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"The Twilight Zone: Living Doll (#5.6)"
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Reviews & Ratings for
"The Twilight Zone" Living Doll (1963)

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32 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

Marvelous Chiller

Author: chrstphrtully from Washington, DC
5 July 2007

When his wife and stepdaughter bring home a talking doll, Erich Streator (Telly Savalas) takes an instant dislike to the toy -- a sentiment reciprocated and expressed by the doll. Although many of the episodes from the series' final season were clunkers, this one easily ranks with the series' best, mixing a chilling Twilight Zone plot, with extremely well-drawn characters and superb acting.

What raises this above the level of many remakes of the same story (Child's Play, in particular) is the depth of the lead character, whose actions are not motivated by simple hatred, but deeply rooted in his own feelings of inadequacy. As the doll becomes more vehement in its dislike, Savalas' character's actions become more understandable and -- strangely, more sympathetic. In conveying this, Savalas makes no effort to soften his character, having real confidence in the character as developed in Jerry Sohl's (who ghostwrote the script for Charles Beaumont) script. Mary LaRoche is equally up to the task as a woman struggling on the one hand to protect her daughter from emotional cruelty, and desperately trying to understand the man she married on the other.

If you want to see how a horror story can be made without gore and cheap shocks, watch this....

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26 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

Barbie She Ain't

Author: dougdoepke from Claremont, USA
19 June 2006

Talking Tina does say the darndest things for a cute little play thing. But then she doesn't know she's messing with Kojak-- tough-talking Telly Savalas as the stepdad. But then stepdad doesn't know this sweet little curly-head was a Demons R' Us purchase from the Twilight Zone. The face-off between one mean stepdad and one infernal doll is an epic one and not without moments of deliciously wry humor. It's not an episode you're likely to forget, perhaps because there's something of a role reversal near the end. Anyhow, some folks might take this as an exercise in abnormal psychology since stepdad does seem to have a problem in, uh, 'relating'. Except for the clumsy final scene, the episode works, and it works well. Charles Beaumont may not have been Serling's artistic equal, but he could come up with some good gimmicky scripts. This is one of them.

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19 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

You'd Better Be Nice to Me!

Author: Hitchcoc from United States
11 December 2008

This entry has stayed with me my entire life. I think it's the cute little doll face, expressing venom without a change in expression. Telly Savales is a mean man who has married a woman with a little girl. They make the girl so darned cute that when Telly goes ballistic, it seems even more cruel. The doll has some great lines and the expressions on Savales's face are priceless. No kindly, old lady loving Kojak here. We just know that this doll has an agenda and she's not going to stop. When Telly can't cut the things head off with his table saw, he knows that something just isn't right. The die has been cast and there's no going back. The concluding line is great and it sets up all kinds of possibilities.

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13 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Creepy...An Absolute Fave Episode!

Author: scott88-4 from Canada
8 June 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Best TZ episode? For me..yes! I found dolls and mannequins creepy throughout my life, and apparently others did as well, hence the other episodes in TZ and "Night Gallery" that dealt with the subject.

The story begins with a young girl coming home to her father (Telly Savalas) with a new play thing: the "Talky Tina" doll. Father isn't overly impressed and kind of hard on the kid. But while the doll spews such sap as, "I love you" when you pull her string, when father is alone in the room with "Tina", she says, "I am going to kill you". Of course Mom and daughter don't hear this side of "Tina", and Telly has a problem! What follows is father trying in vain to get rid of the accursed doll, but it doesn't go away that easily! It doesn't end nicely! A very creepy episode with a dark feel throughout. Any fans of the doll genre in horror films must see this episode. It's a classic in my eyes and one of the scariest of all the TZ episodes.

Fans of the Simpsons will remember the Halloween Special a few years back with the talking "Krusty" doll that kept trying to kill Homer. Obviously a direct takeoff of the "Talky Tina" doll from this great TZ a T! "Krusty and Homer ended up buddies in that story....."Tina" and Telly certainly do NOT!

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17 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

An early, subtle look at domestic abuse

Author: rbecker28 from United States
11 September 2008

The main thing to note about this episode is that Erich (Telly Savalas) is quite obviously an abuser, even though the extent of his abuse is likely understated because of the sensitivity of the subject at the time. One sees that his wife and stepdaughter live in terror of him, yet also are too fearful of what he may do to try to leave him or tell anyone else. As such, Talking Tina is not just an evil doll like Chucky, but the only hope for escape that this mother and daughter have. Talking Tina sees Erich for the abuser that he is and is not afraid of him, and realizing this, he sets out to destroy her.

The one thing that disappoints me is the ending, which seems a bit rushed and could have been handled more dramatically. (I have an idea for a different ending with the same basic result, but I'll hold it for now). I feel that the writers chickened out a little there. For overall effect, however, this is one of the true classics of the original Twilight Zone.

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13 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Horror from simplicity.

Author: Tommy Nelson from Long Beach, California
22 April 2008

Before the evil Zuni fetish doll from Trilogy of Terror, and before Chuckie the murderous doll, was Talky Tina. Unlike the other two dolls, which run around and stab at people and seem almost humorous, Talky Tina does very little. She can talk, but has no mouth movement, she can move her arms, and can blink and wink. Doesn't seem like much of a threat, but Talky Tina is a much scarier doll than either of the other two.

