Ventriloquist Jerry Etherson is convinced that his dummy, Willie, is alive and evil. He locks Willie in a trunk and makes plans for a new act with a new dummy. Too bad he didn't clear those plans with Willie first.
Jerry Etherson has a reasonably successful nightclub act as a ventriloquist but has one major problem: he believes his dummy Willie is a sentient being who speaks to him and manipulates his life. His agent Frank thinks Jerry needs psychiatric help and tells him he has no future in the business if he doesn't do something about his delusions. Jerry decides to lock Willie in a trunk and try his act with a different dummy. Willie has plans of his own however. Written by
Rod Serling's reference to the "Gray Night Way" is a play on the common nickname for Broadway, which is the "Great White Way." See more »
You're watching a ventriloquist named Jerry Etherson, a voice-thrower par excellence. His alter ego, sitting atop his lap, is a brash stick of kindling with the sobriquet 'Willy.' In a moment, Mr. Etherson and his knotty-pine partner will be booked in one of the out-of-the-way bistros, that small, dark, intimate place known as the Twilight Zone.
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Well staged variation on the familiar theme of diabolical dummies. Robertson is a tormented voice-thrower whose act is being ruined by drink, caused by what he thinks is a live dummy. The opening dressing room scene is excellent for its spooky subtleties and imaginative effects. It made me think this would be special. Unfortunately, the story line soon drops the ambiguities and becomes too obvious. Still, some imaginative camera work breathes life into Robertson's unusually low key-delirium, while the final scene amounts to a genuinely new and rather unnerving twist on the old idea.
In passing-- you can measure the sharp decline of quality in the series' final year (1964) by comparing this episode (a good but not remarkable one) with the derivative Caesar and Me, a jumbled and unimaginative entry from that last year that strongly indicates how the production crew had run out of fresh ideas, but still had an unrelenting schedule to meet. Of the two, this one, The Dummy, is definitely the more watchable.
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