Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?
|"Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?"|
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 2|
|Directed by||Montgomery Pittman|
|Written by||Rod Serling|
|Original air date||May 26, 1961|
|“||Wintry February night, the present. Order of events: a phone call from a frightened woman notating the arrival of an unidentified flying object, then the checkout you've just witnessed, with two state troopers verifying the event – but with nothing more enlightening to add beyond evidence of some tracks leading across the highway to a diner. You've heard of trying to find a needle in a haystack? Well, stay with us now, and you'll be part of an investigating team whose mission is not to find that proverbial needle, no, their task is even harder. They've got to find a Martian in a diner, and in just a moment you'll search with them, because you've just landed – in The Twilight Zone.||”|
Two state troopers, investigating a report about a UFO, find evidence something has crashed in a frozen pond: footprints in the snow from the pond lead to a nearby, isolated late-night diner called the Hi-Way. Upon arriving, the troopers find a bus parked outside the Hi-Way Cafe. Inside the Hi-Way, the troopers find a cook behind the counter named Haley, a bus driver, and his passengers.
The troopers, Dan Perry and Bill Padgett, announce a suspected alien from a nearby crashed UFO may be among them, and asks for everyone to identify themselves. The bus driver tells them his name is Olmstead, and states they were forced to stop at the Hi-Way Café due to the snow storm and could not go back to their previous destination because the diner was at the bottom of an icy hill. The troopers state they will have a long wait, perhaps until the morning, because the bridge ahead was closed due to the snow storm, adding the county engineer is currently examining the bridge. “Looks like you’re stuck here,” Haley the cook says.
The troopers ask the bus driver if he has a passenger manifest, at which the driver laughs and asks the troopers to take a look outside. “That’s a 14-year old bus, not a 707, and business is lousy.” He claims when they boarded, it was snowing, and he didn’t ask names. He counted 'six' passengers. The company gave him six, and he’s supposed to deliver six. The troopers make a quick count, and there are 'seven' passengers: Connie and George Prince, a young married couple; Rose and Peter Kramer, an older married couple; Ethel McConnell, a professional dancer; an outlandish old man with a lazy eye named Avery, and Ross, a craggy businessman. Hayley the cook says the diner was empty due to the snow, before the bus had arrived, and these were only customers he’d had in hours.
The troopers then ask the group, "Who wasn't on the bus,” to which Ross, the businessman, loudly responds, "We were all on the bus," and castigates the bus driver for causing this confusion by miscounting, and suggesting the troopers are from the Gestapo.
After some initial debate on how to figure this out, Ethel suggests the couples be 'cleared' on the grounds the spouses would surely know each other. Both couples readily agree but begin to eye each other with suspicion; Connie asking her husband, “George, I thought you had a mole on your chin,” and Peter becoming irritated with Rose who’d been giving him a long look.
The troopers then ask Ethel for her ID, but she claims her ID was sent ahead with her luggage. The bus driver vouches for her, admitting that he did at least notice her when she boarded. She smiles and thanks him. Avery, clearly enjoying the hilarity of this situation, cracks jokes and chides the businessman who complains about the bus company’s unreliability; he must make an important meeting in Boston by 9 o'clock the next morning. The bus driver, not having it, shoots back to the businessman that the weather is not the bus company’s fault and decrees the bus will in fact not be crossing that bridge until he believes it is safe. Throughout these exchanges tensions rise, and suspicions are confirmed that someone present must indeed be the Martian as the jukebox starts and stops on its own, the lights flash on and off, and the tabletop sugar dispensers explode. The troopers draw their weapons.
The payphone then rings, bringing a report from the county engineer that the bridge is safe, and can be crossed. The bus driver asks the troopers, "Are you sure? I don't like that old bridge. She sways in the wind and is not a suspension." The troopers tell him that if the county engineer says she’s safe, she’s safe.