Erich Strader's wife has bought his step-daughter a new doll, Talky Tina. Erich is just a downright bitter man, and doesn't want his wife spending money on that stuff. When his step-daughter picks up Tina, it says, "I'm Talky Tina and I love you very much!". When he picks it up, it says, "I'm Talky Tina and I think I hate you." He begins to talk to the doll, and the doll talks back threatening him, but his wife doesn't believe this. The doll, voiced by June Foray is really threatening, and actually kind of scary in a simple sort of way. Just a look from this little piece of plastic is enough to make you pause the set at night and finish the episode in the morning. Telly Savalas plays Erich and he's great at being a jerk. The wife, played by Mary LaRoche, is good with her false British accent of the time period, and the daughter's pretty good. This is really a classic episode of this classic show, and I suggest you check it out.

My rating: **** out of ****. 30 mins. TVPG

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10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Another Brilliant Episode

Author: blandiefam from United States
5 July 2012

The parallel between the names of the doll, Tina, and the little step daughter, Christie, both short for Christina presents a psychological paradox which the writer so cleverly included. You wonder if the doll was a psychic extension of the little girls hate for her new step Daddy and any doll would have served it's ultimate purpose. The tense atmosphere in the fractured household plays up the intervention of fate by introducing a scary magical doll which speaks mean words to the protagonist alone. We eventually become almost sympathetic to his plight as we realize the anger expressed by the smiling plastic doll exceeds the meanness of the Step Father. We reach a point where we have to decide between two evils and when the step dad wins out, we regret even have to choose sides in the first place. This episode pioneered the evil doll concept which Serling visited in his later series, Night Gallery as well. The only uniquely disturbing part of this story is that the doll doesn't move around in our sight nor does she change her plastic expression making the title of the episode a paradox in itself. One of the most memorable episode with a timeless innovative method of using a harmless object to scare the crap out of us. Casting June Foray as the creepy voice was a masterful move.

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10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Just Excellent

Author: stalinsrepublic from United States
6 June 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

For me its easy to see how people got along with 7 channels or so in the 60's. T.V. was much better then in many ways. This episode of Twilight Zone is a perfect example. I think the acting, directing, writing and musical score are all top rate. I really enjoy when Erich takes "Talky Tina" to the basement and is unable to destroy/harm Tina. Especially as he puts her head in the vice and Tina tells him, "I can take it if you can!" I just saw this episode again last night (for the 30th time or so) and it is as great as ever. Also as Erich dies in the end, as much as you expect him to say something as he is dying, he just quietly checks out at the foot of the stairs. Love it! Love it! Gary

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11 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Where can I get one of those dolls?!

Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
9 September 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This episode gets very high marks for its "cool factor", as this is one of the spookier and more memorable episodes. Plus, it features a talking homicidal doll--a definite plus!

Telly Savalas plays a brutal and cruel husband and father. When his wife returns home with the daughter, Savalas nags and berates them--running the house like he's a dictator. What really sets him off this time is that his wife bought the kid a new Talking Tina doll--something the skinflint Savalas can't stand.

Oddly, while the girl loves her new doll, every time the father pulls the string to make the doll talk, it says things that seem deliberately pointed towards him. Eventually, the doll even tells him it's going to kill him--something the audience is rooting for since he is a terrible person.

This is a very well-acted episode and what really helps is that Savalas managed to play such an unlikable person so very well. The malevolence he exudes really helps make this an enjoyable episode--one where you find yourself rooting for the doll to do him in once and for all!

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

"My name is Talking Tina, and you'll be sorry".

Author: classicsoncall from Florida, New York
21 July 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It would have been too easy to use the 'I'm going to kill you' line to summarize this story. Coming out of the fifth and final season of The Twilight Zone, this entry offers up a classic exercise in psychological terror, where the horror is implied and you're challenged to guess the punch line. It has some of the qualities of the third season TZ episode 'The Dummy', and it's twist ending is just as satisfying. That has a lot to do with the character of pre-Kojak Telly Savalas, definitely not the lovable lollipop sucking TV police detective of a decade later. Here he's a mean spirited husband and father who takes his frustrations out on the woman he married (Mary LaRoche) and her daughter Christie (Tracy Stratford). They can't win with Eric Streator, and Talking Tina's intrusion into the family as a surrogate baby sister to Christie is the set up to the nightmare that follows.

I didn't notice while watching this episode as a kid back in the day, but you had here a rare look at a woman with a child who remarried, a rarity for TV of the Sixties. In this and many other respects, Rod Serling was a pioneer, exploring ideas and themes that tended to cross the line of acceptable behavior for the era. Notice that Eric and Annabelle slept in separate beds, a full decade already since 'I Love Lucy' first aired, and back then you never even made it into the Ricardo bedroom. One doesn't generally think about it, but you can trace the pattern of societal norms while watching the shows of successive eras. It wouldn't be long before dysfunctional families would take over the sit-com landscape altogether, but gradually. By the time 'Married With Children' came around in 1987, TV families were a veritable free-for-all.

But back to Talking Tina. A single viewing of this one and you're not likely to forget it. And that's coming from someone who saw it back when it originally aired. The Twilight Zone seemed to have that kind of way of leaving it's imprint. Maybe not all the episodes, but certainly enough of them to invite lengthy conversation among one's close circle of friends whenever the subject came up. This one had the classic ingredients, a malevolent talking doll and a future celebrity who managed to leave his indelible mark in The Twilight Zone.

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