You want a time capsule look at what science fiction right before Star Wars was like, look no further than this story by Stephen Kandel. It was broadcast thirty-two years after World War Two ended, and is forty years old today. It is closer, historically, to the war than it is to us. There was a feeling then that space travel was right around the corner, which is what this story is about.
Tim O’Connor, who was then best known for a few years starring in Peyton Place, plays a scientist named Andros. He’s sent by the Council of Planets to determine whether Earth would become a threat to other civilizations. I’m not sure who came up with that concept first. The Day the Earth Stood Still did it in 1951 and it seemed to be repeated in comics and juvenile-aimed short fiction for decades. What results here is a very slow and very measured story that the director, Alan Crosland, just can’t rescue. It’s talky and remarkably predictable, but it’s full of that seventies feeling that space travel was in our immediate future. Four decades later, we still have nowhere to go.
It succeeded in worrying our son, at least. He didn’t really care for this episode, either, but I think that’s because he’s very concerned that Andros, inevitably captured by Nazis, will not report back in time and his testy colleagues in outer space will blow up our planet. At least he’ll only have one night to worry about what will happen next instead of the week we had to spend in 1977.