Original Story by William M. Lee
Teleplay by Alan Brennert
Directed by Paul Lynch
Original Airdate - November 1, 1985
Kerry Noonan - Charity Payne
Robert Duncan McNeil - Peter Wood
Gerald Hiken - Squire Jonas Hacker
James Cromwell - Obediah Payne
Vanessa Brown - Aunt Beulah
Michael Fox - Tom Carter
Jennifer Parsons - Ursula Miller
Jack Wells - Dr. Maxwell
Philip Proctor - Mr. Wood
Barbara Lindsay - Mrs. Wood



We start out by seeing a man and woman dressed in pilgrim garb, tending to a young girl who's sick from a contagion that hits the area periodically. The scene cuts to a modern day mother, looking after her young son who is also sick with the same thing; their house is in the exact same spot as the young girl's was. In some way, the girl and boy's world have melded, and each can see, feel and hear the other's world, though the girl is 300 plus years older.

They recover, and talk about what has happened to them. They become good friends, Charity in the 17th century, and Peter in the 20th. He tries all the new things that she's never even thought about, like ice cream and orange juice, and she marvels over TV and airplanes. Peter is a loner who hasn't made friends yet at his school, so having a friend of his own is something he likes. They both go to the stream that runs by their house, and look into the water. Each can see the other's face, and Peter calls Charity beautiful.

Charity tells him of her world, but one day she mentions too much about her new powers to a girlfriend in her own time. The girl tells the elders, and Charity is accused of being a witch. The elder who examines her makes it clear that if she will allow him to look at and touch her naked body, he'll declare her not a witch; Charity remembers when he did the same thing to another falsely accused girl a year ago. Charity tells them she's innocent, but the elder does not believe her.

Peter is frantic to help, and does some reading in the history section of the school library. He finds out that in the future, the elder will be accused of murdering two sailors who had disappeared, and their bones would be found under his house. Charity confronts the elder with her knowledge of his crime, and he vindicates her.

She tells Peter, however, that their friendship must end, since it's not safe for her to talk to him anymore. She stops receiving his thoughts and doesn't answer him. Peter is devastated, but Charity is resolute and she doesn't contact him again. Peter makes friends at school and he becomes popular, but he never forgets Charity. One day, several years later, Charity speaks to him again, and tells him to go to the big rock by the stream, but that's all she says and he never hears from her again. He runs to the rock, and finds carved in it, "Charity loves Peter."



"A Message from Charity" is just one of those stories that seemed to fit right into the Twilight Zone.  I get a lot of email from people about this episode, and would place it at the top of the favorites list for most viewers.  Adapted from William Lee's short story of the same name by Alan Brennert, it's a solid piece of whimsy that intrigues me.  It would be marvelous to have this ability, to see what someone in the past saw, experience their life as well as your own…at least while that person's life was going well.  We have enough stresses on us today, that we don't need to have another person's affect us, too, so once the other person experiences bad things it might not be so much fun.  You would be a helpless bystander, as Peter was, unless you could help out the other person in some way.  The ingeniousness of the story shows that you can do just that.

Kerry Noonan as Charity is the glue that holds the story together.  She has a mischevious spark in her eye throughout the episode, and truly seems like someone you would like to know.  Kerry Noonan left acting at the end of the 80's, for the most part, and is now a college professor, which is too bad because she was wonderful in everything she did.  Robert Duncan MacNeill is solid as Peter.  James Cromwell as Charity's father seems completely of his time; he's a consummate actor and fits his role perfectly.  In short, everything about this episode clicks.  It's one of the best of the series, and definitely one of the best of 1980's TV.