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The Twilight Zone: Nick of Time

A newlywed husband becomes obsessed with a penny fortune-telling machine that makes accurate predictions about his upcoming life.


Episode Info


Episode number: 2x7
Production Number: 173-3643
Airdate: Friday November 18th, 1960



  • Currently 8.3/10
8.3/10 (4 Votes cast)

Trailer


 
Flash
Guest Stars
William Shatner
As Don Carter
Recurring
Patricia Breslin
As Pat Carter
Recurring
Stafford Repp
As Mechanic
Recurring
Guy Wilkerson
As Counter Man
Walter Reed
As Nervous Man
Dee Carroll
As Nervous Woman
Main Cast
Rod Serling
As Narrator/Host

Recap

Don Carter and his wife Pat have car trouble on their way to New York and get towed into the small town of Ridgeview, Ohio. The mechanic says it'll take him four hours to make the repairs. Don is nervous about his promotion despite his wife's reassurance, and as they walk down the street it becomes clear Don is superstitious, saying "Bread and Butter" to prevent bad luck when they have to stop holding hands. They go into a diner for lunch and sit down at a table with a "mystic seer" napkin-holding gadget. They put in a coin and Don asks if anything exciting happens around here. It produces a card that says "It is quite possible."..

Read the full recap
Episode Quotes
Opening Narration
Narrator:
The hand belongs to Mr. Don S. Carter, male member of a honeymoon team en route across the Ohio countryside to New York City. In one moment, they will be subjected to a gift most humans never receive in a lifetime. For one penny, they will be able to look into the future. The time is now, the place is a little diner in Ridgeview, Ohio, and what this young couple doesn't realize is that this town happens to lie on the outskirts of the Twilight Zone.

Counter Man: You ain't going to like this as much as that chicken-fried steak.
Don Carter: We'll bear up.

Pat Carter: Office Manager. I think it's wonderful.
Don Carter: Let's ask him something else. He really came through on that one.
Pat Carter: Why don't you ask him why he didn't warn us that the whole wheat bread is stale?
Don Carter: Does he/she love me? I know the answer to that one. Will I become rich? I know the answer to that one too. I'm gonna be the world's millionaire accountant.
Pat Carter: Office Manager.
Don Carter: Right! Is it really gonna be four hours before we get out of here? (Reads card) You may never know. What does that mean?
Pat Carter: Who knows?
Don Carter: He does.
Pat Carter: Well, it'll cost you another penny.
Don Carter: I'm an Office Manager now. What do you mean we may never know? No, that's not a yes or no question. You mean, something will keep us from knowing? Something will happen to us? (Reads card) If you move soon. What's that mean?
Pat Carter: Well, he's a mystic. What do you expect? (Don puts another penny in the machine) I can see I'm gonna have to be the frugal one in our family.
Don Carter: Just one more. You mean if we're not supposed to move we're supposed to stay here?
Pat Carter: Just one question per penny, please.
Don Carter: (Reads card) That makes a good deal of sense. How long should, no, uh, should we stay here until two-thirty? (Reads card) Try again. Should we stay here until three o'clock? (Reads card) There's no question about it.
Pat Carter: Don, let's take a look around the town, hmm?
Don Carter: Every answer seems to fit.
Pat Carter: You're joking, aren't you? I mean, Don, no more.
Don Carter: If we don't stay in here until three o'clock, something bad will happen to us?
Pat Carter: Don, for heaven's sake.
Don Carter: Read it.
Pat Carter: (Reads card) Do you dare risk finding out? Don, let's go.
Don Carter: Oh, I haven't finished my sandwich yet. Don't you want some ice cream?

Don Carter: I suppose I'm just being stupid.
Pat Carter: No you're not. You're just being...
Don Carter: Don't say it. Superstitious. It's like you married an alcoholic, isn't it? Only except instead of bottles in the chandelier, it's rabbit's feet and four leaf clovers in my pocks and in the car.

Pat Carter: (to Don) It's as if every superstitious feeling you ever had is wrapped up in that one machine. It doesn't matter whether it can foretell the future. What matters is whether you believe more in, in luck and in fortune than you do in yourself. Well, you can decide your own life. You have a mind, a wonderful mind. Don't destroy it trying to justify that cheap penny fortune machine to yourself.

Closing Narration
Narrator:
Counterbalance in the little town of Ridgeview, Ohio. Two people permanently enslaved by the tyranny of fear and superstition, facing the future with a kind of helpless dread. Two others facing the future with confidence, having escaped one of the darker places of the Twilight Zone.



Analysis
But is it a TZ episode?

This episode's clever writing, compliments of Richard Matheson, does not make it clear if there are any actual supernatural elements in the episode. Some TZ episodes, such as "The Silence" and "The Jeopardy Room," avoid any fantastical or science fiction elements. Here, however, Matheson never confirms whether the mystic seer machine has any power, which is the beauty of his writing. The power of the machine isn't whether it has any supernatural abilities, but the power of belief. In the end, it doesn't matter if the machine has any powers: only what powers that Don (and the hapless couple at the end) believe it has.



Other Episode Crew

CreatorRod Serling
Executive ProducerRod Serling
ProducerBuck Houghton
CastingEthel Winant
Set DecoratorH. Web Arrowsmith  |  Henry Grace
Director of PhotographyGeorge T. Clemens
Art DirectorPhilip Barber  |  George W. Davis
Production ManagerRalph Nelson  |  Sidney Van Keuren
Sound EditorFranklin Milton  |  Charles Scheid
Main Title ThemeMarius Constant
Film EditorLeon Barsha
Assistant DirectorE. Darrell Hallenbeck
 
Warning: The Twilight Zone season 2 episode 7 guide may contain spoilers
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