A Kind of a Stopwatch
|"A Kind of a Stopwatch"|
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Directed by||John Rich|
Rod Serling |
(based on an unpublished story by Michael D. Rosenthal)
|Featured music||Nathan Van Cleave|
|Original air date||October 18, 1963|
|“||Submitted for your approval or at least your analysis: one Patrick Thomas McNulty, who, at age forty-one, is the biggest bore on Earth. He holds a ten-year record for the most meaningless words spewed out during a coffee break. And it's very likely that, as of this moment, he would have gone through life in precisely this manner, a dull, argumentative bigmouth who sets back the art of conversation a thousand years. I say he very likely would have except for something that will soon happen to him, something that will considerably alter his existence - and ours. Now you think about that now, because this is The Twilight Zone.||”|
Patrick McNulty is a self-important, annoying boor in his 40s. One day, he is summoned by his boss. He is delighted, believing that his frequent contributions to the suggestion box have earned him recognition. His boss, however, says that all of McNulty's suggestions deal with fields of enterprise in which the company is not involved. The boss fires McNulty for wasting his time.
McNulty goes to a bar, where he drives away the other patrons with his opinions about a sporting event. The bar owner requests that McNulty patronize another establishment. McNulty ignores him and buys a drink for the sole remaining patron, a drunk, who spews various phrases from times long past ("54°40' or Fight", "E Pluribus Unum", et al.). The drunk gives McNulty his stopwatch. Thinking it an odd gift, McNulty quickly discovers that it pauses the passage of time for everyone and everything, except the watch holder.
McNulty tries to show his former boss the power of the stopwatch. McNulty says it can be used to make their company the largest in the world, but forgets that he cannot be heard when time is stopped. His boss does not understand and dismisses him. Before leaving, McNulty uses the stopwatch mischievously to rearrange random things in the office. Returning to the bar, he tries to demonstrate the power of the watch to the customers, but again does it in such a way that they do not understand.
Next McNulty uses the stopwatch to break into a bank vault, but while carting out a pile of cash he drops the watch. It breaks, leaving time permanently frozen. With no way to repair it, McNulty runs around in a panic, begging the frozen people to talk or move.
|“||Mr. Patrick Thomas McNulty, who had a gift of time. He used it and he misused it, and now he's just been handed the bill. Tonight's tale of motion and McNulty - in the Twilight Zone.||”|
Parodies, pastiches, and allusions
A nearly identical premise appears in the novel The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything (1962).
Ideas from this episode were used in "A Little Peace and Quiet", an episode in the 1985 revival of The Twilight Zone. "The Day the Earth Didn't Move Around Very Much", a 1997 episode of the Cartoon Network series Johnny Bravo written by Seth MacFarlane, is a loose parody of "A Kind of a Stopwatch" and also mentions The Twilight Zone by name.
UK children's drama series Bernard's Watch ran from 1997 to 2005, and revolved around a young boy who found a pocket watch that could stop time.
A similar premise saw use in the 2002 movie Clockstoppers.
The Simpsons 2003 Halloween episode "Treehouse of Horror XIV" features a segment called "Stop the World, I Want to Goof Off", in which Bart and Milhouse buy a stopwatch that stops time. They use it to pull pranks on Springfield's residents.
When McNulty uses the stopwatch the first time he returns to the office, the closeup of the woman at the water fountain shows the water frozen as it comes out of the spigot. The subsequent far away shots show the woman at the fountain but the water is no longer coming out of the spigot.
References and further reading
- "A Kind of Stopwatch" is the title on the script, two versions of which were published in As Timeless as Infinity: The Complete Twilight Zone Scripts of Rod Serling, Volume 3, edited by Tony Albarella (Gauntlet Press, 2007). The original scripts (both versions) are part of The Rod Serling Archives at Ithaca College.
- "The Twilight Zone Radio Dramas: A Kind of Stopwatch". Twilightzoneradio.com. Archived from the original on 2012-02-17. Retrieved 2013-07-02.
- 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
- Zicree, Marc Scott: The Twilight Zone Companion. Sillman-James Press, 1982 (second edition)