powered by AFI
Philosophy professor Kerry West's wife leaves to visit her sister after purchasing a television set for her husband to keep him company while she is away. Kerry dislikes television, and is stunned when the unplugged television set emits a beam that lights his cigarette for him. Kerry becomes nervous when the television repeats its performance. When Ed, the television serviceman, returns for the down payment, Kerry reveals he has only five dollars, and is unaware that he dropped the bill near the television. Ed intends to take back the set but finds the down payment, all in five dollar bills created by the television set, laid out on the floor. After the serviceman leaves, Kerry attempts to drink some coffee but the television set wobbles into the kitchen and zaps the cup, which disintegrates. The set then removes plates from the dishwasher and levitates them into a cupboard. When Kerry's best friend Coach Trout visits, he makes fun of Kerry's assertions about the television until he sees it in action. The two men then go to Coach's house to drink, where the Coach attempts to psychoanalyze Kerry, but talks about himself instead. As the drunken Coach falls asleep, he mutters that the television is a "Twonky," something that cannot be explained. After Kerry returns home he discovers that the Twonky controls the kind of music to which he may listen and shaves and grooms him as well. When Coach attempts to photograph the Twonky in action, however, the photograph develops as a picture of an infant with Coach's head. Coach surmises that the robotic Twonky perceives Kerry as its master, but when he attempts to test the Twonky's protective response by kicking Kerry, the Twonky paralyzes Coach's leg and he is forced to convalesce in Kerry's home. The Twonky later alters the lecture Kerry writes about individuality so that the next day, Kerry instead lectures about "Passion Through the Ages," prompting his students to laugh uproariously until he runs from the room. Kerry angrily demands that the appliance store take back the television set, but the owner refuses on the grounds that only Caroline is his client. He does, however, agree to replace the set if it is defective. When Coach's football players visit him he asks them to destroy the television, but the Twonky causes them to collapse unconscious. When they awaken, the students dazedly state that they have no complaints and leave. The television repairman returns with a new television set and is affected the same way as the students, after which the Twonky places a telephone call to the operator, identifying itself as a robot for the Bureau of Entertainment, and requests that a female blonde be sent to the house for its lonely proprietor. The shocked telephone operator presumes the location is a house of prostitution and contacts the vice squad. Coach, meanwhile, has learned from scientists that sentient robots have been sent to earth from the future. Coach hypothesizes that every home in the future will possess a similar Twonky which regulates the home according to the dictates of the government. When the Twonky directs a second beam at the repairman's head, inducing a trance-like state, the man departs in a daze. Coach and Kerry decide to destroy the Twonky in order to save the future from government control, but the Twonky detects their threat and, after healing Coach's leg, induces a trance that prompts him to leave. Before Coach can depart, however, the police break in to search for prostitutes and an agent from the Treasury Department arrives to investigate the counterfeit five dollar bills. Kerry attempts to explain what has happened but loses his patience. After the police turn the replacement television on and it displays regular programming, they attempt to arrest Kerry. The Twonky, which had been hiding behind a curtain, emerges and subdues them after which they leave with "no complaints." After a distraught Kerry goes to Coach's house, Caroline telephones while he is out. Caroline is alarmed when the Twonky answers the telephone and prepares to leave her sister's house immediately. Late that night, when Kerry returns home drunk and the Twonky induces sobriety, Kerry retorts that he has the right to be wrong. Eloise, a female bill collector shows up demanding payment for the television and other unpaid department store bills. Because Kerry has no money and she refuses to leave without payment, Eloise spends the night in the house. The next day after Eloise has refused to accept the Twonky as payment, Kerry loudly proclaims that he is going to kill himself and leaves Eloise alone in the room. Moments later he hears Eloise cursing the television set and then screaming. Kerry finds only Eloise's smoking clothes after which Caroline arrives demanding to know why a naked woman was running from their house. Caroline soon understands after Kerry demonstrates the Twonky's strange abilities. He then attempts to get rid of the Twonky by claiming that he is going to a meeting in which he will re-write the Declaration of Independence. As expected, the Twonky accompanies him in the car. When Kerry tries to push the car off a cliff, however, the Twonky puts the car in reverse. Kerry then abandons the vehicle on a road and hitches a ride with an older woman, unaware that the Twonky has climbed into the trunk of her car. The woman's erratic driving prompts the Twonky to push through the back seat and pull the emergency brake which causes a truck to crash into them. In the hospital, Caroline assures Kerry, who has numerous broken bones, that the Twonky was smashed to bits in the accident. However, when Coach arrives moments later with a television as a gift, Kerry becomes hysterical.