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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  • A curmudgeonly old professor prepares to off himself upon being forced into retirement, but is saved by the bell.

    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.