"No Time Like the Past" is the 112th episode of The Twilight Zone.
"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."
Cynical over the direction of the 20th century, Paul Driscoll (Dana Andrews) solicits the help of his colleague Harvey (Robert F. Simon) and uses a time machine with the noble intention to go back in time and alter past events (in such a way as to minimize the loss of human life) involving the world wars.
Paul first travels to Hiroshima in August 1945 and attempts to warn a Hiroshima police captain (played by James Yagi) about the atomic bomb and tries to convince him to evacuate the city. Paul’s warnings however are dismissed and he is unable to change history. Paul then travels to a Berlin hotel room to assassinate Adolf Hitler (in August 1939 immediately before the outbreak of World War II in September 1939), but his plans are interrupted when a hotel housekeeper knocks on his door and later calls two SS guards to his room causing him to leave 1939 before assassinating Hitler.
On his third journey to the past, Paul tries to change the course of Lusitania to avoid being torpedoed (by a World War I German U-boat), but is unable to do so when the ship’s captain (played by Tudor Owen) questions his believability. Paul accepts the hypothesis that the past cannot be changed.
He then uses the time machine to journey to the town of Homeville, Indiana in 1881 (with the intention of escaping and living out a quiet, uncomplicated life). He then realizes that President James A. Garfield will get shot the next day. However, he allows the assassination to happen. While in 1881, Paul stays at a boarding house in town and meets Abigail Sloan (Patricia Breslin), a fellow resident and teacher at Homeville’s schoolhouse. At one of the boarding house’s dinners, Paul gets into an argument with another boarder over war and imperialism. After reading in a history book that Homeville's schoolhouse will burn down because of a kerosene lantern ejected from a runaway wagon, Paul spots the wagon and attempts to prevent this event from occurring. Instead, he causes the fire he intended to prevent. Afterwards, Paul tells Abigail that “the past is sacred” and returns to his own time, having learned not to tamper with the past.
"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 weaving? 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."
Preview for Next Week's Story
Next on Twilight Zone, we take a page out of a book on the space age and we project just a couple of degrees as to what conceivably might happen to an astronaut if, suddenly and inexplicably in the middle of an orbit, he disappears. Our story tells you how, why and where. It stars Steve Forrest. It's called "The Parallel".
- Cayuga Productions
- Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) (in association with)
- Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) (1959) (USA) (TV) (original airing)
- Actor Dana Andrews was the brother of actor Steve Forrest, who starred in the next episode, "The Parallel."
- Main article: List of memorable quotes from the first series