It is no secret that I think cable television is ninety percent garbage television and an excellent example of how big government and big business form a monopolistic partnership to rip off the so-called huddled masses.
But, one of the few saving graces of cable television is that it serves as a time tunnel of sorts to programs and films from the past. Some of them -- many of them, come to think of it -- are excellent and, often, are beneficial, worthwhile entertainment which never would be seen today if it were not for cable television.
I guess you know where this is leading. A few nights ago, I watched an episode of "Twilight Zone" from 1959. It was the first year this show was on television, and the episode -- "Walking Distance" -- was among those written by the show's creator, Rod Serling. Here is an excerpt of the dialogue:
Robert Sloan: Martin.
Martin Sloan: Yes, Pop.
Robert Sloan: You have to leave here. There's no room, there's no place. Do you understand that?
Martin Sloan: I see that now, but I don't understand. Why not?
Robert 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 Sloan: Alright.
Robert Sloan: Martin, is it so bad where you're from?
Martin Sloan: I thought so, Pop. I've been living on a dead run and I was tired. And one day I knew I had to come back here. I had to get on the merry-go-round and listen to a band concert. I had to stop and breathe, and close my eyes and smell, and listen.
Robert 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.
So, now that you have read the dialogue, here is some background information about this episode. A middle-aged man, Martin Sloan, is driving cross-country when he stops his car at a gas station. He is worn-out, burned-out, depressed, disgusted and disgruntled. His thoughts are on the carefree days of his boyhood.
At the gas station, Martin is told by the attendant that his hometown, Homewood, is within "Walking Distance." He decides to go there and, when he arrives, Martin finds Homewood appears exactly as it existed when he was a boy.
As a note aside, I will mention that the actor portraying Martin is Gig Young, who was born and grew up in Minnesota. His usual role in films during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s was that of a supporting character, frequently playing the best friend of the leading man. He was a much better actor than he is generally credited as having been and, I think, his performance in "Walking Distance" demonstrates that fact.
Martin eventually encounters himself as a boy, and following him home, meets his parents. Trying to convince his parents that he is their son from the future, he succeeds only in seemingly demonstrating his insanity. Martin is asked to leave by his parents.
Martin finds his childhood self on a carousel and tries to warn his younger self to enjoy his childhood before it is too late. His advances scare young Martin, who falls off the merry-go-round and injures his leg. This causes the adult Martin to begin walking with a limp.
Martin is then confronted by his father, who now believes his story about being his middle-aged son. His father advises him that everyone has their time, and that he should look to the future rather than to the past. Martin finds himself back in his own time, walking with a new limp.
Returning to the here and now: Sometimes obvious answers to dilemmas are found in the damnedest places. It could be that after having read the background regarding the story, you might wish to read the dialogue once again and, possibly, to think about it for a minute or two or three. Or, even watch the entire show and form your own opinion of it and its message ....