|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Directed by||Robert Stevens|
|Written by||Rod Serling|
|Featured music||Original score by Bernard Herrmann (accompanied with carnival music)|
|Original air date||October 30, 1959|
"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.
|“||Martin Sloan, age thirty-six. Occupation: vice-president, ad agency, in charge of media. This is not just a Sunday drive for Martin Sloan. He perhaps doesn't know it at the time, but it's an exodus. Somewhere up the road he's looking for sanity. And somewhere up the road, he'll find something else.||”|
While driving his car in the countryside (c. 1959), 36-year-old advertising executive Martin Sloan stops to have his car serviced at a gas station within walking distance of his hometown, named Homewood. After walking into town, he sees that it apparently has not changed since he was a boy. He visits the town drugstore and he soon discovers that it is the year 1934.
Martin walks to the park where he is startled to see himself as a young boy. Following his younger self home, he meets his parents as they were in his childhood. 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, but is turned away.
Martin wanders back to the park and finds his tween self on a carousel, and tries to tell him to enjoy his boyhood while it lasts. His advances scare young Martin, who falls off the merry-go-round and injures his leg. After twelve-year-old Martin is carried away, adult Martin is confronted by his father who, having seen the documents and money with future dates on them in the mature Martin Sloan's lost wallet, now believes his story. Martin's dad 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 the 1959 Homewood, during the afternoon. He discovers that he now has a limp from the carousel injury, having unknowingly caused his younger self to fall off and injure his leg which in turn has given the adult Martin a limp. 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.
|“||Martin Sloan, age thirty-six, vice-president in charge of media. Successful in most things but not in the one effort that all men try at some time in their lives—trying to go home again. And also like all men perhaps there'll be an occasion, maybe a summer night sometime, when he'll look up from what he's doing and listen to the distant music of a calliope, and hear the voices and the laughter of the people and the places of his past. And perhaps across his mind there'll flit a little errant wish, that a man might not have to become old, never outgrow the parks and the merry-go-rounds of his youth. And he'll smile then too because he'll know it is just an errant wish, some wisp of memory not too important really, some laughing ghosts that cross a man's mind, that are a part of the Twilight Zone.||”|
- Gig Young as Martin Sloan
- Frank Overton as Martin's Dad
- Irene Tedrow as Martin's Mom
- Ron Howard as The Wilcox Boy
- Michael Montgomery as Young Martin
- Byron Foulger as Charlie
- Patrick H. O'Malley Jr. as Mr. Wilson
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. 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", and to a lesser extent, "The Brain Center at Whipple's", as well as two Serling teleplays from before and after The Twilight Zone: Patterns and the Night Gallery episode "They're Tearing Down Tim Riley's Bar".
"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.
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.
- 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)
- "Walking Distance" on IMDb
- Walking Distance Original Screenplay by Rod Serling (*pdf)
- Walking Distance music score
- "Rod Serling's carousel... in The Twilight Zone" In the small town of Binghamton, New York there spins a 1925 carousel that once inspired Rod Serling and has since become a portal into... the Twilight Zone.