The Twilight Zone: Season 5, Episode Twenty “From Agnes – With Love”

Original Air Date: February 14, 1964
Writer: Bernard C. Schoenfeld
Director: Richard Donner

Rating: 4 out of 5.

“James Elwood: master programmer. In charge of Mark 502-741, commonly known as Agnes, the world’s most advanced electronic computer. Machines are made by men for man’s benefit and progress, but when man ceases to control the products of his ingenuity and imagination he not only risks losing the benefit, but he takes a long and unpredictable step into… the Twilight Zone.”
-Rod Serling

A large advanced machine, Mark 502-741 colloquially known as “Agnes,” has begun malfunctioning so a wonky programmer named James “Jim” Elwood (Wally Cox) is sent to replace a previous programmer, Fred Danzinger (Don Keefer). Meanwhile Jim fruitlessly attempts to romantically court a co-worker named Millie (Sue Randall, best known as Beaver’s elementary school teacher on Leave It To Beaver).

Distraught over his inability to woo Millie, Jim begins taking advice from Agnes but her advice soon proves to be mere sabotage: Jim takes Millie to his apartment but she quickly storms out, he then introduces her to a handsome co-worker, Walter Holmes (Ralph Taeger) with whom she immediately begins a romance, and lastly Jim gifts Millie a bouquet of roses though she is severely allergic. In all of these situations Jim realizes Agnes has ruined his chance with Millie. Why? Because she is actually infatuated with Jim!

Like Fred before him, Jim goes insane and Agnes begins wildly malfunctioning. The next day, Walter Holmes of all people is sent to replace Jim in order to fix Agnes. However, Jim stands by the door laughing maniacally, claiming that Walter does not stand a chance against Agnes –the ultimate mechanical femme fatale.

“Advice to all future male scientists: be sure you understand the opposite sex, especially if you intend being a computer expert. Otherwise, you may find yourself like poor Elwood, defeated by a jealous machine, a most dangerous sort of female, whose victims are forever banished… to the Twilight Zone.”
-Rod Serling

The idea of a love-starved super-computer falling for her programmer is a delightful concept, however Jim’s character in this episode is far too incompetent to be taken seriously. Despite the comedic distance we feel toward the characters, “From Agnes – With Love” is still good fun and a unique blend of whimsy and science fiction.

The Twilight Zone Trivia:

  • Appropriately this episode, about unrequited love, initially aired on Valentine’s Day.
  • This was the final episode featuring music by Nathan Van Cleave. “The Cuckoo Song” (or “Dance of the Cuckoos”) is featured prominently in this episode, a song which was also the unofficial theme song for Laurel and Hardy.
  • The set for Jim’s apartment was also used in “A Short Drink from a Certain Fountain” and “The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross.”
  • The classic James Bond film “From Russia With Love” was released one year prior to this episode in 1963.
  • When Agnes begins ranting incoherently, her seemingly nonsensical phrases are actually allusions: one is Latin for “a woman either loves or hates” and the other is a nod to two controversial Russian stories by Leonid Andreyev bout female sexuality.
  • The long hallway scenes in this episode were shot at the Irving Thalberg building at MGM.
  • This was the only story in The Twilight Zone series contributed by Bernard C. Schoenfeld.

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

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