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|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 2
|Directed by||David Orrick McDearmon|
|Written by||Rod Serling|
|Featured music||Jerry Goldsmith|
|Original air date||January 13, 1961|
On April 14, 1961, young professor Peter Corrigan (Russell Johnson) is involved in a discussion with colleagues at the Potomac Club on the question of whether events in history could be changed if time travel were possible. After bumping into an attendant named William on the way out, Peter feels faint. Confused by the gas lamps and horse-drawn carriages on the street, he notices that he's wearing clothes of a much older style and walks home. He finds that his "home" is a boarding house. In discussion with the strangers he meets there, he discovers that he has been transmitted back in time to April 14, 1865, the day of Abraham Lincoln's assassination.
Peter rushes to Ford's Theatre to warn everyone but is arrested for disturbing the peace. The police presume him to be a Union soldier under emotional distress. After being held in the police station a short time, he is released into the custody of a Mr. Jonathan Wellington. Peter implores Wellington to do something to warn and protect the president. Wellington gives Peter a secretly drugged drink, presumably because he doesn't believe Peter and wants him quiet.
After Wellington's exit, Peter crawls to the door but passes out before he can warn anyone else. When a policeman who overheard his story comes in and rouses him, he notices that the handkerchief left behind by "Wellington" bears the initials JWB. John Wilkes Booth himself had drugged Peter to prevent any interference in his mission. He hears the crowd outside spreading the news that the president has just been shot.
Peter pounds his fist on a window sill and finds he is back in 1961, pounding on the door of the Potomac Club. After being let in he asks for William. His request is met with only confusion. Back at the table with his colleagues, he finds that the scholarly discussion has moved from time travel to money, and William is at the table participating. William says that his money was inherited from his great-grandfather, a policeman had insisted despite all opposition that there would be an assassination attempt on the president that evening. He had been the only person to believe Peter, made a name for himself trying to stop the assassination, and become a millionaire.
Peter tells the others that some past events can be changed, and others can't. Overwhelmed by all that has happened, Peter steps aside to wipe his brow with his handkerchief and notices the initials: JWB.
- Russell Johnson as Peter Corrigan
- Paul Hartman as Police Sergeant
- John Lasell as John Wilkes Booth
- Bartlett Robinson as William
- Nora Marlowe as Chambermaid
- Raymond Bailey as Millard
- Raymond Greenleaf as Jackson
- John Eldredge as Whittaker
- James Gavin as Policeman 1
- Jean Inness as Mrs. Landers
- Pat O'Malley as Waiter/Policeman 2
- James Lydon as Patrolman
- Lew Brown as Lieutenant
- Carol Rossen Lieutenant's Girl
|“||Witness a theoretical argument, Washington, D.C., the present. Four intelligent men talking about an improbable thing like going back in time. A friendly debate revolving around a simple issue: could a human being change what has happened before? Interesting and theoretical, because who ever heard of a man going back in time? Before tonight, that is, because this is—The Twilight Zone.||”|
|“||Mr. Peter Corrigan, lately returned from a place 'back there,' a journey into time with highly questionable results, proving on one hand that the threads of history are woven tightly, and the skein of events cannot be undone, but on the other hand, there are small fragments of tapestry that can be altered. Tonight's thesis to be taken, as you will—in The Twilight Zone.||”|
- 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