Oh-ho, this is a good one. As you may or may not know, a little less than a year before The Twilight Zone debuted on CBS, the network aired an episode of Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse written by Rod Serling. That show, “The Time Element,” stars William Bendix of The Babe Ruth Story fame as a man who dreams himself back in time to Honolulu prior to Japan’s Pearl Harbor-style attack on Pearl Harbor. Its tone and style will feel very familiar to anyone who is a fan of The Twilight Zone.
“The Time Element” is often referred to erroneously as The Twilight Zone’s pilot episode. It wasn’t — “Where is Everybody?” was the actual series pilot — but it did establish the template: character-based, dialogue-heavy stories with a (usually supernatural) trick revealed at the end, shot and acted with a minimum of bullshit.
You can find downloadable versions of “The Time Element” on the internet very easily, or you can just watch it embedded below, thanks to a six-part posting to YouTube by mekrain. If you’re a Twilight Zone lover like me, and you’ve never seen it (like me until a few minutes ago), check it out. It’ll be a kick.