Director: Montgomery Pittman
Writer: Rod Serling
Cast: John Hoyt, Jean Willes, Jack Elam, Barney Phillips, John Archer, Bill Kendis, Morgan Jones, Gertrude Flynn, Bill Erwin, Jill Ellis, and Ron Kipling
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 5/26/1961
Production Code: 173-3660
Investigating the crash of a spaceship, state troopers Bill Padgett (John Archer) and Dan Perry (Morgan Jones) trace a row of footprints to a highway café operated by bartender Haley (Barney Phillips). Inside the café are seven bus passengers: George and Connie Price (Ron Kipling and Jill Ellis), a young married couple; Peter and Rose Kramer (Bill Erwin and Gertrude Flynn), an elderly married couple; a kooky old man known as Avery (Jack Elam); Ross (John Hoyt), a demanding businessman from Boston; and the glamorous Ethel McConnell (Jean Willes). According to bus driver Olmstead (Bill Kendis), however, only six passengers were present during his last head count.
“Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?” is a delightful homage to the alien invasion films of the 1950s. Therefore, fans of classic science fiction will no doubt enjoy this episode.
Despite establishing a serious threat in the opening sequence, “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?” employs a satirical (albeit never intrusively comedic) approach to unfolding the mystery elements at the center of Rod Serling’s narrative. Whenever one café patron accuses another of suspicious activity, for example, Avery responds by offering an absurd contribution (e.g. “She’s just like a science fiction, that’s what she is; a regular Ray Bradbury!”) before cackling hysterically, thereby distracting attention away from any potential culprits. Also worth noting is the double twist featured in the final scene, which puts an amusing spin on the aforementioned alien invasion trope.
A tongue-in-cheek episode, “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?” lacks a profound commentary on the human condition—much in contrast to “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street,” a similarly themed entry from season one.
“Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?” operates on a then popular science fiction premise (i.e. extraterrestrials masquerading as ordinary people) which indicates that without being subjected to scrutiny, an alien monster wearing an elaborate disguise could be indistinguishable from a common stranger—possibly a statement on how human beings have lost all connection with one another.
For achieving a perfect balance of subtle tension and satirical undertones, “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?” should be commended. Especially outstanding is the performance of Jack Elam, which adds an air of levity to a spooky, unnerving situation.
Overall Quality: 9/10
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