The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 5 Episode 6 – Living Doll

Telly Savalas plays Erich Streator the newly married husband of Annabelle and stepfather of eight-year-old Christie.  Based on some dialog Annabelle tells us that Erich is bitter because for some reason he and Annabelle can’t have children of their own and so he is resentful and unfriendly toward Christie.  But actually, he didn’t seem that bad initially.  I just think he was peeved because Annabelle bought the extravagant present (the doll) for Christie.

When Christie tries to sneak up the stairs with the Talky Tina doll that her mother bought her Erich becomes angry and slightly vindictive.  He takes the doll away from Christie and makes her cry.  And whereas whenever Christie winds up Tina she says, “My name is Talky Tina and I love you,” when Erich is alone with the doll she says, “My name is Talky Tina, and I don’t think I like you.”

Erich becomes extremely agitated as the doll ramps up the comments moving on to, “I hate you,” and finally “I’m going to kill you.”  At first, he accuses Annabelle of hiding a walkie-talkie in the doll and making the comments herself.  But eventually when the doll calls him on the telephone (somehow!) he realizes that the doll is basically alive.  He then goes into his workshop and tries to destroy it by sticking its head in a vise, burning it with a blowtorch and decapitating it with a table saw.  But no luck.

Finally, he gives the doll back to Christie and hopes things will end but when they’re alone together Talky Tina tells him, “I don’t forgive you.”

After the family goes to bed Erich can hear the mechanical sound of Tina’s mechanism outside his bedroom.  He goes into Christie’s room but the doll is gone.  While walking on the stairs he trips over Talky Tina and falls to his death.  As he is expiring Tina rolls next to his face and is the last thing he sees in life.

Annabelle comes running down the stairs to Erich and when she notices the doll, she picks it up and it says to her, “My name is Talky Tina and you had better be nice to me.”

This is an iconic episode.  It’s probably responsible for all the Chucky movies and a lot of even less good stuff.

But put that aside.

What we’re up against once again is photog’s First Law of the Twilight Zone; no robots, mannequins, ventriloquist dummies, dolls or other inanimate objects that think they’re alive.  So that’s one strike.

Secondly, Talky Tina is a twerp.  She richly deserved everything Erich attempted to do to her.

Thirdly, let’s look at the whole Erich as bad husband and stepdad thing.  What woman in her right mind marries Telly Savalas thinking he’s going to be Ward Cleaver?  This is the biggest psycho in the Dirty Dozen crew.  She must have been crazy herself.

And finally, I feel cheated.  Erich has the table saw sparking away against Tina’s neck and nothing happens, not even a scratch.  This is highly unfair.  The only way this episode could have redeemed itself would have been for the soul of dead Erich to be transferred to a little bald Evil Erich doll and it had been allowed to harass Talky Tina for all eternity using his famous tag line from Kojak, “Who loves ya, baby?”

F!