Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Episode 24: The Spores - 10/17/67

Shortly before dawn, a spaceship landed near Phillipsburg, Colorado, bringing to Earth a strange and ominous experimental cargo: two dozen spores. After exposure to the Earth's atmosphere, each will develop and grow into a perfectly formed alien. On the success of this experiment rests the possibility of future shipments numbering hundreds, perhaps thousands, of alien Invaders, and possibly the future of the human race.   
Some aliens are transporting their latest cargo in a flower delivery truck, when they come across a police roadblock. The alien driver panics and turns the truck around, causing the police to become suspicious and prompting an officer to pursue them.

While driving at high speed, the alien driver swerves to avoid road hazards and loses control of the truck, causing it to go airborne and flip over on the side of the road. The alien in the passenger seat escapes, and removes the case containing unformed alien spores from the unconscious aliens who had been guarding it, and stashes it under a bush, while he waits near the truck for the approaching officer.

The cop arrives just in time to see the aliens drag themselves out of the truck, glow red and disintegrate.

Starring Roy Thinnes as Architect David Vincent

Guest Stars:
Gene Hackman as Tom Jessup

Mark Miller as Jack Palay

Patricia Smith as Sally Palay

John Randolph as Police Sgt. Ernie Goldhaver

Wayne Rogers as Police Lt. John Mattson

Directed by:
William Hale

Act I

The surviving alien from the truck, Mr. Jessup, is being questioned by Police Lt. John Mattson and Sgt. Ernie Goldhaver.  He claims he didn't see the disappearing men that Goldhaver saw, claiming he threw himself in the ditch when he saw the truck coming at him. Goldhaver asks what happened to the people in the truck, and the Sergeant states they don't know there were people in the truck, other than the driver, who probably wandered off in a daze. Goldhaver tries to bring up the disintegrating men, but Mattson shuts him down and asks him to talk with him outside the room. 

Mattson seems to suggest that Goldhaver has been tippling, but he asserts he hasn't had anything for two years since he came off suspension. Mattson says that when he sends up his report, he'll be suspected of drinking again. He tells him that he wishes he hadn't spoken with a reporter on the radio, and asks him if he could swear that what he saw was not an optical illusion. Goldhaver seems unsure, and Mattson goes back in the room to dismiss Jessup.

Several hours ago, a radio newscast carried a strange report. A deputy sheriff in Phillipsburg reported an accident in which the passengers vanished in a burst of flame. A policeman's delusion, or evidence of Invaders? David Vincent travels to Phillipsburg to discover which. 

David Vincent arrives at the station as Jessup is being escorted out by an officer. Inside, David Vincent asks Mattson to consider that what Goldhaver saw really happened, and Mattson says he could have asked the other eyewitness who claimed he saw nothing. David becomes interested in the other witness, and the Sergeant freely offers up a detailed description. He asks where the accident happened, and Goldhaver tells him the location. After he leaves, Mattson tells Goldhaver to change his report.

Jessup is back at the scene of the accident to retrieve the case of spores. He opens the case to check the contents and leaves just before David Vincent arrives. Vincent gets out of the car to look at the overturned vehicle and spots Jessup walking down the road with the case. He gets back in the car and pulls up next to him, pretending to ask for directions. He offers Jessup a ride, and he accepts.

David introduces himself as Dave Harper in insurance, and Jessup reciprocates, saying he's a salesman. Vincent indicates the case and asks if he sells jewelry, but Jessup says he sells seeds, causing David to smile. He says that everything, including them, came from seeds, and that one day they may come up with a whole new species. He points out a coffee shop and David pulls in. As they exit the car, Jessup asks him to lock his car to safeguard his sample case.

Just as he is about to do so, some barefoot babe and her hipster boyfriend and little brother pull up in a hot rod buggy. Jessup looks them over and decides to bring his case in with him, while making a disparaging remark. Inside the coffee shop, the kids grab a table while David Vincent orders a coffee and Jessup goes to use the pay phone.

