Twilight Zone – Time Enough At Last… #4

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.

CAST

Burgess Meredith – Henry Bemis
Vaughn Taylor – Mr. Carsville
Jacqueline deWit – Helen Bemis (as Jaqueline deWit)
Lela Bliss – Mrs. Chester

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

32 thoughts on “Twilight Zone – Time Enough At Last… #4”

  1. a classic – one of the few episodes I remember quite well and in some amount of detail. Serling’s wordplay in the intro alone is worth the price of admission, as they say.

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    1. Yea…Jennifer never cared for science fiction too much but I just got her watching the Twilight Zone…she liked this one but felt sorry for him…and I have to admit I did also.

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    1. They ignored that part. Everything was just leveled and they didn’t go into that. Him breaking his glasses was what they zeroed in on.

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  2. A memorable episode and Burgess Meredith was always great. From a logical point of view, though, if he can find food to last him, should prob be able to find some spare glasses 🙂 Yes that’s not the point, it’s always the plot twist that’s important in Rod Serling, I just can’t help myself!

    If you like plot twists, beautifully written, and dealing with every issue imagineable, I can’t recommend US Pulp sci-fi writer Fredric Brown highly enough. Most of his work was in the 40’s and 50’s, I’m currently reading From These Ashes, his collected sci-fi short stories and they are amazing, still relevant, still smart, albeit in the period vernacular of the 40’s, which I love. I’m tempted to do an in-depth review at some stage, as he’s been largely forgotten these days, give or take Arena (which Star Trek based an episode on – only not as well-written as the darker original).

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    1. Thanks…I’ll keep him in mind…I love those kind of short stories. The reason I like the Twilight Zone is because of the twist endings…so I know I’ll like it.

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      1. My most-precious book of all is a 1952 U.S. pulp paperback of Space On My Hands, which I bought in Singapore in 1970, the glue holding the pages together was failing even then – they weren’t built to last! – but it’s still complete and I wouldn’t part with it for anything less than very large sums of money 🙂

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  3. A great episode of the series! I didn’t really see the original airings, rather the reruns, but this one was a favorite for sure. Excellent post as always, and I’m anticipating more of your Twilight Zone reviews.

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    1. Considering the original run was 1959 to 1964, not many here would have seen the primary airings. If you happened to be 10 years old when it came on in 1959, you’d be around 72, now. My SO was 16 when they came out. He remembers many.

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      1. Irony? Serling’s twisted sense of humor? Another example of wanting something so much to the detriment of all else (thinking of Hans talking of the Star Trek episode)?

        It is an examination of the intense desire for one thing.

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      2. Yea I know…someone had to get it and it was the irony…that was the whole reason of the story…but you know what I’m talking about…usually its the scumbucket who gets it.

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  4. Didn’t watch this one but I got to see a couple of Twilight Zones last night…the classic Nightmare at 20000 Feet and the one with the fountain of youth man. Hehehe, the gremlin on Nightmare was so cheesy looking , but the story itself was still great. Excellent story-telling that I’m glad to get back into.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you are watching! I have been watching all the classics, the 1985 version, and the 2002 versions lately…so I’ve been living and breathing the Twilight Zone.

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