Walking Distance

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"Walking Distance"
The Twilight Zone episode
Episode no.Season 1
Episode 5
Directed byRobert Stevens
Written byRod Serling
Featured musicOriginal score by Bernard Herrmann (accompanied with carnival music)
Production code173-3605
Original air dateOctober 30, 1959
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine"
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"Escape Clause"
The Twilight Zone (1959 TV series) (season 1)
List of The Twilight Zone episodes

"Walking Distance" is episode five of the American television series The Twilight Zone. It originally aired on October 30, 1959. The episode was listed as the ninth best episode in the history of The Twilight Zone by Time magazine.[1]

Opening narration[edit]


While driving his car in the countryside on a summer afternoon circa 1959, 36-year-old New York advertising executive Martin Sloan stops to have his car serviced at a gas station within walking distance of Homewood, his hometown. After walking into town, he sees that it apparently has not changed since he was a boy. He visits the town drugstore and is confused that ice cream sodas are still only 10 cents.

Martin walks to the town park, where he is startled to see himself as a young boy, carving his name into the bandstand. Upon approaching him, young Martin becomes scared, believing himself to be in trouble, and runs away. Following his younger self home, he meets his parents as they were in his childhood, but is turned away. He sees the next door neighbor, a teen working on his brand new roadster; Martin soon discovers that it is the year 1934.

A man can think a lot of thoughts and walk a lot of pavements between afternoon and night. And to a man like Martin Sloan, to whom memory has suddenly become reality, a resolve can come just as clearly and inexorably as stars in the summer night. Martin Sloan is now back in time. And his resolve is to put in a claim to the past.

Confused and worried, Martin wanders around town and ends up at his former home again later that evening, where he again tries to convince his parents who he is by showing his identification, but is slapped by his mother and turned away.

Martin wanders back to the park and finds his preteen self on a carousel. His advances scare young Martin, who falls off the merry-go-round and injures his leg. Simultaneously, Martin experiences excruciating pain in his leg, due to the effect of the injury propagating through time to his adult self. The carousel is stopped, and Martin tries to tell his younger self to enjoy his boyhood while it lasts.

After eleven-year-old Martin is carried away, adult Martin is confronted by his father who tells him young Martin will be all right, but will have a limp. He also tells him that having seen money with future dates and adult Martin's driver's license (with a 1960 expiration date) from Martin's wallet, left at his house, he now believes Martin's story. Martin's father advises his son that everyone has his time and that instead of looking behind him, he should look ahead, because as delightful and rewarding as he may remember childhood to be, adulthood holds its own delights and rewards.

When Martin walks back into the drugstore, he finds himself back in 1959, where ice cream sodas are now 35 cents. He discovers that he now has a limp from the carousel injury. Martin makes his way back to the gas station. He picks up his car and drives away, for once, content to live his life in his own age group.

Closing narration[edit]



Unlike some episodes of the show that were accompanied by pre-composed stock music cues, Walking Distance was underscored with music specially 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.

The park in this episode is said to be inspired by Recreation Park in Binghamton, New York, which is located about five blocks away from Rod Serling's childhood home. 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.[2] The plaque and the episode are referenced heavily in the 2015 film The Rewrite, which is mostly set in Binghamton.


Similar themes of nostalgia, its potential risks, the relentless pressures of the business world, and the disillusionments that come with being an adult are explored in "A Stop at Willoughby", "Young Man's Fancy", "The Incredible World of Horace Ford", "Of Late I Think of Cliffordville", and to a lesser extent, "The Brain Center at Whipple's", as well as two Serling teleplays from before and after The Twilight Zone: The Kraft Television Theatre episode "Patterns" and the Night Gallery episode "They're Tearing Down Tim Riley's Bar".

Critical response[edit]

"Walking Distance" has continued to be one of the most popular and critically acclaimed of all Twilight Zone episodes. Paul Mandell of American Cinematographer 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 ninth best episode in the history of the series by Time in celebration of the series' 50th anniversary.[1]

Soundtrack releases[edit]

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 T. 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. Composer/Pianist, Tom Alexander, included the piece, "Excerpts From Walking Distance," on his 2016 solo piano album, "Overbrook Avenue."


  1. ^ a b "Top 10 Twilight Zone Episodes". Time. October 2, 2009. Retrieved May 11, 2011.
  2. ^ Rod Serling official website

Further reading[edit]

  • 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 978-1-59393-136-0
  • Grams, Martin. (2008). The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic. Churchville, MD: OTR Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9703310-9-0
  • Mandell, Paul. "'Walking Distance' from The Twilight Zone", American Cinematographer (June 1988, print)

External links[edit]