David sneaks up to the phone booth and listens in while Jessup reports that the samples weren't damaged, but three of their people didn't make it. He says he has to get the spores to where they'll be incubated, and just as David reaches down to snatch the case, Jessup sees him and they begin to fight over it.

The kids hear the commotion and enter the room where the two are duking it out. The older dude grabs the case, and the kids sneak out. David gets knocked out and the waitress tells Jessup that the kids stole his suitcase. He runs out to see them taking off in their car, and goes back in to take David's keys and pursue them in his car. David asks the waitress to call the police.

The kids wonder what's in the case as they race down the road.

The Invaders are getting pretty sloppy. Ordinarily, they would have played it cool and driven up to the roadblock, where they would have simply killed the police officers if they had become suspicious. If not for their foolhardy actions, David Vincent would never have known about the spores. Jessup seems to have a negative impression of Earthling teenagers, probably because they have just the sort of authority questioning mindset that is a danger to the Invaders' ability to gaslight the humans around them. 

Act II

Jessup is in hot pursuit of those pesky kids, who have eluded him by parking in a garage. Big brother wants to check out the booty, but the other two kids aren't pleased that he stole the case, which he feels justified in doing since Jessup dissed them. He struggles with the case but can't open it, and goes to get some tools.

Jessup is at another pay phone, reporting that the spores have been taken, and asks to be picked up, stressing that they hurry, since it could be dangerous if the kids open the case.

At the police station, David Vincent is arguing with Mattson about his stolen car, which Mattson does not appear to be taking seriously, claiming Jessup may have just borrowed it to go after the kids who stole from him. The Sergeant gets frustrated and asks Goldhaver to help David. Goldhaver offers to drive him out to look for his stolen car.

Big brother is attempting to drill through the case, but is not having any luck getting it open. His little brother says they should take it back and return it, and he finally agrees. Back at the coffee shop, little brother gets out of the car and begins walking with the case towards the coffee shop. Jessup and some alien buddies pull up behind the buggy, and he gets out and demands his case back from the older kids. Little brother is hiding behind a car, watching Jessup rough up his big brother. He ditches the case in someone else's car, and when Jessup sees him running away, he goes after him. A man and woman exit the coffee shop and get in the car that now holds the case in the back seat.

Inside the shop, Jessup and his henchmen locate the boy, who spills all the details on the car where he stashed the case. One of the aliens goes out but does not see the car, which has just driven away. Jessup approaches the kid menacingly with a lethal lighted disc.

The return of the killer lighted disc! We just don't see enough of those anymore. I expect someone will intervene before the kid buys the farm, and nobody will believe his strange tale of advanced technology. Now that the kids have tried to do the right thing and return the case, we'll see if the couple who has inherited it will follow suit, or if they will attempt to discover what's inside for themselves, and possibly unleash a crop of baby alien Invaders. 



The couple with the runaway case, Jack and Sally, bemoan their lack of funds due to Jack's gambling as they pull up to their motel. Jack is delighted to discover the case in the back seat, thinking their luck has changed, and Sally questions if they're desperate enough to steal. Jack anticipates they'll get a reward for returning it, and tries to pry the case open. Since he's unable, he goes off in search of a chisel.

At the coffee shop, the little brother's corpse is being wheeled away on a gurney while Goldhaver questions his big brother inside the coffee shop, incredulous that they didn't look inside the stolen case. David Vincent sits nearby as he puts out an APB on the couple's car, and is shocked to learn that the call was already out because Jessup phoned it in. Big brother questions why they sent an ambulance when his little brother is dead. His girlfriend asks if they can go, and Goldhaver nods.

In the motel, Jack successfully opens the case and he and Sally are mystified by the pulsating spores. Jack wonders what they are, and Sally says they're disgusting and wants Jack to get rid of them.

David Vincent rides with Goldhaver and tells him that the autopsy of the boy will show he died of cerebral hemorrhage. Goldhaver asks how he knows and he tells him he's seen it before, asserting that the boy was murdered. Goldhaver starts to discredit Vincent until he reminds him that he saw two of the aliens die in a wreck that morning.

