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Old 12-01-2021, 10:42 AM   #81 (permalink)
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Hey, Trolls. Check out this video. This guy reviewed the entire first season. He's pretty good.

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Old 12-05-2021, 11:16 AM   #82 (permalink)
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“Why don’t they work properly? Offhand, I’d say it’s because you don’t treat them properly.”

Title: “A Thing About Machines”
Original transmission date: October 28 1960
Written by: Rod Serling
Directed by: David Orrick McDearmon
Starring: Richard Haydn as Bartlett Finchley
Barbara Stuart as Edith Rogers
Barney Phillips as TV Repairman

Setting: Earth
Timeframe: Present (at the time)
Theme(s): Fear of technology, paranoia, chauvinism, slavery, revenge, class
Parodied? Not to my knowledge, no
Rating: B

Serling’s opening monologue

This is Mr. Bartlett Finchley, age forty-eight, a practicing sophisticate who writes very special and very precious things for gourmet magazines and the like. He's a bachelor and a recluse with few friends, only devotees and adherents to the cause of tart sophistry. He has no interests save whatever current annoyances he can put his mind to. He has no purpose to his life except the formulation of day-to-day opportunities to vent his wrath on mechanical contrivances of an age he abhors. In short, Mr. Bartlett Finchley is a malcontent, born either too late or too early in the century, and who, in just a moment, will enter a realm where muscles and the will to fight back are not limited to human beings. Next stop for Mr. Bartlett Finchley - The Twilight Zone.


A rather snooty businessman who seems to think everyone is beneath him is having trouble with his electrical appliances. Well, you would, wouldn’t you, if when something didn’t work you threw it down the stairs, as he did with his radio, or put your foot through it, as was the fate of the innocent television? It seems Mr. Bartlett Finchley has at best a fractious relationship with machinery, and I think I can see already how this is going to go, but we’ll wait and let it play itself out. The repairman he calls in - not by any means his first visit here - seems baffled how the electronics all keep failing on the man, and tells Finchley that he suspects that the rich snob is not treating his appliances well. Not surprisingly, this does not go down well with Finchley, who dismisses him as he would a servant.

Once he’s gone though, Finchley’s arrogant facade breaks down, and it’s clear he’s quite worried, even frightened. When the clock goes off, chiming incessantly, he actually talks to it, threatens it, till he dashes it to the floor and smashes it to bits. When his long-suffering secretary quits under his constant haranguing and sarcasm, he changes again; it seems he is actually afraid to be in the house alone, and tries to convince her to stay. He confesses he believes there is something going on: his TV comes on during the night without his intervention, his radio the same, and his car, he says, deliberately rammed the garage when he was parking it in the driveway. His natural poor manner and snappish temper and intolerance though is such that, while the secretary has begun to feel worried about, even sorry for him, his insults and anger drive her from the house, with the fervent wish expressed that if there is a battle between man and machine, she hopes he loses!

As soon as she’s gone, the typewriter she was working on starts up on its own, and when he reads what it’s typed it says GET OUT OF HERE FINCHLEY. Then the TV comes on and a woman dancing the flamenco repeats the advice given by the typewriter. Retreating to his bedroom, he endeavours to scare up some company, just so he doesn't have to be alone, but he’s not, as has already been made quite clear, the nicest of people and nobody wants to know. In a fury, he pulls the telephone out of the wall and throws it on the ground, believing it too is against him. When he goes into the bathroom his electric razor seems to come alive, and he runs from it, to hear the voice coming out of the (disconnected) telephone, advising him to get out of the house.

Hearing a police siren, he hurries outside to be told that his car has rolled down from the driveway into the street and nearly knocked a child over. Unimpressed, he snarls at the rubberneckers to get off his property. Later, awaking from a drunken stupor, he hears the clock, which is no longer intact, chiming, and then everything starts at once, and as he runs from the house his car starts up by itself and chases him till it knocks him into a swimming pool, where he drowns.

As the paramedics put his body in the ambulance, the same cop that warned him about his car rolling says Finchley had sunk to the bottom and didn’t float up, which he thought was odd, as he hadn’t been weighted down. Paramedic thinks he died of a heart attack and drowned.


Serling’s closing monologue

Yes, it could just be. It could just be that Mr. Bartlett Finchley succumbed from a heart attack and a set of delusions. It could just be that he was tormented by an imagination as sharp as his wit and as pointed as his dislikes. But as perceived by those attending, this is one explanation that has left the premises with the deceased. Look for it filed under 'M' for Machines - in The Twilight Zone.

The Resolution

As expected. Finchley, who hates and distrusts and mistreats machines, is finally killed, either by them or by his own paranoia.

The Moral

Who knows? Be good to your computer?

