Little Girl Lost, Story Idea Found

People sometimes joke that Rod Serling and the other Twilight Zone writers must have been very strange people. Surely nobody sober and “normal” like the rest of us could come up with such wild story ideas, right?

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The reality is reassuringly mundane. The show wasn’t written by eccentrics who consumed hallucinogenics by the handful. They were disciplined, talented writers who had sharp, quick, vivid imaginations.

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Take the fan-favorite “Little Girl Lost,” a standout episode in Twilight Zone‘s third season. According to Richard Matheson:

My wife and I were living in a small, one-bedroom apartment at the time. And Tina, my wife’s daughter by a previous marriage, came to live with us. We had this kind of army bunk against the wall in the big living room, over in the corner. I heard her crying in the middle of the night.

When I went out there, it was still very dark. I felt for the bed. She wasn’t on the bed. And I thought, ‘Oh, gee, she’s fallen on the floor.’ The bed was pushed up against the wall so she could only fall on one side. So I felt down on the floor. And there was nothing. Then I thought, ‘Oh, my God, she’s gone under the bed.’

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So I felt under the bed — and I still couldn’t feel her! I had to get down on my stomach and reach as far as I could over to the wall. She had fallen out of bed and rolled under the bed all the way against the wall. So you take this crying child, and you pick her up and comfort her.

But at the same time, that little demon in your brain says, ‘Ooooh — this would be a good story! What if she wasn’t there at all? What if she’d gone … someplace else?

The man who gave Twilight Zone fans such classics as “The Invaders” and “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” (among others) certainly knew how to take viewers “someplace else.” Aided by producer Buck Houghton, cinematographer George Clemens, and a very talented TZ crew, “Little Girl Lost” took us all on a unique inter-dimensional trip.

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One that we’d never want to experience first-hand, of course. At least, not without Bill, the physicist-neighbor, and Max, the trusty dimensional guide dog.

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***

Photos courtesy of Wendy Brydge. For a daily dose of Serling, you can follow me on TwitterFacebook or Pinterest

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Hope to see you in some corner of the fifth dimension soon!

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About Paul

Fanning about the work of Rod Serling all over social media. If you enjoy pics, quotes, facts and blog posts about The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery and Serling's other projects, you've come to the right place.

Posted on 12/15/2014, in Twilight Zone and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Well, this episode makes my bottom 5 list, but my dislike of “Little Girl Lost” aside, this was a neat look into the mind of Matheson. I always enjoy this type of post where you highlight some behind the scenes information. It’s cool to see where writers get their ideas from, and how those ideas grow into a full blown story. This episode always seemed more Outer Limits than Twilight Zone to me, but it was inventive, I’ll give it that! Nice post. :)

    But one thing really bugs me, both about the episode AND about Matheson’s experience. The little girl was crying… who the hell doesn’t just turn on the damn light so you can see what’s going on? What’s with this feeling around in the dark stuff???

    • Thanks! :) Glimpses into the mind of a creator always fascinate me, too, and I’m glad you enjoyed this post, even though it concerned one of your least-favorite TZs.

      It’s a solid middle-of-the-pack for me. There ARE some definite demerits for me as well: the parents are kind of annoying, the coincidence of a physicist next door is a bit much, and I don’t like the dubbed voice for the girl. But I can’t deny enjoying the rest of it. The whole concept is just crazy, tripped-out fun, and that — like charity — covereth a multitude of sins. At least for me! :)

  2. I must agree with WB on this one. Little Girl lost is one of my least favorite Twilight Zone episodes. Charles Aidman and the Herrmann score aside, it always felt clumsy, corny and somehow off. In fact, it reminds me more of a ONE STEP BEYOND episode.

  3. This is a great episode. The physicist living next door was a bonus, but I do trust dogs over humans in some situations. They have much better senses in some cases and they seem to trust their instincts more. Sometimes, these “advanced” brains get us into trouble.

    As to Wendy’s comment, I agree – turn on the light – don’t go down the stairs – call the police and then go outside. But, that kind of reality show wouldn’t be very entertaining. It’s better when you let your mind race ahead of your senses and shoot your neighbor cuz you think he’s from Mars.

    I know that some of the other great episodes were grounded in real life. It’s one of the things I’ve always like about The Twilight Zone. Episodes like “Walking Distance” wouldn’t be the same without a personal touch. I also agree with Matheson that sometimes, things happen and you worry or are scared but in the back of your mind you’re thinking about a story. I don’t write stories, but I get lots of ideas for blog posts from those silly/scary/frustrating moments in life.

    Great post Paul, you’re making me want to watch it again.

    • “That kind of reality show wouldn’t be very entertaining.” Exactly. It’s a tough balance for any type of show, but especially a fantasy show. How do you make the unbelievable believable? It’s a judgment call, and it’s never going to please everyone, no matter what you do. Like you, I’m more on board with this episode, but I can understand why it might not click with others.

      And yes, it was interesting to see how such a mundane experience in real life turned into a memorable TZ, and all because an imaginative writer saw its potential, and the TZ production crew staged it so well. Fun stuff!

  4. Loved this episode! Am I the only one who sees it as a clear inspiration for Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist? The little girl who disappears in her own house. The parent who needs to go get her in the “other world”. Anyway, yeah really liked this one. Great score and cinematography too

  5. Howard Manheimer

    This is one of the fabulous episodes of The Twilight Zone for me! I love the whole story! Another dimension! The echoing of the voices from the other dimension! If you don’t like this one, then don’t watch it! I love it!

  6. Also love this story… but also love Marc Scott Zicree’s comment that it made no sense for the dad to call a physicist before calling the fire department. Hey, and it inspired one of “The Simpsons”‘ best Halloween segments!

  7. Little Girl Lost, season 3 “little house on the prairie”
    has the same monologues spoken by Caroline Ingalls to her little girl Carrie. I now need to see this Twilight Zone episode.

  1. Pingback: SyFy’s July 4th Twilight Zone Marathon Schedule | Shadow & Substance

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