Original Story by Harlan Ellison
Directed by Wes Craven
Original Airdate - September 27, 1985
Starring: Bruce Willis - Peter Jay Novins
  Dan Gilvezan - Bartender
  Murukh - Woman in Bank
  John Carlyle - Clerk
  Seth Isler - Alter Ego
  Anthony Grumback - Bellboy

Some push for what they need; some push for what they want. Some people, like Peter Jay Novins, just push. If they do it hard enough and long enough, something might just push back . . . from the Twilight Zone.

Peter Jay Novins is a man who is not in contact with himself or his emotions. He has alienated both of his ex-wives, hasn't talked with his sick, elderly mother in months and doesn't seem to want to ever again, and routinely sells his soul while on his job. Peter is a taker, but he rationalizes everything he does by saying that if he didn't do it, someone else would.

Then, on Sunday, while in a bar, he accidentally dials his own number and his voice answers the phone in his apartment. He immediately is sure that this is a joke, but quickly comes around to the idea that he is talking to himself. Peter is stunned, but not as surprised as we might expect. After comparing their lives, they set about trying to get rid of the other. The bad Peter, who is called Novins, is stuck out of the apartment, where he can take all of the money out of his accounts and put them in new, safe ones, cancel grocery deliveries and other amenities, and try to force his other self to leave the apartment. Novins takes a room at a downtown hotel to wait out his better self.

But the good Peter, who is called Jay, is stuck inside where he has access to all of the work from the office, personal items, everything that makes Peter what he is. When Novins calls him again, on Monday night, Jay has talked with his mother, apologized for being such a crumb when he came to Florida last (at which time he spent one day with his mother, told her he was going back home for work, and instead had a wild time with a secretary he knew down there) and invited her to stay with him for the rest of her life. Novins was furious but helpless; Jay had just stolen his mother from him.

On Tuesday, Novins was feeling sick. On Wednesday, Jay called him to tell him he'd patched it up with the last 3 or 4 women Novins had bad affairs with; Novins doesn't remember treating the women bad. Jay had also patched up Novins' failing relationship with his current girlfriend; another one for Jay. On Thursday, Novins talked to no one; he lay in bed getting weaker and sicker.

On Friday, Jay showed up at Novins hotel room. Jay looks healthy and vital; Novins is sitting in a chair by the window, wrapped in a blanket and looking translucent. Jay tells him that their mother is showing up this week; Novins asked if he'd give some money to an acquaintance, possibly an old girlfriend, to look after a child, possibly his. The story doesn't go into detail about this, but Jay's already taken care of it. Jay goes to shake Novins hand, as a goodbye, but when their hands meet, Jay feels no pressure. It's as if Novins is not there. And he isn't; Jay can see right through him. He bids his other self goodbye, and Novins slowly vanishes as the seconds go by. On Shatterday, Jay is the only Peter Jay Novins in existence.

Peter Jay Novins, both victor and victim, of a brief struggle for custody of a man's soul. A man who lost himself . . . and found himself . . . on a lonely battlefield, somewhere in the Twilight Zone


Harlan Ellison has always been one of my favorites writers. Some of his stories have so much power that you feel overwhelmed after reading them. This is not an overwhelming story, but it's an extremely good one, short and to the point. The entire story takes place over a seven day period, and Harlan renames the days of the week to have a particularly apt meaning for the story: Someday, Moansday, Duesday, Woundsday, Thornsday, Freeday, and Shatterday.

It was filmed much as Harlan wrote it. There were a few minor changes; some of the womanizing doesn't get discussed in the teleplay, and the short story seems to talk about a child of Novins that he hasn't been paying upkeep for. But for the most part, it's all there. Bruce Willis is effective as both of the Novins; his bad Novins seems sly and furtive, as well as anger-filled and unfeeling. But it's when he plays Jay that we see the Willis of today. When I watched this episode again a while back, it made me think of his role in "Armageddon," for some odd reason. In any case, it's pretty much a one-man-show and Willis makes the most of it. It's just a good story played well.