"Monsters!/A Small Talent for War/A Matter of Minutes" is an episode of the The Twilight Zone (second series).
Segment 1: "Monsters!"
Directed by : B.W.L. Norton Written by : Robert Crais Starring : Ralph Bellamy, Oliver Robins First aired : 24th of January, 1986.
Toby (Oliver Robins, Poltergeist), a young boy obsessed with horror movies and literature, is gutted when his longtime neighbour Paulie moves out. In his place, an elderly fellow (Ralph Bellamy, Rosemary's Baby, Trading Places) moves in, who upon meeting Toby tells him that he's a vampire.
Toby, of course, doesn't believe him, but when later spies him lifting his car with one hand, he is certain that he does belong to the undead. The man, whose name is Emile Francis Bendictson, reassures him that he means him no harm, and that he is back in this place to die. He takes Toby out for a pizza, and they just seem to get along good.
Things get strange when everybody in the same town starts developing a strain of flu. Toby is another victim, just like everybody else, which doesn't stop Mr. Bendictson to take him out for a little walk in the middle of the night. As they enter the cemetery, Bendictson shows Toby his own grave, clearly showing he's dead for the past 100 years or so. Bendictson explains that the undead can die themselves, and that they will all soon find out. Before he leaves, he shows Toby a pretty sight - he stirs the bushes around the gravestones, and they lit up with fireflies.
Back home, Toby is sitting in the couch with his family - all of them pretty sick. When Toby's mom receives the news from the neighbourhood everybody else is gravely ill, bad comes to worse - all of a sudden, everybody starts transforming into hideous monsters! With their metamorphosis complete, the monsters head out to Mr. Bendictson's house, who is clearly expecting them.
The next morning, the police are at hand - Mr. Bendictson has been brutally murdered, and everybody is in shock. Nobody realizes it was "them" who sealed old man's fate, and Toby is able to remember only one thing - the fireflies. He takes his dad to the cemetery to show him, but after a cold breeze passes by and Toby's dad sneezes, Toby is very startled...
When Toby's dad warns Toby to "keep watching the skies", he's quoting a line from Howard Hawks's sci-fi classic, The Thing from Another World.
Segment 2: "A Small Talent For War"
An ambassador (John Glover) from an alien race arrives, claiming that his race had genetically engineered the people of Earth. He tells the quarrelsome members of the United Nations Security Council that his race is displeased over Earth's "small talent for war", having failed to produce the potential that the aliens had nurtured. When the alien ambassador announces that his fleet will destroy Earth, the Security Council earns a 24 hour reprieve to prove Earth's worth. With survival at stake, the Security Council negotiates, and the General Assembly acclaims, an accord for lasting global peace and presents it to the alien ambassador.
The global peace agreement brings great humour to the emissary. The aliens were, in fact, seeking a greater talent for war, as they had genetically seeded thousands of planets to breed warriors to fight for them across the galaxy. Humanity's "small talent" for war (crude weapons, petty bickering over borders) is not significant enough to be of any use to them, and he laughingly states that – worst of all – the people of Earth long for peace. As the ambassador calls down his fleet to destroy the Earth, he thanks the Security Council for an amusing day and their "delightful sense of the absurd", and his parting comment is "...as one of your fine Earth actors, Edmund Gwenn, once said, Dying is easy, comedy is hard.".
"If we are pawns of dark powers, then even our highest aspirations become a grim joke. But if not, then no one will goad us toward world peace or take it away once we have achieved it. Doubters please note, you've just seen it achieved once, however briefly, in The Twilight Zone."
- This episode strikes a similar theme to the original series episode "To Serve Man," where mankind also blithely misunderstands the intentions of an alien race that comes to Earth.
- The episode menu on the Region 4 DVD release erroneously displays the segment name as "A Small Talent of War".
Segment 3: "A Matter of Minutes"
A young married couple, the Wrights, wake up one day to the sounds of construction. When they get a good look at the world around them, they find everything has stopped. A crew of blue-clad construction workers are busy removing their furniture and replacing it with new. The Wrights run outside to find things being rebuilt that have already existed. The workers set up a crash, and distribute litter in the streets. The Wrights start to go in the direction of the voice barking out orders to the workers until the voice tells them to chase the Wrights.
Confused and frightened, the couple run into a back alley and enter a void of white space. They discover a man in yellow, who helps them out of the void and explains to them he is the supervisor of the maintenance of time. They have somehow slipped into a loophole of time. While they should be in an earlier time, 9:33, for some reason they have hopped over into 11:37. Showing them exactly how time is maintained, he reveals to them a new understanding of how the universe works: every minute in history is essentially a separate world, which must be built, maintained, and torn down once the world finishes with it. The supervisor informs them that they cannot return for two reasons: one, they cannot reveal to anyone the true nature of time and two, the supervisor isn't even certain they could return if they wanted to. The Wrights flee from the foreman and his crew, and try to find a way to slip back to their own time. They hide inside a theatre ticket booth waiting until their time, 11:37, rolls around and catches up with them. The foreman finds them but too late. A sudden loud noise and whoosh of wind and the Wrights suddenly come into their world again. Back in their own time, they find a "blue" wrench sitting on a public telephone, a souvenir as proof of their experience.
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