Twilight Zone Marathon: “A Kind of Stopwatch”

ImageWelcome back to my Twilight Zone Marathon! If you had the ability to freeze time, what would you do? This episode explores the concept of controlled time and its uses. This is “A Kind of Stopwatch.”

Patrick McNulty is an utter loser with a loud mouth. He gets fired from his job and runs into a strange man at his local bar who offers him a stopwatch as a gift. McNulty soon discovers the watch can stop time itself and uses it as a means to try and get attention. Will he get the attention he wants, or will he still be considered a loser in the end?

This was easily the most lighthearted episode I’ve seen yet. The acting was over the top from pretty much everyone and there were a couple humorous moments. Unfortunately, keeping the episode 99% comedic screamed “missed opportunity” the whole way through for me. I can understand using the watch for silly pranks, but it felt like much more could’ve been done with it. And the twist ending only serves to make me wish it’d been preceded by a more interesting story.

A large part of that problem is the main character, McNulty. I can easily say he’s the most annoying character I’ve come across so far. He’s loud, doesn’t shut up, and seems to have no life beyond inadvertently annoying others. Not a single person in this episode likes him, except for maybe the man who gives him the watch. Even Serling’s opening monologue depicts him as an annoyance. Because of this, I didn’t care about his need for attention and only found that more annoying about him. And I especially didn’t care about how he ends up in the end.

All that said, this episode does have a couple things going for it. The concept of a stopwatch that stops time is neat and, had it been wielded by a more interesting character, allows for a lot of possibilities. I also liked the effect of people and things being frozen, especially when McNulty interacted with them. I couldn’t figure out if it was the people staying perfectly still or a trick of the camera, but it was pretty cool. I just wish they had gone with a different tone instead of comedy, or at least transitioned from it midway through.

Overall, “A Kind of Stopwatch” just feels like a wasted opportunity. It’s a great idea and holds up well technically, but the main character is irritating and more creative uses could’ve been found with the watch. I hate to say it, but unless you’re in the mood for some Twilight Zone silliness, I’d stay away from this one. It’s easily my least favorite episode to date.

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3 thoughts on “Twilight Zone Marathon: “A Kind of Stopwatch”

  1. Good assessment, Laura. I had essentially the same reaction to this episode. It was a neat concept, and I did enjoy seeing a frozen world, the characters were all a bit slap-dash. I know that Serling’s own creative burn-out (this one came late in the series’ run) had something to do with it. Your post, however, was well done!

      • Much appreciated! I’ve been running my Twitter page to quote and fan over Serling for three years now, and my blog for over two, and yes, my respect for his talent has only grown.

        Good luck with your “experiment”. I should warn you, though: TZ is quite addicting. You might not be able to stop! 🙂

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