No Time Like the Past
|"No Time Like the Past"|
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 4
|Directed by||Justus Addiss|
|Written by||Rod Serling|
|Original air date||March 7, 1963|
|List of Twilight Zone episodes|
Paul Driscoll [Dana Andrews] solicits the help of his colleague Harvey (Robert F. Simon) and uses a time machine with the noble intention to go back in time and alter past events (in such a way as to minimize the loss of human life) involving the First and Second World Wars. Paul first travels to Hiroshima in August 1945 and attempts to warn a Hiroshima police captain (played by James Yagi) about the atomic bomb and tries to convince him to evacuate the city. Paul’s warnings however are dismissed and he is unable to change history. Paul then travels to a Berlin hotel room to assassinate Adolf Hitler (in August 1939 immediately before the outbreak of World War II in September 1939), but his plans are interrupted when a hotel housekeeper knocks on his door and later calls two SS guards to his room, causing him to leave 1939 before assassinating Hitler. On his third journey to the past, Paul tries to change the course of Lusitania to avoid being torpedoed (by a World War I German U-boat), but is unable to do so when the ship’s captain (played by Tudor Owen) questions his believability. Paul accepts the hypothesis that the past cannot be changed. He then uses the time machine to journey to the town of Homeville, Indiana in 1881 (with the intention of escaping and living out a quiet, uncomplicated life). He then realizes that President James A. Garfield will get shot the next day. However, he allows the assassination to happen. While in 1881, Paul stays at a boarding house in town and meets Abigail Sloan (Patricia Breslin), a fellow resident and teacher at Homeville’s schoolhouse. At one of the boarding house’s dinners, Paul gets into an argument with another boarder over war and imperialism. After reading in a history book that Homeville's schoolhouse will burn down because of a kerosene lantern ejected from a runaway wagon, Paul spots the wagon and attempts to prevent this event from occurring. But instead he causes the fire he intended to prevent. Afterwards, Paul tells Abigail that “the past is sacred” and returns to his own time, having learned not to tamper with the past.
In the Twilight Zone radio drama series by Stacy Keach as the narrator, the first three time travel destinations perpetrated by Driscoll are inverted. He first attempts to board the Lusitania, then attempts to assassinate Hitler, and finally attempts to warn and evacuate Hiroshima. This is the reverse order of how the television broadcast version went, which had the Hiroshima investigation come first and the Lusitania boarding come last (the attempt on Hitler's life remains in the same chronological position).
- Back There -- another Twilight Zone episode about a man who tries to change history by traveling to the past.
- 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