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Recap / The Twilight Zone S 2 E 40 A Thing About Machines

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Rod Serling: This is Mr. Bartlett Finchley, age 48, a practicing sophisticate who writes very special and very precious things for gourmet magazines and the like. He's a bachelor and a recluse with few friends, only devotees and adherents to the cause of tart sophistry. He has no interests save whatever current annoyances he can put his mind to. He has no purpose to his life except the formulation of day-to-day opportunities to vent his wrath on mechanical contrivances of an age he abhors. In short, Mr. Bartlett Finchley is a malcontent, born either too late or too early in the century and who, in just a moment, will enter a realm where muscles and the will to fight back are not limited to human beings. Next stop for Mr. Bartlett Finchley: the Twilight Zone.
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Air date: October 28, 1960

Bartlett Finchley is an ill-tempered gourmet magazine critic who reviles humanity, though he seems to be lonely at the same time. He's as inept with machines as he is with people. Frustrated, he constantly abuses machines and starts to think machines are conspiring against him. The people he tells about this write him off as paranoid, but eventually every machine in his house (including his car) turns on him. His typewriter types the message, "GET OUT OF HERE, FINCHLEY." The TV shows a dancer saying the same message on the screen and a voice on the phone speaks the same words when he tries to make a call. His electric razor rises into the air to attack him and slithers down the stairs in pursuit of him. Finchley runs out of the house and is chased by his driverless car (a 1939 Lagonda coupe). The car chases him to his pool and pushes him in. He sinks to the bottom and drowns. When the police pull him out of the water, they cannot explain how he could sink to the bottom when he was not weighted down (normally, a body would float), nor could they explain the car near the pool. They theorize he may have had a heart attack.

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Rod Serling: Yes, it could just be. It could just be that Mr. Bartlett Finchley succumbed from a heart attack and a set of delusions. It could just be that he was tormented by an imagination as sharp as his wit and as pointed as his dislikes. But as perceived by those attending, this is one explanation that has left the premises with the deceased. Look for it filed under 'M' for Machines in the Twilight Zone.


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Tropes:

  • Asshole Victim: The main character, Bartlett Finchley. He disrespects everyone from his secretary to the police and destroys mechanical devices at the slightest provocation.
  • Attack of the Killer Whatever: From razors to automobiles, a bunch of machines try to attack Finchley.
  • Caustic Critic: Bartlett Finchley is a misanthropic critic for a gourmet magazine who never misses an opportunity to denigrate people to their faces or humanity in general.
  • The Dog Bites Back: The machines Finchley damages and hates turn on him.
  • Do Not Adjust Your Set: The TV keeps playing the same image of a woman dancing. She says, "Why don't you get out of here, Finchley?"
  • Enmity with an Object: The episode revolves around a man who hates all the machines around him. In true Twilight Zone fashion, the feeling is mutual.
  • Get Out!: Some machines say, "GET OUT OF HERE, FINCHLEY!"
  • Haunted Technology: A whole bunch of machines start rising up in revenge against Bartlett Finchley, who has been abusing them.
  • It Won't Turn Off: At one point, Finchley hears the chiming of a clock and goes to wreck it, only to find that it's the one he destroyed the working parts of yesterday.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: A man who hates and destroys machines is destroyed by them.
  • Misanthrope Supreme: Bartlett Finchley.
  • My Car Hates Me: Bartlett Finchley meets his doom after being chased by his own car.
  • Pet the Dog: In what was his only kind moment of the episode, he pretends to be happy that Pauline Donnelly, a woman he likes, got married and honestly promises to send her a wedding gift.
  • Properly Paranoid: Finchley believes that the machines are out to get him, which his secretary Miss Rogers passes off as delusional. Of course, this being the Twilight Zone, he's right.
  • Technophobia: Finchley despises all machines, even more than he hates people, and destroys his appliances if he can't get them to work. For instance, he kicked in the screen of his television and threw his radio down the stairs.
  • Too Dumb to Live: If Finchley had stayed inside the house, the biggest thing that could've gotten him would've been that stupid razor. Instead, he goes out and gets killed by his car.
  • Your Television Hates You: Literally. The television, being one of the machines that hates Finchley, plays a show featuring a woman doing a flamenco dance. Finally she says "Why don't you get out of here, Finchley?"
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