I’m going to write about my top 10 favorite TZ episodes in the next few weeks…Most of the Twilight Zones are like songs to me…to be enjoyed over and over. The Twilight Zone is not really an ordinary TV show. It’s THE TWILIGHT ZONE. This is my personal choice for #4 on my list.
This one I will be giving it all away…more than I usually do…so just a warning.
This one I love and it’s one of the most memorable episodes. If you have never seen it…stop reading now. It’s one of my favorites (and supposedly Rod Serling’s favorite of all that he wrote).
It’s so heartbreaking at the end and I feel so much for Mr. Bemis. This one more than any other Twilight Zone surprised me a bit. It is one of the best twists of any Twilight Zone.
Rod Serling Opening Narration: Witness Mr. Henry Bemis, a charter member in the fraternity of dreamers. A bookish little man whose passion is the printed page, but who is conspired against by a bank president and a wife and a world full of tongue-cluckers and the unrelenting hands of a clock. But in just a moment, Mr. Bemis will enter a world without bank presidents or wives or clocks or anything else. He’ll have a world all to himself… without anyone.
The show was written by Rod Serling and Lynn Venable.
Henry Bemis (Burgess Meredith) is a bookish bank teller who has a childlike fascination for the written word…any written word be it books, periodicals, newspapers. He delights in taking any moment to read, through his incredibly thick “coke-bottle” glasses, even on his salaried time. He is consistently harassed by his wife, customers, and boss for his love of print to the point that he must sneak into the bank’s vault where he works to read on his lunch hour.
During one such visit, a nuclear bomb blast levels his city, leaving him unscathed, whereupon he exits to find that he has “time enough at last” to read all he wants when he finds the local library’s contents scattered about. At this point, (warning: spoiler!) he stacks the books into towers and rejoices in the solitude that will allow him to read everything he can…but in reaching for a particular book, his glasses slip off his face and smash….leaving him to mutter: “That’s not fair… that’s not fair at all… There was time now…. There was…all the time I needed!.. It’s not fair”. The scene then closes with the image panning away from a crying Bemis.
The Twilight Zones are mostly moral plays and justice usually is delivered to a guilty party. On this one, Mr. Bemis isn’t a bad guy. I can’t help but feel pity for Mr. Bemis. It’s not like he was anti-social. He tried to bond with people, although awkwardly, he did try.
He wasn’t the best worker but not terrible and he did read on his lunch breaks. If this episode has a bad “guy” it would be his boss and wife who took away the thing he loved the most. Maybe he was a little selfish and single-minded…but he paid an awfully big price…but the positive…he did survive!
Rod Serling Closing Narration: The best-laid plans of mice and men…and Henry Bemis, the small man in the glasses who wanted nothing but time. Henry Bemis, now just a part of a smashed landscape, just a piece of the rubble, just a fragment of what man has deeded to himself. Mr. Henry Bemis, in the Twilight Zone.
Burgess Meredith – Henry Bemis
Vaughn Taylor – Mr. Carsville
Jacqueline deWit – Helen Bemis (as Jaqueline deWit)
Lela Bliss – Mrs. Chester