In this episode of the "Twilight Zone", starred one of my favorite actors: Donald Pleasence.
The plot of the episode is an aging professor (Pleasence) contemplates committing suicide, because of when he was informed by the headmaster that the administration of the school where he teaches chose not to renew his contract, forcing him into retirement. At hearing the news from the headmaster, Professor Fowler begins to fear that because of he having to retire, he didn't make a differnce in his students lives.
When he arrived home and went through his older records, reminiscing about his previous students, thinking that he didn't help them at all. After awhile, when his maid came into his study to check on him, Professor Fowler speaks his mind to her about what happened and went for a walk to his classroom before dinner.
What happened next is what I enjoyed about the episode, that was when he stepped into the twilight zone to have a chance meeting with his old students from a span of fifty years and they all walked over to him and told him all that they learned from his teaching and how they admired him, causing the professor to finally realise the importance his teaching was and how he made a difference, through his students around him, something he told his maid when he arrived home.
In all, this episode is a great example of why I always enjoy watching "The Twilght Zone".
After 51 years of teaching, an English teacher, Professor Fowler (Donald Pleasence), is informed by the headmaster of the university that the board of directors has decided not to renew his contract. Once the news sinks in and Fowler accepts what is happening, he comes to believe that because he is being forced to retire, he has not made a difference in the lives of his students.
He goes home and peruses old records, reminiscing about the years he has wasted, how none of the students even cared or listened to him. When the maid enters to check on him, he informs her what he is thinking and goes for a walk, secretly taking a revolver with him.
Fowler arrives at a cemetary, where he reads an inscription: \\\"Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity\\\" (which, in real life, is the motto of Rod Serling\\\'s alma mater, Antioch College). Further convinced that his life\\\'s work has been a waste and expressing how ashamed he is, Fowler returns to school one final time to clear out his belongings as ordered.
In his classroom, he is visited by the ghosts of various students whom he has taught over the years. They convince him that the lessons he has taught them were indeed absorbed and applied later in their lives, even if it didn\\\'t show at the time; thus, while he has not won the victories himself, he has enabled others to do so.
The sentimental and heartworming message lacks the usual twist, but that in itself is the twist of this episode, which is what makes it special to me.
It gives a person though on how replaceable you can be, But how you can also impact peoples lives with out realizing it. You can see how much he cares for his students and wants them to be somebody in life. Then toward the end was shown that he did what he set out to do. How he gave many students what they needed to go forth in to the real world as a well rounded individual. He asked for little then to keep going at his job. It still relates to today and how we do to age or other thing can be replaced even if we make impacts in to lives and are still able to do our job. I love this episode do to its timelessness and how it can apply to today and even tomorrow. It is a wonderful episode one of the best.
Professor Fowler is a gruff but gentle old soul who's been instructing high school boys for 51 years of his life in poetry and literature. As he wraps up class before Christmas break, he muses to the boys that although they are by and large "dunderheads" that they're nice ones at that, and will no doubt leave their mark on society.
As Professor Fowler bids good-bye to his students in the hallway, the headmaster calls him into his office and informs him that he's been given written notice of his termination (which Professor Fowler didn't know because he doesn't always read his mail). Stunned, the older man leaves and makes his way home.
Poring over old the pictures of his former students in yearbooks, he confides to his housekeeper that his life has been a waste, and that none of the students who took his courses ever remembered what he taught them anyway. Unbeknownst to her, he takes off outside, and later she discovers that the revolver in his desk is missing.
His would-be suicide attempt is interrupted, however, by the tolling bells calling class to assemble. In disbelief, Professor Fowler heads over to the school. He is soon paid a visit by former students, all of whom died valiantly, and all of whom were touched by Professor Fowler's instruction.
The message of the episode is familiar - that we never know the impact that we're truly having. For me, what made this one extra special was the endearing personality of Professor Fowler, as well as the fact that I can relate so well as a teacher myself. While I do not teach a subject in school, I spend hours each week preparing for youth group devotions and Sunday School lessions alike, and often wonder if the high school kids I teach are benefitting from - or even remembering - what I teach them.
At least we get to see Pleasence in a mellow mood as a Mr Chips type (not somebody like that storm-causing guy in The Outer Limits or the Humpty Dumpty villain of Puma Man!). But the idea is an awfully sappy one. Odd that teachers seem to be the only ones on screen given to similarly piteous musings; how fortunate I suppose for the rest of us that we are spared the grief of such self-indulgences.
Also, one can't help but think (well, this one at least) that, along with all the high-toned words and ideals he passed along, perhaps he should've taught more of his students how to duck. ;)
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