January 31, 2009

"Time Enough at Last" — the sequel.

Remember that great episode of "Twilight Zone" with Burgess Meredith as Henry Bemis, the guy who only wanted to be left alone to read and gets his wish? Embedded below are the last 8 minutes to refresh your recollection (and you can watch the beginning and middle here and here if you want.)(And here's the Wikipedia entry to get up to speed more quickly.)



What I've been contemplating is "Time Enough at Last: The Sequel." I have my idea, but you go first.

ADDED: Here's better video, all in one piece, with a commercial.

39 comments:

Original George said...

He meets a deaf woman who loves music.

Her hearing aid has broken.

But she has good eyes and can read to him, but she slurs the words.

It turns out that he plays the guitar, and she can hear it, a bit.

Then in a final shocking twist, we learn that his middle name is "Adam," and her name is "Eve."

Sadly, however, she is a robot.

AllenS said...

Chris Rock as Barack Obama, the guy who only wanted to be left alone to eat his waffle. Went on in his life, bankrupting a country, and was always known as the Great Empty Suit.

traditionalguy said...

Existentialism wherefore art thou? You only have one liftime to enjoy people on this earth.Henry's consolation of using his beingness in enjoying great authors would also have proven futile without having other people with which he could share that experience. Henry's twilight zone must be "the outer darkness" referred to in scriptures. At least we can use Google today and find new things to brighten us up and share with friends during our dark days.

Ann Althouse said...

"Henry's consolation of using his beingness in enjoying great authors would also have proven futile without having other people with which he could share that experience."

I always think about this issue when I see this episode. A question I would frame is, what books would be worth reading in a life deprived of even the possibility of human contact? Perhaps one would avoid novels and history and read about plants and machines and so forth. Or maybe you would read about people precisely in order to keep people in your life.

Will said...

The episode is also available on the CBS website.

Quayle said...

The actual title of the sequel should be "Money Enough At Last" where the democratic party finally joyfully gets control of congress and the Whitehouse, and just as they are about to tax and spend their way into permanent power, the economy tanks and their grand plans are frustrated.

But suddenly when it looks like they’ll have to finally be responsible adults as the party in power, someone in the conning tower yells, “damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead” and the submerging ship of state heads straight for the rocky reef of hyper inflation or complete insolvency. All looks lost.

When suddenly, in a nod to PDQ Bach, the screen cuts to Nancy Pelosi singing “Happy Ending! Happy Ending! Happy Ending!”

And the lights come up, and we all go home to our hovels.

EDH said...

Here's the story line...

A man who wanted enough time in the day to comment on the blog of a really hot law professor, played by Jessica Simpson.

So much so that it interfered with all other aspects of his life.

If only there were enough time!

As a result, everything else in his life falls by the wayside. He doesn't exercise. His wife leaves him. He gets fired from his job for commenting on company time.

Now, finally, he has enough time in the day to keep up his comments on the hot law professor's blog.

When Verizon pulls his FIOS for nonpayment.

Bob said...

You'd think that the guy has time enough at last, but without the support of other people raising, gathering and producing food for him, a lot of his day would have to be devoted to that; he'd have to do maintenance on whatever shelter he devised, he'd need to find fuel to keep warm, be near a source of water; in short, being alone he'd quickly discover that he still didn't have enough time in the day for the leisure he desires.

KLDAVIS said...

Radiation causes poor Henry to mutate into an awful lizard who devours anything he can see (i.e. anything that doesn't stop moving). Michael Crichton casts him in Jurassic Park.

AJ Lynch said...

Good one EDH. I think it is Meade's biography!

Trooper York said...

Ouch AJ, you guys from Philly play dirty.

15 yards for unnecessary roughness.

kynefski said...

I hadn't seen that for awhile. I was immediately impressed with the set design. For a single TV episode, they put in some serious work.

One implausibility: If you were in that position and you found a revolver, would you really leave it behind?

Johnny B. D. said...

Since everything you do is for an audience, you wouldn't last ten minutes alone.

Original George said...

