The Lateness of the Hour
|"The Lateness of the Hour"|
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 2
|Directed by||Jack Smight|
|Written by||Rod Serling|
|Featured music||none credited|
|Original air date||December 2, 1960|
At the foot of the staircase in the Loren mansion — as Dr. Loren and the robot servants walk out of camera range, Rod Serling moves into view behind them:
|“||The residence of Dr. William Loren, which is in reality a menagerie for machines. We're about to discover that sometimes the product of man's talent and genius can walk amongst us untouched by the normal ravages of time. These are Dr. Loren's robots, built to functional as well as artistic perfection. But in a moment Dr. William Loren, wife and daughter will discover that perfection is relative, that even robots have to be paid for, and very shortly will be shown exactly what is the bill.||”|
Jana, the sensitive daughter of a creative genius, Dr. Loren, is distraught over her parents' reliance on her father's five seemingly perfect robot servants, complete with programmed memories and personalities.
She implores her father to dismantle the robots before he and her mother become completely dependent on them. When her request becomes an ultimatum, Dr. Loren complies to save his relationship with his daughter. Once the robots are out of the picture, Jana announces her intention to leave the stifling confines of the house, marry and have children. Seeing the dismayed expressions of her "parents", combined with a series of sudden realizations, including the fact that the family photo album contains no pictures of her as a child, she arrives at the shocking awareness that she, too, is a robot, albeit much more emotionally sophisticated than the ones that were dismantled.
Dr. Loren tries to explain that they were childless and wanted someone to love, but the discovery causes Jana such anguish that her "father" is forced to erase the memory of her former "identity" and ultimately use her as a replacement for Nelda, the maid skilled at giving Mrs. Loren her shoulder massages.
|“||Let this be the postscript — Should you be worn out by the rigors of competing in a very competitive world, if you're distraught from having to share your existence with the noises and neuroses of the twentieth century, if you crave serenity but want it full time and with no strings attached, get yourself a workroom in the basement, and then drop a note to Dr. and Mrs. William Loren. They're a childless couple who made comfort a life's work, and maybe there are a few do-it-yourself pamphlets still available... in the Twilight Zone.||”|
Preview for the following episode
Announcer: "And now, Mr. Serling"
|“||An attractive and rather imposing room lived in by a man named Templeton. And, like most rooms, suggestive, really, of only a part of the man — the outside part. Our story next week takes off from here. Mr. Brian Aherne lends us his considerable talents in a script by E. Jack Neuman called "The Trouble With Templeton". It can best be described as poignant, provocative, and a highly-diverting trip into... The Twilight Zone.||”|
- "THE LATENESS OF THE HOUR"
- Directed by Jack Smight [second of four Twilight Zone episodes—see "Episode notes"]
- Written by Rod Serling [thirty-third of ninety-two Twilight Zone episodes]
- Produced by Buck Houghton [forty-third of one-hundred-one Twilight Zone episodes]
- The Twilight Zone Created by Rod Serling
- Starring Inger Stevens as Jana [second of two Twilight Zone appearances—see "Episode notes"]
- John Hoyt as Dr. Loren [first of two Twilight Zone appearances—see "Episode notes"]
- Irene Tedrow as Mrs. Loren [second of two Twilight Zone appearances—see "Episode notes"]
- with Tom Palmer as Robert (the butler)
- Mary Gregory as Nelda (the maid utilized for massaging Mrs. Loren's shoulders) [second of three Twilight Zone appearances—see "Episode notes"]
- Valley Keene as Suzanne (the maid who tumbles down the stairs and reacts with a smile)
- Doris Karnes as Gretchen (the maid who says to Jana, "I consider that unforgivable behavior") [second of two Twilight Zone appearances—see "Episode notes"]
- Jason Johnson as Jensen (the handyman) [second of two Twilight Zone appearances—see "Episode notes"]
The plot point of robots imbued with human memories and who believe they are human is similar to that in Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which it predated. The novel is the basis for the 1982 film Blade Runner.
