SUNDAY SHOWCASE: MURDER AND THE ANDROID (TV)

Summary

One in this series of entertainment specials. In this science-fiction thriller, based on Alfred Bester's 1954 story "Fondly Fahrenheit" and set 400 years in the future, wealthy James Valentine is horrified to find that his android servant Rex, who is programmed to be unfailingly obedient and harmless, has attacked and killed a woman for no explainable reason. Knowing that he will be held accountable, Valentine orders Rex to alter his passport and renames himself "Jack Vivian." Later, he meets the attractive Mary George "Mari" Sutton, and the two flirts as he hints that he comes from "the planet of mystery." Valentine/Vivian then reluctantly agrees to loan Rex out to one Dallas Burton, whom he mistakenly assumed to be a man, at the steep price of $300 per week, but warns her not to let the "andy" get too close. Rex talks with two others "andys," admitting to "a need" that he cannot understand and wondering why humans created androids in the first place.

Rex struggles to understand human emotion as Burton dismisses his kind as "the living dead," and when Rex tries to comprehend her anger, she suggests that both she and Valentine are "imitations" like Rex himself who can only take from others, not give. Overcome with his strange desire, Rex overpowers and kills Burton, and Valentine finds them and furiously tells Rex that the authorities can have him. Rex, however, suggests that he can pass himself off as a human if Valentine formerly orders him to do so and removes the telltale red "A" from his forehead, which he does.

Sometime later, Valentine tells Mari that his "real" name is in fact "Jim Vaughn," and she happily introduces him to her blind, intellectual uncle, Dr. Alexis Rostov. Impressed that Valentine has retained the now-outdated skill of reading, Rostov takes Valentine to examine some of his artefacts, and Mari meets Valentine's pal "Rex Andrews," whom she takes for a "deadpan comic." The two begin to bond, but Rostov immediately figures out that Rex is an android in the midst of an illegal experiment. Mari is outraged, but Rostov is intrigued, telling Rex that he will help him to discover his human "soul." He reveals his own distaste of humanity, and Rex wonders just who is now the master and who the slave in the human-android relationship.

Rex and Rostov discuss free will and Rex demonstrates artistic skill on the piano, but Mari continues needling him with derogatory comments about "andys." Rex maintains his composure, though replaces his "A" with lipstick, and Mari apologizes somewhat, admitting that she fears androids because of their ability to potentially replace humans. Rex argues that "great men" like Rostov cannot ever be replicated by synthetics, and she agrees that free will defines a person. "Vaughn" is furious to catch them alone together, but Rostov then reveals that he knows Valentine's true fugitive identity and declares that he is to blame for Rex's murderous actions, explaining that he "projected" his hatred and violence onto the android and "infected" the otherwise docile creation. Mari agrees, and Rostov declares that they must be separated at once, but Valentine refuses to accept his help and shoots the old man dead.

Valentine takes both Rex and Mari hostage as they flee from the authorities, and Rex, having developed a true understanding of death, pain and compassion, agrees that he is "filled with Valentine's poison" and offers to stay behind if Mari is set free. Master and android fight and topple off a cliff, and a single gunshot is heard. When the police arrive, Rex emerges alone – and Mari tells the police that he is James Valentine, and that the wanted android is now dead. Commercials deleted.

Details

  • NETWORK: NBC
  • DATE: November 8, 1959 9:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 0:50:46
  • COLOR/B&W: B&W
  • CATALOG ID: B:02661
  • GENRE: Drama, fantasy/science fiction
  • SUBJECT HEADING: Drama, fantasy/science fiction
  • SERIES RUN: NBC - TV series, 1959-1960
  • COMMERCIALS:

CREDITS

  • Robert Alan Aurthur … Executive Producer
  • Alex March … Producer, Director
  • Alfred Bester … Writer
  • Kevin McCarthy … Cast, James Jason Valentine / Jack Vivian / Jim Vaughn
  • Rip Torn … Cast, Rex, the Android
  • Vladimir Sokoloff … Cast, Dr. Alexis Rostov
  • Suzanne Pleshette … Cast, Mary George 'Mari' Sutton
  • Sono Osato … Cast, Dallas Burton
  • David J. Stewart … Cast, Jervis
  • Robert Blackburn … Cast, Harry
  • Telly Savalas … Cast, Cotton
  • Floyd Ennis … Cast, Officer
  • Martin Ashe … Cast, Policeman
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