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Recap / The Twilight Zone S 4 E 117 The Incredible World Of Horace Ford

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Rod Serling: Mr. Horace Ford, who has a preoccupation with another time, a time of childhood, a time of growing up, a time of street games, stickball and hide-'n-go-seek. He has a reluctance to check out a mirror and see the nature of his image: proof positive that the time he dwells in has already passed him by. But in a moment or two he'll discover that mechanical toys and memories and daydreaming and wishful thinking and all manner of odd and special events can lead one into a special province, uncharted and unmapped, a country of both shadow and substance known as the Twilight Zone.
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A 38-year-old toy designer named Horace Ford is preoccupied with memories of his seemingly idyllic childhood on Randolph Street.

This work contains examples of

  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: Laura finds the beaten 10-year-old version of Horace when she goes to look for him on Randolph Street and he turns back into an adult. Horace then comes to accept that his childhood was not as idyllic as he had always made it out to be. The original Studio One version ends with Horace still a child and seemingly trapped in his miserable childhood forever.
  • An Aesop:
    • There's nothing wrong with growing up or growing older.
    • Alternatively, it's okay to look back on the past fondly, as long as it doesn't eclipse your future.
  • Anachronism Stew: A poster for the 1938 film The Toy Wife is seen on Randolph Street in 1935.
  • A Birthday, Not a Break: On Horace's 38th birthday, Mr. Judson is forced to fire him after he refuses to take a leave of absence from the toy company because of his increasingly erratic behavior. That night, he returns to Randolph Street where he turns into a 10-year-old boy. His childhood friends then beat him up for not inviting them to his birthday party.
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  • Bittersweet Ending: Recalling that his "friends" once beat him up, Horace Ford sadly comes to terms with how miserable his childhood was. However, his wife comforts him. Both walk back to his apartment to his 38th birthday party, with Horace having a new-found appreciation for living in the present.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Jackie Cooper's name can be seen on the O'Shaughnessy's Boys film poster in 1935. Cooper later played Jonathan West in "Caesar and Me".
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Eccentric would be an understatement, but Horace Ford is undeniably a brilliant inventor.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Horace Ford gets beaten up by his childhood friends just because they weren't invited to his birthday party.
  • Genre Blindness: Subverted, Laura Ford is understandably confused why the same boy who looks like her husband's childhood friend Hermie Brandt comes at the same time every night saying the exact same thing, yet brushes off her husband's claims he saw his friends as children again.
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  • Hypocrite: Horace Ford's "friends" don't understand why they weren't invited to Horace Ford's party, so they assault him.
  • Manchild: Horace Ford very much acts like he's still in the childhood he longs for. Implied to overcome it towards the end.
  • Nostalgia Filter: His hometown Horace loved so much? It was crime-ridden ghetto. His friends? A bunch of bullies who beat him up for not getting invited to his birthday party. It's all very hard for Horace to swallow. Reconstructed when his wife Laura points out it's a coping mechanism that makes life bearable sometimes.
  • Rule of Three: Horace returns to Randolph Street three times.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: The ghost of Horace's childhood friends shows up at his 38th birthday in order to essentially guide his wife to her missing husband. And this is despite that in the past, he was one of the kids who bullied Horace Ford as a child.
  • With Friends Like These...: The so-called friends Horace Ford grew up with.

Rod Serling: Exit Mr. and Mrs. Horace Ford, who have lived through a bizarre moment not to be calibrated on normal clocks or watches. Time has passed, to be sure, but it's the special time in the special place known as the Twilight Zone.
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