"The Lateness of the Hour" was one of six second-season Twilight Zone episodes shot on videotape instead of film in an attempt to cut costs. By November 1960, The Twilight Zone's second season had already broadcast five episodes and finished filming sixteen. However, at a cost of about $65,000 per episode, the show was exceeding its budget. As a result, six consecutive episodes were videotaped at CBS Television City and eventually transferred to 16-millimeter film ["kinescoped"] for syndicated rebroadcasts. Total savings on editing and cinematography amounted to around $30,000 for all six entries, not enough to justify the loss of depth of visual perspective, which made the shows look like stagebound live TV dramas (e.g. Playhouse 90, also produced at CBS). The experiment was deemed a failure and never attempted again.
Even though the six shows were taped in a row, through November and into mid-December, their broadcast dates were out of order and varied widely, with this initial one airing on December 2, 1960 as second season episode 8. The second one, "Static", aired on March 10, 1961 as episode 20; the third, "The Whole Truth", appeared on January 20, 1961 as episode 14; the fourth was Twilight Zone's sole Christmas entry, "The Night of the Meek", shown as the 11th episode on December 23, 1960; the fifth, "Twenty Two", was seen on February 10, 1961 as episode 17 and the last one, "Long Distance Call", was transmitted on March 31, 1961 as episode 22.
Personnel and cast with multiple Twilight Zone credits
- Jack Smight (1925–2003), a director of numerous TV episodes, made-for-TV movies and theatrical films, helmed four Twilight Zone episodes, including three of the six videotaped ones. His first assignment on the show was "The Lonely" which, shown as the seventh episode of the first season, was the first regularly-filmed installment after the pilot episode.
- This was the second of two Twilight Zone starring roles for TV's Swedish Farmer's Daughter, Inger Stevens (1934–1970) who, during her final decade, kept a busy schedule of television guest appearances as well as feature film roles. Her earlier performance was in one of the first season's most unsettling episodes, "The Hitch-Hiker", in which she played another tormented character, a lone driver who meets her inexorable fate in the personification of death.
- Familiar character actor John Hoyt (1905–1991) frequently portrayed intellectuals, including a number of mad scientists (1958's Attack of the Puppet People). His other Twilight Zone appearance, twenty episodes later, was as one of the most memorable personalities in the history of the show — the dismayed Martian who is one-upped by the diner-counterman-turned-Venusian in the rival-Earth-invasions surprise ending of the season's penultimate episode, "Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?".
- At the time of her two Twilight Zone appearances, busy character actress Irene Tedrow (1907–1995) was playing a busybody neighbor on CBS' sitcom Dennis the Menace during its entire 1959–63 run. Her earlier role was in another one of the first season's top episodes, "Walking Distance", where she portrayed the young Gig Young's mother. The Lateness of the Hour, coincidentally, tracks a number of Bernard Herrmann's musical cues from Walking Distance.
- Small-part actress Mary Gregory was seen, starting in 1955, in well over a hundred TV episodes, including first season's "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" and third season's "The Shelter".
- Doris Karnes seems to have had no acting career other than small roles in two Twilight Zone installments and three episodes of other TV series, all between 1959 and 1962. Here, she's the third maid, Gretchen, and in first season's "What You Need", appears in the final minute as a woman who, along with her husband, is awakened by the commotion surrounding the late-evening car accident death of Steve Cochran.
- Jason Johnson (1907–1977), another small-part player (and scriptwriter) seen in at least a hundred TV shows of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, was also, along with Mary Gregory, in "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street".
- DeVoe, Bill. (2008). Trivia from The Twilight Zone. Albany, GA: Bear Manor Media. ISBN 978-1-59393-136-0
- Grams, Martin. (2008). The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic. Churchville, MD: OTR Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9703310-9-0
- "The Lateness of the Hour" at the Internet Movie Database
- The Lateness of the Hour at the TV.com episode page