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"The Long Morrow" is an episode of the The Twilight Zone and often thought of as one of the most overlooked episodes.
From the CBS Video Library cover:
"A month before departing on a round trip interstellar flight that will take forty years, Commander Douglas Stansfield meets and falls in love with Sandra, a Space Agency employee. Both realize the romance is doomed. Stansfield is to be kept in suspended animation for most of the mission. When he returns, he'll still be in his thirties, while Sandy will be an old woman. Nevertheless, she promises to wait for him. Upon his return, Sandy is notified and hurries to see him. It's a moment they have both envisioned for years. But this is the Twilight Zone... and they're both in for the shock of their lives."
"It may be said with a degree of assurance that not everything that meets the eye is as it appears. Case in point: the scene you're watching. This is not a hospital, not a morgue, not a mausoleum, not an undertaker's parlor of the future. What it is is the belly of a spaceship. It is en route to another planetary system an incredible distance from the Earth. This is the crux of our story, a flight into space. It is also the story of the things that might happen to human beings who take a step beyond, unable to anticipate everything that might await them out there.
Commander Douglas Stansfield, astronaut, a man about to embark on one of history's longest journeys - forty years out into endless space and hopefully back again. This is the beginning, the first step toward man's longest leap into the unknown. Science has solved the mechanical details, and now it's up to one human being to breathe life into the blueprints and computers, to prove once and for all that men can live a lifetime in the total void of outer space, forty years alone in the unknown. This is Earth. Ahead lies a planetary system. The vast region in between is the Twilight Zone."
Commander Douglas Stansfield (played by Robert Lansing), an astronaut in the year 1987, is sent to a planetary system 141 light-years from Earth. The trip will take 20 years each way. To save him the ordeal of 40 years of loneliness, he is to be placed in (newly developed) suspended animation for the 20 years until he gets there and then again for the 20 year return trip. The suspended animation will also prevent him from growing older, other than the few weeks he would be at the distant planetary system. Before leaving, he meets and becomes enchanted by his young colleague, Sandra Horn (played by Mariette Hartley). However, Horn would be 40 years older and Stansfield would still be young because of the suspended animation. Stansfield goes on his mission and 40 years later he returns (tragically, the job he was sent to do was already completed, using technology developed after he left). He thus returns a forgotten pioneer. It is revealed upon his arrival home that he voluntarily disabled the suspended animation system about six months into his journey so that he would be the same age as Sandra when he finally returned. Unbeknownst to him, she had placed herself in suspended animation so that she would be his age. In the tragic end, an aged Stansfield sadly urges Horn to live her new life without him. After Horn leaves, General Walters somewhat consoles him by saying, "Stansfield, you're really quite an incredible man. Maybe the one distinction of my entire life, that I knew you...that I knew a man who put such a premium, on love. Truly...quite a distinction, Stansfield..."; Stansfield nods.
"Commander Douglas Stansfield, one of the forgotten pioneers of the space age. He's been pushed aside by the flow of progress and the passage of years - and the ferocious travesty of fate. Tonight's tale of the ionosphere and irony, delivered from - the Twilight Zone."
Preview for Next Week's Story
Next time out on The Twilight Zone, an unusual little item from the pen of Jerry McNeely based on a story by Henry Slesar and called, intriguingly enough, "The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross". This one poses the question 'If you don't like what you are, how do you go about changing?' Don Gordon portrays a man who really goes the route when it comes to some basic changing and the results are most unexpected.
- Mariette Hartley first met Rod Serling when she was in school - she wrote him a letter and asked him to speak for her class - to her amazement, he came. Years later, when she was a struggling actress, she asked him for a job - he cast her in this episode.
- Main article: List of memorable quotes from the first series
Notes and References
- CBS Video Library: Twilight Zone #0319 "Escape Clause/Jess-Belle/The Long Morrow" ; UPC: 000319060009, EAN: ?, ASIN: ?; Format: NTSC, VHS, Collector's Edition (1987)