Out of the Unknown – No Place Like Earth

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Story by John Wyndham, Adapted by Stanley Miller
Directed by Peter Potter

Ever since his home planet of Earth was destroyed, Bert (Terence Morgan) has been scratching a living on Mars as an odd-job man.  Mars isn’t such a bad place – the indigenous population are unspoilt and friendly, but he yearns for a chance to build a new Earth.

When he hears about the colony on Venus, it seems like just the chance he’s been looking for.  But he quickly realises that it’s a brutal totalitarian regime that ruthlessly exploits the primitive locals (the Griffas).  Bert is attached to a work-party run by the merciless Khan (George Pastell).  Khan mocks Bert’s idealism and asks him to name one great civilisation that wasn’t built on exactly this type of labour.

Eventually Bert comes to realise that his future doesn’t involve creating a new Earth, instead it’s back on Mars with the people that he loves and who love him.

Out of the Unknown producer Irene Shubik wasn’t keen to launch the series with this episode, but head of drama (Sydney Newman) insisted.  Then, as now, the name of John Wyndham was a considerable draw.

Whilst No Place Like Earth isn’t the strongest story from the early run of the series, it still has plenty of interest.  Terence Morgan (a familiar face from the ITC swashbuckler Sir Francis Drake) is good value as the idealistic Bert.  Alan Tilvern is smoothly persuasive as Blane, the man who recruits Bert to work on Venus whilst George Pastell is suitably boo-hiss evil as the brutal Khan.

The moral of the story isn’t particularly subtle, but it’s a reasonable enough message which deserves to be heard.  The matte shot at the start of the story (showing Bert piloting his craft on the Martian lakes) is very impressive.  The exploding spaceship at the end is, sadly, rather less impressive.

Next Up – The Counterfeit Man

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