Outer Limits – Vanishing Act (S2E21)

olvanishingact03Trevor McPhee (John Cryer) shuts off the radio after the DJ says farewell to the old year.  Trevor  also says good riddance to 1949 despite have a decent home, a cute wife, and a radio the size of a refrigerator.

He feels they are in a rut, going nowhere and can’t even afford a bottle of New Year’s champagne despite Trevor drinking from a bottle of hooch at the time.  Full of rot-gut and self-loathing, he says the hell with it and goes out to get a bottle of bubbly anyway.

On the way to the store, he encounters a bright light and runs off the road.  When he regains consciousness, he stumbles to the road and hitches a ride from Ray Carter. Ray is a fan of comics like Zantarg, Master of Time and Space.

olvanishingact101960:  Ray drops Trevor off at his house, but he finds the locks have been changed.  When his wife Theresa (Jessica Lundy) answers the door she damns him for having disappeared for 10 years.  He swears to remember nothing of the last decade.  They go to a doctor who is no help.  His wife finally accepts that he didn’t run out on her and they go to bed, but he disappears again.  Trevor wakes up in a swampy cave, then reappears 10 years later

1970:  The furniture has been rearranged so he reappears on the bedroom floor. Technically, he should have reappeared in mid-air and dropped to the floor.  He finds his clothes vacuum-packed in the closet and changes into them.  Downstairs, he finds that Theresa has given up waiting.  Ray, the guy who gave Trevor a ride in 1950 is now giving Trevor’s wife a ride — they are married.  This time, Theresa finally realizes that Trevor hasn’t aged at all; because, really, would he have kept that mustache for 20 years?  He also finds out he has a son, which should have aged him 10 years on the spot.

olvanishingact21aHe storms out and sees the devolution of the country in 1969. There are drugs, hippies, war protests with inanely repetitive chants — can you really hear All We Are Saying is Give Peace a Chance go around more than twice without actually wanting to start a war?  He goes to a bar and is soon joined by Ray.  Trevor starts feeling sick and goes into the bathroom for 10 years [insert lame Mexican food gag here].  Again, he awakens in the swampy cave.

1980:  He reappears on the floor of the bathroom stall, luckily unoccupied.  The bar is now a disco (but not for Lola) complete with cokeheads, glittering disco balls, and The Hustle.  His son and Theresa are waiting for him.  This time Ray sets up a camera to catch him disappearing on Super-8.  Which he does.

1990:  Trevor reappears on VHS, skipping right over the Betamax years.  Ray is dead, but Theresa hypnotizes Trevor, and is able to talk to the alien who has possessed him. It says that his species explores the universe by possessing people and periodically bringing them back to their planet to share their knowledge.

olvanishingact25Despite using wormhole technology, Theresa learns they have no concept of the passage of time. She explains how the aliens have wrecked their lives and talks the parasite (who prefers to be called a Symbiote-American) into releasing Trevor’s body.  He disappears from 1990, sadly, having never reached the distant decade where his mustache would be accepted by society.

On the other hand, the aliens are pretty hoopy froods and plop Trevor back in 1950; where he was miserable.  Once again, lottery-number-free.

I suspect the concept is not original, but that never bothers me; I really liked the idea.  It didn’t hook me for some reason though.  Maybe it was seeing Jon Cryer in a drama (although I’ve never seen him in a comedy, either).

I still rate it 8 out of 10 years.


  • Jessica Lundy was the girl with the funny laugh on Seinfeld.
  • Of course, Jon Cryer was 40% of Two and a Half Men.

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