How to Survive a Nuclear Attack

Lecture by a public health prof from the TED Conference.

Within a two-mile radius, you have a 50% chance of dying immediately from a Hiroshima-sized bomb.

Don't look at it.

Keep your mouth open, so your eardrums don't burst.

Duck and cover.

Think. Do not panic.

Within 20 minutes lethal fallout will drop. Go perpendicular to the wind.

Keep your skin and mouth covered.

Get in a basement or above the 10th floor, if it's a ground-burst.

Wait for a day or two.

Dispose of radioactive clothes.

Have a good attitude.

Good fucking luck.

Bob said...

How To Survive A Nuclear Attack, Simplified:

Move to Chile. South America and most of Africa should be safe from nuclear attack.

john said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
john said...

A neutron bomb of the not distant future frys every kindle on the planet. The only other survivors, besides Henry, are Page and Brin (and their small army of Chinese researchers), who over the years and their billions in gold have bought up all the world's remaining books and now run their empire from caves within a small Pacific Island, formerly excavated by the Japanese in WW2.

Civilization will reboot on this basis.

daredevil-66 said...

It turns out that Henry wanted to be seen as reading great books and would often pose with "Waiting for Godot" or "Tropic of Cancer" with a clove cigarette dangiling from his mouth. Now that there was no one left to impress, he spends the rest of his remaining days looting abandoned homes and killing rats with chunks of concrete. Oh and in another plot twist he's actually ADOPH HITLER!

bill said...

A question I would frame is, what books would be worth reading in a life deprived of even the possibility of human contact?

All of them. Or perhaps I didn't understand the question. Whether or not I read a book or enjoy it has nothing to do with other people. A good read is still a good even if I'm the last man on earth.

Dennis said...

Won't Bemis's eyes adjust after a few weeks? Sure he'll never have 20/20 without his glasses, but he'll probably see well enough to read again before too long. What a drama queen.

Christy said...

A question I would frame is, what books would be worth reading in a life deprived of even the possibility of human contact?

I remember reading The Three Musketeers as a young adolescent and aching intensely to have a band of such friends. Deprived of human contact, that book could be seriously depressing.

The sequel? He is on the steps to the paperless Library circa 2020, picks up a Kindle and discovers the electromagnetic pulse has wiped all digital media clean.

LonewackoDotCom said...

If you have a website, you might want to avoid linking to Wikipedia as Althouse did.

Here's Althouse's WP entry: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ann_Althouse

Down at the bottom is a link to this site, which has a nofollow tag on it so she doesn't get any search engine benefits. She might get traffic, since it's the third entry for her name.

Meanwhile, she's given WP a valid link in this post. That link doesn't have a nofollow tag, meaning that WP will get some search engine benefit from it.

In effect, she's helping WP rise in the search results. They'll probably never eclipse this site, but for many, many other terms they're at the top. And, considering all of the missing or incorrect information to be found at WP, bloggers and other site owners might consider not helping them spread that incorrect information.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Christy: The sequel? He is on the steps to the paperless Library circa 2020, picks up a Kindle and discovers the electromagnetic pulse has wiped all digital media clean.

Brilliant! Then he could try to recreate the masterpieces of the past through people's memories.

Chip Ahoy said...

He calmly walks over to a nearby library table, opens the drawerand removes a pair of 200X reading glasses. Puts them on, perfect fit, reaches for the nearest book and begins to read.

Ann Althouse said...

"All of them. Or perhaps I didn't understand the question. Whether or not I read a book or enjoy it has nothing to do with other people. A good read is still a good even if I'm the last man on earth."

What about all the books about business and economics and furthering your career? Who would care about politics? All the self-help books about dealing with people, making friends, dating, and keeping your marriage going would be pointless. Don't you wonder how much your interest in novels has to do with gaining insight into other people so that you will have a richer life when you are with actual living people?

EDH said...

Althouse said...

What about all the books about business and economics and furthering your career? Who would care about politics?


Insects!

They always said the insects will be the last to survive.

Oh, wait, Tony thinks he'll out live those cock-a-roaches.

bill said...

