Being forty-eight and watching a television show from 1959, I'm often familiar with the protagonist of each episode but not often familiar enough to know their name or where I've seen them before. Jack Warden stars in this episode, "The Lonely Man," and nobody my age would be surprised to hear that I recognized him. His voice alone is enough to make a viewer think, "How much of my life have I wasted watching television that this old fart is as familiar to me as one of my own grandparents?" In my head, I kept thinking, "I know him from something where he yells a lot. At little kids even!" My initial thought was The Bad News Bears even though that's one of my all time favorite movies and I know Buttermaker was played by Walter Matthau. But my brain kept giving me that image anyway. So I went to IMDB, as often we all do in this day and age because we have to know everything immediately and, because we have a machine that does it for us, nobody ever retains any information what-so-ever because what the fuck do I look like? A pledge for Lambda Lambda Lambda? An actor's credits go from most current projects to older projects so the first thing he was in with which I really connected was Dirty Work. Oh yeah! He was Pops! And he yells a lot in that so maybe that's why I think of him as yelling a lot! But then, lo and behold, there it was. He played Buttermaker in the television series of The Bad News Bears! I don't even have any actual memories about the show but I don't doubt for a second that I watched every episode when it aired. And my brain remembered even if my stupid stubborn brain decided to keep it as privileged information. For whom?! Doesn't my brain know I am my brain? What a fucking jerk.
I know that's a pretty piss poor review of a television show. But have you read my reviews for Friends? At least I didn't say Jack Warden was played by a literal sack of potatoes.
Just reread all of this again but skip the previous stuff and start at the next paragraph if you're actually interested in The Twilight Zone and aren't interested in my brain damage. That's different than just continuing to read from this point on because...well, just trust me. I can't explain everything!
In this episode, a man has been convicted of murder and sent to life on an asteroid. You think the current prison industrial complex is expensive well just wait until Rod Serling's future version! Every felon serving a life sentence must be shot into space and gets their own asteroid all to themselves while getting constant resupplies of free goods every three months. And you know it's a private firm being paid with government money. What a waste of taxes! But at least everybody back on Earth can feel safe knowing that terrible criminals can't escape prison to rape their VCRs in the dead of night.
Believe it or not, this fucked up new penal system isn't the point of the show. It's just the excuse to showcase a man in an environment where he's driven so mad from loneliness that he winds up fucking a machine and falling in love with it. The space pilot who brings him the fuck machine is horrified to find out that the prisoner thought it was for more than just fucking. Sure, the machine looked and acted just like a real woman and not like a toaster with a lubed hole. So maybe it's a little bit understandable that a lonely man would be driven so crazy by loneliness that he might actually find comfort in the arms of a woman. I mean a machine. You have to remember it's a machine or else you'd be all, "What is this episode about? It's about a lonely man finding comfort in another person's intimacy? Is that weird?" But then when the ace space pilot shoots the face off of the robot, you, as the viewer, are reminded that what you were witnessing was a man driven to perversion by the ultimate existential monster: loneliness!
After Jack Warden unboxed the robot, I was all, "Oh yeah! That's pretty hot!" But then the robot cried when Jack Warden kept refusing her advances and screaming at her, "What kind of a man fucks a toaster oven?!" That made me think the situation was more complex than I first thought (which was "Oh! A fuck robot! Nice!"). And once she cries, you wind up thinking, "Maybe the pilot messed up and brought an actual woman in a box! That's quite a twist. I guess it's okay if Jack fucks her now. That's not weird. Maybe she was convicted of murder too!" So then when her face is shot off, casually, at point blank range and the asteroid isn't painted with brains and bone but nuts and bolts, you're left thinking, "Maybe I should have waited until the end before I stuck my dick in this old VCR."
Was this a love story? I think maybe? I think the moral of the story is either "You can find true love with anything as long as nobody else is around to judge you and depending on how good looking you can dress up your air conditioner" or "Loneliness can lead even the most ethically ambiguous man into the delusional dark recesses of perversion!" Or maybe it's just "Cars and chess boards can't replace a good woman. But someday soon, they'll get pretty fucking close! Yee-haw!"