“ Genre: Crime & Thriller / Author: Richard Matheson / Audiobook published 2010-10-18 by Falcon Picture Group „
"Missing: one frightened little girl. Name: Bettina Miller. Description: six years of age, average height and build, light brown hair, quite pretty. Last seen being tucked into bed by her mother a few hours ago. Last heard... there's the rub, as Hamlet put it. For Bettina Miller can be heard quite clearly, despite the rather curious fact that she can't be seen at all. Present location? Let's say for the moment... in the Twilight Zone... "
When his daughter Tina rolls under her bed one night and vanishes, Chris Miller is bewildered as he can hear her calling out from somewhere in the room but can't find Tina anywhere. Equally strange is the fact that the family dog bolted after Tina under the bed and disappeared too. Chris summons family friend and physicist Bill for help with this puzzling mystery and Bill listens to the distant cries (and barks!) for help and comes to a remarkable conclusion. He believes Tina has fallen through a hole into another dimension. The gateway must be somewhere near her bed. Will it be possible to follow Tina there and bring her safely back to our own reality?
Little Girl Lost was Richard Matheson's final episode of the third series of The Twilight Zone and originally a short story in a collection called The Shores of Space published in 1953. It's adapted here in an audio format with Stacy Keach and Stephen Tobolowsky. Not sure who Tobolowsky is but he's very good. Matheson got the idea for the story when his own daughter called out one night and when he went to her room he couldn't find her anywhere. It turned out that'd she'd simply rolled under the bed and was up against the wall or something but he remembered that brief unsettling feeling of hearing her but not knowing where she was and used it as the basis for Little Girl Lost. The television version eventually took us into this fourth dimension - a bizarre place of total distortion that was strangely beautiful with Bernard Herrman's string laden score. It's nice though to imagine this topsy turvy world for yourself here and the music is good too. Not too over the top and nicely restrained. The main reason why this works well as a radio drama is that the bulk of the story is a theoretical monologue on the very nature of other dimensions between Chris Miller and the physicist. What are they? Where are they? Can you buy a packet of Cheesy Wotsits in any of them?
It's fun - although the manner in which we get there is a bit contrived of course to say the least. Surely, you'd have a longer look for Tina or call the police rather than get straight on the phone to your physicist friend. It suggests that Miller immediately suspects interdimensional capers are at play! Bill draws geometric bisectors to mark where he believes the opening to the 'fourth dimension' is and Matheson seems to enjoy pitting this boffin against this pesky cosmic problem. Because we don't know what the fourth dimension is and no one has ever got a train there, the writer was free to think about what it might be like in his own imagination. He therefore came up with the idea of a transient opening in the wall of Tina's bedroom where you can enter a strange warped world that doesn't conform to the laws of our own reality. What the story does do is wonderfully capture the spirit of The Twilight Zone - that is explore the great unknown and our fear of it. In The Twilight Zone nothing can ever quite be explained.
The sound effects and music here are pleasantly atmospheric and weird when the characters tentatively explore the interdimensional portal and we get our first imaginings of the world Tina has been drawn into. Keach is solid here as Miller and guest star Stephen Tobolowsky is fine as the physicist. The character of Tina's father was a bit underwritten and vague in the original but Keach brings a bit more depth here. Little Girl Lost is 39 minutes long in this adaption, a bit longer than the television version but not to a detrimental degree. Radio has to paint images in your mind rather than give you visual cues and so they empthasise this more and also stretch out the dialogue somewhat. These are not straight transcripts of the television series and make a few subtle changes but nothing drastic. It's still The Twilight Zone and Little Girl Lost - but just on radio. This is fun on the whole and another nice addition to this spooky series of audio dramas based on the greatest television series ever made. You can buy Little Girl Lost as part of a bumper Twilight Zone collection or (at the time of writing) download it individually for £1.19.