The Twilight Zone: Season 5, Episode Eight “Uncle Simon”

Original Air Date: November 15, 1963
Writer: Rod Serling
Director: Don Siegel

Rating: 4 out of 5.

“Dramatis personae: Mr. Simon Polk, a gentleman who has lived out his life in a gleeful rage; and the young lady who’s just beat the hasty retreat is Mr. Polk’s niece, Barbara. She has lived her life as if during each ensuing hour she had a dentist appointment. There is yet a third member of the company soon to be seen. He now resides in the laboratory and he is the kind of character to be found only in the Twilight Zone.”
-Rod Serling

Barbara Polk (Constance Ford) has been living with her elderly and abusive Uncle Simon (played by famed Shakespearean actor Cedric Hardwicke). She is the sole heir to her uncle’s estate –a fact which he never fails to remind her of. He calls her by a number of demeaning epithets: “garbage head” and “wilting flower.” She is berated, humiliated, and stepped upon like an old rug but still she persists despite her deep hatred of her uncle’s cantankerousness. Each day, Uncle Simon retires to his private laboratory where he works on secret experiments.

One day, Barbara sneaks down to sneak a glimpse at Uncle Simon’s experiments but he catches her in the act. In the heat of an ensuing argument, Uncle Simon suddenly collapses and begs for help but instead of intervening Barbara watches him die on the floor. Barbara then flies into a wild frenzy announcing she can finally live again!

However, Uncle Simon’s attorney, Mr. Schwimmer, reads the will to Barbara. She is to reside in Uncle Simon’s home and care for his mysterious experiment. To ensure the terms of Uncle Simon’s will are met, a member of the law firm will stop by weekly to inspect Barbara’s activities. Even in death, Uncle Simon seeks to control Barbara. When she ventures down to the laboratory she finds a robot incarnation of Uncle Simon who is every bit as demanding and rude as the late Uncle Simon, addressing Barbara as a “bovine crab” and a “peanut-headed sample of nature’s carelessness.” As time goes by, the robot assumes the full persona of Uncle Simon, limping around the house, referring to himself as
“Simon.” It has become painfully apparent to Barbara that she can never truly escape the torments of her late uncle.

“Dramatis personae, a metal man who’ll go by the name of Simon, whose life as well as his body has been stamped out for him; and the woman who tends to him, the lady Barbara, who’s discovered belatedly that all bad things don’t come to an end, and that once a bed is made, it’s quite necessary that you sleep in it. Tonight’s uncomfortable little exercise in avarice and automatons, from the Twilight Zone.”
-Rod Serling

The Twilight Zone Trivia:

  • This was the first of two episodes in The Twilight Zone directed by Don Siegel, famed film director of such films as Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), Dirty Harry (1971) and Escape from Alcatraz (1979).
  • The household set for this episode was also used in the Season 4 episode “The Miniature.”
  • The episode which was to follow this episode “Night Call” was temporarily delayed due to the subject matter being insensitive amidst the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
  • Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet is used again in this episode, his third and final appearance in the series having previously been shown in “One for the Angels” and “The Brain Centre at Whipple’s.”
  • At a certain point Barbara refers to the robot as “Frankenstein.” Amusingly enough, some two decades prior Cedric Hardwicke portrayed Dr. Frankenstein in The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942).

Click here to return to my survey of The Twilight Zone series.

1 thought on “The Twilight Zone: Season 5, Episode Eight “Uncle Simon”

  1. I must say that this Twilight Zone episode is too upsetting for me to be on my re-watch list. But I can still fondly remember it for the performances by Constance Ford and Sir Cedric Hardwicke, along with Ian Wolfe who I was of fan of since first seeing him as Mr. Atoz in Star Trek. Thanks again for your Twilight Zone reviews and trivia.

    Liked by 1 person

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