The W.V. Whipple Manufacturing Co. introduces a new automated manufacturing machine that will eliminate 61,000 jobs and the company's president, Wallace V. Whipple, is quite proud of his achievement. Not everyone agrees with him, especially the loyal and longstanding employees who will be out of work. Foreman Vic Dickerson has plans for the machine - plans that land him in the hospital. When the machine is fully operational, it's Wallace V. Whipple who learns just what it is he has created. Written by
At the moment Chief Engineer Hanley turns off the projector, the lamps in the background come on at precisely the same moment. Mr. Whipple is standing in the middle of the room. No one else was in the room to turn the lights on. See more »
These are the players, with or without a scorecard: in one corner, a machine; in the other, one Wallace V. Whipple, man. And the game? It happens to be the historical battle between flesh and steel, between the brain of man and the product of man's brain. We don't make book on this one, and predict no winner, but we can tell you that, for this particular contest, there is standing room only - in the Twilight Zone.
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This episode has stood up pretty well. Richard Deacon, most famous for "The Dick Van Dyke Show" has control of his late father's company. Despite the fact that his father doubled his production, the son sees him as a failure, allowing the competition to get a leg up. His solution is to go to an almost totally computerized and mechanized factory, eliminating nearly all the workers, even the ones who have been there for 20 to 30 years. The factory goes from an active, friendly place to a wasteland in a few weeks. He even fires the man who has worked most closely with him since he was a boy. He speaks glowingly of giving the time card machines to a museum as well as the money he will save from fringe benefits like insurance, paid vacations, and the like. Deacon projects a villainous glee that literally glows when he is on screen. Of course, as sympathetic viewers, most of us grow to hate him. Some have written that this was a sign of things to come, showing Serling's prescience. Its outrageousness is what makes it work very well. I first saw this episode nearly fifty years ago, and now, seeing it again, it was quite familiar to me. It must have made quite an impression. The curse of mechanization is that if people aren't retrained and are left unable to work, the loss of a middle class's buying power is in the offing. Hence the Robert Reich reference.
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