A lunar crash-site investigation reveals a surprising inhabitant in “The Nature of the Enemy,” the third story on Night Gallery Season 1 Episode 2, reviewed here.

“The Nature of the Enemy” **

Written by Rod Serling
Directed by Allen Reisner
Joseph Campanella as Simms
Richard Van Vleet as the Astronaut
James B. Sikking as the First Reporter
Jason Wingreen as the Second Reporter

NASA has sent a team to the moon to investigate the crash of a previous mission. An additional ship sent there is missing. The astronauts on the rescue mission see no signs of life despite a communication from the previous mission’s men.

Joseph Campanella plays Simms, the team leader at NASA’s mission control. He gives a statement to the reporters gathered there, telling them that what sounded like a distress call most assuredly was not. He has to cut the briefing short because another transmission is coming in from the rescue craft’s crew.  The astronaut reports that he is looking at a huge metal platform but he can’t figure out why the previous flight’s crew would have built it. Then he seems to realize just before perishing as we hear him say “It can’t be. It just can’t be.” Then a scream and the signal cuts out.

For some reason, the film of this is then run, sight unseen, for the assembled members of the press. One observes that the platform mentioned by the astronaut looks like a giant mousetrap. Then the live transmission resumes and we see something moving near the platform. A close-up reveals…an enormous mouse lumbering around the lunar surface, raising to its hind paws, to which Simms, and Campanella must be given credit here for not giggling, exclaims, “The enemy! That’s the enemy!”

The sight of giant mouse terrorizing the human colonists of the moon is an unintentionally hilarious one and ruins what had to that point been an intriguing enough story with a certain amount of tension over what the rescue mission would find on the moon. It harkens back to the many cheap-o sci fi movies from the 1950s. Night Gallery can and would do much better, but it’s clunkers like this one which helped to mar the series in the minds of many.

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