Unable to hold them without evidence to the contrary, the troopers allow all seven people plus the driver to board the bus and be on their way. The troopers offer to drive ahead to make sure the bridge was safe. Everyone lines up at the cash register to settle-up with Haley, board the bus and leave.
Sometime later, Ross returns to the diner alone, surprising Haley. "Hey," Haley says, "weren't you on that bus?" The businessman takes a seat, orders a coffee, and explains to the cook that the bridge had not been safe after all: it collapsed, and everyone -- the bus, its passengers and the troopers -- had all plunged into the river and drowned. Shocked, Haley asks the businessman, “Everyone but you? Why – how could that be? You aren’t even wet.” The businessman blinks and asks, "Wet? What is . . . wet?" Haley says, “What do you mean what is wet?”
The businessman then calmly explains who he really is, revealing a third hand from under his coat. He uses all three hands to stir his coffee and light a cigarette, off which he takes a drag and comments he’d taken “quite a liking as we don't have anything like these" on his planet. He then demonstrates, offhandedly, that everything which happened earlier -- the jukebox, the lights and the sugar dispensers -- had been illusions, including the call from the county engineer.
"Now, before you faint dead away," the businessman says, "and you will," he tells Haley that he is in fact a Martian scout sent ahead of the Martian fleet which was on its way. Earth (or "this area"), he says, has been identified as a perfect spot for Martian colonization as it is "so remote", "so off-the-beaten path" -- and he is awaiting their arrival.
Haley, notably, does not faint dead away. Instead, he smiles and says that he has some waiting to do himself. He agrees this planet is a prime spot for colonization, and that "we folks from Venus" determined this several years ago. Haley then informs the businessman that the Martian fleet will not be coming as the Venusian fleet has intercepted it. "Oh," the cook says, "this planet will be colonized, but by Venus . . . and if you're still alive, you will see," he reaches up to remove his hat to reveal a third eye in the center of his forehead, "just how much we differ."
|“||Incident on a small island, to be believed or disbelieved. However, if a sour-faced dandy named Ross or a big, good-natured counterman who handles a spatula as if he'd been born with one in his mouth, – if either of these two entities walk onto your premises, you'd better hold their hands – all three of them – or check the color of their eyes – all three of them. The gentlemen in question might try to pull you in – to The Twilight Zone.||”|
- John Hoyt as Ross, the businessman
- Jean Willes as Ethel McConnell, the dancer
- Jack Elam as Avery, the crazy man
- Barney Phillips as Haley, the cook
- John Archer as Trooper Bill Padgett
- William Kendis as Olmstead, the bus driver
- Morgan Jones as Trooper Dan Perry
- Gertrude Flynn as Rose Kramer, the older wife
- Bill Erwin as Peter Kramer, the older husband
- Jill Ellis as Connie Prince, the younger wife
- Ron Kipling as George Prince, the younger husband
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The episode is unique, as an actual Twilight Zone contributor is mentioned. As the patrons realize that an alien is among the group, Jack Elam's character laughs and says, "She's just like science fiction, that what she is. A regular Ray Bradbury." One of Bradbury's stories became a Twilight Zone episode during the third season. ("I Sing The Body Electric!" was the episode in question; it was later produced again as the standalone made-for-television film The Electric Grandmother.)
In one of the few times Serling accommodated his sponsor during an episode, "Ross" takes out a pack of cigarettes and lights and smokes one using three hands, commenting on how much he enjoys them. The cigarettes were "Oasis" menthol, the brand that Liggett & Myers was advertising on the program at the time. During the 1950s and 60s, advertisers sometimes subtly "placed" products into the shows they sponsored.
The name on the side of the bus is "Cayuga" which is the name of the production company for the Twilight Zone.
- DeVoe, Bill. (2008). Trivia from The Twilight Zone. Albany, GA: Bear Manor Media. ISBN 978-1-59393-136-0
- Grams, Martin. (2008). The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic. Churchville, MD: OTR Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9703310-9-0