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 very harried housewife with a dim-witted and hapless husband named Russell. They also have four children: Janet and Susan, who are always fighting; Gertie, who is very clumsy; and Russell Jr., who is always playing pranks. A typical morning consists of Penny being awakened by a cacophony of activity including her excessively loud clock radio, cooking breakfast, arguing children, Russell Jr. playing a prank, Gertie spilling something, Russell complaining, the phone ringing, the dog barking, and the washing machine acting up.
One day, Penny goes to work in her garden while her neighbor loudly removes tree limbs with a chainsaw. As she digs 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 on.
At the grocery store, Penny deals with Gertie and Russell Jr. who are whining and she is annoyed by customers. While driving home as Janet and Susan loudly fight, she is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. While she tries to cook dinner, her children pester her again and her husband comes downstairs only to complain about a rip in his shirt. As the noise level becomes too much she yells to shut up—and they freeze in time. She is confused at first, but soon realizes that the pendant is an amulet that can stop time. She tells her family to start talking and time restarts. She is happy as she realizes that she will finally have a little peace and quiet. The words "shut up" stop time and "start talking" restarts time.
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 then expresses her happiness and 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; she drags their frozen bodies into the yard, lays them down, then restarts time. The shocked activists decide to skip her house.
Later that evening, Penny enjoys a relaxing bath when air raid sirens start. She hears her husband calling loudly from the bedroom and when she goes to investigate, the TV is showing the Emergency Broadcast System and the radio announces that nuclear missiles are heading for the United States. When the radio reveals that ICBMs have entered U.S. airspace, Russell and Russell Jr. begin to weep. Just as an explosion is heard in the distance, the terrified Penny freezes time, then leaves her house and walks through the frozen town. 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 presumably moments from impact.
The episode ends with Penny facing an impossible dilemma: live eternally alone in a silent but safe 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 while reading 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 entitled "All the Time in the World", which concludes with the lead character in possession of a time-stopping device moments before a nuclear super bomb test ends the world. That 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, two 1964 films which both depict nuclear warfare.