Anthology TV has always been a guilty pleasure of mine. I suspect it’s old fashioned since the genre seems to have died out in the early nineties, but I’ve been thrilled by the opportunity to stream old favorites — Night Gallery¬†and Tales from the Darkside for instance, but especially, The Twilight Zone.

Rod Serling’s seminal anthology series covered it all, from the supernatural to science fiction. As a dedicated fan of science fiction in general, and episodes that deal with space travel in particular, I present this list:

The Twilight Zone in Space

Space-themed episodes of The Twilight Zone, Season One.


Episode Seven – “The Lonely”

Corey, a convict in the fourth year of a fifty year sentence, banished to live alone in a metal shack on an asteroid, receives a realistic woman robot for companionship. In fine 1959 fashion, she immediately gets to work fetching beverages and batting her eyelashes for her new owner, but soon, Corey faces a difficult decision.

This episode stars screen legend Jack Warden, and it was a Twilight Zone original, written by Rod Serling. An element of this episode would be repeated over a decade later in WestWorld starring Yul Brynner.

My rating: Three Stars


Episode Eleven – “And When the Sky Was Opened”

Three US astronauts blast into space in an experimental rocket ship — the X20. During the test flight the ship suddenly disappears and crashes. While recovering in the hospital, the crew try to remember exactly what happened. Although this episode qualifies as space-themed, none of it actually takes place in space.

My rating: Two Stars


Episode Fourteen – “Third from the Sun”

With nuclear apocalypse looming, a pilot and a scientist plot to escape in a stolen spaceship. It’s to be a high-risk journey to a planet “eleven million miles” distant, and inhabited by creatures with a language “similar to ours.” “Third from the Sun” is an episode built around intrigue, with a hint of film noir. I found the jet-powered cars and art deco design elements to be a nice touch.

This episode has its share of the trademark Twilight Zone off-kilter camera angles. It occurred to me as I watched this episode that science fiction television in the sixties frequently meant the producers made-do with any old industrial setting for the story they were telling. A run-of-the-mill power station becomes a science fiction setting, with signs applied to chainlink fences as the only set dressing.

“Third from the Sun” is one my favorites, and it has a twist ending.

My rating: Four Stars


Episode Fifteen – “I Shot an Arrow Into the Air”

Arrow One is the name of the ship — the first manned aircraft in space. Shortly after liftoff, the ship malfunctions and crash-lands “on an uncharted asteroid.” With most of the crew dead, three survivors struggle to understand their situation.

This episode looks like it might have been filmed in Death Valley and treads heavily through tropes of the marooned — fights over water, mutiny, etc…

Rod Serling provides a particularly compelling bit of narration at the end of this one. “I Shot an Arrow Into the Air” is based on a story by Madelon Champion and also has a twist ending.

My rating: Four Stars


Episode Twenty – “Elegy”

The day after tomorrow, in a far corner of the universe “six hundred fifty-million miles” from Earth, three astronauts are lost and looking for home. They land on a planet that appears to be Earth, except everyone is frozen in time — well, almost everyone.

It’s interesting to note, the backstory to this episode is that Earth was nearly destroyed by an “atomic war” in 1985 and it took humanity nearly two hundred years to bounce back. Kevin Hagen, who would go on to play Doc Baker on Little House on the Prairie, co-stars.

My rating: Two Stars


Episode Twenty-Five – “People Are Alike All Over”

This episode stars Roddy McDowall as the only survivor of a spaceship crash on Mars. A race of fair-haired humans living on Mars befriend the marooned astronaut with apparent good intentions, but all is not as it seems.

The twist ending of this episode is ironic considering McDowall’s future role in Planet of the Apes. His acting in this episode is one of the better performances on this list.

“People Are Alike All Over” was written by Rod Serling, based on a short story by Paul Fairman.

My rating: Three Stars

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Troy Larson is a father, author, and photographer from Fargo, North Dakota.