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The Twilight Zone: No Time Like the Past

Paul Driscoll believes he can alter history by traveling back in time and changing three particular events, Hiroshima, murdering Hitler and convincing the captain of the Lusitania to change its course. Failing, he decides to live in a simpler time but must not change any events, no matter who may be hurt by this.

Episode Info  

Episode number: 4x10
Production Number: 4853
Airdate: Thursday March 07th, 1963

Director: Justus Addiss
Writer: Rod Serling

Guest Stars
Malcolm AtterburyMalcolm Atterbury
As Professor Eliot
Marjorie BennettMarjorie Bennett
As Mrs. Chamberlain
Patricia BreslinPatricia Breslin
As Abigail Sloan
Robert CornthwaiteRobert Cornthwaite
As Hanford
Dana Andrews (2)Dana Andrews (2)
As Paul Driscoll
James YagiJames Yagi
As Japanese Police Captain
John ZarembaJohn Zaremba
As Horn Player
Lindsay WorkmanLindsay Workman
As Bartender
Tudor OwenTudor Owen
As Lusitania Captain
Main Cast
Rod SerlingRod Serling
As Narrator/Host


Paul Driscoll wants to use his time machine to right three wrongs from the past: the bombing of Hiroshima, Hitler's rise to power and the sinking of the Lusitania. After failing miserably at all three, he decides to relocate to the past, 1881. He brings along with him a history book which tells of a fire to be started by run away horses and burns down a school, injuring many children. He sees the wagon with the horses, and tries to convince the owner to unhitch them. He instead frightens the horses, causing them to run off and starting the fire. Driscoll then decides he belongs back in the present and it is harmful to try and change history...

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Episode Notes
Robert Cornthwaite appears in "Showdown With Rance McGrew," in which he portrayed the long-suffering director.

Malcolm Atterbury previously co-starred as "Henry J. Fate" in another episode, "Mr. Denton On Doomsday."

Robert F. Simon would later co-star as J. Jonah Jameson in the live-action TV series The Amazing Spiderman.

Dana Andrews was the brother of Steve Forrest, who starred in "The Parallel" during this same season.

Originally, the beginning scene was filmed with Driscoll having a philosophical discussion with his mentor. This was thought to be too dull for TV, thus was scrapped.

Marjorie Bennett is also in "The Chaser" and "Kick the Can."

Patricia Breslin was also in "Nick of Time."

Episode Quotes
Opening Narration
Exit one Paul Driscoll, a creature of the twentieth century. He puts to a test a complicated theorem of space-time continuum, but he goes a step further--or tries to. Shortly, he will seek out three moments of the past in a desperate attempt to alter the present--one of the odd and fanciful functions in a shadowland known as the Twilight Zone.

Hanford: (at dinner)...So what are your world views, Driscoll?
Paul: ...I don't have any, Mr. Hanford.
Hanford: Of course you do, man. We all do! Like all this nonsense about giving the Indians land. What we need are twenty General Custer's and a hundred thousand men! What we should have done is swept across the prairie, destroying every redskin that stood before us. After that, we should have planted the American flag deep, high and proud!
Abigail: I think the country is tired of fighting, Mr. Hanford. I think we were bled dry by the Indian Wars. I think anything we can accomplish peacefully, with treaties, we should accomplish that way.
Hanford: Now, I trust this isn't the path you spoon-feed your students. Treaties, indeed! Peace, indeed! Why, the virility of a nation is in direct proportion to its military prowess. I live for the day when this country sweeps away...
(notices Driscoll's disapproving look)
Hanford: ... You some kind of a pacifist, Driscoll?
Paul: No, just some sick idiot who's seen too many boys die because of too many men who fight their battles at dining room tables...and who probably wouldn't last forty-five seconds in a real skirmish if they were thrust into it.
Hanford: ...I take offense at that remark, Mr. Driscoll!
Paul: And I take offense at "armchair warriors," who don't know what a shrapnel, or a bullet, or a saber wound feels like...who've never smelled death after three days on an empty battlefield...who've never seen the look on a man's face when he realizes he's lost a limb or two, and his blood is seeping out. Mr. Hanford, you have a great affinity for "planting the flag deep." But you don't have a nodding acquaintance of what it's like for families to bury their sons in the same soil!

Closing Narration
Incident on a July afternoon, 1881. A man named Driscoll who came and went and, in the process, learned a simple lesson, perhaps best said by a poet named Lathbury, who wrote, 'Children of yesterday, heirs of tomorrow, what are you wearing? Labor and sorrow? Look to your looms again, faster and faster fly the great shuttles prepared by the master. Life's in the loom, room for it--room!' Tonight's tale of clocks and calendars--in the Twilight Zone.

Cultural References
Title: The title "No Time Like the Past" is a play on words for the old verbiage, "No Time Like the Present."

Other Episode Crew

CreatorRod Serling
Executive ProducerRod Serling
Associate ProducerMurray Golden
Set DesignerHenry Grace
Set DecoratorEdward M. Parker
Director of PhotographyRobert Pittack
Art DirectorGeorge W. Davis  |  William Ferrari
Production ManagerRalph Nelson
Sound EditorJoe Edmondson  |  Franklin Milton
Main Title ThemeMarius Constant
Assistant DirectorRay DeCamp
Assistant To The DirectorJohn Conwell
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