Themes

Madness and paranoia force Finchley to believe he is the target of a conspiracy among the electrical items in his house, and he is a man who has no love for technology. Clearly, he’s been born a century too late, and would have been happier in the days of the colonies. Or would he? He’s such a thoroughly nasty man that maybe, had he lived in the nineteenth instead of the twentieth century, he might be railing against steam engines and cannon. Magic of a sort may be at work here, or it may just be Finchley’s deranged mind, and there’s a definite sense of revenge for the maltreated machines, also perhaps a nod to slavery. Finchley hates his machines but still presses them into his service, so this could be a case of the slaves revolting against their masters - or is that too cerebral? Misogyny here too, as Finchley calls his secretary empty-headed, and that old chestnut, class division, Finchley believing himself a cut above everyone else. Finally there’s fear of course, and a sense of loneliness borne out of that fear, the need to share the company of another human being so as to (hopefully) shut the machines up, or if not that, have the companion bear witness to the fact that he is in fact sane and these things are happening.

Oops!

There’s a logical fallacy here, or a contradiction in terms, whichever you prefer. When Finchley says he will one day write his memoirs, and that the repairman will take up a whole chapter, entitled “The most forgettable person I ever knew”, how could someone entirely forgettable be so important as to warrant a full chapter? By its very definition he would not be forgettable, but the very opposite.

And isn’t that…?

Richard Haydn (1905 - 1985)

Best known to our generation probably for his role in The Sound of Music as Max Detweiler, a small part in Young Frankenstein, a major role in Mutiny on the Bounty and the voice of the caterpillar in Disney’s Alice in Wonderland. I note with interest, given my allusions to slavery, that he was in fact once the overseer of a banana plantation in Jamaica, so while not quite a slave owner it does link him with slavery. Slightly interestingly too, with the proposed cause of death at the end of this episode being a heart attack, this is actually how he died.


Barney Phillips (1913 - 1982)

Best remembered as Sergeant Ed Jacobs on Dragnet and as Judge Buford Potts on The Dukes of Hazzard, we’ve met Phillips before, in the season one episode “The Purple Testament”, and so far, he stands as the one who has had the most Twilight Zone appearances, with two more to come, making four in all. He also guested in the usual shows of the era - Gunsmoke, Have Gun Will Travel, Hawaii Five-0, Columbo etc.


Henry Beckman (1921 - 2008)

Genre credits include a recurring role in the old Flash Gordon serial and the X-Files, as well as films such as Marnie and Silver Streak.

Those clever little touches

I don’t know if it’s intended, but when Finchley dials the telephone in his bedroom a lamp beside it, in response to the action of dialling, moves its shade, which makes it look as if it’s alive. Of course it’s only physics, but given that Finchley believes all the machines are against him (and while of course a desk lamp is not quite a machine, it does have to be plugged in to work, so might qualify on that basis) it could be regarded as a little spooky.

The Times they are a Changin’

Finchley moans that a replacement headlight cost him 150 dollars. Given the time we’re talking about here, where only in the last episode Jackie Rhoades could rent a hotel room - a shitty one, but still a room - for four dollars, you would have to imagine this is a very expensive car indeed that Finchley owns! Even now, I doubt a headlight on its own costs that much.

Parallels

The only one I can think of here is “The Fever”, where Franklin thought the one-armed bandit was alive and coming to get him.

Sussed?

Yeah, though I did wonder if the advice was a warning, that maybe the house was about to burn down and they were telling him to get out in concern for his safety. Not really likely though, him being such a bastard and all.

The WTF Factor

Really low. Struggles to get a 2, and that’s being generous.
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Last edited by Trollheart; 12-05-2021 at 11:24 AM.
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Old 12-06-2021, 08:21 AM   #83 (permalink)
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Okay, so I'll review four

King Nine Will Not Return: Pretty average Zone in my opinion. Robert Cummings' one man act is maybe a little over the top. He also had a reputation for not being particularly well-liked in his day. The story itself is interesting though and I think it works fairly well as a psychological piece. Rating: B

The Man in the Bottle: This is one that can be easy to hate. The performances are good and I'm always a sucker for devilish (in this case, a semi-evil genie) characters. Still, I, like others, wonder why Castle gets four wishes as opposed to the usual three. And, yeah, we know the guy is Hitler- and it's the end of the war- Duh! Still have to admit liking the episode though. Rating: B

Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room: Another one man act for the most part. Also, one of the best. Joe Mantell nails it with both his nervous "is somebody going to hurt me" persona and his more confident mirror image. You can't help but root for the man inside and cheer when he ultimately wins out. William D. Gordon does a good turn as the slimy George as well. Rating: A-

A Thing About Machines: I always enjoy watching this episode. certainly not the best TZ by any means and not even among my favorites. But you can't help but get a kick out of Finchley being told to get out by the woman on the TV screen and being attacked by an electric razor and the car that ultimately kills him. Again, is this a psychological piece about a snob gone bonkers, or are we really going into the supernatural? A fun piece. Rating: B+

Okay that's it for now.
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