Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Episode 15: Moonshot - 4/18/67

The Florida Keys - two astronauts, on pass, marlin fishing. Eight days before the launching of the United States' first moon shot.

Two astronauts I'll be calling Gilligan and Skipper are working on their disabled boat as two guys begin flying their helicopter over it. The pilot nods to his companion and a smoky red gas is dropped from the copter onto the boat, as a beachcomber observes from the beach.

Gilligan looks out the window obscured by red haze and complains about the fog, while the Skipper calls for a mechanic, saying he doesn't want to get caught in the fog. For some unknown reason, Gilligan decides to open the window and allow the red fog in while making crazy faces in its fiery glow, while the person the Skipper is in contact with over the radio says there's been no fog reported.

He sees his shipmate contorting and goes over to find out what's up and begins contorting himself. He drags himself back to the radio and communicates that it's not fog, it's red, and he can't breathe. He passes out as the voice on the radio repeatedly calls for Major Banks.


Starring Roy Thinnes as Architect David Vincent

Guest Stars:
as Sgt. Gavin Lewis

as Angela Smith

as Cmdr Hardy Smith

as Stan Arthur

Teleplay by:
John W. Bloch
Rita Lakin

Story by:
Rita Lakin

Directed by:

Act I

The nation has been stunned. The first screaming newspaper stories spoke of a fishing accident, and a strange, inexplicable red fog. Two men, slated to walk on the face of the moon, had unaccountably perished. For David Vincent, there was an answer, terrifying in its implications. And so he came to the Florida Keys to find the radio operator who had heard the vacationing astronauts' final words.
David Vincent pulls into a parking lot full of reporters milling around and observes them ambushing a man who claims the press conference is happening inside as they attempt to ask questions about the accident. David tries to sneak in with the reporters but is stopped by a security guard who asks to see his press pass. He tries to say that he left it at the studio, but the guard insists he produce some identification. He foolishly provides his real ID. The guard says he's going to go check on David Vincent.

The beachcomber we saw earlier is being questioned by a police sergeant in an office with a big marlin hanging on the wall. He describes the red fog from the helicopter to him, as another officer converses with a man behind them. He informs the sergeant that David Vincent is there. The sergeant acts as though he were expecting him and asks that he be sent in. He directs Deputy Correll to take Mr. Coogan home. The phone rings and Riley tells the sergeant that it's Commander Smith's wife, who sounds upset.

Angela Smith insists that he speak with her about her husband, Hardy. She says he's got to help her, and tries to tell him about Hardy, but he deflects her, saying he'll call her as soon as he's finished with his investigation.

David Vincent enters his office and the sergeant introduces himself as Gavin Lewis, but David says he knows who he is. He says he's there because he wants to talk to the radio operator. Lewis asks what he wants and David says he wants complete information on what he heard on the ship to shore radio. Lewis says he knows he is because he had a check run on him and knows about his obsession with aliens. David says he knows what the red fog is and how the astronauts died, but wants to know how they died. Lewis says they weren't killed by men from Mars but by a form of carbon monoxide. David questions why the CO2 was red.

He goes on to say that even the beachcomber says he saw a red fog. A man comes in to say he can't stall the reporter any longer and they need his statement. David asks where the old man is, but Lewis says nobody can get near Mr. Coogan until he has a chance to check his story. David asks if he's holding him, but he says David is smart enough to know he has no reason to hold him and smart enough to be there when he returns. David is smart enough to go out his glass door to the beach and go looking for Coogan.

Meanwhile, Coogan is getting the sparkly alien crystal treatment from Deputy Correll who suggests he didn't really see anything and has nothing to tell Gavin Lewis. He pockets the crystal when he sees David Vincent drive up and reiterates that he saw nothing. David approaches and calls Mr. Coogan, but receives no response from him. Deputy Correll emerges from behind his shack and asks what he's doing there, and David says Gavin Lewis gave him permission to talk with Mr. Coogan. Correll asks if he has it in writing, but David claims he said it wouldn't be necessary. David tries to talk to Coogan about what he saw, but Coogan says he saw nothing and that he made it all up.

Correll tells him it's enough and that he'll have to go. David asks who's been there and talked to Coogan, and then notices that Correll has a bulge in his pocket.

When he asks what's in his pocket and reaches for it, Correll whips out his gun and tells David he has five seconds. David responds by knocking the gun out of his hand, flipping him to the ground, and begins punching his face.

He gets the crystal away from him and they continue to pummel each other, but David loses and Correll gets the crystal back, just as Lewis and Riley arrive. Lewis calls after Correll as he takes off in his cruiser.

