Director: William Claxton
Writer: Rod Serling
Cast: Joe Maross, Claude Akins, Michael Ford, and Robert Eaton
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 3/30/1962
Production Code: 4822
After landing on an alien planet, astronauts Craig (Joe Maross) and Fletcher (Claude Akins) discover a civilization of ant-sized people. Before long, Craig—viewing himself as a godlike figure—chooses to remain on the planet and rule over the little people, with an unforeseen complication.
“The Little People” deserves praise for its topnotch performances and insightful commentary on human nature. Also worth noting is the ironic twist ending, which, though marred by dated special effects, will appeal to those with a sense of justice.
This offering relies on the power of suggestion to create a race of little people—an imaginative and economical approach to a concept first explored in Gulliver’s Travels. Specifically, a series of high-pitched vocal sounds are employed in conjunction with miniaturized objects of a common variety (e.g. cars, trees, and buildings), thereby prompting the audience to sympathize with the aforementioned little people—who, on a side note, never actually appear in this episode. Additionally convincing are the expressions of Craig and Fletcher, who, by responding to the diminutive humans in a realistic (i.e. awestruck) manner, reinforce the credibility of Rod Serling’s fantastic narrative.
Viewers may question how Craig—a lazy, egotistical man—could pass a psychological examination prior to joining the space program.
Indicating that absolute power can corrupt even the noblest of men, this episode offers a compelling critique of despotic monarchy. (The message of “The Little People” might, however, have retained a more profound, not to mention unpredictable, impact if Fletcher—an honest, hardworking individual—had joined his unscrupulous comrade when tempted with the prospect of unbridled authority.)
Providing a science fiction twist on a classic tale, this episode should be commended by fans of The Twilight Zone. Nevertheless, “The Little People” may evoke criticism for its B-grade visual effects and minor logical inconsistencies.
Overall Quality: 9/10
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