Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Twilight Zone: Probe 7, Over and Out

"Probe 7, Over and Out" feels less like a self-contained short story and more like the first act of a feature-length movie. Once the situation is introduced and the characters are established, it ends, and I wanted more.

Rod Serling wrote and Ted Post directed this tale about Col. Cook (Richard Basehart), an astronaut who becomes stranded on another planet, and because Earth is embroiled in war, he has no hope of being rescued. 

If you're expecting an early version of The Martian, in which a stranded astronaut uses science to survive an uninhabitable world, you're in for a disappointment. The world Cooks ends up on is conveniently Earth-like, breathable atmosphere, gravity that doesn't flatten him into a pancake, and vegetation that hints food is available. There are early suggestions there might be a hostile creature to contend, but the resolution to the episode reveals that's not the case.

The episode concludes after Cook receives his last transmission informing him Earth is doomed and after he learns the mysterious creature is actually a woman. This Adam and Eve (which are actually the first names of the characters) then go off to begin humanity all over again, hopefully having learned from the mistakes of Earth.

Again, this is a nice idea, but it feels like the story hasn't even gotten underway. I'd like to see more about struggles of surviving on an uncivilized world and more interaction between Cook and Eve as they learn to communicate and love each other. Where's she from? How'd she get there? What is it really like to be the last Earthling in the universe? What's there is good if obvious Biblical allegory, but I wanted it to keep going.

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