"The Twilight Zone" Uncle Simon (TV Episode 1963) Poster

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Uncle S
sprose117 January 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Warning: This review may contain spoilers, so read with caution.

This time around I had an unusually strong reaction to this episode, which normally I had found just rather hateful, siding with the niece. I guess my own age has contributed to my sympathy for old Unc. Simon, and I found this episode to be unusually raw and honest, stripped of the "nice" lies. The niece was taking care of the uncle for one reason: his money. She hoped he would die faster. He was well-aware of this and didn't make the expected social convention of pretending they loved each other somehow. No whitewashing here. He called it as it was; she cared for him to get his money, period. He deeply resented that and gave her a wallop in perpetuity.One might ask why she didn't love him at all, and if he was responsible in some measure for that. It may well be that she was a shallow, dim-witted type, who more or less deserved what she got. Think of poor Uncle Simon; he has money and has to give it to somebody, but there is no one worthy, so he returns hate with hate. No one has mentioned it, but one can see a connection to the episode called "The Masks," where it is quite similar, in that an old, wealthy man returns his children's hate with hate, of a perpetual nature, like the robot. I find both episodes compelling. I bet in the Masks people tend to identify with the old man, but in Uncle Simon, it is the opposite, which is interesting between the two episodes, I think. In sum, who knows if Uncle Simon's bitterness is any less deserved than the old man in the Masks (forgot his name). I would even say that the rawness of the hatred, the likes of which I can hardly recall in any episode, save the Masks (where it is somehow less so perhaps), makes for a disturbingly real episode, all-too-human, open honest hate. A great episode, even with the comedic effect of the robot.
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Maybe not the greatest TZ episode, but hardly a waste of time
Rene Gardea20 February 2015
Warning: Spoilers
The episode has been traditionally been dismissed primarily because all characters are rather unpleasant. Well, yes and no, and if I may add that is precisely what makes "Uncle Simon" worth your time. The old uncle is just a caricature of the grumpy old man. Sir Cedric Harwicke in one of his last roles just played it right. Unpleasant, but not someone you would want to kill (unless you lived with him for decades, maybe). Ian Wolfe is the perfect lawyer, he gets a job to do and never for a second does he have second thoughts (or even first ones for that matter) But the real star is Constance Ford who would sadly spend her career in soap operas. In 99% of movies or TV shows, she will have a redeeming element, she would ultimately be nice, or at least nicer. Not here, she is actually just Uncle Simon's niece. And she plays it brilliantly!
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Unpleasant People
AaronCapenBanner5 November 2014
Constance Ford stars as Barbara Polk, who has grown bitter and resentful caring for her mean scientist-inventor uncle Simon(played by Cedric Hardwicke) who takes every opportunity to insult and belittle her, though as his only heir, will still inherit his fortune upon his death, which, when it finally comes, does not end the nightmare for Barbara, for she will then have to care for his creation, who didn't fall far from the proverbial tree... Unpleasant episode about two unpleasant people insulting each other mercilessly does have its moments and funny bits, but ultimately becomes a self-mocking farce that doesn't seem to have been worth the viewers' time.
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Rather antiquated but equally well played.
darrenpearce11126 November 2013
English knighted Shakespearean actor Cedric Hardwicke finished his long, distinguished and varied career appearing in TZ and The Outer Limits. Here he plays the obnoxious inventor Uncle Simon. His long-suffering carer niece, the stoical Barbara (Constance Ford), is the victim of this twisted old rattlesnake's venom.

