A man is sent back in time to December 6, 1941 and tries to warn people about the upcoming Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.





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Episode complete credited cast:
Peter Jenson
Dr. Gillespie
Ensign Janoski
Mrs. Janoski
Army Doctor
Mr. Gibbons
Man at Bar (as Joe De Rita)
Bartender at Andy's


A man is sent back in time to December 6, 1941 and tries to warn people about the upcoming Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Written by GusF

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Plot Keywords:

time travel | See All (1) »







Release Date:

24 November 1958 (USA)  »

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Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Uses music which was also used in George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead (1968). See more »


On December 6, 1941, Hannify claims that Dwight D. Eisenhower was a lieutenant colonel and a member of the General Staff in Washington, D.C.. However, he was promoted to brigadier general on October 3, 1941 and was not appointed to the General Staff until after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. See more »


Peter Jenson: [When the Japanese start to attack] I told you! I told you!
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Spin-off The Twilight Zone (1959) See more »

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User Reviews

interesting start for the 'Zone'
4 March 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Shown as an installment of 'Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse' in 1958, 'The Time Element' was meant as the pilot for what would become 'The Twilight Zone.' CBS had passed on the idea as a series, but eventually the show was aired as a one-off. Viewer reaction was so positive (reportedly, the network received 6000 letters) that 'Twilight Zone' was given the go-ahead after all, and the rest as they say is history. The one-hour teleplay was written by Rod Serling of course, and it contained most of the essential ingredients of later 'Zone' episodes. A strange set-up, the idea played out, then the twist at the end. Peter Jenson (William Bendix) is having a recurring dream that he has gone back in time to December 6, 1941, the day before Pearl Harbor. He relays the dream in all its details to a psychiatrist, Dr. Gillespie (Martin Balsam), insisting he is not really dreaming but time travelling. At the end, Gillespie finds himself alone in his office, apparently never having spoken to Jenson, then learns Jenson is dead, having been killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor. The script is pure Serling, at times incisive, at times wavering uncertainly between comedy and drama. One lesson learned apparently was that these kinds of stories were much more effective in a half-hour format; otherwise they felt padded, though this lesson was then forgotten briefly by the time the abbreviated fourth season of 'Twilight Zone' rolled around. 'The Time Element' is a somewhat tentative first step, one that allowed Serling time to coalesce the various ingredients that would go into the new series. One ingredient that is definitely missed here is Serling's presence as host and narrator.

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