Jessup is outside the police station chatting up Mattson while his cronies wait in the car. David notes that he's pretty friendly with Mattson, and asks Goldhaver what he knows about him. He defends the stellar reputation he's established in the year he's been there. David claims he wouldn't have gone to the police after killing someone unless he knew they were friendly to him, and goes on to suggest that they brought the saucer down because they had Mattson nearby to quash any reports. Goldhaver asks him to get out of the car.

Sally is pulled over to the side of the road by a motorcycle officer, asking how long she has to wait there after a search of her trunk turns up nothing. Jessup arrives and the officer tells him she doesn't have it. He tells Sally he's missing his suitcase and hopes she can help him get it back. He offers her $500 and she is surprised he'd pay so much for what she describes as "a bunch of funny looking seeds," and agrees to lead him to the suitcase.

At the station, Goldhaver stares warily at Mattson's back. Mattson gets uncomfortable and offers to pick up a sandwich for him from next door. After he leaves the office, Goldhaver asks the operator to connect him with Philadelphia PD and bill the call to his home phone. He inquires about Mattson, who used to work with them, and is informed that Mattson died a year ago. Mattson returns without any sandwiches, claiming he forgot his wallet, but instead surreptitiously removes a lighted disc from the jacket on his desk, and advances on Goldhaver, who draws a pistol and shoots him. Mattson glows red and disintegrates. 

Sally returns with Jessup, excitedly telling Jack that she found the owner of the case, who has offered $500 for its return, while Jack simultaneously tells her that he got rid of it. Jessup asks where, and he leads them out the door. 

Several kids are carrying the case as they walk along a dirt path lined with large rocks. 

The lighted disc is seeing a lot of action today, though it appears I was wrong about the kid brother escaping the cerebral hemorrhage treatment. It wouldn't seem ideal for Jessup to have Sally, Jack, and the three kids all get the disc slapped on the back of the neck, so he will have to dispose of them creatively, or Goldhaver and David Vincent will have to ride to their rescue. I'm guessing the latter is what's in store for Act IV. 

Act IV

The kids are carrying the case and making plans to plant the seeds in the hothouse. One of the boys suggests it might be dangerous, and is told he doesn't have to come. A little girl named Liz asks her brother Earl what they're up to as they pass by their house, and Mark tells her they're headed to the hothouse. She asks if she can come along, but Earl tells her they have dangerous nitroglycerin and dynamite, and she shouldn't tell their mom about it.

Goldhaver is in the car with Vincent, still struggling to believe that Mattson was an alien. He asks if David will countersign his unbelievable report, and David claims he'll be believed if they find the suitcase. They pull in to the motel where Sally and Jack were staying.

The boys carry the case into the hothouse and open it up to reveal the pulsating spores, which appear to be growing larger. They decide to bully Mark and try and force him to eat one, as they push his head down into the case of spores. They call him a chicken, and he leaves them in the hothouse. Earl plants one of the spores in some dirt.

David asks Jack if anyone was around when he threw the case away, and he said some freckle faced boys were hanging around down the block. David and Goldhaver leave to search for the boys and the missing case. Goldhaver suggests they go house by house to search for it.

At the station, Jessup is asking an officer about Mattson, when Mark shows up asking for him, but is told he's not there. As he's about to leave, he asks the officer to let him know that he and his friends found something that may be dangerous, which attracts Jessup's interest. He asks if they found a metal case that he says contains some seeds that aren't dangerous. He asks the boy to come with them, and tells the officer to inform the lieutenant.

Elizabeth Garber answers the door for David Vincent and Sgt. Goldhaver, despite her mother not being home. They ask if she has a brother, and she says she does, but attempts to close the door on them when they ask where he is, saying she's not telling. They push their way in and ask if Earl has a suitcase and where he took it. Goldhaver thinks his uniform is keeping her from talking and goes outside to wait while David takes on his investigative duties. Liz tells David that Earl has dynamite in the case, and she says he's in the "hophouse" where the flowers grow.

