I know that this episode seems derivative but give Serling and the director's credit.The ending is both fascinating and truly original This was one of the most entertaining episodes from the series and it will suck you right into the story and not let go-not even during the commercials. This is one act you DON'T want to miss
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.
Jerry feeling that he's been playing second banana to his partner ventriloquist dummy Willie wants to get rid of him and turn Willie into a pile of sawdust. Jerry is made to feel like a dummy himself in him really doing nothing on stage and looking a bit stupid as dummy Willie ends up getting all the attention and laughs from the audience. This seems a bit strange since Willie is Jerry's meal ticket and not even alive or much less human! That's not what Jerry thinks about Willie in that the dummy makes up his own material on stage with Jerry acting as straight man to it! Or that's what Jerry thinks!
Feeling that Willie is controlling his life Jerry has him replaced with his second string dummy Goofy Goggles who's not anywhere as funny as Willie and later ends up being broken to pieces by Jerry who mistakes, how could he, him for Willie whom he wants to put out of both his life and night club act! With him falling to pieces and suffering from a severe case of burn out Jerry in an attempt to get rid of Willie ends up with not only a nervous breakdown but complete makeover in him trying to do it!
***SPOILER*** As the "Twilight Zone" episode comes to an end we see who's the dummy and who's the ventriloquist in Jerry's night club act. By then Jerry has completely both gone nuts and out of the picture with Willie now, like he always did, pulling the strings. Which those of us watching knew all along!
In this particular show, the guy with the dummy is played by Cliff Robertson. He's a down-and-out guy--thanks to too much booze. In an odd twist, Robertson blames all this on the dummy--telling his agent (Frank Sutton) that the drinking and act will improve if only be can use a different dummy! Naturally, being the Twilight Zone, the old dummy has plans of its own!! This is a very creepy episode. The only serious negatives are that the dummy's lip movements are often out of sync and the performance is a tad over the top. Still, it's a very good episode and the first of its kind for the series.
My problem is that the sentient dummy idea is mad and silly, creepy but uninteresting, as well as being predated by the film 'Dead of Night'. I prefer the segment 'Ventriloquist' in that movie to this TZ, but I prefer the Zone's 'Twenty Two' to the same storyline as 'The Hearse' within 'Dead Of Night'.
Instead, they played it straight and it's kept as mysterious as ever. I really appreciated this episode's pacing. It just seemed like it flew right past me, it was just so well done. It's another perfect episode that has a great twist ending as expected and not even in the way you might think. I liked the introduction of the other dummy. It's just good to see how this slowly gets scarier as it goes on. So this is why the art died out. ****