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Recap / The Twilight Zone S 4 E 110 Miniature

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Rod Serling: To the average person, a museum is a place of knowledge, a place of beauty and truth and wonder. Some people come to study, others to contemplate, others to look for the sheer joy of looking. Charley Parkes has his own reasons. He comes to the museum to get away from the world. It isn't really the sixty-cent cafeteria meal that has drawn him here every day, it's the fact that here in these strange, cool halls he can be alone for a little while, really and truly alone. Anyway, that's how it was before he got lost and wandered into the Twilight Zone.
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While wandering through the museum after being let go from his job, Charley Parkes looks into a dollhouse and sees, or thinks he sees, one of the figures — a man, a woman, and their housekeeper — move. Repeat visits eventually permit him to glimpse the "wife" figure actually coming to life, although conversing with one of the museum guards reveals to him that the doll is carved from a solid block of wood. Charley becomes gradually infatuated with the wife, moreso when the other figures also move and it becomes clear that the husband has an abusive relationship with the wife. Eventually, Charley can take no more and breaks into the case, attempting to rescue the wife; he continues to maintain that the dolls are alive, and winds up committed to an asylum.

Charley pretends that the delusion is wearing off, and in time is declared rehabilitated. His family and friends are at his mother's house to greet him when he returns, but as they're preparing for a celebratory dinner Charley sneaks out again; panicked, his mother calls Dr. Wallman from the asylum, who suggests that he might have gone back to see the dollhouse one more time. Meanwhile, at the museum, Charley confesses his feelings to the dolls, in particular mentioning that his rather adversarial relationship with his mother allows him to empathize with the wife's unhappy marriage.

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Charley's family and Wallman arrive at the museum and instigate a search for Charley. Nobody finds a clue except for the sympathetic guard who previously spoke to Charley; he looks into the dollhouse and sees that the husband has been replaced by a doll of Charley. He merely grins and walks away.

Rod Serling: They never found Charley Parkes, because the guard didn't tell them what he saw in the glass case. He knew what they'd say, and he knew they'd be right, too. Because seeing is not always believing, especially if what you see happens to be an odd corner of the Twilight Zone.

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Tropature:

  • Ambiguous Disorder: Charley exhibits symptoms of what we'd recognize today as something akin to autism or Asperger's Syndrome. Here he's just referred to as "odd" or "shy," and someone who "doesn't fit in anywhere."
  • Blind Date: Charley's sister Myra tries to set him up on one with her co-worker Harriet Gunderson in hopes it will help him come out of his shell. It works about as well as you would expect.
  • Dastardly Whiplash: The doll girl's suitor resembles this type of villain, complete with cartoonishly evil mannerisms and musical cues.
  • Did You Think I Can't Feel?: Downplayed. While not said bitterly, Charley reflects to himself (and the doll girl) how his 'imagined' doll world is real because it's filled with people who have feelings like him.
  • The Doll Episode: Charley becomes increasingly obsessed with observing a Victorian doll in an exhibit at the Burton Museum which he perceives as a beautiful, innocent, chaste young woman.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After being misunderstood a great deal of the episode, Charley and the Alice doll finally have a world all their own.
  • Establishing Character Moment: In the beginning, Charley's boss Mr. Diemel calls him in to tell him why he's being let go, in the process establishing Charley's introverted personality and inability to socially adapt.
  • My Beloved Smother: Charley's overbearing mother treats him as if he were a child, even untying his shoes for him when he prepares to go to bed. His sister Myra tells him that he is living the same way that he did when he was 14 years old even though he is in his 30s. She believes that it is sick and partly blames their mother for the fact that Charley is socially underdeveloped.
  • Values Resonance / Vindicated by History: The episode has received a lot more praise in recent years for having a main character with a startlingly accurate portrayal of Asperger's Syndrome — a neurological condition that was virtually unknown when the episode first aired, and wasn't nearly as accepted at the time as it is today.

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