The story has to be taken as a playful and now rather antiquated scenario from Serling's typewriter. Yet the script and solid playing by Constance Ford should get you on Barbara's side even though she has become consumed by hate. Simon is too hateful to evoke any sympathy. When Serling appears he outlines Barbara as having lived her life 'as though in each ensuing hour she had a dentist appointment'. I never liked the obsessive-cantankerous-mad-old-goat episodes like A Thing About Machines or Sounds And Silences, but this is infinitely better than those monstrosities due to Barbara counter punching.
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The Twilight Zone - Uncle Simon
Scarecrow-881 September 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Barbara has endured 25 years of ridicule and cruelty from Uncle Simon (how she dresses, her looks, her personality, her willingness to tolerate his berating, etc), but she anticipates (since he is at such an advanced age, his death could be imminent) his eventual demise. Going through all this misery was to achieve a degree of wealth and luxury once Simon perishes. However, when he raises his walking cane to strike her, Barbara grabs it and Simon loses his footing, falling off the stairs of his basement/laboratory, breaking his back. As he pleads for her help, unable to move, Barbara creeps in to give him a taste of his own distasteful medicine. He later dies, but when the will reveals that Barbara must remain always in the mansion and be caregiver for a robotic creation he had built in secret within his lab, her life doesn't get better…it worsens. The robot has been built specifically by Simon (his insidious nature couldn't resist) to evolve into a mechanized version of him! Complete (once it has "matured") with his voice, tormenting with the same harsh tone and vernacular, the robot makes "hot chocolate" demands and expects her to take care of his ever need. She pushes the robot down the same stairs Simon took his fateful plunge, but this time around she isn't rescued from the merciless barbs that were so torturous for all those 25 years.

Hardwicke's "ancient albatross with a dirty mouth" is a force of nature; what an absolute monster. Seeing him just insultingly rip her apart is damn near hard to watch. I can't imagine many(unless you are an "intellectual bully" like this guy) won't sympathize and even ache for Barbara. We get just a taste of how this rotten old codger mistreats Barbara regularly, so can you imagine 25 years of taking it? It's sheer masochism, really.

"Hey world, I'm back! I'm really back!"

This was indeed an "uncomfortable exercise in avarice and automatons" with poor Barbara never allowed to celebrate her freedom from the lecherous beast that served as a constant reminder of how awaiting the treasure just out of sight has the kind of strings attached no one in their right mind should be forced in adhering to. Hardwicke, clearly ailing with slurred speech and a body giving up on him, still doesn't hold anything back during his emotionally damaging tirades, with Constance Ford effectively portraying Barbara as browbeaten and weary. Drab and seemingly inert of personality, Ford wears that life of verbal abuse quite impressively. I imagined Rod Serling stood up one night, thinking of someone or some people he really didn't like, and spit out in script whatever that brilliant mind could muster to belittle and diminish in this episode for the Uncle Simon character. There are episodes of the Twilight Zone that feature endings for characters that have been through hardships who aren't given a happy conclusion…I think Serling just felt that some people in life aren't allowed to "reap after sewing".

Admittedly, I watched this for Robby the Robot. I was major disappointed in their wacky presentation of him (it, whatever). The "human features" in his dome just left me rather disgusted, to tell you the truth. I want Robby of Lost in Space, "War of the Robots", not this clownish abomination. Too bad.
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Plus ça change --
Robert J. Maxwell29 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
A later episode and not one of the most memorable, but not a total failure either.

The middle-aged Constance Ford has been living with her Uncle Simon, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, for the past twenty-five years, serving him, enduring his insults and abuse, in hopes of inheriting the mansion and the fortune associated with it.

It was written by Rod Serling who must have exhausted his store of pseudo-elegant pejoratives. Ford doesn't get much of a chance to use them because, after all, she must be careful about what she says. But Hardwicke gets a full twenty-five years' supply. Among the least of them: "You bovine crab." Among the best: "You're the only woman I know who looks as if, under her clothes, she's wearing clothes." The arguments finally become violent and Ford pushes Hardwicke down the stairs to his death. His will leaves everything to her, with the proviso that she care for Robby the Robot, one of his inventions. A lawyer will be around once a week to check on Robby's health. Gradually, Robby takes on all the characteristics of Uncle Simon -- the limp, the demands, the ancient gargling voice.

It's cleverly ironic but it's a downer too. Hardwicke was pretty old by this time. His features had turned to flab and that crisp and determined voice had begun to weaken. Constance Ford is quite good as the put-upon niece.
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"And how is young Master Polk?"
classicsoncall23 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Rod Serling used the robot theme a number of times in his Twilight Zone stories. Probably the best was Season Two's 'The Lateness of the Hour' where the science involved was definitely high-tech. There was also Season Five's 'Steel' set in a not too distant future that concluded rather undramatically and without the series' classic twist ending.

