Today, November 18, This Day in Twilight Zone History celebrates the 1960 debut of the very compelling "Nick of Time," the first TZ episode to star newcomer William Shatner.
The future Captain James Tiberius Kirk plays Don Carter, a simple businessman on his way to a new job who stops off in a small town with his wife, Pat (Patricia Breslin), to have his car repaired – and decides to kill time in a diner. On his diner table is a little fortune-telling machine, topped by a devil's head. What starts out as a little exercise to occupy their time, turns terrifying for the Carters as the machine's prognostications become more and more frightening in their implications.
Horror author Stephen King was once quoted as saying that writer Richard Matheson's novel I Am Legend had convinced him that he could write modern horror stories that didn't have to take place in a European castle or the typical haunted house. Matheson could set a story in any aspect of the modern world and make it work. He was a keen observer of our world – and many of those observations led to TZ episodes.
Marrying Matheson's "Nick of Time" with the talent of young William Shatner and Patricia Breslin was quite successful – not to mention the skill that director Richard L. Bare brought to this episode. So let's hoist a diner cherry phosphate to the Carters and Mr. Matheson for summoning up another short order chapter on the menu we call The Twilight Zone.