Exploring The Twilight Zone, Episode #5: "Walking Distance"
The Twilight Zone, Episode #5: "Walking Distance" (airdate 10/30/59)
The Plot: A harried businessman stops for gas near his beloved little hometown, only to discover that you CAN go home again. Sorta.
The Goods: One of the earliest nostalgia-based episodes of The Twilight Zone, "Walking Distance" is a quaint and comfortable little tale of semi-redemption, one that's packed with bittersweet insights, clever ideas, and one fantastic exchange between father and son. Set in a postcard-perfect mid-America town, this episode highlights the importance of letting go of the past while still retaining that crucial sense of childlike innocence. No space aliens or inter-dimensional monsters here; just a smart, sweet little story about the beauty of childhood and the importance of growing up. (And, seriously, that one dialogue scene is just lovely.)
Sedate but compelling, this episode earns a cool B-plus.
The Trivia: Lead actor Gig Young was nominated for an Oscar three times, winning only once in 1970 for the excellent They Shoot Horses, Don't They? And, yes, that's an extremely young Ron Howard as the little version of our confused protagonist. The sweet-natured father is played by excellent TV actor Frank Overton. In addition, according to Slashfilm, the recent Super 8 borrows the title of this episode, as it is a favorite of director J.J. Abrams. Neat-o.
On the Next Episode: Another visit from the devil, this time opposite a nervous man with some odd medical issues.
Program Note: Episodes 6 through 10 will be covered over at Film School Rejects, starting tonight! We'll be back with the following five next week. On behalf of both sites, thanks for reading, and feel free to also follow along on Twitter accounts @twitchfilm and @rejectnation.