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|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Directed by||David Orrick McDearmon|
|Written by||Rod Serling|
|Featured music||Jerry Goldsmith|
|Original air date||January 13, 1961|
"Back There" is episode 49 of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone. It originally aired on January 13, 1961 on CBS. It involves time travel, and stars Russell Johnson, who had appeared in another time-travel episode the previous season.
|“||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.||”|
On April 14, 1961, young engineer Peter Corrigan (Russell Johnson) is involved in a discussion with colleagues at the elite Potomac Club on the question of whether events in history could be changed if time travel were possible. After bumping into William, a familiar attendant, 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 now 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 date of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth.
Corrigan 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 or drunk. One officer tends to believe Corrigan, but is overruled by his superior. After he has been held in the police station a short time, a "John Wellington" arrives and persuades the police to release Corrigan into his custody. Corrigan implores Wellington to do something to warn and protect the president.
In Wellington's room, he gives Corrigan a drink, but it is drugged and he collapses. Later the policeman who believed him arrives and rouses him, relating that he had tried unsuccessfully to convince anyone to take additional precautions. The landlady identifies the tenant of the room as John Wilkes Booth, and indeed the handkerchief left behind by "Wellington" bears the initials JWB. Booth himself had drugged Corrigan to prevent any interference in his mission. And now it is too late: the crowd outside is spreading the news that the president has just been shot.
Corrigan pounds his fist on a window sill and finds he is back in 1961, pounding on the door of the Potomac Club. It seems the same, but there is no longer an attendant named William. Back at the table with his colleagues, he finds that the scholarly discussion has moved from time travel to money, and William is also at the table participating. He says that his money was inherited from his great-grandfather, a policeman who had had made a name for himself by somehow predicting the assassination of Lincoln and trying to warn about it, becoming Chief of Police, then a councilman, and eventually become a millionaire through real estate. Overwhelmed by all that has happened, Peter steps aside to wipe his brow with the handkerchief in his pocket and notices the initials: JWB. It turns out that Corrigan was able to change the past, but not in the way he had intended.
|“||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.||”|
- Russell Johnson as Peter Corrigan
- Paul Hartman as Police Sergeant
- John Lasell as Johnathan Wellington
- 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 as Lieutenant's Girl
- 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