Director: Paul Stewart
Writer: Richard Matheson
Cast: Sarah Marshall, Robert Sampson, and Charles Aidman
Composer: Bernard Herrmann
Air Date: 3/16/1962
Production Code: 4828
Awakened in the middle of the night, Ruth and Chris Miller (Sarah Marshall and Robert Sampson) realize that their daughter Tina—no longer resting in her bed—appears to have entered a parallel universe. With the help of Mack—the family’s pet dog—and Chris’ friend Bill (Charles Aidman), a physicist, the Miller parents attempt to rescue Tina from a world of shadows.
Combining sci-fi tropes with a conventional 1960s household setting, this offering maintains an air of suspense from beginning to end. Especially worth commending is the climactic sequence, the spooky and surreal qualities of which will appeal to fans of experimental television.
“Little Girl Lost” deserves praise for its haunting visual effects, which reinforce the credibility of Richard Matheson’s fantastic narrative premise. Specifically, the fourth dimension sequences employ a variety of distorted lenses/mirrors, thereby enhancing the otherworldly nature of Tina’s predicament—especially when complemented by the ominous arrangement of composer Bernard Herrmann.
Those with a tendency to nitpick may question how Mack, Chris, and Tina continue to breathe, let alone communicate through vocal sounds, while trapped in a dimension with alien physical properties.
“Little Girl Lost” may also evoke criticism for its melodramatic performances, which overemphasize the emotional torment of Ruth and Chris. By constantly crying, shouting, and panicking, for example, both characters heighten the tension of Tina’s already frightening situation—an outcome that two parents, now deeply concerned for the welfare of their daughter, would likely wish to avoid.
Similar to “And When the Sky Was Opened” (also featuring actor Charles Aidman in a supporting role), “Little Girl Lost” explores the possibility of alternate dimensions interacting with the reality perceived by humans—an early use of a now iconic science fiction theme, and one that benefits from the atmospheric and suspenseful contributions of Matheson (known to sci-fi/horror buffs for I Am Legend, The Incredible Shrinking Man, and “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”).
By highlighting the circumstances of a typical American family, “Little Girl Lost” accentuates the realism of an extraordinary concept. Enthusiasts of The Twilight Zone may therefore enjoy this episode, which offers an eerie twist on a primitive science fiction device.
Overall Quality: 9/10
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