Nick of Time (The Twilight Zone)
|"Nick of Time"|
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 2
|Directed by||Richard L. Bare|
|Written by||Richard Matheson|
|Original air date||November 18, 1960|
|List of Twilight Zone episodes|
When Don and Pat Carter's automobile breaks down in Ridgeview, Ohio, they decide to have lunch at the Busy Bee Cafe while they wait. The booth they sit in has a fortune telling machine on the table that answers yes or no questions for a penny each. Don asks the "mystic seer" if he is going to get a promotion at work. The card says that it has been decided in his favor. When Don calls the office, he discovers that the seer was right. Because of this initial success, Don asks the seer more and more questions.
Pat begins to recognize that Don is taking the seer too seriously. Based on the seer's predictions, Don believes it is unsafe to leave the diner until after 3 p.m. Pat convinces him to leave a few minutes before 3, but the couple is almost struck by a car while crossing the street. A nearby clock shows it is 3 p.m. After they calm down, Don wants to go back to the cafe for more answers. However, two women are sitting at their booth, so Don and Pat wait at the front counter.
Pat wants proof that the seer is illegitimate, pointing out that it was Don who had brought up the matter of precisely 3 p.m. After reclaiming their booth, Don immediately asks the seer more questions. One of the things he wants to know is whether their car will be fixed by the end of the day. The seer answers in the affirmative, and, as if on cue, the mechanic steps into the diner to tell Don that his car is fixed.
The breaking point comes when Don wants the seer to tell him where they're going to live and asks the seer every conceivable yes/no question to arrive at that information. Pat tries to break the spell the seer has over Don. After a persuasive speech from Pat, Don apologizes and then announces directly to the mystic seer that they're leaving to go do what they please. After their cautious but uneventful exit to their car and out of town, a slightly older couple enters the diner. The couple is noticeably beleaguered and distraught. Approaching the same mystic seer, the man first asks the seer if they can ask more questions. After receiving an apparently affirmative answer, the man asks a series of questions including, "Do you think we might leave Ridgeview today?" The couple is obviously deflated by the answers to this question and others and, unlike the now free Don and Pat, will remain trapped by their addiction to the seer's "counsel."
Richard Matheson writing in The Twilight Zone Magazine said that he wished that Pat Breslin, who played Pat Carter (the wife of Don Carter, Shatner's character in this episode) had been available again to play the wife of Shatner's character in the famous 5th season episode "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet".
The street and building seen in this episode is the same one seen in the episode "I Sing the Body Electric". Both episodes feature scenes in which people are almost run over by vehicles on the same street.
- Zicree, Marc Scott. The Twilight Zone Companion. Sillman-James Press, 1982 (second edition).
- DeVoe, Bill. (2008). Trivia from The Twilight Zone. Albany, GA: Bear Manor Media. ISBN 978-1-59393-136-0
- Grams, Martin. (2008). The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic. Churchville, MD: OTR Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9703310-9-0
- "Nick of Time" at the Internet Movie Database
- TV.com episode page
- Guide to building your own Mystic Seer