The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 4 Episode 10 – No Time Like the Past

Dana Andrews is a physicist named Paul Driscoll who is part of a time travel project.  He goes back in time to try and alter three pages in history.  He goes back to 1945 Hiroshima and tries to convince a police official to evacuate the women and children before the bomb.  But he fails.  Then he goes back to the early days of Hitler’s rule and tries to kill Hitler with a rifle from a hotel room adjacent to a Nazi rally and fails.  And finally, he goes back to the Lusitania and tries to convince the captain to change his course and avoid the torpedo that would sink it a few minutes later.  Once again, he fails.

Returning to his present he is reconciled to the immutability of the past.  But now he determines to find a period in the past before the horrors of the atomic age where he can live in peace.  He chooses a town in Indiana in 1881.  Shortly after arriving he realizes that President Garfield will be shot that same day.  Accidentally he lets slip that he knows Garfield will be shot to the town school-marm, Abigail Sloan.  He falls in love with the teacher and they talk about his thoughts on war and peace.  But suddenly he remembers something else he read about the town.  He remembers that a fire will break out in the school and twelve children will be badly hurt.  While attempting to prevent the accident that causes the fire, he causes it himself.  He says goodbye to Miss Sloan and tells her that he must head back to the future where he can make a difference.  He talks to one of his associates and says that working to make a better future is the only useful occupation for those who want to make a better world.

This hour format allows Serling to combine a time travel plot that involves trying to change the past with a meditation on war and peace.  Dana Andrews is a fun actor and does his best with the story.  It’s kind of an odd juxtaposition of sci-fi and nostalgia.  It’s a little unfocused and kind of forced but not bad.  B-.

 

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