Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Forgotten TV: THE TWILIGHT ZONE: The Lonely (or Fake Love) from Season 1



THE LONELY is usually chosen as one of the top ten or twenty TWILIGHT ZONE episodes. And I can see that. It's is fairly credible that a future society might imprison criminals on distant pieces of sky. And also credible they might provide them with robotic company. Jack Warden plays the lonely prisoner and his musings are poetic and poignant. Jean Marsh plays the robot who comes to provide companionship.

But this episode went sour on me at the end. The ending I expected was that it would turn out that she was an invention of his loneliness and once rescued he would not need her any longer and let her go.
Instead Sterling chooses to have an astronaut blast her in the face, exposing her mechanical parts, and Warden accepts this all too easily. A romantic episode that went awry in my book. Boo! Hiss!

Endings on TTZ were the most problematic feature as I rewatch some of them. O'Henry endings are all too common. What do you think? 

14 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

You're right about the O. Henry kind of endings, Patti. The Twilight Zone certainly has its share of them.

R.T. said...

Well, sometimes those endings worked well. I remember especially clearly the Burgess Meredith TTZ episode in which he portrayed a myopic bank clerk, heckled husband, and book-addicted reader who regretted not having enough time alone to read books. Then, when he is the last man alive after nuclear holocaust, he is in his own version of heaven. He finally has time enough to do nothing but read. However . . .

But I must not spill the beans with the so-called O. Henry ending. Find the episode and watch it. People who are book-addicted readers (like must of us who write and follow book blogs) will appreciate and understand the episode.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Correction: not Jean Smart (who was born in 1951), but Jean Marsh (from Upstairs, Downstairs).

And yes, Rod Serling loved his O. Henry twist endings, didn't he?

Jeff M.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Will never forget the Burgess Meredith one, which many consider the best. My grandfather died the night it played.

R.T. said...

Oh, Patti, I apologize for triggering such a sad memory.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Yes, that was an O'Henry ending that really worked.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Not at all. I like remembering him.

Charles Gramlich said...

I thought the ending was great. A better story though, is Helen O'Loy. which this TWZ episode was probaby based on. The ending is much better in the story.

Mathew Paust said...

Post modern anti-romantic? I don't remember that one, but I have no desire to see.

George said...

Some of the TWILIGHT ZONE endings got too cute. And, like most of the O. Henry endings, the woman always dies.

seana graham said...

Yes, I was going to say that sounds a tad misogynistic for my taste. And how could anyone do that to the lovely Jean Marsh. I'll have to try and watch it just to see her before she so universally known as "Rose".

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

I quite like the ending though because , while blunt, it suits the harder SF shell it inhabits and seems the right way to make the character accepting reality - whereas the likes of the sublime WALKING DISTANCE are fantasies, where that sort of ending makes more sense.

Cap'n Bob said...

What I saw here was snippets of the episode drowned out by some totally mismatched music. But I got enough to get the plot.

Todd Mason said...

"Time Enough at Last" has, fwiw, a Lyn Venable ending...as it's easily the most famous thing about Ms. Venable's literary career. Damon Knight's "To Serve Man" and Jerome Bixby's "It's a GOOD Life..." likewise belonging to their authors, much as too few want to admit about Robert Bloch's PSYCHO albeit at least enough think about Shirley Jackson's THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE.

Yes, too many Serling scripts were thin rewrites of better stories by others, or half-baked notions never fleshed out well enough. He needed to rely more on his stable of writers, but it didn't help, for example, when Charles Beaumont began to succumb to his Way Early Alzheimer's.

Yes, shooting the Jean Marsh robot would not be the behavior one would prefer. "Helen O'Loy" by Lester Del Rey is indeed a rather good and important story, one which tends to be misinterpreted (the robot there was programmed via the sappiest sort of soap opera), and the ending is definitely one which I think you would approve of, Patti, both as a matter of craft and as as matter of human drama. A little more imitation of a better story might've served everyone well here.