Nick of Time (The Twilight Zone)

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"Nick of Time"
The Twilight Zone episode
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 7
Directed by Richard L. Bare
Written by Richard Matheson
Featured music Uncredited
Production code 173-3643
Original air date November 18, 1960
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"The Eye of the Beholder"
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"The Lateness of the Hour"
List of season 2 episodes
List of Twilight Zone episodes

"Nick of Time" is episode 43 of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone. It originally aired on November 18, 1960 on CBS.


When Don and Pat Carter's automobile breaks down in Ridgeview, Ohio, and because of potential delay in obtaining a replacement fuel pump, they decide to have lunch at the Busy Bee Cafe while they wait for repairs to be made. The booth they sit in has a fortune-telling machine on the table that answers yes or no questions for a penny each. Don asks the "mystic seer" (with a head like the devil) if he is going to get a promotion at work. The card says that it has been decided in his favor. When Don calls the office, he discovers that the seer was right. Because of this initial success, Don asks the seer more and more questions, such as when their car will be fixed, and how long they should stay in the restaurant.

Pat begins to recognize that Don is taking the seer too seriously. Based on the seer's predictions, Don believes it is unsafe to leave the diner until after 3 p.m. and tries to stall for time. Pat convinces him to leave a few minutes before 3, but the couple is almost struck by a car while crossing the street. A nearby clock shows it is 3 p.m. After they calm down, Don wants to go back to the cafe for more answers. However, two women are sitting at their booth, so Don and Pat wait at the front counter. Pat suggests trying one of the other seer machines, but Don is drawn to the original machine.

Pat wants proof that the seer is legitimate, pointing out that it was Don who had brought up the matter of precisely 3 p.m. After reclaiming their booth, Don immediately asks the seer more questions. One of the things he wants to know is whether their car will be fixed by the end of the day. The seer answers in the affirmative, and, as if on cue, the mechanic steps into the diner to tell Don that his car is fixed; the mechanic has exactly one fuel pump available. Pat asks the seer trick questions, and the seer's answer are still accurate.

The breaking point comes when Don wants the seer to tell him where they're going to live and asks the seer every conceivable yes/no question to arrive at that information. Pat tries to break the spell the seer has over Don, who is unable to make any decision without the machine's answers. After a persuasive speech from Pat, Don apologizes and then announces directly to the mystic seer that they're leaving to go do what they please. After their cautious but uneventful exit, a slightly older couple enters the diner. The couple is noticeably beleaguered and distraught. Approaching the same mystic seer, the man first asks the seer if they can ask more questions using the pennies Don left behind. After receiving an apparently affirmative answer, the man asks a series of questions including, "Do you think we might leave Ridgeview today?" The couple is obviously deflated by the answers to this question and others. While this is happening, Don and Pat leave Ridgeview.



Opening narration[edit]

Closing narration[edit]

Production notes[edit]

Richard Matheson, writing in The Twilight Zone Magazine, said that he wished that Pat Breslin (who played Pat Carter) had been available again to play the wife of Shatner's character in the season five episode "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet".

The street and building seen in this episode are the same as seen in the episode "I Sing the Body Electric". Both episodes feature scenes in which people are almost run over by vehicles on the same street.

The street and building are also visible in the opening scene of the episode "Black Leather Jackets".

When selecting a song in the jukebox to celebrate his promotion, Don chooses the Glenn Miller song "American Patrol".

See also[edit]


  • Zicree, Marc Scott. The Twilight Zone Companion. Sillman-James Press, 1982 (second edition).
  • 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

External links[edit]