The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 5 Episode 4 – A Kind of a Stopwatch

Patrick Thomas McNulty is an annoying opinionated boob who talks incessantly about subjects about which he knows very little.  At work he fills up the company suggestion box with ideas like making hot dogs square so they’ll fit in hamburger buns and making cans square so they’ll stack better in the garbage can.  Since he works for a company that sells women’s girdles his boss is not amused by these nonsensical suggestions and fires McNulty.

McNulty therefore adjourns to the neighborhood bar and proceeds to bore and alienate the patrons with his opinions on the baseball game on the television.  He succeeds in driving out all but one patron, Mr Potts.  McNulty buys Potts a beer and in exchange for this kindness gives McNulty and old stopwatch that Potts got from his family.

The bar owner, Joe Polucci berates McNulty for prattling on and driving away his customers.  Being distracted by this harangue, Joe drops a pitcher of beer.  While he’s going to clean it up McNulty clicks the stopwatch and suddenly Joe is immobile in the position he was in while stooping over to clean up the mess.  McNulty realizes what has happened and investigates Joe’s predicament.  Clicking the watch again, Joe returns to motion.  McNulty tries to convince Joe of what happened but since no time elapsed for Joe there is no evidence of the stasis.

McNulty goes home and starts testing out the scope of what can do.  First, he freezes his gold fish a couple of times.  Finally, he goes to the apartment window and proves that all of Manhattan is frozen by the stopwatch.  In a couple of demonstrations, we are led to the conclusion that the whole world is frozen when McNulty clicks the watch.

The next day McNulty uses the watch to play pranks on his old boss and the other employees.  For while the rest of the world is frozen still, McNulty is not only capable of movement but can also move the frozen items around him.  After boring of this and realizing what else he can do with this power he decides that the next day he will make himself very rich.

Next morning McNulty goes to his bank and stops time.  Then he goes in the vault and loads up a cart with bags of cash.  But as he’s pulling the cart along the stopwatch falls from his grasp and the crystal cracks.  McNulty tries triggering the watch but nothing happens.  He tries it several more time without success and then begins begging all the frozen people to start moving.  The man who loves talking to other people is now alone forever.

This episode is not to my taste.  The comedic elements are good enough but the semi-serious ending jars.  McNulty is a bore but you don’t hate him so you don’t want him trapped forever in limbo.

C+

This episode was the basis for an episode in the 1980s reboot of the Twilight Zone.  In that version a woman has the stopwatch and at the end she stops time when she hears of an incoming ICBM attack.  But when she goes outside, she sees a Russian missile arcing down in her neighborhood.  In this version she can’t move people.  They’re frozen in place and so if she clicks the watch again her whole family will die.  A much more poignant scenario.