The Outer Limits – Mary 25 (05/29/98)

Innobotics has gotten stagnant.  That’s why Charlie Bouton has been searching for new opportunities.  Today he is giving a presentation about his newest product.  He brings out the beautiful Mary 25 which looks a lot like the earlier “companion robot” Valerie 23, but is redesigned to be a nanny.  Because what new mom, just home from the hospital, wouldn’t want a flawless young, athletic 25 year old nanny in a form-fitting uniform whose prototype was a sex-bot moving in with her and her husband?  The board thinks the project is too risky because the Valerie 23 went haywire.  Charlie says he will test her out with his own family.  The risk to his noggin by his wife, who was not consulted, does not seem to be a concern to them.

Charlie goes home and tells his wife Teryl they will have a guest for dinner the next few years.  Within 30 seconds of entering the house, he fires the dumpy current nanny.  The next morning, Charlie’s hunky associate Milburn Ross delivers Mary to the house.  She gets along with the kids, so he heads back to the office.  Milburn, who had an affair with Teryl long ago, stays behind to observe.  The grammatically-challenged Milburn asks, “Why didn’t you ever return my calls?  Or wrote me a note?”

That night, Teryl suggests Mary’s programming might need some work.  Charlie belts her.  He walks out and sees Mary “checking her lubrication system” which looks a lot like giving herself a breast exam.  Charlie asks if Melburn left the old Valerie 23 subroutines in place.  She says she no longer has that programming.  Luckily, however, her AI makes her a fast learner.  Charlie begins making out with her, and is seen by Teryl.

When Teryl gets home the next night, Mary is acting very strangely, keeping the kids separated so they don’t fight.  When Teryl objects, Mary chokes her until Charlie uses a remote to shut her down.  When Teryl suggests Mary might not be ready for production yet, Charlie whacks her again.  That night, Teryl shows what she and Milburn had in common by saying.  “Are you replacing me with Mary?  She’s got Valerie 23’s looks which I know turns you on.” [3]

Yada yada, when Charlie next hits Teryl, Mary breaks his neck.  Teryl and Melburn resume their affair.  Melburn tells her, “You haven’t changed a bit in nine years.”  Then he discovers that she is a robot.  Charlie built her to replace the real Teryl after he killed her.

Love the story, but one thing I can’t figure out.  Mary 25 is still somewhat robotic.  She moves awkwardly and does not understand certain phrases, emotions, and actions.  Then, how was the Teryl robot, made nine years ago, able to pass for human all that time?  She seems to hold a job, and even her former lover never suspected all that time.  WTF wasn’t she trotted out as the nanny prototype; or three years ago as the Valerie 23?  [2] And why would Charlie have programmed her with the memories of her affair with Melburn?

Mary 25 is no Valerie 23 in more ways than one.  The episode Mary 25 had some great moments, but overall wasn’t as satisfying as Valerie 23.  What baffles me is how much more I liked the character of Valerie 23.  They were both played by Sofia Shinas, and just three years apart.  Yet, she is quite different looking.  Sure, the black wig does her no favors, but that is not the problem.  Maybe there should be a difference since she was playing a sex-bot before and not a nanny.  However, Valerie’s smile and sunny disposition would also be welcome in a nanny.  Mary 25 is kind of a downer.  Valerie’s robotic tics were endearing; Mary’s are merely robotic.  I just think this is not a very good performance.

Maybe it’s the liquor [1] talking, but a few times the script stunned me with how good it is.  I half-watched this once, then gave it a proper viewing later, so I knew what was coming.  Frequently the dialogue is perfect in its misdirection and double meanings.  The script has just the right balance to let the viewer know something might be up with Teryl, but doesn’t beat you over the head with it.  It straddles that line as cleverly as any story I can recall.

So, maybe not what it could have been, but still pretty good.

Other Stuff:

  • [1] Grand Old Parr.
  • [2] Mary says she was developed from a discarded 24 prototype, which would have been within the last three years.  But then the “nine year” comment makes no sense.
  • [3] I go back and forth on this . . . see [1].  Is “looks” singular or plural?
  • Charlie says Mary has “three fail-safes”.  C’mon, just call them what they are.
  • He also told the board she was named “Mary, after the nanny in the movie.”  C’mon, just say Mary Poppins.  You don’t have to pay just to say the name, do you?
  • Teryl Bouton is clearly named after the fabulous Teryl Rothery.

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