Director: Abner Biberman
Writer: Reginald Rose
Cast: Pat Hingle, Nan Martin, Ruth White, Phillip Pine, Vaughn Taylor, Mary Carver, Jerry Davis, and Jim E. Titus
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 4/18/1963
Production Code: 4854
Desperate to relive his childhood experiences, toy designer Horace Ford (Pat Hingle) returns to his old neighborhood, travels back in time momentarily, and overhears a conversation among his former playmates. Unwilling to heed the advice of his wife Laura (Nan Martin), Horace insists on viewing history through rose-tinted glasses—with an unpleasant outcome.
“The Incredible World of Horace Ford” is a poorly executed entry of The Twilight Zone. Series enthusiasts may, for example, take issue with this episode for its repetitious narrative, hyperbolic main character, and utter absence of dramatic tension.
Nan Martin deserves praise for her patient and delicate portrayal of Laura, who, by tolerating the infantile behavior of her husband, may garner sympathy from the audience. (Of course, many will question why an intelligent, sophisticated woman would even marry someone like Horace, let alone support him after his childlike antics result in prompt dismissal from his job.)
By reacting abrasively toward his loving wife and accommodating boss, Horace may fail to evoke compassion from all but the most sensitive of viewers. (Robert Duvall’s character from “Miniature,” on the other hand, maintains a respectful tone when addressing his coworkers and family members, allowing him to remain likable despite retreating into a world of his own.)
Though intended to capture the innocence of youth, the character of Horace is marred by the terrifying performance of Pat Hingle (known for playing Commissioner Gordon in the Batman movies). Specifically, Horace’s manner often resembles that of a mentally defective adult with volatile tendencies—much in contrast to Alex Walker from “Young Man’s Fancy,” who, in spite of his selfish and dependent personality, has no difficulty communicating on an adult level.
Similar to “Walking Distance” from season one, this episode contains a thoughtful, commendable lesson on the dangers of living in the past as a means of coping with the present. Nevertheless, “The Incredible World of Horace Ford” struggles to explore its central theme with an air of poignancy, instead relying on bizarre character moments to convey the importance of accepting responsibility, providing emotional support for loved ones, and conducting oneself with gravitas and maturity upon reaching adulthood.
This offering should be criticized for its problematic interpretation of the eponymous character. Especially uncomfortable are the interactions of Horace and his wife, who never explains her attraction to a self-centered man child.
Overall Quality: 3/10
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