When I first saw this episode I was very young and I didn't quite understand what was exactly was going on but as I got older I soon realized that this is one of the greatest Twilight Zone episodes that there is. It's about those little fortune telling thingies and how they could like take over your life in a way. I really like Nick of Time. I think it has a splendid story line and great acting. It is pretty creepy and it sort of leaves you thinking at the end. The Twilight Zone is so much fun to watch, especially episodes like this, suspenseful in a moderately impassive way.
Don Carter and his wife are on their honeymoon when their car breaks down in a small suburban town. While waiting for the car to be repaired they go to a local diner which has fortune telling machines at the tables. Don starts asking questions for fun.
This is an episode of "The Twilight Zone" that is definitely worth seeing. The acting and story are quite good but the primary reason in my mind for seeing it is the message that there is no such thing as psychics or psychic ability. The future is unpredicatable and it is what we make for ourselves. I hope that people who regularly visit psychics and give ungodly sums of money to those scam artists watch this episode with a keen eye and take in it's message. The thought of having others make major decisions for you is scary enough itself.
The episode begins with a young couple dropping off thier broken down car at a repair shop. The man says it will take a few hours so, they decide to eat at a local diner.
While at the diner, the young man is wondering whether he got a promotion at his job. His wife notices the fortune-telling machine at their table and playfully tells him to ask the machine if he got the promotion. The fortune reads: It has been decided in your favor.
Unconvinced, the man calls his work, only to find out that he has indeed been promoted! They celebrate by asking the little machine a few more questions.
However, they are growing ever more superstitious, when the their questions are being answered very precisely.
The young man asks when would be a good time to leave. He asks if three o'clock would be a good time, since a few other answers suggested otherwise. Satisfied, he tries to stall until three o'clock.
However his wife is not as supertitious as him, and was growing impatient, so they left the diner a few minutes shy of three o'clock.
All seems well, until the wife is nearly killed by a truck while crossing the road. The man looks up at a clock to see that it is exactly 3 o'clock.
The man goes back to the diner, now more convinced than ever that that machine can tell the future.
Luckily, his wife is able to pull him out of his superstitious ways. She told him that it was him, who suggested three o'clock, not the machine. She told them, that they are in control of their own destinies.
They leave the diner with a new confidence and are not going to let a stupid little toy tell them what they can and cannot do.
The episode ends when another couple enters the diner and goes to the exact fortune-telling machine as the other couple. They have obviously been there befoe. They start asking it when they can leave and if there is a way out.
The episode is supposed to show you how superstition controls one couples life, while another decides not to believe in it. They choose to decide their own fate.
"Nick of Time" is a great example of what can be done with the economy of the 30 min anthology episode. A very well-directed episode, the story is perfectly paced to create a mounting sense of strangeness and fear. What's so interesting to consider is that nothing happens in this episode that could not occur in real life. There is nothing supernatural of unexplained. The husband (extremely well-played by William Shatner) discovers how deeply superstitious and fatalistic he really is when he encounters an apparently harmless fortune-telling machine in an Ohio greasy spoon. His level-headed wife (Patricia Breslin) contributes to the drama by first humorously encouraging him, then becoming disturbed and fearful when she sees her husband falling under the spell of his own imagination.
It's a perfect case of a brilliantly realized story in short format. An hour-long show on this theme would need padding and most likely fall flat.
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