Tales of Tomorrow – Age of Peril (02/15/52)


The Bureau of Scientific Investigation apparently has its offices on the roof of the Capitol.

This episode takes place in the distant future year of 1965.  And still no flying cars.

The Bureau of Scientific Investi-gation tells Larry Calhoun they have top secret info which must be forgotten when his job is done. The US has developed a new missile, the R8D. Somehow part of the plans were stolen and Calhoun is to investigate.  His boss tells him to take along the new Lie Detector machine which is described as “the most important device in criminology” since the doughnut.

At the plant, Calhoun finds security tight.  He meets the detector’s inventor Dr. Chappell and his daughter Phyllis.  Calhoun decides to test all 580 employees at the plant, from the chairman to the janitor.  If it only took 5 minutes each, that would be 2 full 24 hour days.

Calhoun tests the lie detector himself.  He purposely tells a whopper and the machine accurately busts him on it.  None of the 580 employees are caught in a lie, however. Calhoun is still sure it is an inside job.  When he determines that the phone is tapped, he uses that opportunity to have a bogus conversation with the security officer.

That night, having taken the bait, a man breaks in to steal the plans.  He surprised that a camera inside the safe takes his picture as he opens it, and he runs away.  But not before having a nice 8×10 glossy taken of him.

ttageperil03They question the man in the photo, Elwood.  He plays dumb about the theft and the wire tap.  He demands to be tested by the lie detector. Hooked up to the gizmo, he claims to innocent, and the machine says he is telling the truth — he has beaten the lie detector.

Back at the Bureau of Scientific Investigation, Calhoun’s boss tells him that 48 men across the country have beaten the lie detector.  He tells Calhoun that if this problem isn’t solved, “this country will move into a new [titular] age of peril in which criminals have the upper hand.”

Calhoun goes back to the plant to see the security officer and Irene.  At Calhoun’s insistence, the security czar finally agrees to take the test.  He too passes.  When Chappell removes the sensors, however, the needle jumps when Calhoun mentions a man in California who beat the machine.

Well, well, well . . . it turns out Dr. Chappell has been hypnotizing murderers, rapists, thieves and various low-life burdens on society so that they could beat the lie detecting machine that he invented.  Calhoun and his boss point out the danger of his plan.

ttageperil05Chappell replies that he is not just hypnotizing them to beat the machine, he is hypnotizing them to not be criminals any more; also to cluck like a chicken.  Calhoun is a brilliant guy because he asks the question that I was thinking: “What about the crime they committed to begin with?”

Chappell gives an answer that would only a raving psychopath [1] could embrace: “What difference, at this point, does it make?” [2]

Chappell then gives a thoroughly unconvincing demonstration which actually does nothing to support his claims.  Calhoun, suddenly not so brilliant, calls his boss to pitch the idea.

Really not much science-fiction here as lie detectors have been around since 1921.  I guess this one was supposed to be fool-proof, but the flaw in the system is the whole point of the episode.  The absurd premise and the illogical flow of the story just doom this outing.  Too bad — for all its cheesiness, I have have enjoyed the series so far.


  • [1] I originally wrote sociopath, then consulted this article.  I’m not sure one diagnosis can contain her multitudes.
  • [2] The actual line is “What does it matter, so long as they never commit another?” Pretty close.  Yes, Mrs. Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth is starring in our Grand Re-Opening play, but he’s feeling much better now.



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