Set in the near future (1981!), the Americans are about to complete their first mission to Mars. The atmosphere is electric as millions of viewers around the world watch Colonel Brice Randolph (Monte Markham) take man’s first steps on the red planet. Suddenly, the television screens fade to black . . .
Randolph has died, poisoned by some unknown element in the atmosphere which penetrates his spacesuit.
With the President urging budget cuts to the space program – and this disaster providing all the ammunition he will need with Congress – the Director of the Mars mission, Kurt Anderson (Jackie Cooper), decides to substitute a lookalike for Colonel Randolph and hush the whole business up.
And so down-and-out ex-Air Force pilot Eddie Reese (also Markham) assumes the dead astronaut’s identity (with the aid of a little plastic surgery and a lot of briefing).
Mrs Randolph (Susan Clark) slowly becomes aware that this is not her husband but finds herself falling in love all over again with this new version.
In time, the Soviets launch their own mission to land on Mars.
NASA does not warn them of the dangers that await their cosmonauts, but Reese and Gail decide to reveal the truth.
Produced at Universal Studios, this superior made-for-television thriller aired on ABC.
Eddie Reese/Col. Brice Randolph
Robert Michael Lewis