The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 2 Episode 13 – Back There

This is a straight up time travel story.  Peter Corrigan is a member of an elite club in Washington D.C.  He and his fellow club members are debating whether it’s possible for someone to go back in time and thereby change history.  As he leaves his club, he becomes dizzy outside the door and when he comes to himself, he realizes that everything has changed and appears as it would in the mid-nineteenth century.  When he arrives at his home it isn’t his anymore.  He talks to the landlady and she agrees to rent him a room.  As he’s walking to his room, he hears an army officer who is leaving say that President Lincoln will be at the theater that the officer and his girlfriend are also about to attend.  Upon cross-examining the officer, he confirms that the performance is the one that Lincoln attended when Booth assassinated him.

Peter rushes to the Ford Theater and tries to convince them that Lincoln’s life is in terrible danger.  He makes a nuisance of himself and ends up arrested.  At the police station he tries to convince the police about the assassination and is about to be jailed when a stranger intercedes with the police and has Peter remanded to his custody.  The man introduces himself as Mr. Wellington and takes him to his rooms where he tries to understand how Peter knows what he says he knows.  After Peter tells his story Mr. Wellington gives Peter a handkerchief for an injury he sustained with the police and a glass a wine to calm his nerves.  But the wine is drugged and Peter passes out.  When he awakens, he yells for help and the landlady and a police officer show up.  Telling the landlady his story he finds out that the man wasn’t named Wellington but John Wilkes Booth.  Now Peter is panicked and he tries to force the policeman to run to the theater and save the President.  But it’s too late, Lincoln has already been shot and the news is being shouted on the street.

Now when Peter walks down the street he is back in the future and he arrives at his club and he tries to tell his former debaters that history cannot be changed even if a man can go back in town.  But a curious thing has happened in his absence.  A man who was a waiter previously is now a rich club member.  By his own narration we find out that the family fortune was founded when his ancestor who was a Washington policeman forcefully attempted to convince the authorities that they should protect Lincoln at Ford’s Theater.  This prescience so impressed everyone that he was advanced to authority where his performance brought him riches.  So even if some things can’t be changed, others can.  When Peter reaches for his handkerchief, he finds one monogrammed JWB (John Wilkes Booth).

Peter is played by Russell Johnson (the Professor from Gilligan’s Island).  It’s a pretty clever story and somewhat fun.  The only downside is the scene where Peter is at the door of the theater and he is pounding on the door and shouting.  It hearkens back to my dislike for any Twilight Zone episode that degenerates into someone shouting wildly at no one visible.

Because of this I’ll take away a half point B-.

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War Pig
War Pig
2 years ago

Ah, another great character actor gone. One of my favorite roles of his was in the very cheesy “Attack of the Crab Monsters”. I happen to love B-grade scifi. The cheesier the better.