I will be presenting a paper titled “Artificial People in The Twilight Zone“ at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies in Spring 2016. The image above is from one of my favorite episodes, “The Lonely,” aired on November 13, 1959 on CBS. Written by Rod Serling, this episode features Corry, a man sentenced to solitary confinement on a distant asteroid, and Alicia, the human-form robot brought there for him as company. At first reluctant and repelled by Alicia, Corry is soon caught in the happiness their companionship brings him. Before long she is his lifeline. Robot or human, who cares, they are there for each other.
Only Rod Serling can do justice to the opening premise:
Witness if you will, a dungeon, made out of mountains, salt flats, and sand that stretch to infinity. The dungeon has an inmate: James A. Corry. And this is his residence: a metal shack. An old touring car that squats in the sun and goes nowhere – for there is nowhere to go. For the record, let it be known that James A. Corry is a convicted criminal placed in solitary confinement. Confinement in this case stretches as far as the eye can see, because this particular dungeon is on an asteroid nine-million miles from the Earth. Now witness, if you will, a man’s mind and body shriveling in the sun, a man dying of loneliness.
In my paper I discuss The Twilight Zone as a valuable archive of attitudes and approaches to artificial humanity. Although we have so many films and TV series each year that feature robots, androids and cyborgs, they often return to the storylines of this amazing show. In a way I am also trying to propose a new way of working with television in science fiction, media, and cultural studies.