Time Enough at Last
“Time Enough at Last” is Twilight Zone episode 8 of Season 1. It first aired on November 2oth, 1959 on the CBS television network. The incredibly dark theme of this particular episode showed all the hallmarks of the classic Rod Serling writing style. It is on the Top 10 list of most Twilight Zone fans.
A Little About Rod Serling
Before we explore the episode “Time Enough at Last”, we’d like to share some facts about the brilliant writer and creator Rod Serling.
Rod was a huge fan of Pulp Fiction stories and gobbled up any books and articles he could find. At the same time, he was incredibly interested in themes about social issues such as racism, society, war, psychology and government. All of these ideas combined made his writing immensely deep. It’s very hard to find any writers who were as creative in this way.
“Time Enough at Last” – 1959
“Witness Mr. Henry Bemis, a charter member in the fraternity of dreamers. A bookish little man whose passion is the printed page, but who is conspired against by a bank president and a wife and a world full of tongue-cluckers and the unrelenting hands of a clock.
But in just a moment, Mr. Bemis will enter a world without bank presidents or wives or clocks or anything else. He’ll have a world all to himself… without anyone”
Intro – Time Enough at Last
After the opening narration, the episode takes us inside the world of the mild-mannered bank clerk and bookworm Mr Henry Bemis. Despite his mundane and uneventful lifestyle, Henry takes great pleasure in reading the great works of famous poets and other assorted publications.
For reasons unknown to us, Mr Bemis is married to a horrible shrew of a woman named Helen. Helen continually harasses him about his obsession with reading and is furious that he is not more sociable.
One night, Helen surprises Henry with a request for him to read her some poetry. Delightfully, Henry opens a book only to find that every page has been defaced by his wife
Henry: “Why??? Why do you do these things Helen?”
Helen: “Because I’m married to a fool!”
The one thing Mr Bemis looks forward to during his boring work day at the bank is his lunch break. During this time, he goes down to the bank’s vault and reads in peace without interruption.
As he opens a newspaper which has an ominous headline referring to impending nuclear war, there is an extremely loud blast and shock wave which tosses Henry around the room
Time Enough at Last – The Aftermath
After the initial shock wears off, Mr Bemis makes his way upstairs and out into a world of total devastation. As Henry stumbles about in the rubble, he contemplates ending his own life with a pistol he has just found.
As he is about to pull the trigger, he sees the one thing that can save him…BOOKS! An entire library of books that can provide years of reading pleasure for the bookworm sole survivor of the world, Mr Henry Bemis!
An Ironic Twist
It has taken Henry quite some time to stack his favorite books into piles that are assigned to the months and years ahead.
In an ironic stroke of fate, Mr Bemis leans forward to pick up the first book on his reading list when his glasses fall off and are smashed to bits!
“That’s not fair….that’s not fair at all” – Mr Henry Bemis
Time Enough at Last – Closing Narration
“The best-laid plans of mice and men…and Henry Bemis, the small man in the glasses who wanted nothing but time. Henry Bemis, now just a part of a smashed landscape, just a piece of the rubble, just a fragment of what man has deeded to himself. Mr. Henry Bemis, in the Twilight Zone”
Time Enough at Last Cast:
- Burgess Meredith – Mr. Henry Bemis
- Jacqueline deWit – Helen Bemis
- Vaughn Taylor – Mr. Carsville
- Lela Bliss – Mrs. Chester
- Robert Haines – Bank Customer
- Cyril Delevanti – Bank customer
- Rod Serling – Narrator (voice)
The Twilight Zone Trivia
- A Twilight Zone movie was produced by John Landis and Steven Speilberg in 1983. The great actor Vic Marrow lost his life after a helicopter blade decapitated him. The film was narrated by Burgess Meredith
- Producers tried to revive the series in 1985 but after 3 seasons, it was canceled. It just wasn’t the golden age of sci-fi TV any more
- In 1993, a made-for-TV movie called Twilight Zone: Rod Serling’s Lost Classics was released. It featured two of Rod Serling’s works. The narrator was the great James Earl Jones, who also hosted the movie
- Mr Serling invited viewers to submit scripts and he receive over 1,500! He read over 500 of them and two were actually used
- Rod Serling wanted voice actor Richard Egan to do the narration but when Egan reported that he was not available, Rod did it himself
- After naming his show, Rod found out that “The Twilight Zone” was a term already used by US Air Force pilots. It means crossing over from a day sky to a night sky above the earth
- Desi Arnaz was technically the first host of The Twilight Zone. It was DesiLu Productions that produced the show. Thank goodness Rod Serling took control and hosted himself