The Twilight Zone's The Long Morrow debuted over CBS-TV on Friday night, January 10, 1964. Robert Lansing plays an American astronaut whose 40-year trek into the cosmos will take him away from his new love. Rod Serling narrates the episode, with Mariette Hartley, George Macready, Edward Binns, William Swan and Don Spruance also in the cast.
Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone (1959-64) sparked the viewer's imagination like no other television show. In the 1964 episode "The Long Morrow" Robert Lansing plays Commander Douglas Stansfield, an American astronaut who is about to embark on a 40-year round-trip into the wild blue of the cosmos.
The Twilight Zone's The Long Morrow: Cast & Credits
Series creator Rod Serling authored the teleplay for "The Long Morrow," with Robert Florey directing. Regulars, guest stars and supporting players are:
- Narrator (Rod Serling)
- Commander Douglas Stansfield (Robert Lansing)
- Sandra Horn (Mariette Hartley)
- General Walters (Edward Binns)
- Dr. Bixler (George Macready)
- Technician (William Swan)
- Man (Donald Spruance)
Robert Lansing and Mariette Hartley in "The Long Morrow" - CBS-TV
The Long Morrow: Episode Synopsis
Commander Douglas Stansfield is preparing for the journey of a lifetime. Having been chosen by Dr. Bixler, Stansfield is prepping himself for D-Day – December 31, 1987 – where he will embark on a lonely ride into the universe to explore a distant planet. With an estimated total mission time of forty years, Stansfield is to be placed in suspended animation for his journey, whereby he will not age.
During the weeks before blastoff, Commander Stansfield meets and falls in love with Sandra Horn, a young woman who works for the space agency. Stansfield realizes that when he returns to Earth his lovely Miss Horn will have aged forty years while he himself will not have aged at all. Reluctantly, Stansfield opts to do his duty, but makes plans for a different kind of homecoming.
Don Spruance publicity photo from the 1960s - William's Time Tunnel
The Long Morrow: Air Date & Network Competition
"The Long Morrow" was first telecast over CBS on Friday night, January 10, 1964, in the 9:30-10 (ET) time slot. Network competition back then in those hallowed days of television were The Farmer's Daughter (ABC) and Harry's Girls (NBC). Route 66 preceded The Twilight Zone that evening on CBS which in turn was followed by The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Quite an impressive lineup.
The Long Morrow: Analysis & Review
"Space, the final frontier..." That famous opening may have come from Star Trek (1966-69), but The Twilight Zone also delved into "the final frontier" as well. "The Long Morrow" represents a handful of TZ segments where space exploration is the dominant theme.
Robert Lansing (1928-1994) garners the lead role of Commander Douglas Stansfield, an astronaut who's set to make the big 40-year leap into space. The strong, chiseled Lansing is ideal, ably portraying the devoted military man whose sense of duty seemingly overrides his budding romance with a young woman. Lansing would later star as General Frank Savage in the World War II TV drama 12 O'Clock High (1964-67) and also gain somewhat of a cult following for his role as super agent Gary Seven in the classic Star Trek episode "Assignment: Earth" (3/29/68).
Mariette Hartley (1940-) plays Sandra Horn, the soon-to-be-departed astronaut's love interest. In 1964 Hartley was still pretty much an unknown actress, having appeared in only two movies and five television shows.
"The Long Morrow" is a love story. Rather than refusing the space mission and staying with his new girl, Commander Stansfield boards the spaceship and blasts off for his destination into the cosmos. But Stansfield's feelings are so strong that he decides to deactivate the suspended animation chamber, meaning that he will now age the same as his love on Earth.
The famous Rod Serling twist comes at the end where Stansfield – now a forgotten space pioneer – returns to Earth forty years later for his long-awaited reunion with Sandra Horn. Now somewhat tottering and visibly aged, Stansfield meets his love once again and is shocked to discover that she hasn't aged at all. Vowing to wait for her man, Sandra had placed herself in suspended animation – with the two star-crossed lovers now at opposite ends of the life cycle.
"The Long Morrow," which features some impressive NASA blastoff footage, comes from The Twilight Zone's fifth and final season and is episode #135 of 156 in the series. "The Long Morrow" can be viewed on The Twilight Zone The Definitive Edition - Season 5 DVD. Portions of the episode can also be found on YouTube.
Robert Lansing in his suspended animation chamber - CBS-TV
- Rod Serling of The Twilight Zone - CBS-TV
Copyright © 2012 William J. Felchner. All rights reserved.