The Carousel Review
By Kevin Keeling
Edited by Anthony Zangrillo
It was my father who introduced to me to science fiction and fantasy. Starting me out young, he showed me some of his favorite films and televisions shows. And one of the most notable that he and I watched together was The Twilight Zone. I can still remember the marathons that would air every holiday on the SciFi channel. It is very easy to remember them all when he calls me up every break to tell me to flip over to that station and catch a few episodes. Those times with my dad were some of the best I had with him, I got to experience all these amazing stories, and he got to see my mind go wild with every new episode I watched.
The Carousel is a short documentary detailing the restoration of the carousel ride used in the classic Twilight Zone episode, “Walking Distance.” The episode centers around a businessman, stressed out from his day to day, who takes a trip back to his hometown, only to find himself transported back in time. He arrives in the town from his youth, finding his young self and his parents still well and alive. He spends the episodes trying to advise his young self to appreciate his youth, his imagination, and his parents, but he fails to get through to him. The man also gets the opportunity to say goodbye to his father.
Walking Distance may focus on the relationship of the man, his young self, and his father, but the linchpin of the feature is the beautifully carved carousel. The ride was specifically chosen by Rod Serling because it was carved by the same persons as the one from his home town of Binghamton, New York. The episode was one of the most visual of the original series, with a message of looking forward instead of behind, but it was more than that. “Walking Distance” was both a semi-autobiographical installment and a wish fulfillment of Rod Serling.
Serling was enlisted in the military right after high school, and it was during his tour that his father had passed away. Rod was denied leave to attend the funeral and never truly came to terms with the death. Serling’s daughter Anne explains that it was through “Walking Distance” that he was finally able to have closure with his father. And, it was the carousel, a reminder of the past, that allowed Serling to move ahead into his future.
The documentary does not focus directly on the technique and manner by which the carousel is restored, but rather what the episode meant to Rod, what it means to those who watch it, and the message we should all take away from watching it. Each and every one of us is granted one chance at childhood, and while we never really appreciate it when we’re young, we shouldn’t use up all our time now remembering what we once had. We can reminisce, but we should move towards our future, which can be just as alluring and magical as our youth. That imagination we thought lost to the younger days is never gone, it is with us our whole life, and takes a show like The Twilight Zone to remind us of that creative power.
By fixing the carousel, a chain reaction is started. The carousel is restored, the message of The Twilight Zone is restored, and finally, the imagination we had sitting with our parents watching that classic science fiction series is restored. The Carousel is about embracing our youthful creativity and focusing it to the future.
I now look forward to my father calling me this Memorial Day to tell me to switch over to the marathon. Hopefully I can catch “Walking Distance” again.