Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Twilight Zone - Episode 5 - Walking Distance

I, like many others I'm sure, have spent time day dreaming about the past.  Wishing that somehow I could go back again to those lazy summer afternoons of my childhood.  My biggest worry was what game to play with my friends or what toy I would play with next.  Mom would call us in for dinner and then it was back outside until dusk.  There were no worries and everything seemed right in the world.  The truth is you can't go back and you will not find happiness in the past.  This message was never more clear to me than in this episode.

Martin Sloane (Gig Young) is driving through the country and stops in at a gas station to get his car serviced. He is near his childhood hometown of fact it's within (wait for it) walking distance!  Martin decides to take a visit and walks to town.  Upon his arrival, he discovers that everything looks just as it did when he was a boy.

He goes to the drug store and is surprised to find that the owner, Mr.Wilson (Patrick O'Malley) , whom he remembered as being dead, is alive and well.  He walks to the park and see's himself as a boy.  He follows is Young Martin (Michael Montgomery) to his childhood home and meets his parents.....exactly as they were when he was a boy.  He tries to tell them that he is their son, all grown up, but needless to say that doesn't exactly go over well.

Martin goes back to the park and see's his younger self on a merry-go-round.  He tries to talk to the boy and (surprise, surprise) freaks the kid out to.  Young Martin falls off the merry-go-round and hurts his leg.  You know as I write this, I can't help but think of how bizarre that really is.  First of all, any guy trying to talk to kids on a merry-go-round could be seen as creepy and, well, pedophile-like.  Now talk the pedophile connotation (of which there are none in the show.....this is just my warped mind at work) and add in the factor that he is creeping out a younger version of himself.  That's just warped!  That would make a pretty wicked movie wouldn't it?  A pedophile who targets a young boy and molests him, only to find out that he IS the young boy that he molested and the molestation is what fucks him up as a kid and turns him into a pedophile!!!!!!!  HOLY SHIT I JUST BLEW MY OWN MIND! now that I totally went off on a sick and twisted tangent, back to the actual story.  Martin talks with his father again, who now believes him because he saw future dated money in his wallet.  His father gives him a bit of a pep talk, telling him basically to stop living in the past and look to the present for happiness.  Martin then finds himself back in the present day and walks back to his car (now with a limp!) and drives off into the sunset so to speak.

I love this episode.  It speaks volumes to me.  As I mentioned above, I've wished that I could go back and be a kid again.  I've longed to go back in time and feel the freedom of no responsibilities.  When I would get upset that I couldn't do something that the big kids were doing, my mother would always say to me "Don't be in a rush to grow up, you can only be a child once."  While my wife may make the argument that mentally, I still remain a child (and it's true...I'm a giant man-child and proud of it, damnit!), your childhood does slip away from you faster every year until one day you wake up and you're in your 30's.

Wow, we went deep this time, didn't we?  We dealt with psychological issues, pedophiles who diddly their younger selves, personal happiness, nostalgia.....this was just jam packed with goodness.  But like all good things, it must come to an end and so I leave you with:

Midnight Factoids:

- Originally aired October 30th, 1959
- Bernard Herrmann (he composed the iconic Psycho music) composed the score for this episode.
- Time Magazine listed this episode as the ninth best of the whole series.
- This is J.J. Abrams (Super 8, Star Trek) favorite episode.  In his film Super 8, the military launches an operation code named Walking Distance.

Phantoms from the Celluloid Crypt:

Gig Young -starred in the 1967 shocker The Shuttered Room.  He also appeared in the Kraft Suspense Theater episode "The End of the World, Baby" and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour episode "A Piece of the Action."

Patrick O'Malley - also appeared in the Twilight Zone episodes "Static" and "Back There".  Keep an eye out for him as The Baggage Man in the original 1956 Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  His filmography is quite extensive....he took and unaccredited role in The Phantom Creeps (AMI Cheif in Chapter 12) and even appeared in the 1916 version of The Picture of Dorian Gray as Sybil Vane.  All in all he has 419 film acting credits to his name!


  1. One of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes, I try to catch it a few times a year on Netflix (why isn't Night Gallery on Netflix?!?). Since I've heard more about the soundtrack, I pay attention to it when I watch it now, very appropriate for the episode and unusual for a TV show.

    Hilarious tangent into the pedophile molesting himself, so many ways that circular logic would drive us all crazy. Butterfly Effect anyone?

  2. I wish Night Gallery was on Netflix! I loved that show!

    Glad you enjoyed the article and my little conjecture on the nature of self touching pedophiles.....I guess it just goes to show ya never know what to expect here on MC!