Original air date – 11/13/59
Written by Rod Serling | Directed by Jack Smight
Starring Jack Warden, Jean Marsh, John Dehner
The Lonely is set in the future when convicted criminals are sent to live on faraway planets as a form of solitary confinement. James Corry (played by the great Jack Warden) is one of them, a murder convict who has a whole planet – 6000 miles from north to south, 4000 miles from east to west – all to his lonesome self except for four visits a year from a team of astronauts that stop by for 15 minutes to deliver him necessities.
John Dehner is Allenby, the head of the delivery team who spends eight months out of the year traveling to make the four trips providing necessities and a brief human contact to keep Corry sane. Allenby has a soft spot for Corry and believes that the crime was a self-defense. Today, Allenby and his team brings with them a heavy crate that he instructed Corry not to open until they have left.
After their departure, Corry opens the crate to find a female robot that looks surprisingly human. Put off by the robot at first, your guess is that Corry will eventually fall in love with her. (Hell, I’d fall in love with a plastic mannequin if I was locked up in a house, let alone a vast empty planet.)
Alicia (played by the beautiful Jean Marsh of Upstairs Downstairs) displays real human emotions and feelings of pain. She is fed information by her interaction with Corry, making her a female extension of him and an early version of Siri minus the attitude.
But as fate would have it, 11 months into his blissful life with Alicia, Allenby and his team unexpectedly arrive to deliver the news that Corry’s sentence has been reviewed and pardoned. Good news is is allowed to go back to earth with the spacecraft. The bad news is he can only bring with him 15 pounds of personal belongings and Alicia weighs more than that. Corry has merely a few minutes to make the decision or the spacecraft will have to leave. As Corry protests, Allenby is forced to draw his gun and shoot at Alicia to prove his point that she is only a robot.
The Lonely depicts one of the earlier human vs robot movies played out on film or, in this case, television besides maybe Metropolis. Like other movies of the similar vein that follow – Her (my personal favorite), A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Terminator, just to name a few- the world in the future can give you a spouse or a child or a kick-ass partner that’s tailored to what you imagine as “perfect,” an extension of yourself if you will. Personally, it does sound really cool to have a husband who would not throw an inside out socks into the laundry basket or who would wipe up coffee ring from the table… But do I really want a version of myself in a partner? Is Professor Higgins really happy to mold a perfect woman according to his standard out of Eliza Doolittle? If he is, then I believe Professor Higgins is a boring dude. If he isn’t, someone should make better movie sequels to all those that were inspired by Pygmalion to show that sometimes opposites ain’t so bad.