The Twilight Zone

Season 3 Episode 13

Once Upon a Time

Aired Unknown Dec 15, 1961 on CBS

Episode Recap

In Harmony, NY, in 1890, Woodrow Mulligan is a janitor who complains about constant noise, high prices and government surpluses. He's knocked into a water trough by a passing cyclist and goes home to dry his pants. His employer, Professor Gilbert, and his assistant, have built a Time Helmet. They leave to share a toast and Mulligan decides the helmet is just the ticket to an era of peace and quiet. He puts on the helmet and sets it for 1960. It starts to spark and Mulligan runs out into the street where a police officer runs after him. As Mulligan catches a chicken, the helmet activates and Mulligan finds himself and the chicken on a busy city street in Harmony in 1960. A man in a passing van snags the helmet then tosses it aside where a young boy on roller skates picks it up. Mulligan chases after him and a police officer chases after him.

Mulligan steals a bicycle to catch the boy and the officer chases through traffic after him. The boy bumps into Rollo, an electronic scientist, and drops the helmet, and Mulligan crashes into Rollo then grabs the helmet. However, it's damaged and Mulligan realizes he only has fifteen minutes left. Rollo quickly determines that Mulligan is telling the truth and asks how the helmet works. Mulligan doesn't know since he's the janitor. Rollo and Mulligan take the helmet to Jack's Fix-It shop but Jack informs them it will take several days to repair it. Rollo explains that he's an electronic scientist and they need the Time Helmet repaired. Meanwhile, Mulligan finds a television and thinks the person on it is talking to him. He ends up stuck in a sarcophagus and Rollo gets him out and tells him to sit down. Frightened and bored, Mulligan goes outside and tries to buy a pair of pants, but doesn't have any money. Rollo discovers the janitor is gone and goes to look for him. Meanwhile, an officer spots Mulligan without pants, but Rollo finds Mulligan and hides him and then the janitor takes a pair of pants and pays the owner with money in the pocket.

The two men run back to the fix-it shop and Jack says it's ready. Rollo thinks 1890 is a wonderful period of time and with less than five minutes remaining, Rollo asks about Harmony in 1890 and has Mulligan pay the Time Helmet. The janitor explains how it works and Rollo takes it so he can go back to 1890, a period he prefers. He has to wait three minutes and Mulligan says that he brought the chicken with him so they can both go back if they're holding each other. Rollo doesn't believe him and prepares to leave. The officer spots them and they run for it. Mulligan loses the officer and runs after Mulligan, who stands in the middle of the street preparing to leave. With time running out, Mulligan manages to grab Rollo and they both go to 1890... landing right on top of the police officer. The officer chases after Mulligan while Rollo looks around, satisfied.

A week later, a much happier Mulligan walks through the town, satisfied with what he has. He returns to the laboratory where Rollo is working. Rollo has no modern equipment to work with, and no modern conveniences. Sick of his complaining, Mulligan puts the helmet on Rollo and sends him back to his own time.