"The Lateness of the Hour"
is the December 21960
episode of the American television
anthology series The Twilight Zone
At the foot of the staircase in the Loren mansion—as Dr. Loren and the servants walk out of camera range, Rod Serling
moves into view behind them:
The residence of Dr. William Loren, which is in reality a menagerie for machines. We're about to discover that sometimes the product of man's talent and genius can walk amongst us untouched by the normal ravages of time. These are Dr. Loren's robots, built to functional as well as artistic perfection. But in a moment Dr. William Loren, wife and daughter will discover that perfection is relative, that even robots have to be paid for, and very shortly will be shown exactly what is the bill.
Jana, the sensitive daughter of a creative genius, Dr. Loren, is distraught over her parents' reliance on her father’s five seemingly perfect robot servants. She implores her father to dismantle the robots before he and her mother become completely dependent on them. After he complies, she reveals to her parents that she plans to start a new life by leaving the stifling confines of the house, getting married and having children. Seeing their dismayed expressions, she comes to the shocking realization that she, too, is a robot, albeit much more emotionally sophisticated than the ones that were dismantled. The discovery causes Jana such anguish that her "father" is forced to erase the memory of her former "identity" and ultimately use her as a replacement for Nelda, the maid skilled at giving Mrs. Loren her most pleasurable activity, a shoulder massage.
Let this be the postscript—Should you be worn out by the rigors of competing in a very competitive world, if you're distraught from having to share your existence with the noises and neuroses of the twentieth century, if you crave serenity but want it full time and with no strings attached, get yourself a workroom in the basement, and then drop a note to Dr. and Mrs. William Loren. They're a childless couple who made comfort a life's work, and maybe there are a few do-it-yourself pamphlets still available... in the Twilight Zone.
Preview for Next Week's Story
An attractive and rather imposing room lived in by a man named Templeton. And, like most rooms, suggestive, really, of only a part of the man - the outside part. Our story next week takes off from here. Mr. Brian Aherne lends us his considerable talents in a script by E. Jack Neuman called "The Trouble With Templeton." It can best be described as poignant, provocative, and a highly-diverting trip into The Twilight Zone.
- THE LATENESS OF THE HOUR
- Directed by Jack Smight [second of four TZ episodes—see "Episode notes"]
- Written by Rod Serling [thirty-third of ninety-two TZ episodes]
- Produced by Buck Houghton [forty-third of one-hundred-one TZ episodes]
- The Twilight Zone Created by Rod Serling
- Starring Inger Stevens as Jana [second of two TZ appearances—see "Episode notes"]
- John Hoyt as Dr. Loren [first of two TZ appearances—see "Episode notes"]
- Irene Tedrow as Mrs. Loren [second of two TZ appearances—see "Episode notes"]
- with Tom Palmer as Robert (the butler)
- Mary Gregory as Nelda (the maid utilized for massaging Mrs. Loren's shoulders) [second of three TZ appearances—see "Episode notes"]
- Valley Keene as Suzanne (the maid who tumbles down the stairs and reacts with a smile)
- Doris Karnes as Gretchen (the maid who says to Jana, "I consider that unforgivable behavior") [second of two TZ appearances—see "Episode notes"]
- Jason Johnson as Jensen (the handyman) [second of two TZ appearances—see "Episode notes"]
By November 1960, The Twilight Zone
's second season had already broadcast five episodes and finished filming sixteen. However, at a cost of about $65,000 per episode, the show was exceeding its budget. As a result, six consecutive episodes were videotaped and then transferred to 16-millimeter film for TV transmission. Total savings on editing and cinematography amounted to around $30,000 for all six entries, not enough to justify the loss of depth of visual perspective, which made the shows look like stagebound live TV dramas. The experiment was therefore deemed a failure and never attempted again.
Even though the six shows were taped in a row, through November and into mid-December, their broadcast dates were out of order and varied widely, with this, the first one, shown on December 21960 as episode 8. The second one, "Static", was shown on March 101961 as episode 20; the third, "The Whole Truth", appeared on January 201961 as episode 14; the fourth was TZ's sole Christmas entry, "The Night of the Meek", shown as the 11th episode on December 231960; the fifth, "Twenty Two", was seen on February 101961 as episode 17 and the last one, "Long Distance Call", was transmitted on March 31961 as episode 22.
- Jack Smight (1925–2003), a director of numerous TV episodes, made-for-TV movies and theatrical films, helmed four TZ episodes, including three of the six videotaped ones, the other two being "The Night of the Meek" and "Twenty Two". His first TZ assignment was "The Lonely" which, shown as the seventh episode of the first season, was the first regularly-filmed installment after the pilot episode.
- This was the second of two TZ starring roles for TV's Swedish Farmer's Daughter, Inger Stevens (1934–1970) who, during her final decade, kept a busy schedule of television guest appearances as well as feature film roles. Her earlier performance was in one of the first season's most unsettling episodes, "The Hitch-Hiker", in which she played another tormented character, a lone driver who meets her inexorable fate.
- Familiar character actor John Hoyt (1905–1991) frequently portrayed intellectuals, including a number of mad scientists. His other TZ appearance, twenty episodes later, was as one of the most memorable personalities in the history of the show—the dismayed Martian who is one-upped by the diner-counterman-turned-Venusian in the rival-Earth-invasions surprise ending of the season's penultimate episode, "Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?".
- Busy character actress Irene Tedrow (1907–1995) played a busybody neighbor on CBS' Dennis the Menace during its entire 1959–63 run, while on TZ, her first appearance was in another one of the first season's top episodes, "Walking Distance", where she was the young Gig Young's mother.
- Small-part actress Mary Gregory was seen in well over a hundred TV episodes between 1955 and 1999, including first season's "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" and third season's "The Shelter".
- Doris Karnes appears to have had no acting career other than small roles in two TZ installments and three episodes of other TV series, all between 1959 and 1962. Here, she's the third maid, Gretchen, and in first season's "What You Need", appears in the final minute as a woman who, along with her husband, is awakened by the commotion surrounding the car accident death of Steve Cochran.
- Jason Johnson (1907–1977), another small-part player (and scriptwriter) who also was in at least a hundred TV shows of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, likewise appeared in "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street".
- DeVoe, Bill. (2008). Trivia from The Twilight Zone. Albany, GA: Bear Manor Media. ISBN 978-1593931360
- Grams, Martin. (2008). The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic. Churchville, MD: OTR Publishing. ISBN 978-0970331090
Twilight Zone links