Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Episode 16: Wall of Crystal - 5/2/67

A newlywed couple can't wait to get a room and are busy smooching while driving, causing a truck to run off the road and roll over onto its side, as they run into a pole.


They watch as the driver of the truck staggers out and collapses as he glows red and disintegrates. The bride asks her new hubby, Bill, if he saw the guy burn up, but he only wants his new wife to make herself useful and hoof it to the gas station to get help for his broken leg.


They both begin coughing, and as she nears the truck, she falls to the ground. Bill stumbles over to her unresponsive body and sees some odd, shrinking crystals. He covers one with a mound of dirt, clutches his throat and expires.



http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0612017/?ref_=ttep_ep16


Starring Roy Thinnes as Architect David Vincent

Guest Stars:
  as Dr. Robert A. 'Bob' Vincent

as Grace Vincent 

as Taugus


 and Special Guest Star:
as Theodore Booth 


Teleplay by:

  

Story by:
Directed by:



Act I

An accident on a deserted highway. A honeymoon couple that dies by suffocation–in the open air. A chemical truck traced to a company that doesn't exist. Strange circumstances for which David Vincent can find one answer: somehow, someway, alien beings from another world must be involved.
David Vincent drives out to the scene of the accident. A man in a car pulls over to ask if he's having any trouble, but he says he is not and thanks him. David kicks around the brush while the man pulls to the side of the road a ways away and observes him through binoculars. David uses his foot to unearth the crystal that Bill had covered with dirt. He picks it up and immediately begins choking as the man continues to watch. He gets a bag from his car and puts the crystal in it with some dirt.


Theodore Booth is being filmed wrapping up his TV show. Newspaper man, Joe McMullen, catches up to him and tells him he had a call from David Vincent, who Booth refers to as "Chicken Little." He tells Booth that he almost had him convinced a few months ago, but Booth says he's a psycho. McMullen says he claims he has proof and says a story of that magnitude is worth investigating. Booth tells him to send one of his men out to get the story, but McMullen convinces him to go.


David greets Booth as he exits a cab and asks him if he remembers reading an article that he hands to him to look over. He describes the recent accident with the honeymooners and says he has proof that the Invaders were responsible in a safe deposit box inside the bank they're at.


Booth asks if he told the police and David says he's contacted the police, FBI, and even the CIA, but the soonest they can come out is the next day and his proof may disappear by then. They go into the bank as the fellow who was observing David unearth the crystal watches them.


David pulls out a bag and Booth asks what it is. He tells him that whatever it is does something to the air and that the plants around the area he found it were dead. He also tells him it shrinks when exposed to the air. David removes the crystal and walks away while Booth begins to say it looks like jewelry as he starts having trouble breathing. He says he'll take it to a lab on the way to the press club and tells him that if it checks out he'll use his TV program and his column as a soapbox. David informs him of how to recognize the aliens and warns him that if they find out he is carrying the crystal, there's no way of knowing what they'll do. Booth thinks he's just being paranoid.


Outside, the aliens observe them and David warns him again to be careful. He stops him before he gets into the cab to ask if it's the same driver who brought him. Just as he enters the cab, an alien pops up from the back seat and holds an alien disc up to him. David grabs him and runs, telling him that it was an alien weapon, and that he needs to call McMullen saying he's going to put out a series of articles on the existence of aliens. Booth questions if it's a setup to convince him, but David tells him if he announces his plans, they won't touch him as it will draw attention to the story. He agrees to call McMullen. The alien who's been following David greets him and says he hopes he'll change his plans, and tells him to give his regards to his brother and charming wife.


At the home of the heretofore unknown Dr. and Mrs. Robert A. Vincent, David arrives and says he wants to talk to his brother, who acts irritated and says he bets it's about the bogeymen from outer space. David tries to tell him that he and Grace are in trouble, but Bob brushes him off. David says he knows he thinks he's a crackpot, but that doesn't change the fact that he's become a target for the aliens. Bob goes on to say that he backed him up on the flying saucers because he's his brother and not because he believed it, and says he now no longer has a practice. David tells him to call Theodore Booth and then arrange for police protection, saying that if he ever believed David cared for him then he shouldn't wait. David leaves and Grace tells Bob that he's ill and needs help. Bob receives a call and goes out to make a home visit for a heart attack.


Bob drives up to a residence and a woman greets him on the porch, despite the sign on the lawn that says the house is for sale or rent. He goes inside with her and is carried out unconscious and loaded into a white van.


David arrives home where the alien who warned him previously waits in a chair. He tells him that his brother is alive and won't be harmed if he does what he's told. He says he'll be returned when he meets their demands, which are to make sure Booth doesn't publish anything about their presence and in addition publish a column discrediting David that contains his confession that he lied about the Invaders. He says that when that column is published, his brother will be released. David says there will be no deal unless he talks to his brother first, and is told he'll call tomorrow.


