Henry Bemis loves to read. The only problem is that he can find neither the time nor the place to enjoy his pastime. At work, his boss has let him know in no uncertain terms that he is not to read during working hours. At home, his shrewish wife won't even let him read a newspaper, let alone a book. One day, he sneaks down to the vault in the bank's basement to read a bit and suddenly, there is a huge explosion above. He emerges to find the world destroyed in a nuclear holocaust. He does find books from the library and he sees a great deal of reading time ahead of him. Except for one small unintended event. Written by
Mr. Bemis expects to live "years and years and years" post-attack. In 1959, the effects of nuclear fallout were still under initial study and not widely understood. We see Bemis emerging from the bank vault more or less immediately after a thermonuclear blast (bomb-shelter protocol says to wait at least two weeks for the worst of the radioactivity to decay), eating packaged food that was probably irradiated, etc. So even with his glasses, Bemis would have not lived to enjoy his books for very long. See more »
[Middle narration - While Bemis wanders through the ruins of the destroyed city]
Seconds, minutes, hours, they crawl by on hands and knees for Mr. Henry Bemis, who looks for a spark in the ashes of a dead world. A telephone connected to nothingness, a neighborhood bar, a movie, a baseball diamond, a hardware store, the mailbox that was once his house and now is rubble; they lie at his feet as battered monuments to what was but is no more.
Helen! Helen! Where are you!
Mr. Henry Bemis, on an eight...
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Henry Bemis (Burgess Meredith) recalls getting hit with an umbrella for reading a campaign slogan a young lady was wearing. This is the story of a timid man who simply cannot stop finding himself in trouble purely for his love of reading. His wife and his employer the bank president despise him for it. For a time it seems that this is a comedy, then the great change comes. Serling's narration returns, unusually, somewhere in the middle.
A compact, classic twenty-three minutes of TV. An all important twist at the end making this a must-see TZ if you have not already. Interestingly, when Burgess Meredith returned to the TZ in season two he played another hapless soul like Bemis in 'Mr Dingle The Strong'. That same year he played a librarian in a society where books are banned in 'The Obsolete Man'. His final appearance was all about printing news in 'Printer's Devil' in season four. All in all a great body of work nicely connected by a fine actor.
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