What about all the books about business and economics and furthering your career? Who would care about politics? All the self-help books about dealing with people, making friends, dating, and keeping your marriage going would be pointless.

A book doesn't have to be useful to be entertaining.


Don't you wonder how much your interest in novels has to do with gaining insight into other people so that you will have a richer life when you are with actual living people?

Not really and not much.

Bob said...

Dennis said...

Won't Bemis's eyes adjust after a few weeks? Sure he'll never have 20/20 without his glasses, but he'll probably see well enough to read again before too long.


If he knew about pinhole glasses he could have made himself a substitute for his lost glasses. Eskimo sunglasses work on the same principle. All he'd need was some cardboard, readily available in the rubble, and a way to poke a hole in the cardboard.

mcg said...

Johnny B. D. is the apparent lone survivor of nuclear annihilation. Longing for sexual release he wanders the landscape until he comes upon a group of goats, all male. "No different than it was before the blast," he muses, and commences activity. But after 24 hours, his penis falls off from severe radiation damage.

Sofa King said...

What about all the books about business and economics and furthering your career? Who would care about politics?

Insects!


I don't think so. Seth Brundle doesn't either, and he would know:

"Have you ever heard of insect politics? Neither have I. Insects... don't have politics. They're very... brutal. No compassion, no compromise. We can't trust the insect. I'd like to become the first... insect politician. Y'see, I'd like to, but... I'm afraid, uh... I'm saying... I'm saying I - I'm an insect who dreamt he was a man and loved it. But now the dream is over... and the insect is awake... I'm saying: 'I'll hurt you if you stay.'"

Freddy Hill said...

It turns out that it wasn't the H bomb, but just a little suicide bomb hardly powerful enough to blow up a city block. Henry is found wandering in the rubble in a dazzle.

Eventually the internet is invented by Algore and Henry gets Lasik. He gets hooked on blogs and reads them incessantly at work because his new wife does not allow it at home. WWIII comes along, and now civilization is destroyed for real. Although the internet is still running there are no bloggers left in the world.

In a predictable twist, Glenn Reynolds had written three million posts during the last few hours before the holocaust, to be released one at a time every night at 2am. Henry survives for 80 years, but he can't be said to thrive.

blake said...

Well, the dinks at Fox pulled all the "Futurama" clips, but they often watch a show called "The Scary Door" which riffed on this episode.

He breaks his glasses, and is upset, but then says, "Wait, my eyes aren't that bad, I'll just read the large print books."

Then his eyes fall out, and he screams but then says, "Well, I can still read the Braille books."

Then his hands fall off.

Then his head.

As Bender wisely notes, "Cursed by his own hubris."

john said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
john said...

Teddy: Geez, that ending sucks! Why don't you make it so that ... so that Henry goes home and he shoots his father, then he runs away an', and he joins the Texas Rangers. How about that?...
Gordie: Ah, I don't know.
Teddy: ...something good like that.
Vern: I like the ending. The barfing was really good.

Stand by Me (1986)

John Burgess said...

Henry becomes a naturist, hoping beyond hope that the radiation sleeting through his gonads will one day change an XY to a XX.

Then, the can go fuck himself--the world being fucked is clearly insufficient--reproduce, and do that whole Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, and unnamed sisters routine.

If nothing else, Henry is patient.

traditionalguy said...

What the Professor seems to be saying is that Fellowship is not a means but an end goal of our lives. Call it family, or social group, or just a Heavenly Father and Son and Spirit grouping inviting you to join in, nothing that stops short of that end goal of Fellowship will ever satisfy Man. Translate that into any Discipline taught on this earth , but the basic spiritual logic will still get you back there. "Solitary" is the word for the hardest punishment known.They theologians just say "God IS love."

WestVirginiaRebel said...

The fact that he had all those books and no food, water, or shelter suggest to me that he wasn't quite sane to begin with...he starts hallucinating and the hallucinations tell him to get a life.

LordSomber said...

Along the same lines, I recommend "The Quiet Earth."

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0089869/

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