Ray BradburyTheater – Punishment Without Crime (S2E7)

cover02Another bloody European episode.  At least we have a recognizable face in this one — Dr. Loomis himself, Donald Pleasence.  Despite airing 22 years after Fantastic Voyage, he has barely aged at all.  Which is a sad commentary on his 1966 self.

Pleasence is George Hill, a billionaire investment banker who is married to a woman 40 years his junior — I have no problem with that.  It is, admittedly, kind of creepy to see them together.

In an ineptly choreographed scene which involves the complex procedure of, er, opening a door, Hill sees his wife Katherine making out with a man who is also approximately 40 years his junior.

Update: I finally realized what happened.  Although the story is told 99.9% from Hill’s first-person POV, the director inexplicably switched to a third-person omniscient-POV for about 2 seconds.

So, naturally, Hill hatches a plan to a) have a robot duplicate of Katherine built (and she was built to start with, heyyyoooohhhh), and 2) kill said robot.  Having the cash, a better plan would have been to build 2 robot Katherines and not kill them.  But then, he’s a pretty old dude and this is PV (pre-Viagra).

rbpunish01The plan really makes no sense unless you look at it as a cathartic act where just going through the motions will give him some satisfaction — like Westworld.  But Katherine will still be alive.  And, by the way, will expect half his stuff to be handed over to her and her lover in the divorce.

Such is his anger that he can’t stand to wait the 2 weeks it takes Facsimiles, Inc to build the perfect mechanical duplicate of Katherine.  BTW, like all high-tech facilities in low-budget sci-fi, it has the standard completely inefficient floorplan, and is apparently staffed by one person who sits in the dark until needed.  Hill opts to be put into suspended animation until she is ready.

Naturally, once he meets Katherine 2.0 (now with fidelity!) he decides he wants to keep her.  Alas, that is not an option as she can’t be bought, only rented.  If she is an Apple product, there won’t even be a way to replace her battery.  Hill insists there must be a way he can keep her, but she has been well-programmed.  She speaks of cheating just as Katherine 1.0 did to taunt him into shooting her.  It works as he shots her and synthetic blood spills out onto the white floor.

Within seconds, a police detective arrives and arrests Hill for murder.  He is put on trial because a few hand-wringing do-gooders have decided that robots should have the same rights as humans.  He is found unanimously guilty in a televised trial that seems to be some sort of precursor to reality-TV, complete with soundtrack and stinger queues.

rbpunish03Katherine 1.0 comes to visit him in jail.  Even though the jailers know Katherine is alive, the sentence is carried out.

Post-Post:

  • Unlike my recap — a model of economic narrative — the episode opens with a framing scene, then a flashback, then a flashback within the flashback, ending with the same framing scene.  Sort of.
  • The opening and closing scenes cover the same material, just as in Pulp Fiction.  Also, just as in that film, the scenes are not exact duplicates.  I give Tarantino the benefit of the doubt that there was a point to his changes due to shifting perspectives, or even the nature of reality.  I think it was just incompetence here.
  • Nice cell he has, with access to the prison exterior security cameras.

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