Twilight Zone – A Kind of a Stopwatch

★★★★ October 18, 1963 Season 5 Episode 4

If you want to see where we are…HERE is a list of the episodes.

Richard Erdman plays Patrick Thomas McNulty who is an insufferable know it all bore. He is a self-proclaimed idea man…but not a good one. He is given a gift…a very special gift that he wanted to exploit. Mr. McNulty was given a stopwatch that could control time. This story is made for the Twilight Zone but it helps when you have sympathy for the main character. You don’t in this one but yet it still works. It does have a good Twilight Zone ending. 

It reminds me a little of Time Enough at Last but not as good. Erdman does a great job playing McNulty because he is a convincing pain. The inspiration for the episode came from a book written by John D. MacDonald published a year earlier called “The Girl, the Gold Watch, and Everything”. Much later the book was made into a movie called The Girl, the Gold Watch and Everything in 1980. 

The biggest disappointment is Potts, he is the fellow that gave McNulty the stopwatch. The dialogue doesn’t give us many clues…its supposed to make Potts seem the kind of eccentric character who might give a total stranger a mysterious and magical device, but it plays very flat. Potts is no more than a plot device, the intention being to get the watch into McNulty’s hands as quickly as possible. It was a wasted opportunity in not exploring that charcacter. 

The reason I bring it up is an early draft of the script featured an alternate closing shot: One of the “frozen” people, whom McNulty has just run past, turns to face the camera after McNulty vanishes around a corner. It’s Potts, who smiles and winks at us…indicating that, as with the watch he gave McNulty, there’s a lot more to him than meets the eye.

This show was written by Rod Serling and Michael D. Rosenthal

Rod Serling’s Opening Narration: 

Submitted for your approval or at least your analysis: one Patrick Thomas McNulty, who, at age forty-one, is the biggest bore on Earth. He holds a ten-year record for the most meaningless words spewed out during a coffee break. And it’s very likely that, as of this moment, he would have gone through life in precisely this manner, a dull, argumentative bigmouth who sets back the art of conversation a thousand years. I say he very likely would have except for something that will soon happen to him, something that will considerably alter his existence—and ours. Now you think about that now, because this is The Twilight Zone.

Summary

After Patrick Thomas McNulty gets fired from his job, he goes to a neighborhood bar where his non-stop chatter drives all of the customers away. One of the last patrons in the bar has a gift for him: a stopwatch. It’s a strange gift and he has no idea what he might do with it. When he presses the button however everything around him stops. He returns to work the next day and tries to market it, but to no avail. He then returns to the bar and again drives everyone out the bar with his bombast.

Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:

Mr. Patrick Thomas McNulty, who had a gift of time. He used it and he misused it, and now he’s just been handed the bill. Tonight’s tale of motion and McNulty – in the Twilight Zone.

CAST

Rod Serling … Narrator / Self – Host (uncredited)
Richard Erdman … Patrick Thomas McNulty
Herbie Faye … Joe Palucci, the bartender
Leon Belasco … Potts, the drunk who gives McNulty the stopwatch
Doris Singleton … Secretary to McNulty’s boss Mr. Cooper
Roy Roberts … Mr. Cooper, McNulty’s annoyed boss
Richard Wessel … Charlie, drinker in Palucci’s bar
Ray Kellog … Fred, who delivers coffee to McNulty’s office
Ken Drake … Daniel, last patron in Palucci’s bar who tells McNulty, “Come on fella, we’re trying to watch.”
Sam Balter: … sports announcer on TV in Polucci’s bar
Al Silvani … one of the drinkers in Polucci’s bar

 

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

19 thoughts on “Twilight Zone – A Kind of a Stopwatch”

  1. sounds intriguing, but maybe one that could have been better in season 4 with the longer time, based on what you’re saying. A little like ‘Groundhog Day’ potentially – with time stopped for everyone else, presumably he could go anywhere, see anything, learn anything before re-starting the clock?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That would have helped being longer …I wish they would have explained the guy that gave it away…
      Yes when he pressed that button….the world stopped cold. He could walk about and have all the time in the world.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. that would be a rather cool fantasy, think of all the things you could do while everything else was stopped! Write the Great American Novel, then learn Spanish, translate it yourself and make the Great Mexican Novel in a blink of the eye; learn to fly a plane and go see the seven wonders without missing an inning of the ballgame at home!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Oh….not to give anything away…but he actually said in the show he went on the field of a baseball game and moved second base out of reach where the guy was safe lol.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. You know….I didn’t think of that at the time…but you are right. He wasn’t an evil guy…just a pain to be around.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s really interesting about that alternative closing shot it would have been perfect. Totally agree about the flatness of the character who gives McNulty the watch. I also see the similarity between this episode and the “Time Enough to Last” episode. I really felt the gut punch on both of them. Carrying it out a little farther for both, with Meredith he might have been able to find glasses in the rubble after searching but the hopelessness for the other guy, wow. This episode shows so clearly why we need other people — even if only to annoy them! lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL….your last sentence says it all! That is WHY he needed people so bad.
      It does remind me of Time Enoough at Last also…but with a different twist.

      Liked by 1 person

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