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The Twilight Zone: A Thing About Machines

A mean-spirited writer is sure that the machines in his home are out to destroy him.

Episode Info

Episode number: 2x4
Production Number: 173-3645
Airdate: Friday October 28th, 1960


Guest Stars
Richard HaydnRichard Haydn
As Bartlett Finchley

Co-Guest Stars
Barney PhillipsBarney Phillips
As TV Repairman
Henry BeckmanHenry Beckman
As Policeman
Jay OverholtsJay Overholts
As Intern
Barbara StuartBarbara Stuart
As Edith Rogers
Main Cast
Rod SerlingRod Serling
As Narrator/Host


Barrett Finchley, a writer about gourmet cooking, returns home in his car and finds a TV repairman fixing his television. Finchley is clearly not impressed with the man, and even less so when the repair notes that Finchley broke the TV. The repairman observes that he’s been to the house before to repair the machines, and he thinks Finchley simply doesn’t get along with mechanical devices. The ill-tempered Finchley implies the repairman is a thief and tells him to get out. However, after the man is gone, Finchley’s facade breaks down and he starts shouting at the machines throughout the house. The clock starts chiming… and then chimes, and chimes, and chimes. Finchley smashes it to the ground but it still keeps chiming until he smashes it to pieces...

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Episode Notes
Richard Haydn had a long and distinguished career in movies and stage, and is best known for his role as Max Detweiler in The Sound of Music.

Barbara Stuart may be best known for her role as Sgt. Carter's girlfriend Bunny in Gomer Pyle, USMC.

Barney Phillips had appeared in "The Purple Testament" and later in "Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up" and "Miniature."

Henry Beckman is also in "Valley of the Shadow."

Jay Overholts had appeared previously in "Where is Everybody?" and "One for the Angels" then later in "Twenty-Two," "The Odyssey of Flight 33," "Static," "The Jungle" and "Showdown with Rance McGrew."

Lew Brown later appears in "Back There," "Long Distance Call" and "The 7th is Made Up of Phantoms."

Episode Quotes
Opening Narration
This is Mr. Bartlett Finchley, age forty-eight, 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.

TV Repairman: How are you today, Mr. Finchley?
Bartlett Finchley: I'll answer that burning question after you tell me what's wrong with that miracle of modern science, and also exactly how much this current larceny is going to cost me.
TV Repairman: Well, there's two hours labor, broken set of tubes, new oscillator and a new filter.
Bartlett Finchley: How very technical, and how very convincing. I presume I'm to be dunned once again for three times the worth of the blasted thing.
TV Repairman: Last time I was over here, you kicked your foot through the screen, remember?
Bartlett Finchley: I have a vivid recollection, thank you. The set was not working properly. I tried to get it to do so in a perfectly normal fashion.
TV Repairman: By kicking your foot through the screen? Why didn't you just horse-whip it, Mr. Finchley? That'd show it who's boss.

Bartlett Finchley: Miss Rogers? (Rogers hands him some papers) Well, is this all you've done?
Miss Rogers: That's all I've done. That's thirty pages in three hours and a half. That's the best I can do, Mr. Finchley.
Bartlett Finchley: It's that idiotic machine, that typewriter of yours. Thomas Jefferson wrote the entire Declaration of Independence with a feather quill, and it took him only half the day.
Miss Rogers: Why don't you hire Mr. Jefferson?
Bartlett Finchley: Miss Rogers, did I ever tell you with what degree of distaste I view insubordination?
Miss Rogers: Often and endlessly. I'll tell you what, Mr. Finchley. You get yourself another girl, one with three arms and with roughly the same sensitivity as an alligator, and then you can work together till death do you part. As for me, I've had it!

Dancer On TV: Get out of here, Finchley. Why don't you get out of here, Finchley?

Medic: You pull the body out?
Policeman: Yeah. That's funny, they usually float.
Medic: What do you mean, usually?
Policeman: Well, he was on the bottom. He hadn't come up. He wasn't weighted either. There was nothing to hold him down.
Medic: Huh.
Policeman: His eyes were open. He looked scared, like something had been chasing him or something. The neighbors said that he'd been shouting and running around last night. I wonder what it was that could have scared him.
Medic: Whatever it was, it's a little item he took along with him.
Policeman: Yeah. Maybe he was drunk. Imagining things.
Medic: Maybe.
Policeman: Could be he had a heart attack or something.
Medic: Could be. Could just be.

Closing Narration
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.

Episode Goofs
A hunched down driver can be seen inside the "empty" car which is chasing Bentley down the road.

Other Episode Crew

CreatorRod Serling
Executive ProducerRod Serling
ProducerBuck Houghton
CastingEthel Winant
Set DecoratorH. Web Arrowsmith  |  Henry Grace
Director of PhotographyGeorge T. Clemens
Art DirectorPhilip Barber  |  George W. Davis
Production ManagerE. Darrell Hallenbeck
Sound EditorFranklin Milton  |  Charles Scheid
Main Title ThemeMarius Constant
Film EditorLeon Barsha
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