A Little Peace and Quiet
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|"A Little Peace and Quiet"|
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 1|
|Directed by||Wes Craven|
|Written by||James Crocker|
|Original air date||September 27, 1985|
Wouldn't it be nice if once in a while everyone would just shut up and stop pestering you? Wouldn't it be great to have the time to finish a thought or spin a daydream? To think out loud without being required to explain exactly what you meant? If you had the power, would you dare to use it, even knowing that silence may have voices of its own to the Twilight Zone?
Penny is a harried housewife with a dim-witted and hapless husband named Russell. They also have four children: Janet and Susan, who are always fighting; Bertie, who is very clumsy; and Russell Jr., who is always playing pranks. Penny's typical morning consists of preparing breakfast for her family, listening to arguing children, dealing with Russell Jr.'s pranks, cleaning up Bertie's messes, fielding her husband's complaints, etc., which is difficult for Penny to bear.
One day, Penny goes to work in her garden while her neighbor loudly removes tree limbs with a chainsaw. As she digs in her garden she discovers a wooden box containing a beautiful gold pendant in the shape of a sundial. Not thinking anything of it, she takes it inside and puts it around her neck.
At the grocery store, Penny struggles to deal with Bertie and Russell Jr's annoying behavior and obnoxious customers. While driving home, as Janet and Susan loudly fight, she nearly reaches a nervous breakdown. That night, while she tries to cook dinner, her children pester her again and her husband starts to complain. As the noise level reaches a fever pitch, Penny yells to shut everyone up; suddenly, everyone stops moving — frozen in time. She soon realizes that the pendant she found in the garden is an amulet that can stop time. When she tells her family to resume conversation — time restarts. She is happy as she realizes that she will finally have a little peace and quiet when she needs it, staving off an inevitable nervous breakdown. Later that night, Penny watches a news program about recent arms talks between the United States and the Soviet Union. She becomes annoyed and briefly freezes time. After expressing happiness, she goes to sleep.
The next day, Penny uses her time-stopping power to enjoy a peaceful breakfast with her family, to shop at the grocery store without incident, and to avoid being pestered by two anti-nuclear weapons activists. In fact, she uses her newfound power to drag their frozen bodies into the yard, which, upon resuming time, frightens the protesters away from Penny's home.
Later that evening, Penny enjoys a relaxing bath when air raid sirens suddenly start. She hears her husband calling loudly from the bedroom and when she investigates, the television shows the Emergency Broadcast System. The radio announces that nuclear missiles are heading for the United States from the Soviet Union. When the radio reveals that ICBMs have entered U.S. airspace, Russell and Russell Jr. begin to cry. Just as an explosion is heard in the distance, the terrified Penny freezes time, then leaves her house and walks through town toward the noise. As she reaches a street which houses the local movie theater, she notices terrified people looking skyward and is horrified to see a Soviet nuclear missile frozen a few hundred feet in the air, nose down, and moments from impact.
The episode ends with Penny facing an impossible dilemma: live eternally alone in a safe but silent, motionless world, or unfreeze time and have the world be annihilated by nuclear war?
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This episode is similar in theme to two episodes of the original series: "Time Enough at Last," which involves a man who seeks a refuge from life by reading and gets his wish when the world ends through a nuclear war, and "A Kind of a Stopwatch," which involves a man who gains the power to stop time using a stopwatch.
The ending is also similar to a short story by Arthur C. Clarke titled "All the Time in the World," which concludes with the lead character in possession of a time-stopping device moments before a nuclear bomb ends the world. Clarke's story was adapted for television by Tales of Tomorrow, a forerunner to the original Twilight Zone series.
- In the final scene, the two films playing in the theater when Penny stops time are Dr. Strangelove and Fail Safe. Both 1964 films depict nuclear warfare.