Twilight Zone Precursor – The Time Element

★★★★ November 24, 1958 Season 0 Episode 0

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

I should have posted this before I started the series so when I reached the end of 5th season I thought it was time to feature this one. CBS purchased a teleplay in 1958 that writer Rod Serling hoped to produce as the pilot of a weekly anthology series. “The Time Element” marked Serling’s first entry in the field of science fiction.

It’s a Time Travel episode and a good one. William Bendix as Peter Jenson goes back in time right before Pearl Harbor takes place. 

This show premiered on November 24, 1958. Rod Serling wrote this episode and it appeared on the Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse. This one could have been a Twilight Zone.

Although this isn’t the pilot episode of The Twilight Zone, it was this Rod Serling production that eventually led to The Twilight Zone. It proved to be very popular with viewers, which led CBS to pursue a new series with Serling. Because TV viewers at the time were not used to the kind of surprise, twist endings for which Twilight Zone  became noted (as in this episode), Desi Arnaz appeared on-screen at the end of the episode to offer his explanation of “what really happened.”

IMDB Trivia:

Martin Balsam (Dr. Arnold Gillespie) later played Admiral Husband Kimmel in Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), which likewise concerned the attack on Pearl Harbor.

This episode takes place on October 4, 1958 and from December 6 to December 7, 1941.
Uses music that was later used in George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968).
The man at the bar is Joe DeRita from The Three Stooges.

This show was written by Rod Serling 


A man is sent back in time to December 6, 1941, to Pearl Harbor on December 5, 1941, two days before it is bombed. The episode relates his frantic efforts to warn military officials of the approaching catastrophe.

The complete episode


William Bendix…Peter Jenson
Martin Balsam…Dr. Arnold Gillespie
Darryl Hickman…Ensign Janoski
Jesse White…Bartender
Carolyn Kearney…Edna Janoski
Jesslyn Fax…Maid
Alan Baxter…Army Doctor
Bartlett Robinson…Mr. Gibbons
Don Keefer…Hannify
Joe DeRita…Man at Bar (as Joe De Rita)
Paul Bryar…Paul Bryar…… Bartender at Andy’s
Desi Arnaz…Host
Gene Coogan…Bar Patron (uncredited)