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"The Lateness of the Hour" is an episode of the The Twilight Zone.
From the CBS Video Library cover:
"Brilliant scientist William Loren has retreated from the outside world into a house of his own design, where his family's safety and comfort is assured by human-looking robot servants. Daughter Jana (Inger Stevens)—whose memories go no further than the house's four walls—feels the sanctuary is actually a prison and that her parents' reliance on the robots is turning them into vegetables. She gives her father an ultimatum: dismantle the robots or she leaves home. Reluctantly, Loren complies. Jana is overjoyed—with the robots gone, she can throw wide the doors and begin a normal life. But, unbeknownst to her, Loren hasn't had the heart to dismantle one very special robot...and when Jana is introduced to it, she will find herself permanently plunged into the Twilight Zone."
"The residence of Dr. William Loren, which is in reality a menagerie for machines. We're about to discover that sometimes the product of man's talent and genius can walk amongst us untouched by the normal ravages of time. These are Dr. Loren's robots, built to functional as well as artistic perfection. But in a moment Dr. William Loren, wife and daughter will discover that perfection is relative, that even robots have to be paid for, and very shortly will be shown exactly what is the bill."
Jana, the sensitive daughter of a creative genius, Dr. Loren, is distraught over her parents' reliance on her father's five seemingly perfect robot servants, complete with programmed memories and personalities. She implores her father to dismantle the robots before he and her mother become completely dependent on them. When her request becomes an ultimatum, Dr. Loren complies to save his relationship with his daughter. Once the robots are out of the picture, Jana gains newfound freedom to start a real life and announces her intention to leave the stifling confines of the house, marry and have children. Seeing the dismayed expressions of her "parents", combined with a series of sudden realizations, including the fact that the family photo album contains no pictures of her as a child, she arrives at the shocking reality that she, too, is a robot, albeit much more emotionally sophisticated than the ones that were dismantled. Dr. Loren tries to explain that they were childless and wanted someone to love, but the discovery causes Jana such anguish that her "father" is forced to erase the memory of her former "identity" and ultimately use her as a replacement for Nelda, the maid skilled at giving Mrs. Loren her enjoyed shoulder massages.
"Let this be the postscript — Should you be worn out by the rigors of competing in a very competitive world, if you're distraught from having to share your existence with the noises and neuroses of the twentieth century, if you crave serenity but want it full time and with no strings attached, get yourself a workroom in the basement, and then drop a note to Dr. and Mrs. William Loren. They're a childless couple who made comfort a life's work, and maybe there are a few do-it-yourself pamphlets still available... in the Twilight Zone."
Preview for Next Week's Story
"An attractive and rather imposing room lived in by a man named Templeton. And, like most rooms, suggestive, really, of only a part of the man — the outside part. Our story next week takes off from here. Mr. Brian Aherne lends us his considerable talents in a script by E. Jack Neuman called "The Trouble With Templeton". It can best be described as poignant, provocative, and a highly-diverting trip into... The Twilight Zone."
The plot point of robots imbued with human memories and who believe they are human is similar to that in Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which it predated. The novel is the basis for the 1982 film Blade Runner. "The Lateness of the Hour" was one of six second-season Twilight Zone episodes shot on videotape instead of film in an attempt to cut costs. By November 1960, The Twilight Zone's second season had already broadcast five episodes and finished filming sixteen. However, at a cost of about $65,000 per episode, the show was exceeding its budget. As a result, six consecutive episodes were videotaped at CBS Television City and eventually transferred to 16-millimeter film ["kinescoped"] for syndicated rebroadcasts. Total savings on editing and cinematography amounted to around $30,000 for all six entries, not enough to justify the loss of depth of visual perspective, which made the shows look like stagebound live TV dramas (e.g. Playhouse 90, also produced at CBS). The experiment was deemed a failure and never attempted again. Even though the six shows were taped in a row, through November and into mid-December, their broadcast dates were out of order and varied widely, with this initial one airing on December 2, 1960 as second season episode 8. The second one, "Static", aired on March 10, 1961 as episode 20; the third, "The Whole Truth", appeared on January 20, 1961 as episode 14; the fourth was Twilight Zone's sole Christmas entry, "The Night of the Meek", shown as the 11th episode on December 23, 1960; the fifth, "Twenty Two", was seen on February 10, 1961 as episode 17 and the last one, "Long Distance Call", was transmitted on March 31, 1961 as episode 22.
Personnel and cast with multiple Twilight Zone credits
- Jack Smight (1925–2003), a director of numerous TV episodes, made-for-TV movies and theatrical films, helmed four Twilight Zone episodes, including three of the six videotaped ones. His first assignment on the show was "The Lonely" which, shown as the seventh episode of the first season, was the first regularly-filmed installment after the pilot episode.
- This was the second of two Twilight Zone starring roles for TV's Swedish Farmer's Daughter, Inger Stevens (1934–1970) who, during her final decade, kept a busy schedule of television guest appearances as well as feature film roles. Her earlier performance was in one of the first season's most unsettling episodes, "The Hitch-Hiker", in which she played another tormented character, a lone driver who meets her inexorable fate in the personification of death.
- Familiar character actor John Hoyt (1905–1991) frequently portrayed intellectuals, including a number of mad scientists (1958's Attack of the Puppet People). His other Twilight Zone appearance, twenty episodes later, was as one of the most memorable personalities in the history of the show — the dismayed Martian who is one-upped by the diner-counterman-turned-Venusian in the rival-Earth-invasions surprise ending of the season's penultimate episode, "Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?".
- At the time of her two Twilight Zone appearances, busy character actress Irene Tedrow (1907–1995) was playing a busybody neighbor on CBS' sitcom Dennis the Menace during its entire 1959–63 run. Her earlier role was in another one of the first season's top episodes, "Walking Distance", where she portrayed the young Gig Young's mother.
- Small-part actress Mary Gregory was seen, starting in 1955, in well over a hundred TV episodes, including first season's "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" and third season's "The Shelter".
- Doris Karnes seems to have had no acting career other than small roles in two Twilight Zone installments and three episodes of other TV series, all between 1959 and 1962. Here, she's the third maid, Gretchen, and in first season's "What You Need", appears in the final minute as a woman who, along with her husband, is awakened by the commotion surrounding the late-evening car accident death of Steve Cochran.
- Jason Johnson (1907–1977), another small-part player (and scriptwriter) seen in at least a hundred TV shows of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, was also, along with Mary Gregory, in "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street".
- Cayuga Productions
- Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) (in association with)
- Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) (1959) (USA) (TV) (original airing)
Notes and References
- CBS Video Library: Twilight Zone #0320 "Mr. Denton On Doomsday/The Shelter/The Lateness of the Hour/The Trouble With Templeton" ; UPC: 003200111996, EAN: ?, ASIN: ?; Format: NTSC, VHS, Collector's Edition (1987)