"The Trouble with Templeton" is the ninth episode of the second season of The Twilight Zone, and was first broadcast in December of 1960. It starred Brian Aherne as aging theatrical actor Booth Templeton and Pippa Scott as his wife Laura Templeton. It also features Sydney Pollack, who would gain fame as a producer and director, in one his first television roles.
Booth Templeton is a Broadway actor past his prime, who has an unfaithful younger wife, and misses both his first wife, and their life together in the jazz age. When a young director (Pollack) chases him out of rehearsal, he finds himself back in the 1920s. What will spontaneous, unexplained time travel do to a man who feels his best years are behind him?
Stories about actors who are looking towards the past and having difficulties with the present have been done before in The Twilight Zone, in the first season's "The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine" and "A World of Difference". Actors like to act the role of actors, the same way that writers like to write about a writer trying to write the great American novel. Much like in those earlier episodes, the past and nostalgia for it is treated as a double edged sword, although this episode's treatment of it is mostly gentle.
I have to admit that magical realism, as a device, tends to reach a point of diminishing returns. If used in small doses, the idea that someone can enter a "twilight zone", a place of unexpected and explained laws, is captivating. However, when it becomes the dominant means of exploring concepts, rather than hard science-fiction or some other method that tries to explain the shift plausibly, it just seems lazy. Perhaps this is an artifact of the fact that I am watching these episodes in a way that the producers wouldn't have imagined: before DVDs or even syndication, overfamiliarity with the show wouldn't have been a problem.