"The Twilight Zone: I Sing the Body Electric (#3.35)"
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Reviews & Ratings for
"The Twilight Zone" I Sing the Body Electric (1962)

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30 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

A Classic, sentimental and precious

10/10
Author: cagordon22 from United States
1 January 2010

This was such a beautiful, special episode that it stayed with me for years. And it was such lovely story that years later it was made into a special one-hour movie starring Maureen Stapleton, called "The Electric Grandmother".

Very touching, I can't believe all these other comments about how it was flat and not very well acted, I think this episode was just marvelous.

Not a scary episode, like some of the other old TZ episodes (like the one where the old lady in the wheelchair was getting crank calls on stormy nights, or where the kid could wish you into a cornfield, or where Talky Tina the doll would come kill the evil stepfather), although I did appreciate those other episodes for their uniqueness, as well.

Safe to watch with your kids, it won't scare them, and I have to recommend it, as someone who deals with the griefstricken in my work, as a great show to help people start addressing their grief, which usually includes - and usually starts with - anger.

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8 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

"Won't you come in please, we've been expecting you".

7/10
Author: classicsoncall from Florida, New York
15 June 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I wonder sometimes if reviewers of Twilight Zone episodes have really paid attention to the story. I'm thinking of a line in Simon and Garfunkel's hit song Sounds of Silence - 'People talking without speaking, People hearing without listening'. The message of this story is expressed in Grandma's (Josephine Hutchinson) attempt to help Mr. Rogers (David White) understand that it will take some time to reach young Annie (Veronica Cartwright) - "It's the heart I have to enter, a child's heart. It is a deep place difficult to reach".

I realize that Rod Serling had a challenge to distill his stories down to a mere twenty five minutes without much room for character development. It might seem like he did this one on the fly and fairly simplistically, and in some respects he did. But he tackled a lot here - the death of a wife, the deep resentment a child feels for the unexplainable loss of a mother, and the attempt by a father to do the right thing for his children at a crucial point in their lives.

So was a robot the best choice to help save the day? I don't know, other writers would have handled it differently, but this was an outside the box sort of episode. What I found particularly intriguing was that the father wasn't present at the finale as the adult children were getting ready to head off to college. Was he just not around, or had he died? It's an interesting question posed for the viewer to decide. Did Grandma finish the job of raising the kids in a loving environment so they could move on with their lives? There's a subtlety to the ending that offers more questions than answers, and I wonder if Serling might have given his audience more to think about than he originally intended.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Ray Bradbury

7/10
Author: AaronCapenBanner from North America
29 October 2014

Famed author Ray Bradbury wrote his sole contribution to the series in this tale, which sees a widower trying his best to provide guidance and support to his three children, and decides to take up a suggestion and visit a robotics company with the slogan 'I Sing The Body Electric". He acquires the services of an android nanny that comes in the form of a grandmother figure, who is most patient, wise, and understanding, and will become crucial in guiding the children into the transition of adulthood and a happy life, but must inevitably one day say goodbye when her job is finished.... Most straight-forward plot is pleasant enough though uneventful, and remains unpopular with most fans who expected more given the author, but this still remains a sweet story.

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6 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

"I Sing the Body Electric" falls a bit flat

6/10
Author: (chuck-reilly) from Los Angeles
15 July 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The title of this entry, "I Sing the Body Electric," was taken from a Walt Whitman poem written nearly 100 years earlier. Back in those days, the term "electric" was relatively new and mostly unused. It's quite a unique poem, but this episode of the Twilight Zone falls a bit flat in its execution and in what it's trying to say. The futuristic but simple plot evolves around a widower and his three children. Afraid that his kids will feel deserted by the loss of their mother, the man (David White of "Larry Tate" fame from "Bewitched") acquires a robotic "grandmother" for them. Played by old-time actress Josephine Hutchinson, this mechanical lady is nothing short of miraculous in what she can do and possesses practically infinite knowledge. That isn't enough for one of the children (Veronica Cartwright) who is repelled by the "machine" and becomes even more withdrawn. Not until "grandma" has a near fatal accident and bounces up with nary a scratch does the child realize the benefits of having a substitute parent that can weather any storm or situation. They all live happily ever after until the parts start to wear out on old granny. But by then, the kids have all grown up as well-adjusted adults and they cheerfully see her off to the junk-pile.

Not much here except a lesser known story by legendary sci-fi writer Ray Bradbury. The performances are mostly routine although Ms. Hutchinson does her best with a limited role. She adds a nice touch of humanity to her robot even if it's a bit forced. A very young Veronica Cartwright also has some fine moments as the child who initially hates her mother's replacement. Viewers will note that Ms. Cartwright had a lot more trouble with another robot (Ian Holm's "Ash") in the original "Alien" movie (1979).

