Director: Don Siegel
Writer: Rod Serling
Cast: Cedric Hardwicke, Constance Ford, and Ian Wolfe
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 11/15/1963
Production Code: 2604
While acting as a caregiver, Barbara Polk (Constance Ford) must endure the verbal attacks of her Uncle Simon (Cedric Hardwicke)—an elderly scientist who spends the majority of his time in a basement laboratory. When Simon finally expires, Barbara displays a great deal of enthusiasm over her newfound freedom—only to suffer a new form of torture from the secret invention of her uncle.
An exercise in mean-spiritedness, “Uncle Simon” deserves criticism for its unpleasant subject matter. Especially worth noting are the performances of Cedric Hardwicke and Constance Ford, whose acting talents are wasted on the most awful, unlikable characters ever featured in The Twilight Zone.
By berating his caretaker niece with a variety of cruel, misogynistic insults, Simon Polk compels the audience to sympathize with Barbara—a woman who, though extremely callous and horrible, seems nearly justified in her decision to “murder” her own uncle. (It should be noted, however, that the death of Uncle Simon—a helpless old man with a broken back—will disturb those of a compassionate nature.)
In addition to its lack of relatable characters, “Uncle Simon” fails to offer profound or insightful commentary on human nature. Discerning viewers may therefore wish to avoid this episode, which never justifies its vile content with an ironic statement or message.
Also problematic is the silly makeover of Robby the Robot, whose head piece is marred by humanoid features. (Lost in Space, The Addams Family, and prior episodes of The Twilight Zone, in contrast, maintain the cold, mechanical essence of Robby’s character as depicted in Forbidden Planet.)
“Uncle Simon” is a dramatic and well-acted episode of The Twilight Zone. Nevertheless, this offering suffers from malicious dialogue, goofy robot antics, and a random twist around the halfway mark.
Overall Quality: 4/10
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