Let me just say that I have a special fondness for Burgess Meredith that originates from "Time Enough at Last," and am delighted to see him in this episode. I also think Ed Asner makes a great, menacing alien. Now, let's get down to brass tacks. I can accept that we haven't heard about David's brother until now because he's been angry that David's notoriety has ruined his career, however, that would not explain why the Invaders have waited this long to use him to manipulate David. I thought the whole point of killing his BFF in the pilot episode was so he'd have no one to support him and strengthen his claims, as well as send David a message that anyone close to him would be a target. Oh well. Let's see if he still has a brother by the end of the episode.


Act II

David is trying to convince his disbelieving sister-in-law that Bob has been kidnapped by aliens to prevent him from talking to Booth. She asks why he hasn't called the police and goes to call them, but David says they won't kill him as long as they don't panic, because without him, they'll have nothing to hold over David's head. He tells her to trust him and to let him talk to Booth first before ruining their one chance of getting him out alive. She agrees to do it his way.


A lab technician is observing the alien crystal under a microscope when two aliens enter and turn off his oxygen, while stealing his notes, and locking him in. The crystal shrinks and disappears as the lab tech collapses on the floor. Booth enters and knocks on the locked door, which has the key in the lock. He enters the lab and checks on the unconscious tech and begins wheezing. He exits the room and contacts the police.


A green suited alien brings a tray of food to the wine cellar where Bob is being held, and as he sets it down, Bob slams it into him and punches him in the gut, which is enough to knock the dimwitted alien out, proving he truly is David Vincent's brother. He sees the aliens working in a glass windowed little room where they are putting crystals in containers. Just as he attempts escape, other aliens come around the corner and he runs inside the glass room and is forced to leave it when he has difficulty breathing.


The alien in charge comes out and when Bob asks who he is, he tells him his brother has mentioned him often and he must know. He says he agreed to allow him to place a phone call to David to assure him he's in good health. Bob says he won't make the call, and that if David's found a way to destroy them there's nothing they can do about it. The alien insists he'll make the call.

David is attempting to locate Booth by phone but is unable. The alien in charge begins describing to Bob how the crystals are made and how they suffocate humans by displacing oxygen in the air. Grace is brought into the glass enclosure with the crystals and begins struggling to breathe. The alien goes on to describe how oxygen makes it difficult for the aliens to live, forcing them to regenerate themselves often. Bob begs him to let her out as Grace begins to collapse and the alien says they hope to change the atmosphere to something more like that on their own planet. Bob agrees to make the call and Grace's unconscious body is removed from the room. The alien tells him she'll be okay.


Wow! That was pretty harsh to suffocate a pregnant lady. Grace may be okay, but the baby may have brain damage from that experience. Bob turned out to be a stand up guy by resisting the aliens and not allowing himself to be used as a pawn. I guess he believes David now, though that may spell doom for the Vincent family. I liked that we got an explanation for what the crystals are and why the aliens need to regenerate, and here it is only Act II! This episode is really taking things up a notch. Will David discredit himself to save his brother, and will the aliens hold up their end of the bargain if he does?


Act III

Grace arrives home in a cab where David has been pounding on the door. She tells him a woman came by to take her to her husband, blindfolded her and drove her to a factory of some kind. She says they pushed her into a room where she couldn't breathe and she thinks she may have seen Bob before she blacked out. David says he wants her out of town so they can't get her again and tells her to pack her bags.


Bob calls and gives David a cryptic message saying he's "in deep water again" but that he survived before. The head alien takes the phone and asks if he's made the arrangements with Booth. David says he's tried, but hasn't been able to reach him. The alien says he has until noon tomorrow.


Booth is telling McMullen he can't print his articles yet because of the messages he's received from David Vincent, saying he could be in trouble and needs to talk to him in Santa Carla first. Booth says he's seen what the aliens can do with the lab technician. McMullen asks if he really believes they're here and he tells him to be sure his life insurance is paid up.

David is at the airport with Grace and is trying to work out Bob's message. He realizes it refers to a time when Bob almost drowned at Archer Creek. Grace says that creek's dried up and the only thing there now is the old winery that's been deserted for years. He says he'll call her in San Diego.

Booth shows up at David's hotel, saying he took his private plane. He asks if the project is on or not. David tells him they can't go through with it because they've kidnapped his brother, and said they'd let him go after Booth prints his public confession. He asks if he's going to do it and David says he has to. Booth asks if David thinks his brother's life is more important than the entire human race. David tells him he cares only about his brother at the moment. Booth tells him that if he helps him, he's helping the enemy, and David can't expect him to do that. He says he knows how David feels but he has to go through with the articles with or without him, that he's going to fight the aliens in any way he knows how, the way David once fought them.


It is hard to believe that David would cave in so easily for a brother that was just invented. Seriously though, I'll bet the aliens were wishing they'd thought of kidnapping his brother a lot sooner. It sure would have saved a lot of doomsday devices from going off. David should really know better than to trust that the Invaders will honor the bargain. Perhaps he's thinking they won't kill Bob so they'll continue to have something to hold over him. At least he's found someone who's just as determined to expose the presence of the Invaders and fight them, though that may force their hand. Let's see who survives Act IV.

Shout out to The Lost Boys.

Act IV

David finds Grace at home and asks why she isn't in San Diego. She says she can't run off without knowing how Bob is. He says he only came by to return the key as he won't be needing it, saying he's going to Archer Creek. He tells her that Booth is unwilling to help, but that he's going to make the aliens a better offer.