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10 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

A Bradbury Fixation

6/10
Author: Hitchcoc from United States
10 December 2008

I remember the story in a Ray Bradbury anthology. He had a thing for robots. This is a pretty lightweight effort. Not that it's a bad story; it's just that there are so many unanswered questions. Why did the cruel aunt not return at some point? How much does this cost? It's just taken for granted. That's why Ray Bradbury is a fantasist and less of a science fiction writer. The story is much more about the little girl coming to grips with the loss of her mother than the science. Robots have this thing about sacrifice and this comes through. Anyway, it all works out but we are left to guess the humanity of the robot. It's a feel good episode, but it isn't as gut wrenching as the reality of the little girl.

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4 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Little Girl Lost.

7/10
Author: Robert J. Maxwell (rmax304823@yahoo.com) from Deming, New Mexico, USA
1 January 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A man's wife dies, leaving him alone with his three children, for whom he has little time. He hires a nanny but the grumpy old lady can't fit in and she splits. Dad gets an idea from a magazine ad. Hire a robot to act as a governess, a kind of substitute for the departed Mom except older, a surrogate Grandma.

This doesn't sit well with the innocent preadolescent daughter, Annie, played by Veronica Cartwright, who was later -- in "The Witches of Eastwicke" -- to play a woman slightly past maturity who gets to deliver the line, "I have nothing against a good f***." Anne is worried that this piece of electronic junk will leave her, just as mother did.

She doesn't, though.

It's Anne's story, and it's about coming to grips with the death of someone we loved. And now, more than in the early 60s, it has a resonance beyond that. The divorce rate has soared since then and children have step parents more than they used to, sometimes seriatim.

It's a provocative episode, if it's thought about at all. Because, after all, what does it matter what's inside our bodies? Organic or gizmos, the only important question has to do with the roles we play -- and we DO play roles, whether our programs are electrical circuits or neurobiological assemblies. It's easy to think of a number of people we'd rather have replaced by effective robots -- cops, parents, politicians, IRS auditors.

"I Sing the Body Electric" is the title of Walt Whitman's poem, which includes the line, "The armies of those I love engirth me, and I engirth them." It's a particularly appropriate notion now, as it was when Whitman wrote it around the time of the American Civil War. Whitman, of course, was gay and served as a nurse during the war. His is an easily ridiculed stereotype, but imagine if all men had been gay nurses. No war.

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4 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

'I can win any game of marbles with those!'.....?

5/10
Author: darrenpearce111 from Ireland
13 January 2014

The line above is spoken by a little boy to his robot grandma regarding her eyes. I'm glad she didn't pull them out to play marbles with. On the rare occasions when TZ went in deep for sentimentality (like 'Night Of The Meek') it tended to fail, even though there are many wonderful moving moments in the series. This robo-grandma-knows-best tale is a mess (two directors). I wish I could say otherwise as it was written by the normally indescribably brilliant Ray Bradbury, and this was his one contribution to the Zone. The story is a little silly, as a father (David White) takes his three children to a showroom of Facsimiles Limited to pick out the components that will make up their robot grandma. The children opt for parts that make up a gentle character played by Josephine Hutchinson. The dissenter, Anne (Veronica Cartwright- always has been a very good actress) needs a lot more convincing of Grandma's worth and is still angry from her mother's death. A strong theme but is a robot the answer?

Please don't judge 'The Twilight Zone' or Ray Bradbury's writing by this anomalous effort.

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5 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

An unusually weak entry

4/10
Author: Qanqor from United States
10 March 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The real problem with this story is that there's not much story to the story. There's hardly any plot to speak of. Widower buys an electric grandma for his kids. One kid resists electric grandma. Then finally accepts her. Then the kids grow up and grandma leaves. Really, very little happens. It's much more of a premise than a story.

Moreover, strip it of it's schmaltz, and you have a story that had already done before, and better: The Lonely. Same basic idea: person initially can't accept the love of a robot, because it's just-a-machine, then eventually yields and comes to love the robot. The biggest difference is that The Lonely is much more powerful, as both the protagonist and we, the audience, are shocked abruptly back to reality and forced to remember that in the end the robot really is just a mechanism.

I also find the story highly flawed in that the electric grandmother is just *too* perfect. She's not only "human", she's *super-human*. She's *wiser* than a real person, she has no traces of mechanicalness to her at all, and she makes marbles appear out of thin air. It frankly really chafes at credulity to think that she's a machine.

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16 out of 55 people found the following review useful:

Totally average (at best) and a tad 'schmatzy'

5/10
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
29 January 2008

A widower needs a woman's influence in raising his kids, so he brings home a grandmotherly type woman to be a housekeeper and nanny. The only problem is, she's a robot and one of the kids is freaked out about having a robotic caretaker. Frankly, when I thought about it, I agreed with the kid and was amazed at how quickly the other siblings accepted her! Regardless of my feelings, when the robotic nanny receives hatred and distrust from the child, she cannot handle the rejection--leading to a "heart-warming" and very, very schmaltzy conclusion. 'Schmaltzy', if you don't know, is a word that means overly sentimental and saccharine--and that is a good description of this rather forgettable show. Now I am not saying it is bad, per se, as it did have a few interesting elements but overall it's at best an average episode and one you shouldn't rush to see.

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