Saturday, November 23, 2019

Review of The Twilight Zone, S1, E8: "The One with Burgess Meredith that Everybody Knows"

This is the first episode that wasn't an original story by Rod Serling. He wrote the teleplay based on a story by Lynn Venable. But, once again, the idea of loneliness as the most crippling aspect of our existence looms over the entire story. It's almost as if loneliness were an incurable disease which caused an eventual death so terribly painful that a person with the disease always tries to end it all as quickly as possible once they realize they've contracted it. Henry Bemis lasts maybe a day after the world ends and he finds he's the only survivor before he's ready to pick up a gun and shoot himself in the face (possibly exposing that he was a sex robot all along!). Bemis makes sure to mention that he'd be fine except for the loneliness. But he doesn't really go on and on about the other people he hated not being there. He does go on and on about how boring everything has become. So I think he's more willing to murder himself out of boredom than loneliness.

"Time Enough At Last" begins with poor Henry Bemis distracted at his job because he's trying to read David Copperfield while also counting out money at his place of employment, the bank. Everybody hates him because he's a reader. They all despise his love of reading. I guess in the Fifties, reading was worse than showing off. "Oh, look at the smart jerk without the buzz cut! What a fancy boy! Knows words, you know 'em when you hear 'em even if you can't think 'em up!" It's also possible they despise him because he doesn't do anything but read. His boss hates that he can't do his job well. His wife hates that he can't do his marital duties well. She says, "I won't let you lose the art of conversation," (or something like that) but I know what she really meant. You had to use a lot of euphemisms in the Fifties or else somebody would call you a communist.

But all Henry wants to do is read. Too bad real life always gets in the way! Stupid jobs and wives and customers and responsibilities. I get that nobody ever has enough time to do all the things that you want to do once you find them. But some of us organize our lives in such a way that we can do the things we love as often as possible, like working jobs below our capabilities and not marrying vicious shrews who mangle our poetry books. But Henry didn't think about that when he was getting his life together so he had to wait until the world was destroyed during his lunch break.

Henry eats in the vault so when the world blows up, he's safe in his makeshift bunker. Being television in the Fifties, he only sees evidence of one person dead (his boss, crushed beneath rubble) instead of walking around the city seeing the gory remains of everybody he ever knew. He manages to find plenty of food and cigarettes to get him through as many days as he has left (especially if those days are just a couple which is about all he can stomach). But he doesn't have any entertainment. So what's the point, really? Without distractions (or a sex robot), what is life?! That's Henry's point of view anyway so when he finds a gun, he instantly sticks it to his head to end the boredom.

I used to think Rod Serling had some kind of a phobia regarding loneliness but now I think it was just a phobia of boredom. The immortal guy spends five minutes in jail after realizing he's going to spend his entire mortal life in jail and he's ready to end it all. He's definitely not lonely! He's just so bored that he'd rather die. Well, Henry's got some of that attitude in him as well. But luckily for Henry and for all the people who love the twist ending that they all remember, Henry sees the library just before blowing his brains out. Whew! That was a close one! Although that would be a good twist ending too, right? He puts the gun to his head instead of in his mouth and winds up blowing his eyes out and surviving. Then Nelson Muntz pops up and points and says, "Ha ha!" But remember! This was from 1959. That's more of a modern twist!

Henry Bemis, despicable low-life reader (please be sure to read the word reader dripping with disdain), finds all the books he can ever read. And he even gets to say the title of the episode when faced with all the time in the world to read as much as he wants: "The One with Burgess Meredith that Everybody Knows," he says. Then he drops his glasses and they break and he whines, "It's not fair! It's not fair!" Meanwhile all the ghosts of all the people all over the world incinerated by the H-Bomb begin making jerking off motions and thinking, "Oh, why don't you tell us about fair, Henry!" The worst part is that now he won't even be able to find that gun! Also, Nelson Muntz could have popped up and pointed and said, "Ha ha!", for this ending too but that might have been too cruel. Although isn't that why everybody loves this episode so much? Because the fucking reader gets whats coming to him! Fucking readers. PTUI!

The moral of this episode is to always carry an extra pair of glasses with you when you rely on them so heavily. Or maybe,after the world ends, to first find the pharmacy or the opticians before you begin climbing around a dangerous world full of rubble. Unless the moral is reading will always get you into trouble so maybe listen to your wife when she says you're a big dumb homo poetry reader and just go give it to her good already!

Now I'm thinking about a rewrite of the previous episode, "The Lonely Man," but renaming it "The Lonely Woman" and have the hotshot female space pilot bring the prisoner a sentient vibrator to keep her company over the long nights. But when she's told that there's no room aboard the ship when it comes to save her, she just tosses the vibrator as far away as she can and says, "Thank God. One more night of that Goddamn thing telling me about the novel it's working on and I'd have blown my face off." Then the hot shot space pilot would be all, "Well, now that your sentence has been overturned, I can finally see you as a real person and stick my face between your legs." Then they'd make out and the story would end with a big sex scene and I'd be fucking rich.

No comments:

Post a Comment