Booth arrives at the Vincent home and asks to speak with Grace. He tells her that his publisher won't put out the articles without David's cooperation. He says he wants to talk with David to come up with a solution. She tells him that he's found one, and says she thinks he's going to trade his life for Bob's. Booth asks where he is and she tells him. He says they have no choice but to call the police. He dials and hands her the phone, telling her to have the police meet him at the winery.


David walks around the deserted winery until he hears the head alien ask him why he's there. David can't see where he is, but tells him he wants to renegotiate their terms. He says he thinks he'll prefer his new terms, and asks him to come out where he can see him, along with his brother, so he can be sure he's still alive.  The alien agrees.


Booth arrives at the winery and one of the green suits sneaks up behind him with an alien gun. He tells him to join them and directs him to get into his car and drive slow. The alien comes out with Bob and tells him to state his terms. David says he wants to trade his life for Bob's, but the alien rejects his terms, saying his death would only bring more attention to Booth's articles. David says his brother is a doctor who can declare that David became insane and have him put in an institution, and later announce that he died there. He says he'll be discredited, Booth will lose his source, and his brother will go home with his wife and child. The alien says he'd accept his terms, but Bob says he won't do it.


Booth comes driving up slowly with his alien escort, but as he approaches the group, he accelerates, causing the alien hanging on to fall off, while David and Bob start throwing punches. Booth hits the alien in charge, who rolls onto the hood, while another alien fires his gun at the car, killing them both.




Bob and David run off around a corner. When the aliens hear sirens, they run into the building and throw one of their patented doomsday switches, causing the whole building to glow red and disintegrate. Bob and David stare at burning remnants with mouths hanging open.




The police arrive and order them to come out, saying a woman called to say that Dr. Vincent had been kidnapped. David points to the smouldering remains, saying that the men who kidnapped his brother were in the burning building. The officer asks if it's a gag, and Bob says there was building standing there a few seconds ago. The cop says they're a couple of wise guys who want to waste taxpayer's money, and they head back to the car.

In the squad car, the officer asks his lieutenant about their story, and he responds that he'll check it out, while he lights his cigarette with pinky extended.


It looks like Bob survived, but they lost Booth, who would have brought credibility to the reports of aliens on Earth. The Invaders must be quite accustomed to failing in their quest since they always have a doomsday device installed and at the ready for whenever they are exposed.


Epilog

Grace is making a portrait of Booth while Bob is on the phone asking about a patient. David asks if the portrait is from memory and she says he wasn't easy to forget. She asks if he's leaving them too, and David says he'll be back, and that she should take good care of his nephew. On his way out, Bob asks him if he can stay for dinner, but David says they both have work to do. He tells him that now that they've seen the Invaders, he and Grace would like to help him so he doesn't have to go it alone. David says he may take him up on it some day.


One man, fighting a secret war against a hidden enemy. Someday, when that enemy is defeated, David Vincent will no longer be alone. Someday.


Co-Starring:
Lloyd Gough as Joe McMullen

With:
Russ Conway...Detective Harding
Jerry Ayres...Groom
Peggy Lipton...Bride
Mary Lou Taylor...Mrs. Endicott
Karen Norris...Miss Johnson
Ray Kellogg...Policeman
Fred Waugh...Alien Guard


Director of Photography:
 Andrew J. McIntyre

Music by:



It's clear the Invaders really do want to make the Earth their world if they are intending to change the atmosphere, killing off humans and making it more habitable for themselves. The question is, what are they waiting for? Do they not have enough crystals to suck the oxygen out of the air yet? David Vincent should realize by now that he's not having much success by going it alone, though it seems he and the Invaders have lack of success in common. I just wonder why he thinks the Invaders won't use his loved ones against him in the future. Maybe because we'll never see his brother again, though perhaps we'll meet his parents next week. Even though it's a flawed episode, I enjoyed that we saw the Invaders come up with a clear plan for takeover that gave us a little more insight into these failed beings. That plus the fantastic acting in this episode, helps me get over my retcon complaints. 



The first season ends next week with Ralph Bellamy, Marlyn Mason and Murray Hamilton.

1 comment:

  1. Another episode with a big name (for the 1960s) Burgess Meredith getting killed off at the end. Kudos to the producers for keeping up with this disquieting (and ultimately successful) trend. Never cared for Ed Asner, but agree that he made a very chilling, cold-blooded alien here. Yes, the "manufactured" brother was a stretch, and all I can figure is the aliens left him alone because his views on his brother's "crusade" actually strengthened the "Vincent as a lone nut" scenario they wanted. Anyone investigating David might very well talk to his brother, who'd quite honestly say he doubted David's sanity. But logic dictates that if they would "use" the brother and his family once as bargaining chips, then they'd just do it again to stop Vincent. A more credible ending would have been him saying his goodbyes after they'd moved and were living 'incognito' (after all, the brother's medical practice was gone, anyways!). David should have advised them to do just that, or they would always be potential pawns of the aliens. (The winery building disintegration effect, BTW, was pretty darned good for it's time.)

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