Story by Theodore Sturgeon
Teleplay by David Gerrold
Directed by John Hancock
Original Airdate - September 27, 1986
Shelley Duvall - Margaret
Richard Libertini - Man
Nan Martin - Mother
Edith Diaz - Religious Woman
Andrew Masset - Margaret's Date
Mari Gorman - Jill
Myrna White - Psychiatrist
Michael Zand - Clerk
Brick Karnes - Boyfriend
James Edward Thomas - Hank Charles
Bruno Aclin - Officer
Laura Harlan - Waitress
Geoff Witcher - Anchorman
Mary Ingersoll - Reporter #1
David Grant Hayward - Reporter #2
Shannon Lee Avnsoe - Reporter #3
J. Omar Hansen - Reporter #4



A lonely and obscure young woman, whom no one has ever loved, is chosen out of a crowd of people to receive a special message one day - by a small, glowing, saucer-shaped object that swoops out of the sky and descends on her. After this, she's a celebrity. Everyone wants to know what the message was, but after all these years she's finally got something that's her very own, and she doesn't want to share. After a fight with her mother, who wants to know what the saucer told her daughter for her own selfish reasons, she runs out into the night and walks along the beach, going deeper into the water as she walks. As she's about to go under a man runs out and pulls her out of the surf. He tells her the message from the saucer; it was his loneliness that sent it. They walk off, two lonely people who have found each other.

Message found in a bottle - sender unknown. Still alive, or long dead, the last of his species, or a traveller marooned on alien shores. Perhaps in the end, all that matters is this: That even through loneliness there is an end. And for those who are lonely enough, long enough, the message is cast adrift on the darkest beaches of . . . the Twilight Zone.

Dedicated to the Memory of

Theodore Sturgeon

1915 - 1985



Theodore Sturgeon's original short story of the same name is quite different from this adaptation, though the basic story is the same. The short story places the emphasis on the girl's attempted suicide, and her story is told in flashbacks while her rescuer listens. The teleplay does not explain clearly what the saucer is, leaving the audience to figure this out on it's own till the ending narration, while the short story is very clear on what it was right away - a sort of message in the bottle from a lonely creature.

That being said, I'm not sure there was a better way to film this story. It might have been a little more dramatic to film it as Sturgeon wrote it, though it would then have been an unutterably dreary piece. There is no doubt that the teleplay is lacking in drama, for the most part because we just can't whip up any sympathy for that main character. Shelley Duvall is generally always good, but again I'm not sure anyone could have done much with this woman. In the short story the character is definitely portrayed as a nobody, the kind of person whom no one notices and though Shelley does this job extremely well, most of what we see is just Shelley with a vacant look on her face. Whether non-acting or the director's vision, it's just not enough to make us care about her. Nan Martin plays the mother as an alcoholic, embittered woman, jealous of anything her daughter might have that she doesn't, but even with that small of a part she has more presence than Duvall does in the entire episode. Richard Libertini is practically wasted as the rescuer; he's onscreen for less than five minutes.

The short story is not that good; in fact, it's one of my least favorite Sturgeon stories, which is tough to say because I generally love all his work. What I would have loved to see the new Twilight Zone adapt was his "Shottle Bop," a ripping good ghost story, or possibly "The Other Celia," an alien story of a different sort, instead of this tale. However, any Sturgeon story is a wonderful addition to a TV series, and I thank the writers of the NTZ for using two of his stories during it's run. Sturgeon died not long before this episode aired, which accounts for the dedication at the end.

Today's television could truly benefit from using a few of his tales, though I suppose that will never happen. I'm not sure the writer's of UPN's past Twilight Zone disaster had read anything other than the back of a cereal box. Their stories certainly don't reflect any more imagination than the ingredient panel on a box of Kix.