★★★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
Forrest Compton…ASW Officer
Henry Scott…Jr. OOD
Anthony D. Call…Lee Helmsman
Charles Kuenstle…Sonar Operator