Original Air Date: December 2, 1960
Writer: Rod Serling
Director: Jack Smight
“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.”
Dr. Loren (played by John Hoyt) is a genius inventor who lives in complete solitude in a giant mansion with his wife and daughter Jana (played by Inger Stevens who also appeared in the Season 1 episode “The Hitch Hiker.” She later died of barbiturate poisoning at age 35 in 1970). As the episode progresses we discover that Dr. Loren has built himself an army of androids who cook, clean, and handle the luxuries and comforts of his household.
Jana feels bored and trapped in her family’s household of endless pleasure. She longs for a normal life where she can meet a man, get married, and have children. However, she starts to realize her own terror. Why is she not photographed in any family photo albums as a child? By the end of the episode Jana realizes that she is, herself, a robot. As she becomes unruly, Dr. Loren knows what must be done.
In the end we see the Lorens comfortably relaxing in their home while being served by a new maid -Jana has been reprogrammed with her memory erased. She is now a maid called “Nelda.”
“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.”
The Twilight Zone Trivia:
- “The Lateness of the Hour” has the distinction of being the first of six videotaped Twilight Zone episodes to see broadcast. Turning to videotape was an attempt on the part of the network (CBS) to implement cost cutting measures on the show. The poor quality is noticeable but it is still an excellent episode.