|Episode no. Season 1
Written by Rod Serling
Production code 173-3602
|Directed by Jack Smight|
Featured music Bernard Herrmann
Original air date November 13, 1959
"The Lonely" is episode seven of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone. It originally aired on November 13, 1959 on CBS.
In 2046, an inmate named Corry is sentenced to solitary confinement on a distant asteroid for 50 years. In his fourth year of confinement, he is visited by a spacecraft (flown by a Captain Allenby) that regularly brings him supplies and news from the Earth four times a year. The ship and crew can stay for only a few minutes each visit, as the asteroid's orbit and the ship's fuel consumption rate make longer visits impossible, lest the space-traveling delivery crew would be stuck for 2 weeks or more, awaiting favorable orbit conditions to depart.
Captain Allenby has been trying to make Corry's stay humanely tolerable by bringing him things to take his mind off the loneliness. On this trip on the 15th day of the 6th month of the fourth year, however, Allenby tells Corry not to open a certain crate that has just been delivered until after the transport crew leaves. Upon opening the special container, Corry discovers that Allenby has left him with a feminine robot, named Alicia, to keep him company. At first, Corry detests it, rejecting Alicia as a mere machine; synthetic skin and wires inside. However, when Corry sees that Alicia is in fact capable of crying, he begins to fall in love with it.
When the ship returns, Captain Allenby brings news that Corry has been pardoned after a review of past murder cases, but they only have 20 minutes to leave. Corry, it seems, can return home to Earth immediately. Corry is delighted, until he learns that there is only room for 15 pounds of luggage, far too little for his robot companion, as there are seven other passengers on the ship from other asteroids. He frantically tries to find some way to take Alicia with him, arguing that it is not a robot, but a woman, and insisting that Allenby simply does not know it as he does. At that point, just as the rest of the transport crew is surprised at the sight of Alicia, Allenby suddenly draws his gun and shoots the robot in the face. The robot breaks down, malfunctioning, its face a mass of wire and broken circuitry which repeats the word "Corry". He then takes Corry back to the ship, assuring him he will only be leaving behind loneliness. "I must remember that", Corry says tonelessly. "I must remember to keep that in mind".
An audio adaptation of "The Lonely", featuring Mike Starr as Corry, was produced for radio in the mid-2000s; it was released on CD by CBS Consumer Products in 2007 as part of The Twilight Zone Radio Dramas Vol. 4.
In 2007, "The Lonely" was produced for the stage by 4 Letter Entertainment.
This was the first regular episode to enter production following the success of the pilot episode, "Where Is Everybody?" in selling the series.
This was the first of several episodes (including "I Shot an Arrow Into the Air", "A Hundred Yards Over the Rim" and "The Rip Van Winkle Caper") to be filmed on location in Death Valley. Unprepared for the terrible conditions they would face, the crew suffered extreme dehydration and heat exhaustion and director of photography George T. Clemens even collapsed, falling from a camera crane while filming continued.
Jack Warden would star in another episode of this season featuring a robot, "The Mighty Casey", also written by Rod Serling.
In 2016 H.E., asteroid (469219) 2016 HO3 was discovered, whose closest approach is nine million miles from Earth. However, its estimated size of 130-330 feet would not produce the gravity or atmosphere shown in the episode.