Monday, December 04, 2017

The Twilight Zone (1959) -- Season 1 Episode 5 (Walking Distance)

Martin Sloan is 36 and working way too hard.  While out for a drive, he pulls in to a gas station, where he gets some gas and an oil change.  It just so happens that his home town, called Homewood, is just over a mile up the road.  Since the car will take about an hour or so, Martin decides to walk the distance.

He finds the town exactly as he remembers it.  He’s even able to get the ice cream soda he remembers and for the same price of 10¢.  Walking around, he soon realizes that it really is 25 years ago.  He meets himself at 11 and is able to visit his parents at his old house.   Granted, they think that he’s some crazy person.

It gets dark and Martin has one message for his younger self:  Enjoy your youth while you can.  However, this causes the younger Martin to have an accident wherein he hurts his leg.  He’ll be ok, but the boy will have a limp.  Martin’s father has come to realize that the adult Martin is telling the truth.  The father asks if Martin doesn’t have many of the same things the 11-year-old Martin has.

Martin comes to realize that, although he’s been given the opportunity to go back, it’s not his place to stay.  He walks back to the ice-cream parlor to discover that he’s back in his present and has a limp.  He then makes the journey back to his car and presumably goes back to his life.

This episode, like most of The Twilight Zone episodes, was 30 minutes.  It was written perfectly for that length of time. Had this episode been done during the fourth season, when stories were 60 minutes, it probably would have dragged too much.  What could you have added?  Staying was never really an option for Martin and there’s only so much he can do in a small town before it seems forced.

This seems to be a favorite among viewers of The Twilight Zone and with good reason.  The message is simple and delivered subtly.  It doesn’t try to hit you over the head with it.  It’s actually kind of odd that a series would hit one out of the park so early in its first season.

The episode has changed a little for me over the years.  When I was in high school, I got the message.  However, there is more of a connection having had points in my life that I’d like to go back to.  That’s natural.  I would think most people Martin’s age would like to go back to a time when the summer meant not having to worry about anything.

I would say that this episode is the most relatable of the series.  Everyone reaches a point where they miss being younger.  If I had to pick a few episodes to sell someone on the series, this would be one of them.   They say you can’t go home again.  It looks like you can, although it’s kind of awkward and you can’t really stay as long as you’d like.  At least we’ll always have Homewood.

No comments :