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"Just A Matter of Time"

(Original air date 01/08/78)


Following a malfunction with his space capsule, Steve believes he
was thrust forward in time


Story: Neal J. Sperling

Teleplay: Gregory S. Dinallo & Neal J. Sperling

Director: Don McDougall

At Houston control center, Rudy, Oscar and engineer Donna Hoffman (Leigh Christian) commend Steve on a successful orbital mission, where he was sent to test a new combustive, while they oversee last-minute details for his safe return to earth.

As Steve prepares for his entry into the atmosphere, his instruments suddenly go awry. Back at mission control, all communications fail. Donna wonders whether her telemeter is at fault and proposes to do a double check.

The computer issues the disturbing result of a narrow angle of entry that might have sent the capsule adrift, thus condemning Steve to rove in space indefinitely.


Hours later, the spacecraft lands on a remote island off the coast of New Zealand. Hearing music in the distance, Steve removes his space suit and follows the sound. He meets with a lone missionary, Reverend Michael Essex, (Paul Carr) who is more than happy to lend him the use of his radio transmitter to contact the base in order to relay a message to Oscar.

At night, Steve is invited to taste the Reverend's cuisine. As their casual conversation progresses, the subject of time is broached. Steve is shocked to learn that the present year is 1984.


The next day, the much awaited helicopter lands on the island. Instead of Oscar, Steve meets with OSI deputy director Edward Barris (Charles Cioffi) who, aside from informing the astronaut of Goldman's death, places him under arrest for desertion and treason.

Steve argues that it's all a misunderstanding and to prove that he missed his landing, he brings Barris to the beach to see the capsule, a model, he learns to his great astonishment, NASA has removed from its program years ago.

Steve is taken to the base where Barris and General Winston Hayden (John Milford) beset him with questions on his whereabouts in the last six years. Hayden believes he was brainwashed by the Russians and then sent back as a message to their enemy.

Steve is completely dumbfounded by this onslaught of false allegations and asks to speak to Rudy in order to settle the matter.


While they attempt to establish communication with Dr. Wells, Steve is escorted to his cell by a young sergeant (John deLancie) with a passion for space travel. On the way, Steve grabs a newspaper and zooms in on the date, which confirms the year 1984.


Minutes later, Steve gets a chance to speak with Rudy's wife. After requesting her to relay the message to her husband, Steve is escorted back to his cell where he meets with Donna.

She confesses to having agonized over the thought of being responsible for sending him to his death, when in fact he had defected to the Soviet Union.

Steve's heart sink at the news of Oscar's death, the result of his obstinacy to clear his name for he refused to admit the possibility that his best friend could have been a traitor.

Steve assures Donna that it's all a huge mistake and seeks her assistance in proving him right.


She pulls rank to obtain authorization for Steve to go inspect his capsule. His instruments indicate that eight hours elapsed between the ignition and the splashdown when it should have originally taken twenty minutes.

Another troubling fact is that time appeared to have frozen only for him. His face hasn't aged, but Donna's has. He suggests the possibility of a passage through a spatial-temporal rift, one that is feasible by travelling at light's speed.


Inside the base, Steve feeds the formula into a computer to process the data, unaware that Hayden and Barris are watching his every move in another room. They learn that the combustive bears molecular properties that might have allowed him to hurtle through space at light's velocity, thus lending credence to Steve's theory of time travel.


Upon further brainstorming, Steve discovers yet another troubling occurrence in the alignment of stars which leads him to believe in a conspiracy. He therefore urges Donna to delete all data from the mainframe.

As she does, Hayden and Barris burst into the room and order her to hand over the tapes, which she does under a drug-induced suggestion. Steve grabs the reels and dashes out of the room.


Barris orders Donna to hit Steve with a paralysing shot of gamma rays, the same they used on the capsule to knock him out during the deviation to the secret base.

Later, Barris brings the tapes down to an underground laboratory where fake Reverend Essex, a scientist working for their camp, analyses the formula. He assures the data will allow them to begin the tests this afternoon.

Barris and Hayden agree to keep Steve captive, aware that his scientific knowledge is worth its weight in gold.


Upstairs, the doctor (Blake Marion) tries to administer a strong sedative to Steve. He is stunned to find his needle all bent, but not Steve who cracks a mischievous lopsided grin before heading to the barred window to make his escape.


When Barris finds Steve gone, he orders Donna to send him a fatal dose of gamma rays. In spite of her hypnotic state, she refuses to kill her friend.

Meanwhile, Steve goes to the capsule to contact Oscar at mission control to inform him of the situation with Donna, Barris and Hayden. He leaves his transmitter on in order to allow them to locate his exact position.


On his way back, Steve is intercepted by the young sergeant who escorts him to Essex's underground laboratory where Donna is drugged into submission.

They put Steve behind bars and leave him with Donna. They set a bomb before fleeing with the formula.


Steve manages to break free and get Donna out before the implosion. He then makes sure the bandits don't escape by chaining their helicopter to the ground as it takes off.


The next day, Rudy explains the composition of the drug they used to make Donna subservient to their orders. A by-product of Phenobarbital that Oscar is quick to propose they use on Steve in order to make him more obedient.


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