“Nightmare as a Child”
I recently tweeted a quote from TZ’s “Nightmare as a Child” and got this reply from a follower: “Males didn’t like this one as it had women and children in it — that`s my slightly sweeping theory.”
An interesting thought, but I have to admit, I’m not aware of any gender discrepancies when it comes to the popularity of this episode. And plenty of male viewers are big fans of “The Hitch-Hiker” and “The After-Hours,” both of which have female leads.
Many TZs are greatly admired, of course. A few are actively disliked. But there are others that sort of float in the middle, neither loved nor hated. “Nightmare as a Child” is one of them.
I’ve seen a lot of viewer feedback in the four and a half years I’ve been doing my Twitter page, pro and con, and both men and women hardly say a word about it. It almost doesn’t register. Which is a shame, really. It’s a good episode. The story is fairly intriguing, and it ends on a happy note.
I think the problem is that much of the “action” takes place off-screen, and there’s no real peril. On paper, the idea sounds good: A woman has repressed memories of her mother’s murder, meets a girl who’s a projection of her subconscious trying to get her to remember, then encounters the murderer himself, back years later to finish the job.
Yet it comes across somewhat flat. Mind you, it’s not bad. Janice Rule does a decent job as the main character, Helen Foley, and Terry Burnham is appropriately unsettling as the little girl. But somehow Serling’s intriguing idea just sort of lays there. It’s enjoyable, but it strikes me as something that would have worked better as a radio script.
It surely didn’t help that “Nightmare as a Child” came amid a torrent of excellent episodes in TZ’s landmark first season. What would have shone as an episode of some other series couldn’t help but get a little lost airing in between Charles Beaumont’s “A Nice Place to Visit” and Serling’s classic “A Stop at Willoughby.”
As it stands, “Nightmare as a Child” is like the coffee offered with dessert after a fancy meal. It’s not why you came, but it’s nice to have.
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