And in them were the fathers of sons—and in them were the fathers of sons.
October 17, 2010 8:42 AM   Subscribe

The Electric Grandmother (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5) was a made-for-TV movie from 1982, based on the short story "I Sing the Body Electric!" by Ray Bradbury. It deals in mortality, grief, abandonment, artificial (emotional) intelligence, and other themes suitable for children.

Bradbury's short story--which takes it's name from Walt Whitman's poem in Leaves of Grass--was also made into a Twilight Zone episode. Incidentally, that title is also shared by a Weather Report album from 1972, a song by RUSH, and (of course) a song from Fame.
posted by eric1halfb (20 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Also, this guy.
posted by well_balanced at 8:52 AM on October 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Whenever I see that title, that song from Fame snaps back into my head.

Damn you, eric1halfb!

(Oh, hey, another, better song just barged in and shoved it out. Yay!)
posted by Sys Rq at 9:16 AM on October 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Wow, I remember watching that.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:34 AM on October 17, 2010

Hoooo-leee crap. You just triggered off a flood of memories. The milk from the finger, the shadows in the factory, the rocking and recharging. I had no idea, but all those images have been stuck in my head for almost 30 years now, yet I had no source until just now. This is great, thanks!
posted by 1f2frfbf at 9:41 AM on October 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Thanks! Because 'The Electric Grandmother' us a masterpiece! I sciually got so hungry for the fried green tomatoes and liverdescribed in the story that I went to the store with my children and bought some chicken livers to fry up with the bag of green tomatoes given to me ny my neighbor. That was so good I tried some of the other foods described in the story for a week. The way I fix liver, kids will eat it and like it! I alredy has some good recipes I made up on my own. But the liver and fried green tomatoes is sooooo good!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 10:04 AM on October 17, 2010

I seem to remember this being a fixture on HBO in the early days, along with Beastmaster and Bill Cosby: Himself.
posted by JHarris at 10:45 AM on October 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

I seem to remember this being a fixture on HBO in the early days

Me too. I must also have seen in it elementary school at least three times.
posted by amro at 10:49 AM on October 17, 2010

The story and film gave a certain poignancy to the robots in AI where one of the robots was an abandoned nanny robot about to be demolished in the flesh circus.
posted by jadepearl at 11:02 AM on October 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

Oh my god this takes me back to a long forgotten place. Wow. And am I the only one who still randomly gets the old HBO theme song stuck in their (my? wtf English grammar?) head? You know, with the rotating HBO-mobile and the streamy tracer things?

(Just me? Oh, ok. I'll go get that checked out.)
posted by iamkimiam at 12:15 PM on October 17, 2010

And holy crap, HA! is that an uploaded digital camera recording of a videotape projected onto a blank wall?!
posted by iamkimiam at 12:19 PM on October 17, 2010

Thanks for this. I loved this movie as a kid, especially the delivery scene. This and the movie of Something Wicked This Way Comes are why Bradbury beat Heinlein for me clear up into my teens. Now I'll probably go find them both to watch today.
posted by irisclara at 1:13 PM on October 17, 2010

Mmm, I love The Twilight Zone original of this, which you can watch online for free on Have never seen this version, though. Thanks for the link!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:32 PM on October 17, 2010

Stereolab a couple years ago released a record called Kybernetická Babička, a name that references Czech animator Jiří Trnka's film of the same name from 1962 about a cybernetic grandmother. There's a decent synopsis here. Not sure what the source of that story is - maybe there's an English version of the film somewhere? - but Trnka's electric grandmother would seem to predate Bradbury's.
posted by with hidden noise at 3:21 PM on October 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

I also remember seeing this on Special Delivery on Nickelodeon but never got to see the rest of it. Thanks, Internet!
posted by dr_dank at 5:48 PM on October 17, 2010

nthing seeing it on HBO. Loved it. Bradbury's work always seems to adapt very easily to film and TV. I seem to remember an actual Ray Bradbury anthology TV series back in the 80's, too.

And no, iamkimiam, you're not the only one who remembers the old HBO intro. The long form, especially (the one with the tracking shot over the miniature city before panning up to the HBO logo "satellite"), was my favorite version as a kid.

Fun Fact: Back when I lived in NYC in the 90's, HBO used to sponsor the Bryant Park Movies In The Park summer program and they would run these old intros before showing the movies. Imagine several thousand people absolutely losing their shit and spontaneously dancing when they hit the horn swells in this. HOLY FUCK! WE'RE ABOUT TO WATCH A MOVIE!
posted by KingEdRa at 8:31 PM on October 17, 2010

I'm glad this brought back pleasant memories for a few of you (whether of HBO, or otherwise). I'd been searching for this for years, as the long-out-of-print VHS version usually fetches high prices. When I found it on YouTube a few weeks ago I thought it would be a welcome addition here.

Until this recent find, I'm pretty sure I'd only seen it once. We didn't have HBO when I was a kid, but I distinctly remember watching the 16mm version in school on an overcast fall day. Speaking of which (iamkimiam: I'll raise you one) here's a 90-second video of that 16mm version; you can even hear the projector click-clacking in the background.
posted by eric1halfb at 1:03 AM on October 18, 2010

Oh, and...thank you, with hidden noise. Didn't know about the Czech version. Will certainly watch it now.
posted by eric1halfb at 1:06 AM on October 18, 2010

I also remember seeing part of this on Nickeloedon when I was small, probably in about 1989-1990 or so. I remember it being very creepy and weird, having that late-seventies, early-eighties eerily familiar yet-unknown quality that many things from that time period seem to have, probably from being born in 1979.
posted by Snyder at 7:05 AM on October 18, 2010

I bought this on DVD (vhs transfer) several years ago. We watched this at least 3 times during grade school.

The highlights for me is when they get to choose the voices and of course the ending.
posted by o0o0o at 8:46 PM on October 18, 2010

posted by evil_esto at 4:26 AM on October 19, 2010

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