Season 5, Episode 15 (135 overall)
Originally aired 1/10/1964
Cayuga Production # 2624
Fifty years ago tonight, a May-May romance threatened to become a December-May romance, but instead ended up a May-December romance. Everybody with me?
Okay, this is just horrifically cruel. This is an example of a writer that, for some unknown reason, hates his characters and designs the worst possible outcome for them. Honestly Rod, what did Doug Stansfield ever do to you? On the surface, the story appears to be a mutual tragedy, but Sandra actually gets off pretty damned easy, comparatively speaking. She’s still young and vibrant; she can pick up the pieces and move on with her life. Doug, meanwhile, is just plain fucked. He just spent most of his life alone in a space capsule, undoubtedly hanging onto his sanity by the thinnest of threads, and the girl he did it for is now half his age. I imagine he’ll be hanging himself or slitting his wrists after the credits roll.
So what else is wrong with this episode? Serling’s dialogue is terrible, just god-awful. In fact, this may be the single worst collection of awkward Serlingisms in the entire series run. Wait, “The Fear” might be worse (we’ll see when we get to it later this season). Seriously, nobody talks like this, and if they do… well, these two might be perfect for one another after all.
“The Rip Van Winkle Caper,” only there it was covered with dust and there were four of ‘em). Doug’s narration (that’s right, Serling shares voiceover duties with the main character; this has only happened a couple of other times in the series) fills us in on a few details, and we then get a very effective flashback scene in which he receives the deep space assignment. Act one closes with more narration from Doug, in which he rhapsodizes about Sandra while in hibernation, accompanied by an interesting shot in which her face is overlaid onto his.
“The Long Morrow” is stock-scored. The “Morning” cue from Fred Steiner’s beautiful score for season three’s “The Passersby” appears three different times, and its elegiac ambiguity underscores Doug and Sandra’s doomed romance quite nicely.
The lovely Mariette Hartley is radiant as Sandra Horn in her only TZ appearance. She had a notable role as Zarabeth, the painfully lonely sole inhabitant of a planet’s ice age (pictured earlier in this entry), in Star Trek’s “All Our Yesterdays” in 1969 (so hey, I guess she kinda sorta got a dose of her own medicine). I first took notice of Hartley when she appeared in the “Married” episode of TV’s The Incredible Hulk in 1978, in which her character dies a dramatic death in The Hulk’s arms. I was 8 years old when it first aired, and I remember tearing up (this might’ve been the first time a TV show ever made me cry). Hartley is still quite lovely at 74.
“I Shot An Arrow Into the Air.”
Next week: Salvadore Ross's future's so bright, he's gotta wear shades.