Welcome to a review of a television show that went off the air many years ago. A television show known for its episodic nature, stoic narrator, and twist endings. A show that in the discussion, if spoils come up, well tough taco.
I Shot An Arrow Into the Air
Three astronauts are the only survivors of a crash landing on a desert planet. Order quickly breaks down as water becomes more scarce. In the end, only one man is left to find out they never made it into space and are really just outside of Reno, Nevada. The essence of this story is the same as Lord of the Flies, which fares much better because that was about children. That adults, especially those trained to go into space, would crack in so little time is a bit laughable. That being said, Dewey Martin as the (blood)thirsty Corey is great to watch. The ending twist is expected but fits the narrative and the comeuppance of Corey. One has to wonder what he looked like walking into a casino after the events of this story, half mad and wild with thirst after having killed two people for no reason.
A woman is taking a cross country drive when she starts to be haunted by the same hitchhiker everywhere she goes. In the end, she finds that she was dead all along and must take the hitchhiker in the end to the end. Like the previous story, Igner Stevens's portrayal of Nan Adams steals this story. Everything from her frantic actions to detached voice over are perfect for the mood evoked by the plot. The one set piece where her car stalls on the train tracks, while a well established trope and rather silly as a device, still works through Stevens's acting. The story and script has an interesting history, first performed (with a male lead) by Orson Wells for his "Suspense" and "Philip Morris Hour" radio shows and sparking a bidding war with Alfred Hitchcock for the television rights (which is also notable because the episode uses "Magnum" as the oil company, the same company from the film North by Northwest directed by Hitchcock).
An old miser is struck by gambling fever while on a free trip to Las Vegas with his wife. Everett Gibbs plays Franklin as he is gripped by panic and stalked by a slot machine in a effective if not over the top performance. The instant vice and fate of a man's failure seems to be a god-type punishment of the mythic variety, inherent to storytelling and wonderful to see. If anything, this episode is proof positive that the wives of the world should not take any shit from their obsessive husbands. There is also something in my notes about the importance of sleeping in the same bed, but we're gonna live and let live on that one.
The Last Flight
A British WWI fighter pilot (Kenneth Haigh) lands in a 1959 American Air Force base and has no idea where he is. As the story progresses, the pilot is revealed as a coward who deserted a fight and flies back to the past to save the life of an important man whom he abandoned. The storytelling and commitment of this episode make it one of my favorites, not only with each character reveal but in the subtle way the lesson of heroics is taught to the protagonist with little action or speeches. With some reasoning, he accepts his fate and flies off to save the life of someone more important than himself and becomes a hero.