Some Fatherly Advice from the Twilight Zone

“The zenith of this film is when he meets his mother and father,” Serling once said of “Walking Distance,” a true Twilight Zone classic. “That’s when everything explodes.”

Walking Distance2

Indeed it does. But for me, the nucleus of this bittersweet tale is the all-too-brief discussion Martin Sloan has with his “pop” shortly before his journey back in time concludes. So as a Father’s Day tribute, I’d like to bring you that touching scene:

MR. SLOAN: Yes, I know. I know who you are. I know you’ve come from a long way from here. A long way and a long time. But I don’t understand how or why. Do you?

MARTIN: No.

MR. SLOAN: But you do know other things, don’t you, Martin? Things that will happen.

MARTIN: Yes, I do.

Walking Distance5

MR. SLOAN: Martin?

MARTIN: Yes, pop?

MR. SLOAN: You have to leave here. There’s no room. There’s no place. Do you understand that?

MARTIN: I see that now, but I don’t understand. Why not?

MR. SLOAN: I guess because we only get one chance. Maybe there’s only one summer to every customer. That little boy, the one I know, the one who belongs here, this is his summer, just as it was yours once. Don’t make him share it.

MARTIN: Alright.

Walking Distance7

MR. SLOAN: Martin, is it so bad where you’re from?

MARTIN: I thought so, pop. I’ve been living at a dead run, and I was tired. Then one day I knew I had to come back here. I had to come back and get on the merry-go-round and eat cotton candy and listen to a band concert. Just stop and breathe and close my eyes and smell and listen.

MR. SLOAN: I guess we all want that. Maybe when you go back, Martin, you’ll find that there are merry-go-rounds and band concerts where you are. Maybe you haven’t been looking in the right place. You’ve been looking behind you, Martin. Try looking ahead.

Walking Distance8

Advice we’d all do well to heed. Thank you, Mr. Serling. And thanks to all the fathers out there who love us and do their best to guide us.

***

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

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About Paul

Hard-working, hard-playing fan of all pop culture, especially the Twilight Zone. Which led to a Twitter page. And then to a blog. And then to ... stay tuned. Yes, that's a picture of Rod Serling, not me. You can find the real me under the "Your Host" tab on my blog, along with biographical details that, while 100 percent accurate, sound kind of boastful and braggy. Sorry.

Posted on 06/21/2015, in Twilight Zone and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. I always liked that the father showed a clear responsibility to both Martins but had the right answer. Great choice for Father’s Day, Paul.

    • Thanks, Dan. So true — his advice was simple, but right on the money. Makes me think of Atticus in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which Frank Overton (the father here) also starred in.

      • The really interesting thing is that I have to stop and remind myself that those characters were created to be that way by Serling and the other authors. Whether it’s the way we think this guy was really wise or that Janie Williams is a shrew and poor Garth was driven to suicide, it was all planned by those great authors.

      • So true. They were storytellers par excellence. We could use more of that today.

  2. Keep looking ahead. I love it!

  3. I think of this episode often. I guess we all have that yearning to go back to a simpler time.

  4. “Walking Distance” was my mother’s favorite Twilight Zone episode. She passed away in April. Very difficult for me to move forward. A bittersweet episode.

    It will forever remind me of her.

    • Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. I can well imagine how you’re feeling, having lost my father not that long ago. Anyone in that position, I think, can better appreciate what Serling was reaching for here — and why this episode is such a fan favorite.

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