Tales of Tomorrow – What You Need (02/08/52)


Peter Talley of this episode: 4.

Brought to us this week by CH Masland & Sons, makers of Masland Beautiblend Broadlooms.

Peter Talley has a shingle outside his shop which states, “I have what you need.”  On the window, it specifies Curios although surely they also sell  knick knacks, bric-a-brac and give a dog a bone.  Is it possible to have a 2-for-1 sale on bric-a-brac? [1]

Reporter Tom Carmichael stands outside; as a customer leaves he makes notes.  This being the old days, the reporter a) wears a trench-coat, and b) actually exerts a few calories and confronts the shopkeeper.  While he is there, a dapper old man comes in to pick up “what he needs.”  Maybe this is set in Detroit because, in his case, it is a pistol.  He hands the shopkeeper $5,000 which is what I need.

While we all might occasionally need a pistol once, Carmichael notes that he has seen people leaving with an egg, rubber gloves and a test tube.  Presumably not all for the same guy unless he works at an in vitro fertilization clinic.  Getting nowhere, Carmichael takes a different approach and says that he would like to be a customer. Talley does hand him what he needs and asks that he not return to the shop.

Turns out, what Carmichael needed was a pair of scissors.  He shows it to his thoroughly unlikable, unsupportive, unattractive and uncreditted [2] girlfriend.  I think I know what he needs the scissors for.  While he is nagging his publisher for an advance to pursue the story, his necktie gets caught in the printing press.  He really needs a pair of . . . wait a minute!  His publisher grabs the scissors and cuts him loose.  Of course, had he not gone into the shop and gotten the story, he would not have needed the scissors.

ttwhatyouneed04At the end of Act I, we get a commercial from CH Masland, makers of carpets and now hunting gear.  The announcer shows off their new fishing vest which he points out has many pockets suitable for fishing gear and cigarettes.  He also points out the many rings for keeping your hands free to handle fishing gear and cigarettes.

After the break, Carmichael comes back to the shop.  Talley says that he was a scientist with an interest in astrology; maybe the only one.  That led him to invent the machine which gives people “what they want” — when the orgasmatron didn’t take off, he invented the What-You-Need machine.

Carmichael is not happy to just be alive, he plans to blackmail Talley into sharing his secrets with him.  Talley sends Carmichael a pair of shoes which cause him to slip and be hit by a car.  Overcome by guilt, Talley smashes his machine — the one that he earlier said had been responsible for the invention of the polio vaccine [3].  Sorry, kids.

So while Carmichael really was an asshole and a member of the media, Talley was ready to destroy a machine that stood to save millions of lives via a polio vaccine and who knows what else.  Who do you root for in that stand-off?


  • [1] Basically the same gag as George Carlin observing that if you break a crumb in half, you have 2 crumbs. Except his got a laugh.
  • [2] Despite having significant speaking parts, Talley’s wife and Carmichael’s girlfriend are not credited.
  • [3] This episode aired 3 years before the polio vaccine was invented.
  • Based on a short story by Henry Kuttner, and also the basis for an episode of The Twilight Zone.

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