The boys are busy cultivating aliens, which are growing rapidly. They get spooked and try to leave, but are unable to open the door that's stuck. A shadow looms outside, and they grab a flower pot to defend themselves with as Jessup enters and tells them to wait outside, where their buddy Mark is waiting with the alien henchmen. Jessup tells them to get the boys out of there.

David and Goldhaver drive up to the hothouse, and David tells the boys to run, which they do. The aliens engage in a gunfight with Goldhaver. He takes out one of the aliens. and David wishes they had another gun, or an empty bottle. Goldhaver tells him he has a full bottle in the glove compartment. David gets it and pours out the booze. He fills it with gas and makes a molotov cocktail, which he lobs into the hothouse, causing a huge explosion. One of the aliens runs out and is shot by Goldhaver, while Jessup is trapped inside, and burns up, along with the germinating aliens.

I'm surprised the aliens let Jack and Sally go, after they killed the boy for knowing far less than they did. I'm also surprised that some miscreant boys would be inspired to get busy cultivating pulsating blobs, when they seemed more like the kind of boys who would squish them under their feet or set them on fire with a magnifying glass in the sun. Still, it was fun seeing the aliens begin to grow and take form, even if they did look like cellophane wrapped Easter basket globs. It's a good thing Goldhaver was an alcoholic who kept a bottle handy in his glove compartment, or there's no telling how he and David Vincent would have won the day. 



Goldhaver asks David Vincent if he wants to sign his report as a witness, but David tells him not to turn it in and risk losing his pension. He says he won't be believed any more than he is. He tells him that they can get together in a year to work on it, once he has his pension. David leaves, and he tears up his report.

The destruction of the alien spores becomes a major victory for David Vincent, in a continuing, relentless war in which victories are few.

James Gammon as Hal
Judge Morton as Mavis
Kevin Coughlin as Roy

Noam Pitlik
Vince Howard
Norma Connolly
Joel Davison
Brian Nash
Stephen Liss
Christie Matchett

Director of Photography:
 Andrew J. McIntyre

Music by:
Duane Tatro

It was interesting to see the Invaders devise a way to reproduce themselves on Earth, however, it leads to some awkward questions and continuity issues. The first issue being whether they are spores or seeds. They started out being labeled spores, and then partway through the episode, are recognized as seeds by everyone who sees them, despite looking nothing like seeds, and more like something the cat coughed up. Perhaps it's best not to wonder how the spore seeds are produced, fertilized, or otherwise made viable.

Also, on several occasions, the Invaders have plotted to change Earth's atmosphere to make it more habitable, since they can't breathe oxygen in their natural state, yet here we have their progeny requiring Earth's oxygen to germinate, which makes little sense. I suppose there is some consistency with the aliens having some gelatinous kind of structure when not in human form. Overall, it was a bit of a haphazard episode with one of the nameless kids being surprisingly offed by the aliens, probably just to demonstrate how dastardly they are, while the random couple with a gambling problem receives unexpected clemency. 

At this point, David Vincent's lackadaisical attitude towards asking others to stand with him to make known the presence of Invaders might seem ludicrous, though one could possibly argue that David Vincent realizes the Invaders' ongoing lack of success at taking over the planet makes them hardly an urgent threat. 

Despite the inconsistencies, I still enjoyed this episode. It could have been the reappearance of the lighted discs or the unique idea of germinating aliens, but I suspect the presence of Gene Hackman helped make the episode more enjoyable. Even though his talent wasn't necessarily exploited to the extent it could have been, his appearance definitely raises the pinky rating. For those keeping track, this was Patricia Smith's second appearance on the show. She also appeared in "The Innocent." It was also fun to see Wayne Rogers act like an alien jerk.

Look for Andrew Prine, Dawn Wells, Tim McIntire, and Tom Lowell in next week's episode!


  1. Just iagine to the shock of the cop when he see's to figures disintigrate right in front of his eyes

  2. Did Sally get to keep the $500 or did she have to return the finders fee to Jessup? Asking the tough questions here, lol