People Are Alike All Over

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Roddy McDowall: Sam Conrad
Susan Oliver: Teenya
Paul Comi: Warren Marcusson
Byron Morrow: First Martian
Vic Perrin: Second Martian
Vernon Gray: Third Martian

"People Are Alike All Over" is an episode of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone.

Contents

Background

This episode was based on Paul W. Fairman's Brothers Beyond the Void, published in the March 1952 issue of Fantastic Adventures and also included in August Derleth's 1953 anthology collection Worlds of Tomorrow. In this renowned short story, Sam Conrad remains on Earth and it is the lone pilot Marcusson who has the too-close encounter with smaller, more alien Martians. In adapting the tale, Serling made key changes that would deepen the irony and heighten the impact. He installed the apprehensive, defeatist Conrad as the protagonist, easing his fears, only to have them ultimately confirmed, and he presented the Martians as a human-like superior race whose apparent benevolence would make their climactic treachery seem even more shocking; as well as decrease the budget that would have been expended on costumes and makeup.

The Martian exteriors are taken from the oversize painted background dioramas seen in the 1956 MGM film Forbidden Planet. Additionally, a set of four lights on the wall of the inside of the space ship are reuses of the Krell power gauges from the same film.

Plot

A rocket piloted by two astronauts heads out on a mission to Mars. One of them, Marcusson, is a positive thinker who believes that people are alike all over, even on the Red Planet. The other astronaut, Conrad, has a more cynical view of human interplanetary nature. The impact of landing on Mars is so severe that Marcusson dies. Now alone, Conrad is consumed by fear when he hears a rhythmic sound reverberating upon the ship's hull. Expecting some unnameable evil, he finds his apprehension turning to joy when, upon opening the hatch, he sees Martians that indeed appear human, have mind-reading abilities and give the impression of being most amicable, especially the beautiful Teenya, who welcomes and reassures him. The hospitable locals lead their honored guest to his residence—an interior living space furnished in the same manner as one on Earth would have been. Conrad briefly relaxes, but soon discovers that his room is windowless and the doors cannot be opened. Momentarily, a wall slides upward, leading to Conrad's realization that he has become a caged exhibit in a Martian zoo – an Earth Creature in its native habitat. Conrad picks up a sign that says "Earth Creature in his native habitat" and throws it on the floor briefly. In the episode's closing lines, Conrad yells to the heavens, "Marcusson! Marcusson, you were right! People are alike.... people are alike everywhere!"

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