seven years later, he would transform into another character in a Rod Serling script — Ape archaeologist Cornelius in the original Planet of the Apes.
Meanwhile, Paul Comi would return as a co-pilot in "The Odyssey of Flight 33" and a space program psychiatrist in "The Parallel."
So let's hoist a Martian libation to Roddy and Paul — two space travelers who veered off their planned trajectory and made a hard landing in The Twilight Zone.