Broderick Crawford and Cloris Leachman as an unlikely pair of debauched swingers, take out their frustrations on their maid—their robot maid—in the Night Gallery story “You Can’t Get Help Like That Anymore,” reviewed here.
“You Can’t Get Help Like That Anymore” ***
Written by Rod Serling
Directed by Jeff Corey
Cloris Leachman as Mrs. Fulton
Broderick Crawford as Joe Fulton
Lana Wood as the Maid
Henry Jones as Malcolm Hample
Severn Darden as Dr. Kessler
Pamela Shoop as Mrs. Foster
Christopher Law as Mr. Foster
A’leshia Lee as the Receptionist
Roberta Carol Brahm as the Damaged Maid
Sometime in the future, a young couple tours Robot-Aids, Inc, a company that supplies domestic help in the form of incredibly lifelike robots. As they walk through a hallway filled with glass-encased displays, they see (unmoving) maids, chefs, gardeners, chauffeurs and other examples of the types of workers the company can supply.
Sales Director Malcolm Hample (Henry Jones) leads them on the tour, and when he is called away to see another customer, he asks them to wait with a receptionist whom they discover is a robot herself. Incredibly lifelike, she is programmed only for the tasks in her area of work and can be shut off with the flick of a switch.
Hample is intercepted by his leading robot engineer, Dr. Kessler (Severn Darden), who is outraged over the treatment of one recently returned model, a maid who was physically assaulted by its owners. The back of its head is smashed and an arm is broken, wires and circuits now exposed.
Kessler, who is invested in his creations beyond mere financial gain, is angry that the people who owned this one could not treat it decently and is proud that his next innovation will be to install a sort of adaptive survival instinct in his robots.
The owners in question have come to complain to Hample and they burst in to the room. Mr. and Mrs. Fulton (Broderick Crawford and Cloris Leachman) are then bawled out by Dr. Kessler who accuses them of enjoying the sadistic torture of others. They are stunned by this as it seems that with their money, no one ever talks to them this way. Hample appeases them by promising a better replacement.
Hample and Kessler then have a brief discussion about what makes something human, with Hample insisting these are still mere machines, no matter how human-like they appear. Kessler then points out that the damaged robot maid is shedding a tear and the sales director begins to consider otherwise.
Later, the Fultons are hosting a party where they are both drunk, particularly Mr. Fulton, and both making passes at others. Their new maid (Lana Wood, Natalie’s sister, who shares her smoldering dark looks and who played Plenty O’Toole in Diamonds Are Forever) begins to clean up some of the mess when Mr. Fulton makes a pass at her. His wife notices this, which sets off an ugly scene. Mrs. Fulton baits the robot maid, first by knocking a glass- and tray-filled tray out of the maid’s hands, to see if she will react angrily.
She does not react angrily, but merely picks up the mess, which angers Mrs. Fulton even more. Mrs. Fulton then asks the maid to describe her debauched owners and she says Mr. Fulton is “vulgar, lusting after everything but loving nothing” and Mrs. Fulton is “vain, aging ungracefully.”
Mr. Fulton then rises up to strike the maid for her impunity and is thrown behind her, smashing down into a table. Mrs. Fulton threatens to deactivate the maid and comes at her with a bottle and…
We next are back at Robot-Aids, Inc, where a more pleasant Dr. Kessler answers the phone and tells an inquiring prospective customer that the business is temporarily closed and that they are not working on anything new and don’t know when they will reopen, while we see behind him that robots are indeed being worked on.
Kessler then gets up and walks down the hallway of glass-enclosed robot samples where he is met by the robot maid last seen tossing the rotund Broderick Crawford over her head. They appear to be a couple in love and as they walk down the hallway and we see robot displays of the Fultons, Malcolm Hemple and Kessler himself, we understand that the robots have taken over this company and are perhaps plotting their takeover of much more…
This is one of those borderline segments that I liked well enough to put it over the three-star threshold. A good script by Serling, even if he made the Fultons a bit too horrific, and solid direction from Jeff Corey make this an enjoyable futuristic outing.