Twilight Zone – The Thirty-Five Fathom Grave

★★★1/2 January 10, 1963 Season 4 Episode 2

If you want to see where we are…HERE is a list of the episodes.

This is the second episode in the new hour long format. This story has some added padding…a direct consequence of the hour-long format of this episode.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t good. The story is creepy but they visited this theme before in the second season opener King Nine Will Not Return.

The cast is excellent. Mike Kellin plays Chief Bell  who is having survivors guilt that brings to mind PTSD. You find out later that it’s more than that. Simon Oakland is Captain Beecham and gives a very realistic performance as Oakland does in whatever he is in. The most famous actor in this one…at least to my generation is Bill Bixby. He only plays a supporting role and it’s interesting to see him as a younger actor.

Basically it’s a great story but too much padding but…very watchable.

This is from IMDB…it’s a piece of trivia that is very eerie: Mike Kellin portraying the main character, Chief Bell, died 26 August 1983, the ship used for exterior shots in the episode was decommissioned 11 August 1983. Simon Oakland, who portrayed the captain, died three days later on 29 August 1983.

Also this explains why this episode drags a bit: Season four of Twilight Zone is the only one of the five seasons that ran its episodes in hour long time slots rather then the conventional half-hour format. The Thirty-Fathom Grave was written by Rod Serling before the network and producers decided to try out the series in the new lengthier format. Since the episode had already been optioned for season four it was necessary for Rod Serling to re-write and expand the episode to fit the new hour slot. Therefore several new scenes had to be added or padded to fill up time. As a result, this episode received mostly negative feedback based on its slow pace and unnecessary dialogue.

This episode would have been so much better at the original 30 minutes.

This show was written by Rod Serling

Rod Serling’s Opening Narration: 

Incident one hundred miles off the coast of Guadalcanal. Time: the present. The United States naval destroyer on what has been a most uneventful cruise. In a moment, they’re going to send a man down thirty fathoms and check on a noise maker – someone or something tapping on metal. You may or may not read the results in a naval report, because Captain Beecham and his crew have just set a course that will lead this ship and everyone on it into the Twilight Zone.


As a U.S. Navy destroyer cruises near Guadalcanal in the South Pacific, its sonar detects muted but constant hammering on metal undersea. The eerie sounds emanate from a submarine on the ocean floor, apparently there since World War II. The ship’s chief boatswain’s mate becomes very nervous, having served aboard that sub – and he was its sole survivor.

Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:

Small naval engagement, the month of April, 1963. Not to be found in any historical annals. Look for this one filed under ‘H’ for haunting in the Twilight Zone.


Rod Serling … Narrator / Self – Host (uncredited)
Mike Kellin…Chief Bell
Simon Oakland…Captain Beecham
David Sheiner…Doc
John Considine…McClure
Bill Bixby…OOD
Conlan Carter…Ensign
Forrest Compton…ASW Officer
Henry Scott…Jr. OOD
Anthony D. Call…Lee Helmsman
Charles Kuenstle…Sonar Operator
Derrik Lewis…Helmsman
Vincent Baggetta…Crewman
Louie Elias…Crewman


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

12 thoughts on “Twilight Zone – The Thirty-Five Fathom Grave”

  1. I wonder if a pre-padding copy exists in a vault somewhere? Strange trivia from imdb! Getting TZ goosebumps. I really liked this episode, it could be a case study for PTSD. The 2 main actors in it did a superior job. I’m guessing veterans who had active duty connected bigtime with it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would love to know because I think it would have been really good. The acting was great and I really enjoyed it…but with a tight arrangement it could have been a classic.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Agree with your rating Max. This has a very eerie premise but alot of unnecessary dialogue that made it drag at points. Now I know why. What else has Oakland been in? His face is very familiar

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey Max. I am waaaay behind on watching. Hoping to catch up over the holiday break. Yes! Kolchak – that’s where I saw him. – he was the editor. Loved that show!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Paul you are fine… Wednesday I’m going to post another one but then I’m going to take a two week TZ break for the holidays and come back on Jan 5 because not as many read during the holidays….I’ll still post music though.

      Liked by 1 person

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