Lewis asks what's going on and David accuses him of setting him up. He tells Lewis that Correll tried to kill him and explains that he is an alien. He says he can find proof by talking to Coogan, claiming that Correll wiped everything out of his mind. Lewis is surprised to hear Coogan say he saw nothing. David says he'll never find Correll since he's done his job and Lewis says they need to get back to town and talk. They leave Coogan sitting in a hypnotic daze in his beach chair.

It's a good thing that David knows when he's dealing with an alien or he could be in for some serious charges of assaulting a police officer. It will be up to David Vincent to determine why the aliens are killing astronauts who were scheduled to walk on the moon.

Act II

Deputy Correll drives up to HQ claiming he has a briefcase for Mr. Lewis and he'd like to put it in his car. The attendant foolishly allows him to do so. David Vincent is in Sgt. Lewis' office while Lewis complains that the medical report shows nothing wrong with Charlie Coogan. David is not surprised and Lewis mocks him for claiming Coogan was brainwashed. David insists he level with him.

Lewis tells David how he used to be one of the first astronauts, training for the moonshot, when a couple months prior he was driving home and suddenly the car radio went dead and he was unable to remember anything that happened until he awoke the next morning. He didn't feel well and was found to have high blood pressure, which disqualified him from the space program. He knew there was nothing wrong with his blood pressure, but couldn't get anyone to believe him. He wants to know how he lost a night out of his life and hopes David can help him. David suggests they'll find answers at the launch site and they head out of the office.

Lewis hands his keys to the attendant who claims he was just about to leave for the night. He tells David it doesn't make sense for an astronaut to be shoved aside or killed since the moonshot still goes up. David suggests they may not be trying to stop the program. Lewis asks what they'll do when they get to the launch site to identify the aliens. David explains that they can be recognized by their need to regenerate, by their mutated fourth finger, or the fact that they have no heartbeat.

Suddenly, a red glow flashes across their faces as Lewis' car glows red and disintegrates.

At the launch site, Lewis enters Riley's office and informs him that David Vincent is staying at his apartment and he wants him to have a security pass so he can be at the airfield by the time the plane lands. He also asks him to contact McNally's office to request they send him any info on the backup crew. Riley stops him to let him know that Cmdr. Smith's wife is waiting in his office. Lewis thanks him and tells him if anyone asks where David is staying, he should say he doesn't know.

He greets Angela and apologizes for not calling her. She tells him she doesn't think Hardy should go up and says there's something wrong with him. She explains that he has complete lapses of memory. Lewis says he went through a lot in Vietnam, but if there were something wrong, the doctors would have discovered it months ago. He tells her to stop worrying when there's a knock at the door. Riley says the others are ready to leave for the airport. She asks him to come to the house to see Hardy that night and he says he'll try.

David meets Lewis at the airport where reporters are waiting to take photos of Hardy and Angela. David notices a man with a crooked pinky holding a briefcase. Lewis greets Hardy and says he'll try to look in on him later. David approaches Lewis and asks about the man with the briefcase and tells him to check him. Lewis is incredulous, claiming he's a medic named Owens who's been with the program from the beginning, but David reiterates he needs to check him.

Angela is having a cup of tea while Hardy reclines on the couch when the doorbell rings, causing her to drop her teacup. Hardy tells her to let him in and goes to the bathroom. Angela answers the door and Tony LaCava steps in and asks if Hardy is ready for his physical. He comments on her droopy eyes and tells her to go to a movie with Peggy instead of sitting around thinking about it. She knocks on the bathroom door and tells Hardy that Tony is there and he says he'll be out in a minute.

In the bathroom, Hardy plugs in a device that he holds up to his chest, causing a red glowing pattern to appear on his chest. Angela knocks on the door and calls to him while Tony tells him the medics won't wait all night. He claims he's getting ready for the medics.

It looks like Hardy is an alien and the device he's using will provide him with a false heartbeat to fool the medics when they give him his physical. It doesn't seem like Angela initially married an alien, since he displayed jealousy, so we're left to wonder if the aliens have developed the capability of replicating specific humans, which would be pretty cool if that's true. It's interesting that they haven't developed the capability of making all their devices wireless yet.


David enters Lewis' office where he's setting up a film projector and asks what he found out about Owens. Lewis tells him he was born in Detroit and can account for every day since then, which he checked for himself in the file. David says they could have fabricated it and asks why they would want a special crew to go up in the moonshot. He's certain that Lewis is holding back the real objective of the moonshot.

They watch a film of the astronauts together and David asks him to stop the film when it describes how Hardy underwent surgery after his time in Vietnam. Lewis explains that as he was preparing to leave Vietnam, his hotel was attacked by a terrorist bomb, and that the plastic surgeons did a good job. David claims that Hardy Smith is the alien on the crew.

