Twilight Zone – Paladin of the Lost Hour (11/08/85)

Danny Kaye is at the cemetery visiting his dead wife.  He is being stalked by a 2-person gang which is sadly not as committed to diversity as the gang in the previous episode.  The youths rough him up and make off with a gold pocket-watch.  As one of the thugs looks at it in his hands, it burns him and begins to float into the air.  Luckily a near-by mourner / martial-arts expert is nearby and opens a crypt of whoop-ass.  The watch floats back into Kaye’s hand like the one ring to Sauron (if not for those meddling kids).

Kaye shows his appreciation by inviting the heroic mourner out for a “cup of Earl Gray,” hot.  Kaye is insistent, ergo insists on dragging the guy out for a drink.  For some reason, I can’t figure, Kaye has talked the man into not only having tea with him, but going back to the man’s apartment and having him make the tea.

The stranger is a pretty smart guy.  He has shelves full of books and knows the meaning of ombudsman.  Turns out the man is the night manager at a 7-11 named Billy.  Kaye even more amazingly talks Billy into allowing him to rest in his apartment for a while while Billy is dodging bullets at work.  When Billy returns at 2 am, Kaye has prepared beef stew and cupcakes for desert.

They decide to be roommates, but Kaye says it won’t be for long.  His doctor has told him the end is near; also that he will die soon.  Billy says that he was in the cemetery visiting the grave of a man he knew in Viet Nam.  They turn on the TV, but are turned off by the war news.  Kaye promises Billy that there will never, never, never be a nuclear war because — he produces his pocket-watch — it is 11:00.  Billy points out that it is 4:00 am; why else would they be eating stew and cupcakes.

The next day, Kaye offers to take Billy to a manatee matinee, “but no films with Karen Black, Sandy Dennis or Meryl Streep.”  Wow, what’s with the misogynist, gratuitous, mean-spirited shot?  Against Karen Black, I mean — the other two, totally get. [1]  They see a man toss a cigar out his car window.  Kaye picks it up and tosses it into the man’s backseat, making it the first time I’ve ever liked Danny Kaye.  Kaye claims he is responsible for everything from lima beans to cockroaches to the President of the United States to Billy’ mother.  But is not God.

One day, Kaye takes Billy to the cemetery because he has a feeling he is going to die that day.  He tells Billy how Pope Gregory XIII decreed that October 4, 1582 would be followed by October 15th.  Eleven days vanished in order to synchronize the calendar with the seasons and equinoxes.  Popes were no more infallible then than now, and he got it wrong by one hour.  Kaye is the custodian of that hour.  He is now ready to hand that responsibility off to a younger man.

It is a fine episode, just not what I was looking for.  This kindler, gentler Twilight Zone is a little disappointing.  Taken as discrete plays they are often very good even if they are a little maudlin.  However, compared to Burgess Meredith breaking his glasses or James Whitmore being left completely alone forever on a planet far from Earth, they just lack the grit that I was hoping for.


  • [1] He does go on to explain, “They’re always crying and their noses are always red.  I can’t stand that.”
  • An article about those 11 days.
  • Directed by Alan Smithee.
  • Available on YouTube.

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