There are a couple of more obvious visuals that one might provide to illustrate the famous and delightful Rod Serling story “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?,” but I didn’t want to be obvious. Even though one photo of Barney Phillips is so iconic that it’s used as his main biography picture at IMDB, I think there may yet be one or two people in the world who don’t know where this episode goes. They even use the photo as the illustration in the DVD booklet! Life is full enough of spoilers, and the ending is so amusing that it should have been kept a little more secretive.
I had hoped that our son might play along and try to guess which of seven bus passengers stranded in a rural diner called the Hi-Way Cafe might be a space alien, but he didn’t. He was more concerned about why the Martian landed his ship in a pond. It just goes to show you, sometimes there’s a deeper mystery to consider than the one that the program makers wish for you to ponder.
Anyway, other than Phillips, this episode features a small cast of notable actors, including John Hoyt and Jack Elam, who’s aggravatingly blocking a funny little sign promising buttermilk hot cakes for 60 cents in the picture above. You could add ham or bacon for fifteen cents more. Coffee is a dime a cup, and they charge for refills. Does anybody remember paying a buck forty for fourteen cups of coffee? Sometimes the past isn’t just another country, it’s another planet. Mars, probably.
Elam also namechecks Ray Bradbury when the state troopers foolishly let everybody know that they’re looking for a space alien. Bradbury would contribute a teleplay to The Twilight Zone‘s next season, which of course we plan to watch. Look for that in the spring. And, in a funny but still disagreeable moment, those Oasis cigarettes that we talked about last time make an in-story appearance, where one of the characters comments on their pleasant taste. Maxwell House should have sponsored that dime-a-cup coffee, so somebody could note that it’s good to the last drop.