"A Thing About Machines" is an episode of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone.
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.
An ill-tempered writer who reviles and constantly abuses machines 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, "GET OUT OF HERE FINCHLEY." The TV shows the same message, as does the phone. Finchley runs from the house to be confronted by his car. 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 can not explain how he could sink to the bottom when he was not weighted down (normally, a body would float). They figure he may have had a heart attack
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.
There is a display case in the exit hallway of the Tower Of Terror
attraction at Disneyland
that contains two items relating to this episode. One is a typewriter (with the GET OUT OF HERE FINCHLEY message); the card next to it reads "Almost Writes By Itself". There is also an electric razor
; its card reads "Has A Long Cord - Can Follow You Everywhere".
According to the book The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic
by Martin Grams, the finale in the original teleplay was to have Finchley cornered against the wall inside his garage. The ending was rewritten to feature a drowning sequence instead.
Preview for Next Week's Story
Down this hall is a very strange individual locked in a room. He's known by various names and by various forms, and next week on The Twilight Zone, you'll be close to the elbow of the people who let him out. Our story is called "The Howling Man" by Mr. Charles Beaumont. It's designed for the young in heart, but the strong of nerve. I hope we'll see you next week along with "The Howling Man." Thank you and good night.
- 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