A Thing About Machines
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|"A Thing About Machines"|
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 2|
|Directed by||David Orrick McDearmon|
|Written by||Rod Serling|
|Original air date||October 28, 1960|
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 repairman has paid a house call to Bartlett Finchley, who is having trouble with the TV, and notes that he should not damage his appliances (he smashed the screen of the TV for a mild inconvenience). It turns out he is an ill-tempered gourmet magazine critic who reviles humanity (a misanthrope), though he simultaneously seems lonely. He's as inept with machines as he is with people. Frustrated, he constantly abuses machines and starts to think they are conspiring against him. After berating his secretary/typist, he attempts to explain his terrible behavior to her as being a result of machines turning against him. When she suggests seeing a doctor, he angrily dismisses her. The people he tells about this write him off as paranoid, but eventually every machine in his house (including his car) turns on him. We learn from him his views about why the radio doesn't work and why his clock chimes more than the hour. His typewriter types the message, "GET OUT OF HERE FINCHLEY", three times. A castanet dancer on the TV speaks the same message, and upstairs his electric razor rises menacingly into the air, lunging at him like a cobra. He rips the telephone cord out of the wall, but a voice on the phone is heard repeating, "GET OUT OF HERE FINCHLEY".
He hears a siren and goes outside to find that his car has rolled down the driveway and almost hit a small boy. After rudely dismissing the neighbors who have collected to gawk, and the attending police officer, Finchley returns to the house where he drinks a full bottle of hard liquor, and passes out. When he wakes up, the television and other machines start telling him to get out, and his electric razor slithers down the stairs in pursuit of him. Finchley runs from the house and is chased by his car (a 1939 Lagonda coupe). It chases him to his pool and pushes him in. He sinks to the bottom and drowns; the last thing he sees being the car's headlights. The police pull him out of the water, and neither they nor the ambulance personnel can explain how he could sink to the bottom when he was not weighted down (normally, a body would float), nor could they explain the car near the pool. They theorize he may have had a heart attack.
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.
- Richard Haydn as Bartlett Finchley
- Barbara Stuart as Edith Rogers
- Barney Phillips as TV repairman
- Jay Overholts as Intern
- Henry Beckman as Policeman
- Margarita Cordova as Girl on TV
- 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