Director: John Rich
Writer: Rod Serling
Cast: Richard Erdman, Herbie Faye, Leon Belasco, Doris Singleton, Roy Roberts, Richard Wessel, Ray Kellog, and Ken Drake
Composer: Van Cleave
Air Date: 10/18/1963
Production Code: 2609
While visiting a bar one evening, the insufferable Patrick McNulty (Richard Erdman) is given a stopwatch that can freeze the passage of time. Trying out his new gift, McNulty plays a juvenile prank on his former boss before robbing a bank—with a terrible outcome.
A sci-fi/fantasy narrative with an ironic twist, “A Kind of a Stopwatch” should appeal to fans of The Twilight Zone. Nevertheless, the audience may struggle to connect with the main character—a bland, annoying person with no sympathetic qualities.
By remaining perfectly still whenever McNulty activates the stopwatch, the actors/extras add an air of realism to this episode. (The performers in “Elegy” and “Still Valley,” in contrast, make slight movements when portraying immobile characters, preventing full immersion from viewers with low suspension of disbelief.)
The premise for “A Kind of a Stopwatch” is marred by one significant flaw: the bar patron at the beginning of the episode offers McNulty the stopwatch—possibly the most valuable item in existence—while demanding nothing in return. A more logical setup, however, would have a desperate alcoholic give McNulty the stopwatch in exchange for money, liquor, or a ride home.
Another logical problem stems from the fact that, when stopping the flow of motion, McNulty manages to pass through doors, pick up objects, and push cartloads of money without causing tremendous damage to the world around him.
Though very tongue-in-cheek, the life circumstances of McNulty teach a valuable lesson about wasting one’s potential on frivolous, unproductive, or immoral pursuits—especially when given a rare or extraordinary advantage over others.
“A Kind of a Stopwatch” is a clever, humorous entry of The Twilight Zone. Worth noting in particular is the twist ending of this episode, which benefits from a heavy dose of irony.
Overall Quality: 7/10
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