The Twilight Zone

Season 3 Episode 37

The Changing of the Guard

Aired Unknown Jun 01, 1962 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (5)

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out of 10
102 votes
  • Although the episode lacks the trademark 'twist' ending normally associated with 'The Twilight Zone', it's a great example of why I love the show: it entertains while making you think.

    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.
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