Ray Bradbury Theater – The Earthmen (S5E1)

rbtearthmen03The third expedition has arrived at Mars.  Although, for some reason, in the published Martian Chronicles, the third expedition was the basis for Mars is Heaven.  And the earlier episode And the Moon Be Still as Bright was about the fourth expedition.

This is the first episode of the fifth season, and they seem to have gotten a few bucks for special effects.  It ain’t Avatar, but it is a step up from the usual quality.  The ship lands and the four crewmen start across the desert looking like Reservoir Dogs, except they are all Mr. Orange.  And with about the same life expectancy.

rbtearthmen05The men find an appropriately alien-looking house.  Captain Williams knocks and an appropriately alien-looking woman answers the door.  She has a strange purple/bronze skin which doesn’t seem quite right, but it could be the lousy transfer.  Her manner of speaking, however, is very effective — very manic and halting. Kudos to ever came up with it.

She tells Williams that Mr. T is very busy, and it is Mr. A at the next farmhouse that they should see although she pities the fool who bothers him.  She then gives them a metallic card for A and slams the door on them.  Mr. A is not thrilled to see them.  He pulls out a gun and says he is going to kill Mr. T.  In the mean time, he tells Williams that the man he really needs to see is Mr. I.

rbtearthmen15Mr. I is a little calmer than his neighbors (or neighbor, if Mr. A has already killed Mr. T).  He at least invites them into his house.  Mr. I uses telepathy to learn about Williams and Earth.  He gives Williams a paper to sign.  Williams asks if his men should sign, and Mr. I gets a laugh.  He gives them a smile, a handshake, and a room for the night.  And a chance to meet Mr. X in the morning.

When they open the room, it is already filled with people although there are apparently only 26 families on the planet.  Mr. U welcomes them, and the crowd hoists the men on their shoulders in celebration.  After introductions, Mr. U claims to be from Earth.  From the crazy reaction of the crowd, it is clear that they have been put into a “lunatic asylum.”

One of the inmates tells Williams he can open the door with his mind.  Sure enough, he can, but Mr. X is waiting for him.  He has judged Williams to be insane and that his three crewman are illusions, projections that Williams has manifested.

They take Mr. X to the ship to prove that they are all real and that the ship is real.  Mr. X is very complimentary of the illusion and proclaims Williams a “psychotic genius.”  He then shoots Williams and his crew with a very cheesy laser.  He is baffled that the crew and the ship did not disappear as Williams died.

rbtearthmen33Then Mr. X kills himself with a laser blast to the head.

As the men lay dead, the ship’s radio says, “What’s going on there?  Come on guys, stop horsing around.”


  •  First published in Thrilling Wonder Stories, August 1948.
  • Mrs. T really stole the show as the first alien we see. The others just aren’t in her league.

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