This is another one of those iconic Twilight Zone episodes. Roddy McDowall was a pretty well-known child actor in the 1940s and was fairly recognizable to the tv audience. Later on, between his part as Cornelius the Chimp in Planet of the Apes and some other motion pictures (he was Augustus Caesar in the big budget Liz Taylor/Richard Burton disaster Cleopatra) he become a popular star of tv and Broadway.
Here he plays Sam Conrad who along with Warren Marcusson are to be the first two men to land on Mars. Conrad is very nervous. He’s a scientist, not a pilot, and he frets about the danger and what they will find on Mars. Marcusson tries to allay his fears by telling him his belief that “people are alike all over.” Conrad’s fears are well justified. The ship crash lands and Marcusson is critically injured. Conrad can hear something on the outside of the ship banging on the door. He tells Marcusson that he is afraid to open the door but Marcusson begs him to open the door. When he does so he finds people that are indistinguishable from humans. They go to help Marcusson but find that he has died. They tell Conrad that they will bury Marcusson and then they will provide him with shelter. He meets a Martian woman named Teenya who shows compassion for him.
They leave Conrad at the ship over night and the next day they return to tell him that they have prepared a home for him that they hope he’ll like. They bring him to a duplicate of an American 1960s home, complete with television, wet bar, refrigerator and gas stove. They ask him to remain there while they prepare him to see their city. While they are leaving Teenya is noticeably upset but the rest of the group are almost jubilant.
Conrad makes himself at home and makes himself a scotch highball and smokes a cigarette that he lights off the stove. But while wandering around he finds that all the doors are locked and there are no windows. He starts banging on a door to get out when one of the walls retracts to reveal a wall of bars facing a crowd of Martians staring into his “home.” A sign in front of his enclosure reads, “Earth Creature in his native habitat.” He’s in a zoo. Teenya is in the crowd and is the only one distraught by his new status. Conrad calls out to his dead comrade he says “Marcusson, you were right people are alike all over.”
Interesting coincidence, the actress playing Teenya, Susan Oliver also played Vina, the woman who was injured in a crash and kept in captivity by aliens in the Star Trek episode “The Menagerie.” She was bait for Captain Pike in that episode. Coincidence? I wonder.
The surprise ending in this episode is pretty easy to guess and the dialog is only fair. But I have fond memories of this as one of my earliest real science fiction stories. I’ll give it a B+.