Lewis doesn't believe it, but David explains how first Lewis was taken out with his high blood pressure, then the other two astronauts, who are now dead. He claims that Hardy Smith's face wasn't changed with plastic surgery, but that they got rid of him and substituted him with an alien. Lewis recollects how Angela said she thought Hardy had changed. He questions why they would send an alien up and David suggests they are concerned about something the recon photos showed on the moon. David tells him to go to security and have Smith investigated.

Lewis talks with Stan Arthur in security and implores him to investigate Hardy Smith. Stan asks about his "friendship" with Angela Smith and asks if that's why he's trying to get Hardy knocked out of the moonshot. Lewis insists that they are just friends. Stan calls to have Smith's medical records sent up. Lewis talks to him about the structures they've seen in the recon photos of the moon and that LaCava and Smith will be the only ones to determine what they are and if they represent a threat. He says that if anything happens to LaCava, they'll have to accept Smith's word.

Owens, the alien medic, arrives with the medical records, and tells Stan that Smith's medical records show no abnormalities and that he's in perfect condition. Lewis says he's lying and points out his pinky deformity to Stan, insisting that Owens is an alien. Stan refuses to stop him and says he's going to call Washington about dropping Lewis from the program, and dismisses him.

Lewis returns to his office and tells David that they're licked. He says he saw Owens there with his deformed hand but that Stan Arthur wouldn't believe it. David says they still have time and leaves to go see Angela, since she can prove he's an alien.

He barges in to Angela's house to talk to her about her husband and sees her bags are packed. She admits she's going back to Houston and David questions why she wouldn't stay around to watch her husband's launch. He says that she knows it's not her husband, and with liftoff less than three hours away, she's the only one who can stop it and must help them.

It appears the aliens don't yet have the capabilities to create exact replicas of specific humans, though they have gone to a lot of trouble to impersonate Hardy Smith and cover their tracks. It was pretty awesome that Gavin Lewis was willing to call out Owens as an alien, and disappointing that he was dismissed so readily. It will be fun to find out how Angela Smith proves that alien Hardy is not her real husband. Will it be by mole, tattoo, or a specific memory?

Act IV

Gavin Lewis greets the astronauts as they arrive at the launch site. As the astronauts board, Hardy hangs back to talk to Lewis. He says he owes all of it to Gavin more than anybody else in the world and invites him to ride up with him. He tells him that if anything should happen, he's to take care of Angela.

Stan gives the astronauts last minute instructions, shakes their hands, and Hardy smirks. Angela doesn't want to believe David's claims that Hardy is an alien. He says that she knew and asks why she didn't report the strange things he's said and done. She asks how she could report his inability to remember the people they'd met or how his tastes had changed.

David insists that he hasn't changed but that he's one of them. He stresses to her that it's not just the mission, but that someone will be killed up there and she's the only one who can stop it. He tells her that Gavin Lewis believes him. He begs her to call Hardy and put him through some test.

Tony LaCava is nervously joking to the other astronauts when Angela's call comes in for Hardy. He greets her warmly, saying he was beginning to think she wasn't going to call. She says she only called to wish him luck. He thanks her, saying that now he knows they'll be alright.

She explains to David that Hardy is superstitious and that nobody wishes him luck, so she confirms that it's not Hardy. David gets on the phone and calls Stan Arthur.

Angela is on the line and asks to speak to Stan Arthur, saying it's an emergency. Gavin takes the phone and she tells him she has proof that it's not Hardy. Lewis hands the phone to Stan and Angela says that the man they're sending up is not her husband but is an imposter. She begs him to stop him, saying she's his wife and knows it's not him.

Stan comes on the intercom and tells Cmdr. Smith to report to control immediately. Smith ignores him as they watch him on screen. When the technicians try and hold him, he goes nuts and throws them off, running into the space capsule. He begins the ignition sequence and Stan communicates that the countdown has been stopped due to an emergency and that technicians are ordered to leave the service tower.

The rocket begins to launch as they all watch.

David and Angela are watching on TV as the announcer relates that the countdown was stopped, but the space vehicle has lifted off.

The announcer goes on to say that the vehicle looks like it's in trouble and then it explodes on live TV, as it is related that no astronauts were aboard the vehicle, as far as they know. Angela is overcome and begins to sob.

I can only imagine the anxieties this spoke to in the midst of the Space Race and prior to a successful manned mission to land on the moon. For those of us watching now it recalls the horror of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. Did alien Hardy purposefully destroy the rocket to delay humans from investigating the moon, or did he inadvertently spare human lives in his desperate attempt to avoid detection by making off with a defective spacecraft?


