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Recap / The Twilight Zone S 3 E 100 I Sing The Body Electric

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Rod Serling: They make a fairly convincing pitch here. It doesn't seem possible, though, to find a woman who must be ten times better than mother in order to seem half as good, except, of course, in the Twilight Zone.

It's soon after a woman's funeral, and the nosy aunt is hectoring the widower, saying his three children need a mother, and hinting strongly she plans on taking them away. The widower shoos the nosy aunt out the door, but agrees with her to an extent. He can provide a roof over their heads and material comfort, but he knows there are some things he can't be for the children, and he's in no hurry to remarry. So, he goes looking elsewhere for a solution.

What he finds is a company that makes perfect, tailor-made android grandmothers; lifetime warranty, full satisfaction guarantee. He purchases one, and takes it home. "Grandma" turns out to be everything you'd want in a grandma; sweet and gentle with the kids and an amazing cook. The widower and two of the kids are quickly won over, but daughter Anne is still wary of having an artificial grandma. She refuses to go near her, calls her just a machine, and runs away. But Grandmother is more saddened than hurt and goes out to find Anne. Anne runs out into the street and into the path of an oncoming van. Grandmother shoves her to safety, and is hit by the car. Anne breaks down, ashamed of what she's done. But Grandma reboots and gets back up, saying she's quite hard to destroy, and consoles Anne. Anne isn't cruel - just saddened and afraid after the death of her mother. Grandma assures Anne that she's not going anywhere and helps her understand that her mother didn't abandon them - she just died. The father finds Anne and Grandmother, and is relieved to find them both safe. Grandmother pulls the father aside and realizes why she was brought in - the father also lost his mother while young, and needs a Grandma as much as the kids do.


There's a Time Skip to where the children are all grown up and going to college, and it's time for Grandmother to move on. The kids are upset - will she be taken apart? She assures them that her body might be inactive for a time while she's rebuilt, but her mind will be uploaded into a room with hundreds of other Grandmothers like her, and they'll all share adventures and stories until it's time for her to be uploaded into a new body for another family.

Rod Serling: A fable? Most assuredly. But who's to say at some distant moment there might be an assembly line producing a gentle product in the form of a grandmother whose stock in trade is love. Fable, sure, but who's to say?

The teleplay (and a short story adaptation) was written by Ray Bradbury, and was later remade by the Disney Channel as a full-length Made for TV movie called "The Electric Grandmother"

This episode features examples of:

  • Adult Fear: At the beginning of the episode, the children's aunt strongly hints that she might take them away if their father doesn't begin running the house in a way she feels is good for them.
  • Benevolent A.I.: Grandmother is name, job description, and directive. She means absolutely no harm to the children, despite Anna's suspicions.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The children are all grown up, well-adjusted, and ready to go into adulthood, but Grandmother is going back to the factory. But also sweet in that another family in need will get Grandmother's loving care and attention.
  • Brain Uploading: What will presumably happen to Grandmother once she's back at the factory.
  • But Now I Must Go: When the kids are all grown, it's time for Grandmother to go back to the factory.
  • Finger-Twitching Revival: A rare heroic example; after Grandma gets hit by the truck, she lies prone in the road for a few minutes. Then the fingers of her right hand twitch one by one and she gets up, none the worse for wear.
  • Just a Machine: Anne is convinced of this and finds it hard to trust "Grandmother," but Grandmother astutely realizes that Anne's anger and spite is not really directed at her, but a reaction to grief.
  • Raised by Robots: A positive example. "Grandmother" is everything you could ever want in a grandma; astute about human behavior, kind to the kids, and even a good cook.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: Grandmother looks and acts exactly like a very loving human woman. If anything, she's maybe a little too kind and forgiving.
  • Sour Outside, Sad Inside: Anne acts bitter and hostile towards Grandma and any mention of her late mother for much of the episode, but Grandma astutely realizes that she acted that way because she felt hurt and abandoned when her mother died and Grandma reminds her of her too much.
  • Surprisingly Happy Ending: Well, it's bittersweet as described above, but there's no Cruel Twist Ending or anything similar. Just this once, nothing goes wrong and everything is fine.
  • Taking the Bullet: When Anne tearfully wanders off, she walks into the street in front of a truck. Grandma runs to push her out of the way and gets hit by the truck herself. However, unlike many cases, Grandma (being a robot) is much more durable than a human woman and only takes a few minutes to reboot.