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"Walking Distance" is an episode of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone. The episode was listed as the 3rd best episode in the history of The Twilight Zone by Time Magazine.

Opening narration

Plot summary

A middle-aged man, Martin Sloan (Gig Young), is driving cross-country when he stops his car at a gas station. He walks toward his hometown, Homewood, that the attendant assures him is within 'Walking Distance'. Homewood appears exactly as it was when he was a boy. He goes into a drugstore, and has an ice cream soda at the soda fountain while recalling his memories from the past. He says "One of the greatest memories I have is old man Wilson, may God rest his soul, sleeping in his comfortable chair just like he did before he died". The cashier looks shocked but doesn't say anything and as Martin leaves the store, the cashier goes up to a room where Mr. Wilson is sleeping and says "We'll need more chocolate syrup, Mr. Wilson." He responds by saying "I'll order some more of it this afternoon."

Martin continues walking until he eventually sees himself as a boy, and following him home, meets his parents. The park in the episode is said to be inspired by Recreation Park in Rod Serling's hometown of Binghamton, New Yorkmarker. Like the park in "Walking Distance", Recreation Park has a carousel and a bandstand. There is a plaque in the Recreation Park bandstand commemorating the episode.[15312][15313]

Additional narration

Trying to convince his parents that he is their son from the future, he succeeds only in proving his insanity. Martin tries to warn his younger self to enjoy his childhood before it is too late, but his advances scare young Martin, who falls off the merry-go-round and injures his leg. Finally, his father confronts him. Having seen the papers in Martin's wallet and now believing him to be who he says he is, he tells him to return to his own time. Martin finds himself back in his own time, walking with a new limp...and never looking back as he leaves Homewood.

Closing narration

Themes

Similar themes are explored in "The Incredible World of Horace Ford" and, to a lesser extent, "Young Man's Fancy". The episode also deals with the relentless pressures of the business world, which also serve as the basis for "A Stop at Willoughby","The Brain Center at Whipple's" and two Serling teleplays from before and after The Twilight Zone: Patterns and the Night Gallery episode "They're Tearing Down Tim Riley's Bar".

Critical response

"Walking Distance" has continued to be one of the most popular and critically acclaimed of all Twlight Zone episodes. Lost creator and Star Trek director J.J. Abrams claimed the episode as his favorite, saying,"[The episode] is a beautiful demonstration of the burden of adulthood, told in The Twilight Zone, which everyone thinks is a scary show, but it's actually a beautiful show," and "The Twilight Zone at its best is better than anything else I've ever seen on television." It has even seen revival in the form of a graphic novel. One review noted that the episode "was a little more depressing than most, in that it does not have a happy ending and the man’s problems are never really resolved. But it is a deep meditation on life and lost youth that was compelling and interesting." Paul Mandell, of American Cinematographer magazine, wrote: "["Walking Distance"] was the most personal story Serling ever wrote, and easily the most sensitive dramatic fantasy in the history of television." The episode was listed as the 3rd best episode in the history of the series by Time Magazine, in a celebration of the series' 50th anniversary.

Musical score

Unlike some episodes of the show that were accompanied by pre-composed stock music cues, Walking Distance was underscored with music especially written for it. As for other Twilight Zone episodes, Bernard Herrmann - also composer of the first season's main title music and most of its stock music - wrote the music for this one. The very intimate and tuneful score has an isolated running time of about 19 minutes and is played by a 19-piece-orchestra consisting of strings (violins, violas, cellos, basses) and one harp. Due to the high popularity of the episode and the music itself the score has received several releases on CD in its original film version in monoaural sound and two re-recordings in stereo as well, one done by Joel McNeely with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (the only complete version) and the other by William Stromberg conducting the Moscow Symphony Orchestra. Orchestrator John Morgan enlarged all sections of the orchestra for the latter, referring to Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings as Herrmann's main influence on the score in the liner notes.

References



  • Zicree, Marc Scott: The Twilight Zone Companion. Sillman-James Press, 1982 (second edition)*DeVoe, Bill. (2008). Trivia from The Twilight Zone. Albany, GA: Bear Manor Media. ISBN 978-1593931360
  • Grams, Martin. (2008). The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic. Churchville, MD: OTR Publishing. ISBN 978-0970331090
  • Mandell, Paul. ""'Walking Distance' from The Twilight Zone"" American Cinematographer June 1988. Print


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