In this series, I’ll be comparing the (non-Serling) short stories that inspired episodes of The Twilight Zone to their teleplays. Sometimes the differences are subtle. Often they are not. The topic of this post is Time Enough At Last, the eighth episode of season one.
Title: Time Enough At Last
Original air date: November 20, 1959
Starring: Burgess Meredith (his first of four Twilight Zone appearances)
Directed by: John Brahm
Based on: “Time Enough at Last” by Marilyn “Lyn” Venable
Teleplay by: Rod Serling
Ask anyone to name their favorite episode of The Twilight Zone and many will say, “Time Enough At Last.” It’s a near perfect little story. In act I we meet the everyman hero. In act II he’s put into an impossible situation and finally, in act III, he is redeemed. Or is he? Serling has us rooting for Mr. Henry Beamis and just as he’s about to get ahead, life’s cruelty smacks him in the face. Well, in the glasses at least. It’s a vicious twist ending that shocked viewers long before shows like Law and Order trained audiences to expect a final jolt.
After reading Lyn Venable’s short story, I’ve got a new understanding of Henry, his wife Helen, the episode’s themes and the cruel moment that reduces Mr. Bemis to tears. Here’s my look at Time Enough At Last.