The plot here seems rather forced. Barbara Polk (Constance Ford) has sacrificed the last twenty five years of her life to look after Uncle Simon (Cedric Hardwicke), a domineering and dispiriting shell of a man who takes out his unpleasantries on a compliant niece. The only rationale for her acceptance of his behavior is the inevitable payday that comes with the reading of the uncle's will. But in The Twilight Zone, one must not only outlive the antagonist, but his creation as well. As Barbara comes to learn, her inheritance depends on following the provisions of her uncle's will, which includes putting up with Uncle Simon's alter-ego, now kept firmly alive in the body of a mechanical man.

I think this episode would have gotten a bit more mileage out of the concept if Simon Junior wasn't so goofy looking, a typical cheap looking tin can thrown together in the best tradition of those Forties and Fifties sci-fi flicks. I know, the technology wasn't there yet to produce anything much more futuristic looking, but it sure looks awfully hokey today.

What you have here, and you'll have to forgive the pun, but I can't help it. After more than a couple times, 'Get me my hot chocolate' began to look like the ultimate Simon says routine. But Miss Barbara never required 'please', much to her eventual undoing. I don't know, I think I would have junked the robot Simon a lot sooner than she did. After all, how much longer do you think old Schwimmer was going to hang around himself?

Interesting side note - In the preview for the next episode in the series, Rod Serling for the first time calls his creation 'TZ'. A nice touch.
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First half great...second half NOT.
MartinHafer25 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This episode debuted about a year before the leading man in the show, Cederic Hardwicke died. He was a nice character actor with a lovely voice, but here he plays a horrid but very rich old man. He seems to live just to make his harried niece (Constance Ford) miserable--with his constant haranguing and nastiness. Eventually, however, he has an accident and instead of helping him, she stands back and watches him die--and rubs his miserable face in it. She isn't in the right...but you can certainly understand her actions!

Of course, this IS the Twilight Zone and so his death is only the beginning of Ford's adventure. It seems that when the bill has been read, there are some bizarre conditions. She can only inherit the money IF she remains in the house...a house with a stupid looking robot implanted with Hardwicke's personality. Seeing "Robbie" recycled in this show (albeit he looks a tad different) is pretty silly--less like the Twilight Zone and more like a Disney film circa 1963! As for me, the first half of the show (before Hardwicke dies) is brilliant--well acted and compelling. The payoff, unfortunately, is dopey and...well, unworthy of the series.
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Bar-ba-ra, Bar=ba-ra!
Hitchcoc11 December 2008
It's awfully hard not to feel sorry for Barbara. She's in a no-win situation. She truly has been pushed as far as a person can be pushed. She is an indentured servant of the worst kind. She can't even escape when death rears its head. The strength of the episode is the build up. This guy is about as bad as they get: selfish, self-centered, and mean. She tries to appease him and all she gets is more attitude. Unfortunately, in the Twilight Zone, people often don't get their just deserts. The acting here is quite good. A classic performance by Uncle Simon played by Cedrick Hardwick. I wanted to rescue the young lady but, like a cancer, this guy has invaded her heart and soul.
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Uncle Simon Torments his Caregiver Niece beyond his Grave
nethcorp11 August 2008
This was an excellent Twilight Zone. Cedric Hardwicke was brilliantly rude and mean as Uncle Simon. The direction by Don Siegel - of Dirty Harry fame - was first-rate and creative. The story and dialogue were also extremely sharp. As was often the case with the Twilight Zone, the script was of more movie quality than TV quality.

I'm not sure what the 7.1 rating is all about: it's way too low. The overall score for The Twilight Zone is 9.6, but the individual episodes rarely even get an 8.0. This makes no sense and shows that the raters aren't very good at this kind of thing. Come on people, if you're going to rate these shows make sure you know what you're doing!
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