The Twilight Zone

Season 4 Episode 6

Death Ship

3
Aired Unknown Feb 07, 1963 on CBS
8.2
out of 10
User Rating
98 votes
2

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

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A three-man spacecraft lands on a planet only to discover the wreckage of a spacecraft identical to their own. Two of the crew are convinced that they are dead, but the captain refuses to see the truth.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Three astronauts scramble for answers when they encounter a crashed spacecraft containing their own corpses.

    9.6
    Not only is "Death Ship" possibly the best of the hour-long TZ episodes (arguments for "The Miniature" and "Jess-Belle" can also be made), but it also deserves a mention as one of the best overall. The strength, as with most of the series' best episodes, lies in the script. Adapting his own short story, Richard Matheson weaves a fascinating, terrifying story of three astronauts faced with a life-or-death mystery.



    The only drawback (and this is minor) is that the ending doesn't necessarily take you by surprise. The first time I saw it, I had pretty much figured out by the halfway point that there were only two logical explanations, and one of them turned out to be the actual one used. Not that it's a major beef, just know that, if you really think about it, you can figure it out on your own.moreless
  • Klugman and crew land their ship and see an apparent exact copy nearby--but destroyed.

    9.5
    Brilliant episode. One of the hour long episodes that spends all of its time building tension without any feeling of \\\'filling\\\' the hour.



    Klugman does an excellent job. This is a paradigm of 1950s sci-fi. In this case, it\\\'s not the end so much as the journey.



    You know their ship is going to --- once they take off, and the only matter is \\\'how\\\'...

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (2)

    • (Opening Narration)
      Narrator: Picture of the spaceship E-89, cruising above the thirteenth planet of star system fifty-one, the year 1997. In a little while, supposedly, the ship will be landed and specimens taken: vegetable, mineral and, if any, animal. These will be brought back to overpopulated Earth, where technicians will evaluate them and, if everything is satisfactory, stamp their findings with the word "inhabitable" and open up yet another planet for colonization. These are the things that are supposed to happen . . . Picture of the crew of the spaceship E-89: Captain Ross, Lieutenant Mason, Lieutenant Carter. Three men who have just reached a place which is as far from home as they will ever be. Three men who in a matter of minutes will be plunged into the darkest nightmare reaches of the Twilight Zone.

    • (Closing Narration)
      Narrator: Picture of a man who will not see anything he does not chose to see--including his own death. A man of such indomitable will that even the two men beneath his command are not allowed to see the truth; which truth is, that they are no longer among the living, that the movements they make and the words they speak have all been made and spoken countless times before--and will be made and spoken countless times again, perhaps even unto eternity. Picture of a latter-day Flying Dutchman, sailing into the Twilight Zone.

  • NOTES (5)

    • According to (short story and episode writer) Richard Matheson from the book "Richard Matheson: Collected Stories, Vol. 1" on the origins of this story and episode:

      "That was my first attempt to write a 'standard' science fiction story, because at the time I was simply trying to sell as many stories as I could. I just got the idea that what if these guys went down to investigate a crash ship and went in and saw themselves dead. I had to extend the idea by having the captain present all sorts of possibilities as to why it was happening. I thought the last line was very good--'The Flying Dutchman takes to the universe.'

      I don't know when the last line occured to me, but that's what the whole concept was, basically. And they made a pretty nice The Twilight Zone out of it, too.

      Again, writing this story in the early fifties, 1997 was, to me, the distant future."

    • Some of the music in this episode was "borrowed" from Jerry Goldsmith's score to Episode 49, "Back There."

    • This episode is based on the short story "Death Ship" by Richard Matheson. The story was first published in Fantastic Story Magazine (March, 1953). It was later included in Matheson's Shock! collection (Dell, 1961).

    • The miniature spaceship prop was the same one used in the classic 1956 film Forbidden Planet.

    • This episode, as with all in Season 4, is an hour in running time. All episodes in Season 1-3 & 5 are only 30 minutes.

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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