The Twilight Zone
"And When the Sky Was Opened"
Episode 1.11 (Dec. 11, 1959)
Rod Taylor plays Col. Clegg Forbes, one of three astronauts on man's
first space flight. Upon the space travelers' return, however, each of them
Here's Rod Serling's intro to the episode:
Her name: X-20. Her type: An experimental interceptor.
Recent history: A crash landing in the Mojave Desert after a 31-hour flight
900 miles in space. Incidental data: The ship, with the men who flew her,
disappeared from the radar screen for 24 hours. ...
After the crash landing, Maj. Gart (James Hutton) is hospitalized with
a broken leg. But the other two, Col. Forbes (Rod Taylor) and Col. Harrington
(Charles Aidman), hit the town. In a bar, Harrington gets a strange feeling,
and calls his parents -- but they don't know who he is. Then Harrington
disappears, and Forbes seems to be the only one in the bar who remembers
Harrington was there.
Shaken, Forbes goes to see Gart in the hospital. But Gart doesn't remember
Harrington, and neither does their commanding officer. A newspaper shows
only two astronauts -- Gart and Forbes -- instead of three. Forbes then
gets a strange feeling of euphoria, screams "I don't want this to happen!"
and runs from the room. Gart vanishes too, and so does the space ship.
A definitive book on the series, "The Twilight Zone Companion,"
praises Taylor's performance:
Rod Taylor ... is the focal character of the episode,
and his performance is intelligent, appealing and powerful. His is a most
difficult task, to make us believe that the impossible is happening --
and he succeeds admirably.
The book also describes some key scenes involving Rod, as described by
the episode's director, Douglas Heyes (who later would be executive producer
Originally, Rod's disappearance -- or the feeling that
he was going to disappear -- was written as a very painful experience,
but I decided to make it a very euphoric experience. ... Everything had
been fear up till then. ... We took an angle on him and we lowered the
camera as he was talking, so the effect was that he seemed to be rising
while he was talking.
In another scene, Rod Taylor is searching for Charles
Aidman, who disappeared in the telephone booth in a bar while they were
talking. Taylor gets drunk and he comes to this bar which is now closed
and forces his way in. Now, it's not written in the script, but because
Rod encouraged me to do things like that, I simply had him walk through
the glass door, sort of spin and crash through it into the bar. It was
an unexpected entrance and Rod Serling liked it very much.
are some highlights of Rod's commentary on the Definitive Edition DVD
version of the episode:
opens by saying that it's been years since he's seen the episode. "I
even look young and beautiful," he says.
also remarks on the quality of the production and that it only took four
days to shoot. Throughout the episode he praises the production values and
how good the script was. "One can channel oneself through the script
because it is so good. You can let yourself go. ... You have a feeling
when something's going good. The material was so good from Rod Serling.
... It was a joy. ... We didn't do too many takes. ... It's difficult to
act [such an emotional scene, but] it's easy to get carried away with the
There are several times he's silent, and he
says, "I'm getting wrapped up in this story myself," because he
hadn't seen it so long. He said he probably watched this on TV when it
first aired "with my girlfriend of the moment."
mentions that Douglas Heyes is the director of the episode and that Heyes
was the one who later had Rod and Dennis Cole make "Powderkeg,"
the pilot for the "Bearcats!" series. He had much praise for
Heyes and his crew -- good directing, lighting, an MGM cameraman.
said he is gratified that so many people remember this episode. He likened
it to "The Time Machine," which was a "small movie that
became a classic, like these Twilight Zones became classics."