Welcome back to my Twilight Zone Marathon! Today, I’m going to take a look at a classic episode that most likely inspired the clown from “Poltergeist” and Chucky from “Child’s Play.” That’s right, it’s “Living Doll.”
A little girl named Christie buys a doll with her mother named Talky Tina. Tina can speak when you wind her up. Her stepfather isn’t pleased by the doll, and the doll soon makes it known that she’s not pleased with him. Could he just be paranoid, or is the doll really talking to him?
There’s not really a twist in this one, unless you count what ultimately happens in the end. The episode makes it clear throughout that Tina has SOME sentience, though the stepfather does consider that he could just be paranoid. I can see this episode freaking out people who hate creepy, talking dolls, but I found Tina pretty harmless aside from one moment near the end.
The characters here are the stepfather, Tina, Christie and her mother. The mom and Christie don’t get tons to do, as this is mostly between the stepfather and Tina, but they’re pretty good actors. Tina never once sounds like anything other than a doll, which does give a bit of creepiness to some of the things she says. Since the stepfather is featured the most in this, I have a lot to say about him.
I HATED him. I got the feeling that you were supposed to, but it really made me want Tina to make good on her threats toward him. From the first moment he speaks, he’s abrasive, bitter and a jerk. He likes to remind his wife of their inability to have children and treats her buying the doll as an attack against him for not providing Christie with siblings. His wife even states that he doesn’t have the love for Christie he should have. He blames his wife and Christie of playing tricks on him when the doll speaks nastily. He’s just an all-around unpleasant person, especially as a main character. There’s a moment in the third act where he seems to try redeeming himself by giving Tina back to Christie, but I just didn’t buy it because of how awful he’d been overall.
I feel that dampered the scariness of the episode in a way. If the stepfather had been more sympathetic, I might have found Tina more scary and threatening than I did. In a way, the episode became less about scares and more about revenge to me because he WAS such a douchebag. I found myself siding with the doll at every moment she messed with him, and I’m not sure if that was the intention. If it was, then the episode was a huge success on that merit.
Overall, I enjoyed “Living Doll,” even if this is easily the worst “protagonist” I’ve come across yet. I liked the uses of Tina in scaring him/making him paranoid. The ending was pretty good, though I would’ve liked something with a bit more of a punch. If dolls, talking or not, freak you out or you like seeing awful people deal with karma, give this episode a watch.