Story by Alan Brennert
Directed by Curtis Harrington
Original Airdate - July 10, 1987
Martin Balsam - Prof. Donald Knowles
Jenny Agutter - Jacinda Carlyle
Wortham Krimmer - Leader
Tim Russ - Archer
Dennis Haskins - Bledsoe
Theodore Lehman - Old Man
Eve Brenner - Old Woman
Sandra Ganzer - Girl
C'Esca Lawrence - Young Woman



An interstellar team of scientists come to Earth after centuries of living elsewhere, to see if it can sustain life again.  If it cannot, they will mine it for what it has left and leave it derelict.  Donald, one of the older scientists, wants to believe it can support life.  He begins hearing voices, but no one else does.  He puts a centuries-old CD into a player just as old, and miraculously it plays.  As the music fills the room, he hears the voices again and turns around, amazed to see shadowy figures behind him.  One of them appear right in front of him and pleads for help.  He thinks he's seeing things.
Back at the ship, he tries to convince the commander that it can be saved, but she insists the Earth is dead.  As Donald sits in the control room, a figure appears on the screen, and asks if he remembers them now.  He goes outside again, and sees the shadowy figures of the people who once inhabited Earth coming toward him.  The figures ask him if more will be coming.  They are the ones left behind, the souls of all the people who had been alive on the Earth.  They are looking for their past and their future.  They can't follow the ship, so if Earth is to be left derelict, so will they.  They entreat Donald to explain that the Earth does still have life, and not to take it away from them. 

Donald takes the commander out for a walk, but she doesn't believe him.  He asks that they show themselves, but they don't.  The commander thinks he's crazy, and apologizes for bringing him to this planet, the one that meant so much to him.  After they leave, the people appear.  That night, they seem to possess Donald and cause him to try to destroy the equipment.  They stop him, and he doesn't remember anything.  The commander is going to send Donald back to headquarters, because he's obviously having mental issues, and then she's going to give the command to mine the planet.  Donald tries one last time to reason with the shadowy people.  They want to possess his body to try and get to the planet they're living on now, but don't know what would happen.  Donald calls them cowards, but also tells them that they can still influence the Earth, and cause it to heal. 

Donald thinks he's going to be possessed by one of the shadow people for the return to their new home, so the rest can follow.  But as he's talking to the commander, they hear thunder and don't believe it.  It begins to rain, and they are astonished.  Life has returned to Earth, at an accelerated rate.  Donald is thrilled, because it means that the Earth will be saved.  He goes outside, where there is now oxygen, and thanks the shadows for what they did.  They sacrificed themselves, and gave life to Earth again.



"Voices in the Earth" is a hopeful story, and the way the Earth is going might be more prophetic than we'd like it to be.  Written by Alan Brennert, it speaks to the frailty of the human spirit, and also to its strength.  We are a cowardly race at times, but when necessary we can all join together for change.  In fact, this seems like the basic story that "WALL-e" used, so it could be that Andrew Stanton and Pete Docter were fans of the new Twilight Zone, and remembered this story.  If this is true, I'd love to hear from them. :->

Martin Balsam is wonderful as the scientist who cares so much for the battered planet his species left behind.  Balsam has always been good in anything he ever did, so that's no surprise.  Jenny Agutter does a competent job as the commander of the ship, who was also a student of Balsam's at one time. 

The special effects are, once again, brilliant.  The shadow people are excellently done.  They're eerie and beautiful, but not scary.  The background matte is gorgeous.  I actually have one of the production paintings from this episode, and it's surprisingly detailed.  All the work that goes into these shows is amazing; you don't really know about it till you talk to someone who worked on the show.

I have to say something about the set design for this segment.  The new Twilight Zone excelled at set design, but they have outdone themselves here for one of the final shows.   The derelict earth is extremely well done, setting the tone for the segment.  The golden hue everything has gives us hope that life can return again. 

One funny thing in the story.  When Balsam walks into a 1,000 year old music store and opens a CD from a grime-covered case, putting it into an equally grime-covered portable CD player, I had to laugh.  The music begins right away, as if the batteries in that eons-old player were still working.  That's a bit of continuity that someone should have thought of.  I could barely believe that a centuries old CD will work, when some of mine have died after only a few years, but a portable CD player working after all that time is just plain unbelieveable, and funny.