The Twilight Zone

Season 2 Episode 29

The Obsolete Man

Aired Unknown Jun 02, 1961 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (12)

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out of 10
153 votes
  • A play for all time..

    this episode should have and possibly may have already been turned nto a script for any high school play. To teach today's kids. "To teach today's kids what?" You may ask.. - No. Just to teach today's kids.

    this should be a play in every drama club in every school. But that can be said of a great many TZ episodes. This one, though, is a real triumph in that realm. Sorry I'm rambling. Bye now.
  • The state is just a collective of individuals with delusions of grandeur

    This episode is my favorite of all time because it emphasizes the real nature of the individual and his importance. The state is nothing compared to the individual. Every man feels important even as a part of the State. There is NO obsolete man.
  • Relevance is asymptotic as one ages

    I put the Obsolete Man in the same category as Soylent Green. As I get older, the message seems more relevant to my situation.
  • A clever title goes here!

    One of the best episodes of the show's second season. A little preachy, but, the performances by Burgess Meredith and Fritz Weaver, makes this a moot point. What I love is the fact that Romney Wordsworth (Meredith) wins in the end when the Chancellor (Weaver) gets his comeupance and considered obsolete. Kudos also to director Elliott Silverstein, who recounted that the episode's editor didn't want to go along with his vision of the final scene, and what ended up on the screen was a compromise.
  • warmed-over Ray Bradbury


    A front-runner for the series' worst episode: strident and overdone, obvious at every turn. Like Bradbury at his most annoyingly preachy, only of course made even more overbearing by Serling's cantankerous outlook. And once again I've got somebody on TV telling me how wonderful books are. People actually liked this one?! lol

  • Great concept but not a great episode

    I found this episode tried to pull off a great idea for a story but did not have adequate time to do it justice. I found the acting and dialogue of the chancellor to be way over the top in getting the audience to see how utterly evil he and the state was. I understand this was a half hour show but it just felt quite unbelievable at times and corny. I am a huge fan of the show regardless and there are many that I love with only seeing the first two seasons so far. I find that the episodes I'm not as crazy about are mostly like this one. Great ideas that are so two dimensional (good vs evil etc) due to time and the need to push the plot forward.
  • A librarian is deemed obsolete.

    I loved it. Loved it loved it loved it. As a lover of books, Wordsworth is my kind of hero, comparable to Henry Bemis in Time Enough At Last (also played by Meredith). It even pleases me more to hear Wordsworth calmly reading his Bible while locked in. While most bible-readers are portrayed negatively or as too preachy, Meredith is the kind of guy who can read the Bible aloud, knowing he will die, and knowing the Chancellor can't stop him anymore. Serling's stories about fascism deliver, and this is one of the best (ranked under One for the Angels, Miniature and Deaths-Head Revisited).
  • Burgess Meredith finds his way to the twilight zone again this time as a librarian who has no purpose in the future.

    Definitely one of the best lessons to be taught by a twilight zone episode. Reminds me of a mix between farenheit 451, V for Vendetta and 1984, giving that impression that the government feels like the only way to give the people happiness is to control every action. Meredith is great for the part, and plays a character similar to Henry Bemis in "Time Enough at Last," with his love for books. Classic representation of the ever present fear of the uncertainty of the future that we see in many twilight zone episodes, and really makes you wonder about how far is too far when it comes to government control.
  • An amazing commentary on society's judgement of others.

    Rod Serling has once again played on society's need to judge others and search for the perfect world. As a book person who sees the world quickly moving towards a place that deems literature as obsolete, I find this episode somewhat realistic. Scary, but realistic.

    I like the obsolete man's ability to pull the Chancellor in to his own world and force him to feel the panic of an upcoming death that cannot be prevented. Because this official of the state shows his cowardice, he, in turn, becomes obsolete. This only proves that no one is safe.

    Yet another fine episode.
  • The Obsolete Man: My favorite episode that Burgess Meredith stars in.

    What can I say about this episode of "The Twilight Zone"? Well, I definitely think it is one of the best episodes of the series, thanks in large part to the plot and the acting.

    What I found interesting about the episode was how the character of Romney Wordsworth had a very fitting name for the storyline: an obsolete librarian about to be liquidated by the State. Another thing that I liked the episode was how Wordsworth was allowed to plan his execution, even though I thought of planning one's own death was slightly weird.

    Another thing that I enjoyed about the episode were the events that lead up to Wordsworth's death; when the Chancellor pays him a visit and the condemned man begins playing a nice little game of cat and mouse. While they were conversing, what I thought was interesting was how the chancellor was claiming that the State wasn't afraid of obsolete individuals like Wordsworth, and how his actions ultimately proved him wrong, considering the representative of the State was terrified of being locked in Wordsworth's room, whereas the librairian wasn't; he was busy finding solace in his Bible and mocking the State.

    In the end, I thought it was quite fitting how the chancellor was deemed obsolete for showing fear while on television with Wordsworth. It goes to show that no matter how strong a person can act, there is no harm in showing weakness every now and then.

    However, the one thing that I didn't like about the storyline plot was how people could be considered obsolete if they no longer can be a contributing member to society, go against what society deems normal, or if they show weakness at times, are to be liquidated without a second thought.

    In all, this was one episode that I enjoy watching whenever I watch "The Twilight Zone". I find it to be quite entertaining and it also has a nice message to it, people aren't always what they seem: an obsolete person can have more purpose and courage than someone who is considered to have a purpose in life.
  • The best episode ever.

    This has to be my favorite episode. It has everything a TZ story should contain: religion/idealogy, detestable villain, sympathetic protagonist, and a ironic ending. I don't want to give the ending away, but rest assured it will satisfy you on every level. Burgess Meredith does a great job being the "sweet old man" main character, but is also delightfully clever and it becomes apparent that he's not as weak as portrayed. After I saw this episode, I couldn't help stop and think about the oppressive Stalin-like future society depicted; a world where books are obsolete. That seems very credible considering the advancement of technology today-- when was the last time you went to the library instead of looking up something on the net?
  • An Orwellian society sentences a librarian to death because he is no longer needed because books are not permitted. Spoilers in review

    In a futuristic society a librarian is sentenced to death but by his request, he will be allowed to pick his method of execution and only him and the exectutioner know what that method shall be. Before his execution, the prisoner is visited by the head chairman that sentences him to death. The librarian informs him that his method of execution is by a bomb that has been planted in his room and he locked the door so the chairman can't escape. Eventually, the chairman breaks down before death, while the librarian is cool. Since his execution was televised, other members of the government witnessed his reaction and he was later deemed to be "obsolete."