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  • Writer's pictureElayne Zalis

The Twilight Zone: “Nightmare as a Child” and “Walking Distance”

Excerpt: As a child in the late fifties and early sixties, I learn to suspend my disbelief when I watch The Twilight Zone. I don’t always know what is real and what is imaginary or where the past ends and the present or future begins. I’m particularly intrigued by episodes that stage encounters between adults and their younger selves. Two episodes stand out: “Nightmare as a Child” (original airdate: April 29, 1960; season one, episode twenty-nine) and “Walking Distance” (original airdate: October 30, 1959; season one, episode five).

“Nightmare as a Child” reminds viewers that not all adults idealize their childhood and feel nostalgic about the past. And, as the show suggests, the child within can sometimes rescue the adult when two-way conversations between them are allowed to take place. . . .

While prompting memories of my own childhood, “Walking Distance” also underscores how tricky relationships between adults and their younger selves can be. The story explores both what drives a successful thirty-six-year-old man to escape his life and what lures him back to the past. . . . [The child actor “Ronnie” Howard makes a brief appearance in “Walking Distance” and in my recollections.]

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