RingSide Report

World News, Social Issues, Politics, Entertainment and Sports

Twilight Zone: The Changing of the Guard (1962)

Reviewed by Melissa McGahee

“They all come and go, like ghosts.” – Professor Fowler (Donald Pleasance)

Professor Ellis Fowler (Donald Pleasance) is a wonderful man who has been a diligent and caring teacher for 51 years.  At the end of class before Christmas vacation, he allows his students to leave early upon reading them one last poem to contemplate. On his way out, the headmaster calls Fowler into his office.  The headmaster informs Ellis that after much consideration the school council had decided to hire a younger teacher to replace him.  Fowler is heartbroken, and though he handles himself respectfully he is  visibly crushed by the idea of being forced into retirement. 

He retreats into his classroom and takes a gun out of the desk.  He stares at it for a bit and then reluctantly returns home.  Lost in nostalgia and memories, he glances through old grade books and recalls each student that made an impact on him.  Every child he taught stands out in his mind and he is grateful for every last one.  He remarks on the ways in which the children had acted.  Soon, Mr. Fowler begins to think ill of himself.  He states aloud that in all his years he had accomplished nothing.  Though he feels as though the students had provided him with some of his greatest memories, he fears that he has left no mark behind.   

Drowned in self-pity, he visits a gravestone, gun in hand.  He contemplates suicide but just as he is about to end his life, a school bell rings.  Compelled by the unusual timing, he walks across and enters his classroom.   Soon, the students of years past begin visiting him.  The ghosts explain to the kind professor that the influence his class had provided them solace in their gravest and darkest moments.                                                                                     

The genius of Donald Pleasance has aided many horror productions.  In films that could have easily been contrite, he added depth.  No one could deny that his portrayal of Dr. Loomis helped make “Halloween” the honored classic that it is. What more could one ask for than this brilliant actor showcasing his talents on “The Twilight Zone”?  He delivers on every level and whether alone or on camera with fellow actors, all eyes are on him.  He steals the scenes seemingly without effort.  He brings life into Fowler and makes him a sympathetic hero in the first scene.  Donald Pleasance leaves the audience with a shred of hope that today’s actors will watch and learn.   

Overall, the episode is a sentimental one.  The dialogue is intelligent and Pleasance naturally offers his soliloquies eloquently.  One would expect nothing else.  Though there is no intrigue or surprise ending, this is definitely one to remember.  Like, Jack Klugman’s performance in the episode “In Praise of Pip,” Pleasance tears at the heartstrings of the viewers.  More than that, there is a message that the episode brings.  Never underestimate the impact you have on one’s lives.  Despite the career one chooses, if the intention to help is what motivates, then the outcome will satisfy the intention.         

RSR Rating: 8/10

Advertise Now On RSR

Purchase Boxing Interviews Of A Lifetime

Leave a Reply