A henpecked book lover finds himself blissfully alone with his books after a nuclear war.



(teleplay by), (based on a short story by)

Watch Now

With Prime Video





Episode complete credited cast:
Jacqueline deWit ...
Helen Bemis (as Jaqueline deWit)
Lela Bliss ...


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 garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis





Release Date:

20 November 1959 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


One of four times when Rod Serling used a mid-episode narration. See more »


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 »


Rod Serling - Narrator: [Closing Narration] The best-laid plans of mice and men - and Henry Bemis, the small man in the glasses who wanted nothing but time. Henry Bemis, now just a part of a smashed landscape, just a piece of the rubble, just a fragment of what man has deeded to himself. Mr. Henry Bemis - in the Twilight Zone.
See more »


Referenced in Revolution: Ghosts (2013) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Possibly the Most Horrific Half-Hour of Television Ever.
2 August 2006 | by (England) – See all my reviews

Such a powerful piece of drama this. It gives us a character so vulnerable and sympathetic that we, perhaps, see a little of the dreamer within ourselves in him. A small, mousy, child-like man at the mercy of his grouchy employer and domineering wife until World War III gives him a world of his very own.

This, like most Twilight Zone episodes, begins with a vaguely light-hearted feel that could go either way but by the end we are exposed to a reversal of fortune so tragic and so deeply ironic that I for one have never been able to return to watching this episode; the best laid plans of mice and men gone horrible awry.

Presumably this is meant as a warning against letting our dreams and fantasies get the better of us or perhaps it is intended to condemn those who force us to live too much in the real world. Stirling was always one to say the things we did not want to hear but in this, he succeeded only too well. It is perhaps merciful that Stirling had a sense of humour (let alone a heart) because if every episode of The Twilight Zone had reached this standard it would, conversely have been unwatchable because an audience cannot put up with this much cruelty every week.

If you see, it will affect you. I was left shattered and I don't intend to sit through it again. You may may only be able to take it once, but do see it.

50 of 67 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
what was the FIRST episode that you saw that left an impression on you ? shango7200
TZ Trivia --- Round 3 viaggio1
TZ Trivia ---Round 3.5 ! viaggio1
Which episode hits closest to home? mickeyone
TZ Trivia --- Round 4.5 ! viaggio1
Walking Distance cbarton21
Discuss Time Enough at Last (1959) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page