Lewis enters his office and finds David staring out the window. He quotes Tony LaCava as saying you can't win them all. David asks who said they lost. Lewis says they don't have proof and that the structures seen in the reconnaissance photos are still up there. David guesses they'll be gone by the next moonshot that goes up. He says it took the aliens a year to get a man into the program and they won't be able to do it again and will have to destroy the installation, which means that they've won for now.

Riley enters and tells Lewis that Mrs. Smith is waiting downstairs. He asks about Owens and Riley says he disappeared. He shows him the statement that McNally is going to give at the press conference. He reads about Hardy Smith and heroes death and comments that they don't buy David's Invaders and privately think that Hardy went berserk from the pressure. Gavin promises David that he'll keep trying and shakes David's hand. He asks Lewis what happens after the press conference and Lewis says he'll still be there. David watches out the window as Gavin walks Angela out to the car during closing narration.

In the far reaches of outer space, the Invader reorganizes his plan for the conquest of the Earth. He's been delayed - but he hasn't been beaten.

Anthony Eisley as Tony LaCava
Richard X. Slattery as Riley
Paul Lukather as Correll
Strother Martin as Charlie Coogan
John Lupton as Major Clifford Banks

Robert Knapp...Lt. Colonel Howell
Ross Elliott...McNally
John Carter...Owens
Charles A. McDaniel...Roberts
Steve Cory...Attendant
Morgan Jones...First Reporter
Lee Millar...Second Reporter
Bob Duggan...Third Reporter
Ollie O'Toole...Fourth Reporter
Steve Ferry...Technician

Director of Photography:
 Andrew J. McIntyre

Music by:

It seems the aliens wanted to infiltrate the space program, rather than use their own spacecraft, so they could protect the installation by making it appear as though the humans had checked it out and found nothing unusual. For a group of beings that's used to self destructing and starting over, it seems to have been more trouble than it was worth. I have to wonder what the aliens are doing building stuff up on the moon and how it serves to help them conquer Earth. 

It's possible David Vincent is finally reaching critical mass on the number of people that now believe the Invaders are here. Kent Smith will have a different attitude about the presence of Invaders the next time we see him, though he'll also be playing a different role. 

Tune in next week to see Ed Asner and Burgess Meredith!


  1. This ultimately is one of the most "dated" of the Invaders episodes simply because of it's relevance at the time -- when we were in full-swing to get to the moon. As a kid, I found it fascinating (I loved anything space-related, like so many kids of the day). But after watching every Apollo mission's TV coverage (some of them, like Apollo 11 -- 'wall to wall') this episode omes off now as so "Hollywood". Yes, the do utilize some good real footage of the early Apollo vehicle launches. But the run-up to Apollo 11, for instance, was nothing like what they show us here -- were the astronauts are basically living a normal home life right up until mission day! No way did THAT happen in real. Training and testing were the "order of the day" for weeks leading up to each moonshot, not lounging around the house drinking beers! The dialog between the astronauts themselves, and between them and Kent Smith and the technicians on the "big day" seems so silly and hackneyed now. Although I'm too young to remember the early Mercury missions, from all I've seen and read, the casual atmosphere and attitudes displayed in this episode are more akin to Alan Shepherd and Gus Grissom's first flights, NOT anything in Apollo. Much as I love the old "Outer Limits" and "Twilight Zone", their depictions of space flight are hopelessly dated now, and unfortunately this episode isn't a huge leap forward. 1969's movie "Marooned" was much more 'realistic' (or at least as realistic as Hollywood can get! LOL).

  2. What program did you use for these DVD screenshots? They look great

  3. Gilligan and Skipper!! HAHA, exactly, not the best and the brightest!!!

  4. Yeah, the chances of two astronauts fishing eight days before liftoff are about a gazillion to one.

  5. Which brings up the thought--why doesn't David Vincent ever ANTICIPATE any of the aliens' moves??? He's always a day late and a dollar short, so to speak.

  6. Simply extraordinary, beautiful episode. Especially in terms of its historical beauty. There are also some suspicious things about Moonshot:
    (1) after talking with Gavin at his office, david Vincent quickly found out where Mr. Coogan lived. How was this possible? To whom did David talk in order to get the address so quickly?
    (2) I felt sorry for the guy in the car park, who accidentally died inside Gavin's car. An alien had left a briefcase inside the car.
    (3) when the alien (Hardy) boarded the space ship, he immediately started the launching process so it was nearly impossible for the other guys who were on top of the building to reach the ground.
    (4) when Angela Smith heard that the space ship was launched and exploded in the air she started to cry, even though the news guy informed that there was nobody onboard.
    (5) the last scene, with David Vincent observing Gavin and Angela going to a car, I really do not understand the relationship between Angela and Gavin.
    (Toni at pigi9114@gmail.com / 25 March 2022).